From natural minerals to man-made pollutants, some form of contamination is there in all water sources.
If you’re worried about the safety of your tap water or just looking to upgrade to a better water filter, this guide can help you choose the best at-home water filter system for you.
Our Top Picks
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Read on for a compilation of the best filters on the market.
Best Overall: APEC Top Tier 5-Stage
This 40-gallon filter has excellent water pressure and removes 99% of contaminants, including arsenic and viruses.
- Compact design fits easily under most people’s sinks and in tricky enclosed spaces
- One of the few water filters that remove fluoride
- Visibly clearer water that tastes better than bottled water
- You might need to drill a hole or call a plumber
- Transparent housings are unavailable, albeit wisely because they often crack after four to five years
- You’ll have to remineralize your water if you’re concerned about your mineral intake
Best Well Water Filter: Brondell Circle Reverse Osmosis System 4 Stage
This filter uses technology designed to eliminate back pressure, saving water and money. The six-liter tank refills completely in less than an hour.
Use the designer faucet or attach it to a faucet with a hot and cold function.
- Uses zero electricity
- Runs exceedingly quietly
- Ideal for well water
- Might be tricky to fit under smaller sinks
- Intake shutoff valve handle is very fragile
- May not fit easily under some sinks
Best Whole House Filter: Home Master HMF2SmgCC Two-Stage Filter
This filter comes with a whopping 95000-gallon capacity, providing a full year of safe, clean water for a family of four. It’s also the most environmentally friendly type of filter.
- Massive housings ensure the strongest water pressure possible
- Specifically suitable for city water
- Larger filters save time, money, and maintenance effort
- This filter is unsuitable for well water
- Needs to be changed more frequently if used for sprinklers or other outside water
- Slight pressure drop if several taps are used at once
Best Drinking Filter for Apartments/Condos: APEX Clear Countertop Alkaline
Sleek enough to fit comfortably even on tiny countertops, this eco-friendly 750-gallon filter removes common contaminants, including mercury, pesticides, and chlorine.
- Attaches easily to most standard kitchen faucets
- Keeps water at the recommended drinking water pH of 6.5-8.5
- Replenishes minerals lost during purification, which is good for your health
- Many people might find it very hard to replace the filter
- Uses granular carbon rather than carbon block
- Algae may grow if placed in sunlit indoor spaces
Best Water Bottle Filter: LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle
The two-stage activated carbon filter in this durable 23-ounce water bottle removes microorganisms in water from lakes and streams.
It’s a great environmentally conscious alternative to disposable plastic water bottles and can be used anywhere.
- Gets rid of most contaminants found in lakes and streams
- Leaves no aftertaste
- For every purchase from this manufacturer, a school child in need receives safe water for an entire school year
- Bottle may leak
- You might find the straw difficult to drink through
- Needs to be cleaned after each use
Best Pool Filter: Hayward S270T ProSeries Sand Filter
This weatherproof seven-position filter is easy to assemble and maintain compared to similar products.
You can even contact a licensed pool professional to help you with its installation. You can expect crystal clear pool water with this filter.
- You only need to backwash this filter every two months
- The eco-friendly, energy-efficient system saves money on electric bills
- Surprisingly good customer service
- Warranty is only for one year
- Very heavy product
- Doesn’t come with the sand
Best Showerhead Filter: AquaBliss High Output Universal Shower Filter
Using redox media, calcium sulfite, activated carbon, this filter removes the contaminants behind many cases of eczema, itchy scalp, and other skin and hair problems.
It also removes foul odors from your water and is easy to install.
- Doubles as a water softener
- Works with any showerhead
- Needs a few adjustments to work with well water.
- Cannot remove chloramine
- May result in a lower showerhead due to larger size
Which Filter Should You Choose?
Read on below for a quick look at the different types of filters. Remember to search for filter models in the NSF database.
Types of Filters
Unsure which filter is for you? Let’s walk you through the main types.
