Clean drinking water is something that many of us take for granted. Yet, the water flowing from our taps might not be as clean as we think it is. Even in wealthy countries, contaminated tap water is quite common, and can contribute to a number of health issues. Thankfully, adding a water filter is an inexpensive way to ensure you’re drinking clean, safe water. In this guide, we’ll help you find the best water filter for your needs and budget.
There are many different types of home water filters, and each type has hundreds of different models. We’ve done the hard work for you, testing many filtration units and conducting thorough research on top contenders. Through a painstaking process, we have narrowed down the selection to one best water filtration system for each broad category. Find our picks, as well as detailed water filter reviews, in the guide below!
Quick Picks for the Best Water Filter 2018
- Under Sink Filter — APEC ROES-50
- Reverse Osmosis Filter — APEC ROES-50
- Whole House Filter — Home Master HMF2SDGC
- Countertop Filter — Big Berkey
- Faucet Water Filter — Wingsol
- Filtered Water Pitcher — Brita Everyday
- Shower Filter — AquaBliss
- Portable Filter — Katadyn Vario
- NSF Certified Filter — Aquasana OptimH2O
- Other Options
Key Features: Removes 99% of contaminants; effective reverse osmosis filtration; #1 best-seller; affordable & great value
Price Range: $$$
The APEC ROES-50 is the best water filter for those looking for a reverse-osmosis setup. It also tops our list for those looking for an under-sink filter which installs beneath your kitchen sink. Reverse osmosis is widely considered to be one of the most effective filtration techniques. The ROES-50 is a best-selling RO filter, designed to remove 99% of all contaminants from your water supply.
The ROES-50 is the best-selling reverse osmosis system in the US, and consistently earns great ratings in water filter reviews. It’s backed by a 2-year limited warranty, and APEC is known as a company that truly stands behind their products. It’s relatively easy to install, and sits beneath your kitchen sink (and this bundle includes a faucet, as well). Click here to learn more.
Price Range: $$$
The Home Master HMF2SDGC is the best water filtration system for someone looking to deliver filtered water to their entire house. It’s set up to install in a single location while filtering the entire house’s water supply. So, from your kitchen sink to your bathroom shower, you’ll have clean, contaminant-free filtered water on-demand!
The unit is designed to reduce common contaminants like heavy metals, chlorine and other water treatment chemicals. Despite the effective filtration, it can deliver impressive flow rates and maintain great water pressure. The Home Master is rated to deliver up to 15 gallons per minute, which is more than enough for most households. The long-lasting filters are designed to handle 95,000 gallons, or around 1 year of water for the average 4-person family. If you’re ready to buy or find out more about the Home Master, click here to learn more.
More options: Best whole-house water filters compared
Key Features: Sits on counter; portable; effective gravity filtration; dual-filter setup
Price Range: $$
The Big Berkey is a counter-top water filter that’s very easy to use. It sits on top of your counter, or tucked away wherever there is space. Water is manually filled in the top of the filter, which then uses the force of gravity to push the water through a series of filtration systems. The unit does not actually attach to your sink, which makes it ultra-portable.
There are two separate filters in this unit. One is designed to remove common contaminants like chlorine, heavy metals, etc. and the other is specifically designed for fluoride removal. The filters can be individually removed, and replaced as needed, and replacement filters are affordable. Click here to learn more.
More options: Best countertop water filters compared
Key Features: Installs on your kitchen faucet; durable construction; 200 gallon filter capacity; easy on/off switch
Price Range: $
The Wingsol water filter is our top recommendation for those looking for a filter that installs directly on your faucet. This style is simple to install, affordable, and allows for easy switching from filtered to unfiltered water. Many people who are new to water filtration and don’t want to spend a lot of money go for this style.
The Wingsol is designed to filter out sand, rust, sediment and dirt, while reducing the concentration of heavy metals and chlorine. Each filter is rated for 200 gallons, but replacement filters are very affordable. The construction of the device is very solid, using 304 stainless steel and an innovative design. Click here to learn more!
More options: Best faucet water filters compared
Key Features: No installation required; very affordable; 10-cup capacity; effective filtration
Price Range: $
The Brita Everyday is the best water filter 2018 for those looking for a pitcher model. This style requires no installation or tinkering – just fill the pitcher with tap water, and keep it in the fridge while it drips through the internal filter. The simplicity and low cost of these models make them a popular choice – although it’s good to note that the volume these filters can handle is usually insufficient for cooking.
