You may not be able to control the quality of your well or municipal water, but you can use a filter to protect yourself and your family from potentially harmful contaminants—or just improve your water’s taste. We found the best options to make your water cleaner and healthier.
Check out quick info below of the top five water filters, then scroll deeper for buying tips and full reviews of these models plus other high-ranking options.
Do You Need a Water Filter?
While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates public water supplies, this doesn’t mean your water is totally free of certain contaminants like chlorine, asbestos, cadmium, copper, and fluoride. But in order to assess whether or not you should get a filter, you need to understand your water source and its potential contaminants.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that if you get water from a private well, you get it tested at a state-certified lab at least annually. If you get water from a public system, you’ll get a report from the EPA on the quality of your drinking water that will come with your water bill and tell you what contaminants your water may have.
You may decide you want a water filter just to improve the taste of your tap water, even if you think the poor taste isn’t due to anything actually harmful to your health. However, the CDC warns that many contaminants cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. If you confirm your water source may have harmful amounts of arsenic, nitrates, chlorine, lead, or other contaminants, you’ll want a water filter that can specifically address those concerns.
What Kind of Filter Do You Need?
No filter will remove all contaminants, so it’s important to select the right type for your water source. We looked into all kinds of filters, from under-sink and countertop systems to faucet attachments, pitchers, and dispensers. The price range of water filters is vast, ranging from reverse osmosis models that cost hundreds to $20 pitchers. In addition to your water source and budget, you should consider the speed of the filter and your household size as well as how easy it is to install and maintain. You can search some filters in NSF’s database to learn in more detail about what contaminants each is designed to protect you from. The most common NSF/ANSI standards to be aware of include 42 (for removing chlorine and other bad tastes and odors), 53 (for reducing health contaminants like heavy metals), and 401 (for “emerging contaminants” like pharmaceuticals).
How We Rated Them
We researched ten expert sources and 27,000 consumer reviews to select the best water filters. To determine the Total Expert Score, we calculated the ratings from trusted publications, such as TechGearLab and Helpful Habitat, and converted them to a 100-point scale to make it easier for you to weigh the best options. Because more affordable faucet attachments, pitchers, and dispensers aren’t rated by enough sources for us to give them expert scores, we relied solely on consumer reviews for those models. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of people who rated the product at least four out of five stars on retail and review sites like Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot.
Total Expert Score: 93/100 | Consumer Score: 92% give it 4 stars or more
Filter type: 5-stage reverse osmosis | NSF/ANSI standard 58 | Estimated annual cost: $36 | Dimensions: 15 x 8 x 8 in.
The iSpring RCC7 is a five-stage reverse osmosis filter that you can install under your sink to remove 99.9 percent of harmful contaminants (like lead and chlorine) that may be in your municipal or well water. TechGearLab awarded it Editors’ Choice for that, but also its ability to extract about 95 percent of salt. It comes with three pre-filters—a PP sediment, carbon KDF, and carbon block, which you should replace roughly every year. After water flows through those, a reverse-osmosis filter does the heavy-lifting of removing contaminants before a fine carbon GEC filter performs a final polish to deliver clean water to your faucet.
If you’re looking for something more permanent than a pitcher, this under-sink filter is easy to install yourself. Though the flow rate is on the low end for reverse-osmosis filters, its rating of 75 gallons per day should provide plenty of clean drinking water even for a big family. Many Amazon reviewers also confirmed that the iSpring produced completely neutral-tasting water.
Apex MR-1050 Alkaline
Total Expert Score: 84/100 | Consumer Score: 86% give it 4 stars or more
Filter type: Alkaline mineral | NSF/ANSI standard 61 & 42 | Estimated annual cost: $90 | Dimensions: 14 x 6 x 6 in.
Rather than installing under the sink, this water filter sits on your countertop and attaches to most standard kitchen faucets. It’s an alkaline filter, meaning it adds healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium back into your water, while balancing the pH of water to make it less acidic. It can also clean up to 750 gallons of water—or six to eight months’ worth for a family of four—before you need to replace the filter, though the replacement is relatively expensive. Amazon reviewers preferred Apex’s countertop filter for the health benefits associated with alkaline water, like immune system support and detoxification.
Total Expert Score: NA | Consumer Score: 65% give it 4 stars or more
Filter type: Faucet mount | NSF/ANSI standard 42 & 53 | Estimated annual cost: $57 | Dimensions: 2 x 6 x 8.5 in.