Faucet Filter vs. Pitcher Filter
Both are almost similar in function, but faucet filters are a little better than pitcher filters.
You can attach a faucet filter yourself. Faucet filters provide cleaner water and have a longer life. You can turn them on and off to use regular unfiltered water.
Faucet filters also give you filtered water the moment you turn on the faucet. There’s no pitcher you have to fill and keep refilling, unlike pitcher filters.
That said, not every faucet filter will fit every faucet. They can also reduce water pressure.
Whole House Filters
A whole house filter (reverse osmosis filter) provides you with clean water to drink and to shower with. This will spare your hair and skin the rough elements in normal water, especially hard water.
Drinking and washing are not the only things you need clean water for. A whole house filter lets you cook with clean water, which is safer and tastes better.
A quality whole house filter requires very little maintenance. It also helps give your plumbing a longer life and prevents buildup in your sink and bathtub.
Undersink filters are made specifically to fit under your sink. They can remove far more contaminants compared to other types of filters, except for the whole house filter.
Unfortunately, under sink filters emit wastewater. We recommend a whole house filter that fits under your sink.
Does My Tap Water Need Filtering?
If your tap water tastes or smells foul, it could be contaminated. Not all contaminants can be tasted or smelled, however. You and your family may be drinking contaminated water without knowing it.
Your best bet is to send a sample of your tap water to one of the many certified laboratories that will test your tap water for you and determine how contaminated it is.
What Do Filters Remove?
Water filters remove impurities such as dirt, silt, sediments, and sand. Depending on the type of filter, they also remove chlorine, pesticides, arsenic, bacteria, and viruses. Some filters can also remove iron, manganese, and sulfur.
After you send out a sample of your water to be tested, you’ll get a water quality report detailing the levels of inorganic metals, microbes, and lead in your tap water. Your report will also list the safe level for each contaminant.
Here are a few common concerns of people considering a water filtration system.
Are water filters dangerous?
Water filters that are not NSF-certified can be dangerous. As long as you’re buying from a reputable manufacturer, quality water filters are safer than tap and bottled water.
Is filtered better than bottled?
Filtered water is safer for you and better for the environment. Bottled water has reached 2000 times the price of tap water. It can also contain double the amount of contaminants in tap water. Unlike tap water, bottled water isn’t FDA-regulated.
Plastic water bottles are also a major health risk and a major source of pollution. The manufacturing process harms the environment in numerous ways. People throw-away over 60 million plastic water bottles per day. These not only litter but also release toxins as they degrade.
Environmentally concerned people who reuse plastic bottles face health risks because of bacterial growth and toxin release.
Are pitcher filters safe?
Research has shown that pitcher filters only remove between 49% and 80% of the contaminants they claim. They can also introduce bacteria into the supposedly purified water at levels even higher than tap water.
If your immunity is compromised, you should not use a pitcher filter. Faucet filters are in the same price range and a much safer option than pitcher filters.
Are refrigerator filters safe?
Very few refrigerators are as clean as they should be. This means the water from your refrigerator water filter can be contaminated with waterborne bacteria. This exposes you to coliform and salmonella, among other contaminants.
Because the refrigerator water filter isn’t as readily visible as other kinds, you may forget to replace it. This is also bad for your health. We don’t recommend drinking from a refrigerator filter.
What’s the right size filter for my pool?
According to the Pool Cleaner Blog, bigger is always better when it comes to choosing a filter for your pool.
Your best bet is to pick a filter with a bigger capacity than the size of your pool.
As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all filter that removes every contaminant, fits anywhere and has enough capacity to suit every household.
We recommend the APEC Top Tier 5-Stage. Its 40-gallon capacity means a practically unlimited supply of clean water.
This filter removes 99% of contaminants, including arsenic and viruses. It’s also one of the rare water filters that can remove fluoride.
People have reported that the water actually tastes good, much better than bottled water, not to mention most similar products. It fits easily under most people’s sinks and in tricky spaces.