The Everyday is a flagship model for Brita, a company which dominates the filtered water pitcher industry. This is their entry-level, low-cost model, so it’s quite affordable – yet it still works very well. It has a 10-cup capacity, so it’s adequate for drinking water needs of a small family (but it will need to be refilled frequently). The included filters help to reduce chlorine taste, plus remove heavy metals, unpleasant odors, and more. Click here to learn more about the Brita Everyday.
More options: Best filtered water pitchers compared
Key Features: Fits most showers; installs with existing shower head; reduces chlorine and other chemicals
Price Range: $
The AquaBliss High Output Universal Shower Filter is one of the best water filters for use in showers. It installs on your existing shower plumbing, just above the shower head. It will fit with any standard-sized showerhead, and is easy to install and use.
The AquaBliss features a multi-stage filter that combines KDF-55, calcium sulfate and activated carbon filtration technology. These filters are effective in reducing chlorine, bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides and more. And the high flow rating of the AquaBliss means you can enjoy filtered shower water without significantly reducing your water pressure!
This affordable filter is a best-seller on Amazon, and consistently earns great ratings in water filter reviews. Click here to learn more.
More options: Best shower water filters compared
Key Features: Lightweight and portable; minimal effort to use; useful for backpacking & emergency kits
Price Range: $$
The Katadyn Vario Dual Technology MicroFilter is the best water filter for those looking for an ultra-portable, lightweight option. This is ideal for use in emergency/survival kits, and for camping, backpacking and adventures. It’s not meant for household use, but is ideal for on-the-go filtering.
The Katadyn Vario can filter up to 2 quarts per minute, using the built-in pump. It’s easy to operate, and offers a much higher flow than many comparable portable filters. The device weighs less than a pound, so it will fit easily in any backpack and it’s lightweight enough to take on long-distance backpacking trips.
As for filtration, the Katadyn uses both an activated carbon filter and a glass fiber filter. In combination, these filters can effectively remove contaminants from lake and stream water virtually anywhere in the world. If you’re sourcing from particularly dirty water, you can also use an optional pre-filter. Click here to learn more.
More options: Best portable water filters compared
Key Features: NSF Certified following 5 different standards; full reverse osmosis filtering system; removes 85+ different contaminants
Price Range: $$$
The Aquasana OptimH2O system is perhaps the best water filtration system that has been independently certified by NSF International. It’s certified under NSF standard 42, 53, 58, 401 and P473. This means that the unit has been third-party tested and verified to be effective in removing a huge range of contaminants and chemicals. It’s designed to filter out about 5x the number of contaminants that most reverse osmosis systems are rated for.
The OptimH2O system is a reverse-osmosis filter that installs below your kitchen sink. The package includes the reverse osmosis filter, a holding tank, a faucet and a remineralizer that helps add healthy minerals back into the filtered water. It requires some basic plumbing knowledge to install, but is relatively simple to set up and use. Overall, this is a highly effective filter. Click here to learn more.
More options: Best NSF-certified water filters compared
Other Filter Styles
The products above are our top recommendations. If you didn’t quite find what you were looking for, try some of our other resources below:
- Best Chlorine Filters – best for those looking to remove chlorine specifically from their water supply
- Best Lead Filters – best for those with known lead contamination, looking for safe removal options
- Best Fluoride Filters – best for those concerned about the potential health impacts of fluoridated water
- Best Water Distiller – best for those interested in distilled water, which can be useful for both drinking and cleaning
Water is essential for human life. It plays many important roles in human health, and makes up nearly 60% of the composition of our body. And since water exits our body constantly through urine, sweat and evaporation, we need to drink water constantly to stay hydrated.
Many of us drink water directly out of the tap. Unfortunately, in many cases this can expose us to dangerous contaminants, chemicals and more. Water flowing to our homes is treated by our local governments, but it’s not nearly as regulated as it should be. An EPA study found that tap water was widely contaminated with dangerous chemicals in 45 US states.
There are essentially three things that are concerning about unfiltered tap water:
- Contaminants and chemicals that aren’t filtered out during treatment
- Chemicals that are added as part of the treatment process (chlorine, fluoride, etc.)