Brita’s faucet-attachment filter reduces 60 contaminants, which is less than what a five-stage filtration system can do. But it still removes 99 percent of lead, chlorine, benzene, and other particles commonly found in tap water. On Amazon, one user said that Brita’s faucet filters “are effective for the well water that comes into my house, which has high sulfur content and very high iron content.”
This filter will last up to four months or 100 gallons—again, not as long as under-sink systems. However, the fact that the device is visible on your faucet instead of hidden away underneath your sink, along with the status indicator, helps remind you when it’s time to replace the filter.
Brita Ultra Max
Total Expert Score: NA | Consumer Score: 88% give it 4 stars or more
Filter type: Brita long-last filter | NSF/ANSI standard 52, 53, & 401 | Estimated annual cost: $34 | Dimensions: 10 x 14 x 5 in.
At 14.5-inches deep but only five inches wide, Brita’s Ultra Max can hold 18 cups of water without taking over much valuable fridge space. The filter-change reminder will let you know when it’s time, though Brita’s included Longlast filter is good for up to six months with average use. Some Amazon reviewers claim that the filter slowed down after a few months, but with an average of 4.5 stars from thousands of reviewers, most were pleased with its performance.
Total Expert Score: NA | Consumer Score: 88% give it 4 stars or more
Filter type: Zero Water Filter | NSF/ANSI standard 53 | Estimated annual cost: $60 | Dimensions: 11.5 x 5.75 x 10.25 in
Those of us that live in a dorm room or a shoebox apartment can have filtered water, too. The ZeroWater Pitcher costs only $20 and holds six cups, fitting into tiny fridges. And it removes chromium, lead, and other heavy metals, along with any sediment that might be in the water. Bonus: It comes with a water-quality meter, which allows you to test the cleanliness of the water after it’s been purified. Reviewers praised the taste of the water, but some complained that the filters don’t last long enough.
More Options to Consider
Total Expert Score: 91/100 | Consumer Score: 98% give it 4 stars or more
Filter type: 5-stage reverse osmosis | Estimated annual cost: $50 | Dimensions: 16 x 5 x 17.5 in.
Like the iSpring, this APEC is a five-stage filter installs under your sink to remove hundreds of contaminants. It features a quality dual-carbon block and a reverse osmosis filter. It filters up to 50 gallons per day at 60 psi, and its automatic shutdown system turns it off once the four-gallon tank is full. However, this filter produces more waste water than the iSpring does.
Many homeowners found that this filter was more than capable of producing the results they expected. One Amazon buyer who switched from an old three-stage filter said, “All of the family agreed that this APEC system delivered superior taste, and higher flow rate.”
Home Master TMAFC-ERP
Total Expert Score: 95/100 | Consumer Score: 93% give it 4 stars or more
Filter type: Reverse osmosis | Estimated annual cost: $80 | Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 16 in.
Though the Home Master may be one of the most expensive options on this list, it’s a seven-stage, reverse osmosis, under-sink filter that will also add minerals like calcium and magnesium to your water. The filters are among the longer lasting ones we’ve seen, requiring replacement just once a year or after 2,000 gallons. Customers also reported at Home Depot that it was easy to install as well as maintain for years.
Brita 10-Cup Everyday Pitcher
Total Expert Score: NA | Consumer Score: 85% give it 4 stars or more
Filter type: Brita standard | NSF/ANSI standard 42 & 53 | Estimated annual cost: $25 | Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 5 in.
For most people’s everyday needs, Brita’s 10-Cup Everyday pitcher will do. It’s big enough for families and will reduce chlorine taste and odor, and remove copper, mercury, and cadmium impurities. The filter indicator lets you know when it’s time to replace the filter (after about every 40 gallons or two months). Some users on Amazon reported issues with this filter’s durability and ease of cleaning, but the majority were pleased with its value for the price.
Total Expert Score: NA | Consumer Score: 75% gave it 4 stars or more
Filter type: Activated carbon | Estimated annual cost: $40 | Dimensions: 9 x 46 x 54 in.
If a pitcher filter isn’t doing it for you, and brushing your teeth or showering is leaving you feeling a bit gritty, you may be better off buying a whole-house filter system. This one conditions all of your water to remove heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides, and contaminants, while leaving in the beneficial minerals. It can be a great option if you have particularly hard water that’s leaving residue behind on your shower and faucets. While it is more of an investment, the system lasts up to ten years, though the filters will need to be changed out every three months.