Water treatment facilities across the world have the herculean task of cleaning water for entire cities and even regions using a combination of filters, advanced technologies and chemicals. While we expect that the municipal water entering our home is 100 percent safe, the combination of aging infrastructure and other factors can result in tap water retaining residuals or contaminants that you’d rather do without. Adding to this, while most municipal water supplies meet EPA standards, there is some school of thought that those standards may be too lenient.
That being said, installing one or more types of water filters in your home is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment. As there are a wide selection of water filters on the market, we’ve organized this best water filters article to give you a general guide for how they work, what their benefits are and how they might serve as part of your home.
Home water filters oftentimes act as a last line of defense against bacteria, viruses, metals and residual chemicals. Our hope is that the below water filter reviews provide guidance in helping you decide on which type or types of filters are necessary for your home and family.
Water Filter Comparison Chart
|Brand/Model (Click Item Text to Scroll to Review)||Our 2019 Pick for...|
|1. Aquasana Whole House Water Filter with Salt-Free Softener||Whole House Filter||CHECK PRICE|
|2. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener||Water Softener||CHECK PRICE|
|3. Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Under Sink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter||Under Sink Filter||CHECK PRICE|
|4. iSpring 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System with Alkaline Remineralization||Reverse Osmosis System||CHECK PRICE|
|5. AquaTru Countertop Water Filter Purification System||Countertop Filter||CHECK PRICE|
|6. Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher||Filter Pitcher||CHECK PRICE|
|7. EveryDrop by Whirlpool Refrigerator Water Filter 4||Refrigerator Filter||CHECK PRICE|
|8. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter||Portable Filter||CHECK PRICE|
|Brand/Model (Click Item Text to Scroll to Review)|
|1. Aquasana Whole House Water Filter with Salt-Free Softener|
Top Whole House Filter
|2. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener|
Top Water Softener
|3. Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Under Sink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter|
Top Under Sink Filter
|4. iSpring 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System with Alkaline Remineralization|
Top Reverse Osmosis System
|5. AquaTru Countertop Water Filter Purification System|
Top Countertop Filter
|6. Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher|
Top Filter Pitcher
|7. EveryDrop by Whirlpool Refrigerator Water Filter 4|
Top Refrigerator Filter
|8. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter|
Top Portable Filter
Best Water Filter Reviews
1. Aquasana Whole House Water Filter with Salt-Free Softener – Best Whole House FilterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This filter provides healthy, great-tasting water throughout your entire home and can remove up to 97 percent of chlorine for up to one million gallons. In addition, its SimplySoft salt-free water softener can reduce scales by up to 99.6 percent. It gets our vote for the top whole-house water filter in most situations.
Your filter will come with a professional-grade installation kit, featuring bend supports, brass fittings and bypass valves. This unit requires no electricity, salt or back-flushing and comes with a one-year, limited warranty.
This filtration system is intelligently engineered to maximize the performance of the system’s filter media; in addition, its unique upflow capability ensures that water stays in contact with filter media longer, which allows the filter to remove more contaminants than many of its competitors with more traditional designs.
The system works in distinct stages, each with its own powerful filter media, so that finished water is polished, safe and great-tasting, plus soft enough to be good for your skin and hair, and to make household cleaning easier. The filtration process starts with a pre-sediment filter, then moves through the following media: salt-free conditioner, copper-zinc and mineral stone, activated carbon, sub-micron post filter and UV filter.
Reports say that the system delivers strong and consistent results, though many caution that you should get professional plumbing support for the installation, which can be complicated – especially if you don’t already have some basic carpentry and plumbing skills.
2. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener – Best Water SoftenerCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Our favorite water softener for 2019, this unit is Fleck’s most popular seller for softening household water. The system comes with a high-capacity resin brine tank, along with a safety float, an overflow elbow, a half-inch drain barb, paddlewheel meter, one-inch plastic male threaded bypass and a 5600 SXT bypass valve. The brine tank can hold approximately 250 pounds of salt. Using ion exchange, the Fleck 5600 SXT removes the calcium and magnesium that can result in hard water in your home.
And by using a metered regeneration process, the system measures the water you use and regenerates only when needed based on your level of use. The meter valve included with this system is Fleck’s most popular. According to the manufacturer, if you have basic plumbing skills, you can install the system yourself in one to two hours.
The 5600 SXT comes with a five-year warranty, and with this system, you also can access Pentair’s Scan and Service app, which provides technical and service support information that you can access from the convenience of your smartphone.
Reviewers were drawn to how effective the system is; many report that they don’t know how they lived without the softening of their water! Most report that installation is fairly smooth and easy, depending on your skill level, and that once installed, the system is extremely effective. Some users report issues with programming the valve, but also give customer service high marks for their assistance.
3. Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Under Sink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter – Best Under Sink FilterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This reverse osmosis model, which comes fully assembled, features a built-in, non-electric permeate pump, which reduces your home’s water waste by as much as 80 percent and augments water production by as much as 50 percent. With seven stages of filtration, plus enhancements, this unit removes up to 98 percent of residual chemicals, including chloramine. The system’s unique design solves many of the most common issues associated with RO systems, like slow flow rate, water waste and slightly acidic water.
In addition, this system provides added minerals for even better taste. Its patented Full Contact technology can add magnesium and calcium back into your water at two separate points during the filtering process. With long-lasting and easy-to-change filters, this filter system is easy to maintain. You’ll need to change the filter only once per year or every 2,000 gallons treated.
Users report that this unit is fairly simple to install and provides a fast water flow. It also gets high marks for reliable and consistent results and ease of filter changes. Some users report difficulty with hard-to-understand instructions and/or lack of helpful illustrations and diagrams for the installation process, but overall, the system is a good value that produces great-tasting and safe water.
We think this is top choice for under sink water filters on the market – it comes with a five-year limited warranty against manufacturer defects and meets National Safety Federation standards for safety and performance.
4. iSpring 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System with Alkaline Remineralization – Best Reverse Osmosis SystemCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This filter allows you to enjoy safe, clean, tasty water every time you turn on the tap and earns our Editor’s Choice for reverse osmosis systems. As an under-sink, mounted model, this unit removes up to 99 percent of more than 1,000 known water contaminants – including asbestos, sodium, calcium, giardia, chlorine, fluoride, bacteria, viruses, hormones and more.
A typical reverse osmosis membrane filters out not only potentially harmful contaminants, but also some of the water’s helpful minerals. And a standard five-stage RO filter produces water that’s slightly acidic, with a pH of 7.0 or lower. However, the iSpring RCC7AK features an additional sixth stage of filtering, which features an alkaline remineralization filter to restore healthy minerals and produce a more balanced alkalinity. The result is better, more natural-tasting water than a typical RO filter can produce.
This filter comes with top-notch components that are reliable and can be maintained easily for many years to come. With its see-through housing, you’ll always be able to visually inspect your filter to know when it’s time for a change. In addition, installation is quick and easy – a confident DIYer can likely complete installation within a couple of hours, and expert help is only a phone call away.
Many reviewers report that installation is easy, filters are painless to replace and the water produced is high quality – though some users report that the housings may leak and need to be repaired or replaced over time.
5. AquaTru Countertop Water Filter Purification System – Best Countertop FilterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This water filter is NSF certified to remove 15 times more contaminants than many other pitcher filters on the market. In fact, this filter can remove 99.1 percent of lead, 97.2 percent of chromium, 95.2 percent of copper, 93.5 percent of fluoride, 96.5 percent of radium and 96.6 percent of chlorine, just to name a few of the thousands of contaminants the AquaTru is designed to remove.
AquaTru boasts that this filter can be set up within three minutes and requires no plumbing adjustments or installation. This is also a budget-friendly model and comes with quick-change, twist-and-seal filters that are easy to replace. Each filter lasts anywhere from six months to two years depending on your level of use.
With a compact design, at 14 inches tall, 14 inches deep and 12 inches wide, this countertop model fits nicely beside your sink while still leaving you plenty of counter space. The AquaTru can clean one gallon of tap water per 12-15 minutes. With all these characteristics, we believe it’s the top unit in its category.
The AquaTru comes with a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee. User say that it’s a game-changing product, offering all of the benefits of larger reverse osmosis units with none of the drawbacks. However, some users point out that the internal components are quite sensitive and must be aligned perfectly in order for the machine to perform as intended – so make sure to pay attention to that aspect during product setup.
6. Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher – Best Filter PitcherCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
The high-quality filters associated with this model can treat more than 150 gallons of water each, lasting three to four times longer than many competitor filters. In addition, all components of this system are rigorously tested and meet NSF standards for reduction in contaminants. In addition, all parts of the filter system are BPA free and made from 100-percent FDA-approved food-grade materials. The entire system is fully recyclable and 100 percent vegan – and it’s our top pick for a water filter pitcher.
This filter system includes a five-stage filter process that includes two micron pores, plus a lead/fluoride filter, which can capture some contaminants that other systems leave behind. The system is able to do this while allowing your water to retain valuable minerals like magnesium and calcium that both improve taste and add health benefits.
With this model, you’ll receive a full lifetime guarantee, along with same-day customer support. If the filter pitcher ever malfunctions or breaks, the company will replace it at no cost to you.