- Contaminants and heavy metals that leach into water from your pipes (lead, etc.)
Because of these three main sources of contaminants, it’s highly unlikely that anyone’s water is completely pure and clean straight out of the tap. Even if local governments do an excellent job of treating your water, lead could still be leaching in from your plumbing. If nothing else, there’s almost certainly some chlorine, fluoride and other treatment chemicals present in your drinking water.
There may be many things in your tap water that you really don’t want to be drinking. Some are contaminants that sneak into water supply systems through cracks in pipes, outdated plumbing, etc. while others are chemicals purposely added to water in order to treat it. Some of the most common contaminants and chemicals found in tap water include:
Chlorine – Chlorine is highly effective in killing off bacteria and microbes. For this reason, it’s widely used in water treatment and is present in most tap water. Unfortunately, chlorine can also contribute to some serious health concerns.
Chief among these concerns is chlorine’s tendency to increase the risk of birth defects. In one study of 141,000 births, researchers found that children born to pregnant women who drank chlorinated water had a 14% greater chance of developing birth defects, and a nearly 100% greater chance of developing urinary tract defects. Drinking chlorinated water can also increase the risk of certain cancers, including bladder and rectal cancer.
Perfluorocarbons (PCFs) – Perfluorinated chemicals, otherwise known as PCFs, are a class of man made chemicals commonly found in municipal water supplies. The main concern with these chemicals is that they can build up in our bodies, and may take several years to pass through our system.
PFCs can potentially damage the immune system, contribute to thyroid disorders and increase the risk of cancer. According to the NIH not enough research has been conducted on PFCs in order to determine their safety in humans. In animal models, most PFCs have demonstrated significant toxicity and adverse affects, leading many health experts to warn of the potential dangers of these chemicals. This interactive map shows areas of the United States that are most affected by PFCs.
Trihalomethanes and DBPs – There are several chemicals that come about as the result of a reaction within our water supply. Some of the most potentially dangerous include trihalomthanes and disinfection byproducts (DPBs), both of which are created when chlorination chemicals interact with organic matter.
These chemicals can pose significant health risks. They can cause liver and kidney damage and may increase the risk of certain cancers. These chemicals are particularly harmful when inhaled, which happens often when showering.
Heavy Metals – Heavy metals can enter our water supply in several different ways. Dangerous metals like arsenic, lead, mercury and more are frequently detected in municipal water supplies. Over time, exposure to these heavy metals can cause serious health concerns.
For instance, even in very small amounts, lead exposure can cause brain damage, hormonal imbalances and more. Chromium, which unfortunately is found in the majority of municipal water supplies, is a group 1 carcinogen and can directly cause cancer. Other metals can also cause issues, ranging from mild to deadly.
Fluoride – Fluoride is added to most water supplies as a way to improve dental health. While it may be marginally beneficial for the health of our teeth, unfortunately it’s quite bad for the rest of our body. Fluoride is a known neurotoxin, meaning that it is toxic to the human brain. A report from the Harvard School of Public Health found that children exposed to fluoride at a young age had notably lower IQ levels later in life.
In addition to its effects on the development of the brain, fluoride may also contribute to the risk of kidney disease, brittle bones, thyroid damage and more.
There are hundreds of different options on the market, so it can be tough to find the best water filter for you. Here’s how we chose our recommendations:
Filtration Technology – Our first focus was on the type of filtration used, and how effective it is in removing the most harmful contaminants. Each broad technology certainly has pros and cons, so we picked options from each to give our readers more choices. Beyond that, we looked at any available testing data (from the manufacturer or from third parties) to gauge how effective the filter actually was.
Filter Life – Water filters of all types typically have a removable filter that needs to be swapped out every so often (usually every 2 months to 1 year). Since constantly replacing filters can get pricey, we picked models with good filter life and/or affordable replacements.
Quality & Craftsmanship – There are a lot of low-quality models flooding the market, many of which use sub-par materials and shoddy craftsmanship. We steered well clear of these options, and picked high-quality, durable and well-made products from reputable companies.
Value – We understand that the best water filter is almost certainly NOT the cheapest water filter. However, we also understand that our readers don’t want to spend a fortune on a filters. So, we focused on finding a middle ground between price, features and overall value.