Reviewers were pleased with the great taste of the finished water, though they were often less than impressed with the slower-than-expected flow rate. In addition, some users expressed concern that the filter does not remove fluoride at the level expected. Overall, though, users comment on the ease of use and the high quality of the filtered water and express satisfaction at the value of the filter for the money spent.
7. EveryDrop by Whirlpool Refrigerator Water Filter 4 – Best Refrigerator FilterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This is our favorite of the top refrigerator water filters you can purchase. It’s the only filter on the market that is certified to work with refrigerators manufactured by Whirlpool, Maytag, JennAir, Amana and KitchenAid. You can check your model number before purchase to make sure the filter will fit your particular refrigerator.
The system is designed to filter out 23 specific contaminants, including lead, pesticides, mercury, waterborne parasites and pharmaceutical residuals. The unit is certified by the National Safety Federation at 23, up from 17 in previous versions.
You’ll need to replace the filter approximately every six months, or every 200 gallons of water treated, in order to ensure maximum filtration and contaminant reduction. This particular version replaces earlier models that filtered at lower capacity. It installs quickly and easily and comes with a comprehensive installation guide – in fact, you should be able to install it within 10 seconds.
This water filter gets high marks from consumers for its fast flow rate and a finished water that tastes great. Many others comment that it fits like a glove and works like a charm in a variety of refrigerator models, some of which aren’t manufactured anymore. While many comment on the high price of the filters, they also acknowledge that they are worth every penny because of how effective they are. In fact, several reviewers have warned against trying to replace filters with knock-off versions because they will not perform at the same level.
8. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – Best Portable FilterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
The microfiltration membrane in the LifeStraw filters out nearly 100 percent of all waterborne bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli, and parasites like cryptosporidium and giardia. In addition, this unit boasts the unique ability to filter out microplastics down to one micron, and can also reduce your water’s turbidity down to .2 microns.
Our top pick for portable water filters, this model undergoes rigorous testing to verify all claims – its microbiological filter can filter and polish up to 1,000 gallons of drinking water, as long as the system is properly used and maintained. Whether you’re hiking, camping or riding out a disaster, this filter makes sure you can have access to clean water whenever you need it. And weighing in at only two ounces, it won’t weigh down your pack. That means you’re free to explore and drink from every glacier, river, lake and babbling brook you come across with the confidence that your LifeStraw can make the water as safe as possible.
The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter offers the added benefit that for every unit purchased, a school child receives safe drinking water for an entire school year.
Reviewers say that you should absolutely believe the hype – the filter is just as amazing as its fans proclaim. It gets high marks for both reliability and safety, though some comment that it may take more strength than you think to drink the water through the straw since it doesn’t have a pump or squeeze method of filtration.
How Water Filters Work
Water filters come in so many different sizes, shapes, capacities and functionalities that it’s often hard to keep track! However, they do share some core characteristics and mechanisms of action. Most filters will use a combination of physical filtration, along with a chemical filtration process to fully eradicate microscopic contaminants and particles from your home water supply. Depending on their functionality, some filters may use up to six or seven distinct stages of filtration. Some of the most common types of filtration include activated carbon filters, which is the most widely used method, ion exchange, steam distillation and reverse osmosis.
The first, or physical, stage of filtration typically provides some sort of physical barrier that your water has to pass through, basically like a sieve or strainer. Larger particles and contaminants – and even some larger microorganisms – can’t pass through the tiny holes in the barrier, so they’re left behind. This physical barrier can be anything from a piece of fine textile membrane to a section of thin gauze. Any type of filter you choose will typically start with this stage of filtration before branching out into various other processes as outlined below.
Usually the second stage employs some type of activated carbon filter – charcoal, in particular, is a porous form of carbon, so its internal surface is ideal for trapping contaminants within all its various divots and dents. Larger particles get stuck on the carbon surface, which removes them from your water. The nature of carbon is also to serve as a magnet of sorts, drawing in compounds like lead and volatile organic compounds and then trapping them as water makes its way through the filter through a process called adsorption. In addition, chemicals, including chlorine, are reduced through their chemical reaction with carbon as the water meets the filter. But – carbon filters’ limitation is that they can’t filter out heavy metals, sodium, fluorine, microbes or nitrates, and carbon filtration doesn’t affect water hardness – the buildup of minerals found in some tap water.
For those with hard water (containing a large amount of minerals), ion exchange filters are particularly helpful. They employ a chemical process that releases helpful or desirable ions, like sodium, for example, into the tap water and then exchanges them for unwanted ions – like heavy metals. This will give you softer water with a sweeter taste, but it will raise the sodium content of your water, so some would argue that the end product of ion exchange isn’t exactly “pure,” since sodium may be considered just a different type of contaminant.
The process of reverse osmosis uses existing water pressure to force tap water through a semipermeable membrane, which eliminates lead, iron and mercury particles, for example. They are left behind and then flushed away. Many users consider reverse osmosis the most effective form of water filtration, but keep in mind that reverse osmosis isn’t sufficient for removing many pesticides, along with metals and solvents like radon and chlorine. The term “reverse osmosis” is just what it sounds like – this type of filter must force water to work against the direction it normally would flow during the process of osmosis. So that means this type of filter uses electricity to pump the water through the membrane as desired.
The bottom line is that there’s no one type of water filter or filtration process that removes absolutely every type of pollutant from your water, so you have to determine what’s in your water to start with, along with what’s of most value to you to filter out. And some users employ multiple filter systems within their home, so that’s always an option as well.
Advantages of a Water Filter
Whatever type of water filter(s) you choose, you can look forward to several benefits for both you and your family. Just a few of the major positive effects are outlined below:
Better Tasting Water
Because they’re removing many particles and elements that influence the taste of your tap water, filters can improve the overall purity, taste and smell of your drinking water. In addition, most filters will lower the pH level of your drinking water, which for many people improves the overall taste. In fact, many people choose to add a home water filter simply to alleviate taste and odor concerns associated with their water supply.
Safer Drinking Water
This is the chief reason people get water filters in the first place – when you add extra filtration to your water, you can rest assured that you are making it healthier and safer for you and your family to drink. You are removing impurities, residual chemicals and any sediment your water may have picked up on the way from the treatment facility.
Especially if you’re currently purchasing bottled water for your family, you’ll see a tremendous drop in spend once your water filter is in place. Even with purchase, installation and maintenance charges, your home water filter is dramatically less expensive than ongoing bottled water purchases. In addition, you should save money long-term on your plumbing bills – the heavy metals, chemical residuals and minerals often found in unfiltered water can, over the long haul, cause damage to your plumbing system – that includes damage to pipes, plus damage to household appliances like garbage disposals, dishwashers and refrigerator ice makers. You might even save on soap – the softer filtered water requires less soap to clean everything: your dishes, your body and/or your clothes.
This is another key reason people may purchase water filters. Avoiding bottled water in favor of home-filtered water can save billions of water bottles from ending up in landfills all over the world. Our oceans and our landfills are currently filled with millions of water bottles that will take more than 300 years to fully disintegrate.
Improvement and Prevention of Skin Conditions
Many times, contaminants like heavy metals, chlorine and fluoride in your water supply can aggravate the symptoms of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, especially in young children. With improved water quality, you can minimize skin irritations and their symptoms. Because our bodies can absorb chemicals through the water we shower in, a whole-house filter is often best for helping combat skin conditions.
Protection Against Gastrointestinal Upset
Sometimes microscopic organisms and parasites can be found in unfiltered water, and many of them can cause intestinal and digestive concerns if ingested. However, putting your water through an extra filtering process can protect you and your family from these kinds of water-borne digestive illnesses. In fact, some estimates indicate that adding a water filter can reduce your chances of gastrointestinal disease by as much as 33 percent.
Better Preparation for Disasters
Often when a natural disaster occurs, wastewater lines can burst, which endangers your whole water supply. However, by having your own home water filter, you can know that you have this added level of protection for your family’s drinking water. In addition, installing a home water filter gives you a layer of added protection in the event of municipal boil water notices that stem from issues at treatment facilities.
With all these benefits in mind, also make sure to understand that it’s impossible to remove absolutely all contaminants from filtered water. Sometimes, small amounts still get through, even though the quality of your finished water is greatly improved.
Best Water Filter Buyer’s Guide
You have several important considerations when deciding what kind of home water filter to purchase. Factors to weigh include your household’s level of water consumption, your budget, the level of maintenance required for a particular unit and the contaminants present in your water.
If you’ve followed our advice and had your water tested before starting your research of various water filters, you’re well positioned to make the best choice for the type of filter you need. You’ll know exactly what needs to be filtered out, which helps inform your choice. To make sure a filter will remove a certain contaminant, confirm that the packaging says it meets National Safety Federation certification for that particular substance.
Filters are first divided into two major categories: whole-house filtration systems and point-of-use filters. Whole-house filters are comprehensive systems that may be expensive to install and maintain. One question to ask yourself is what level of water filtration you’re looking for – and are you interested in only filtering your drinking water, or do you have special circumstances or health concerns that would make treating your whole house water the best option, for example. When installing a whole-house filter system, you’ll likely need to engage professional plumbing assistance because installation can get quite complicated.
But if you know for sure you need a point-of-use filter, you’ll need to decide whether you’d prefer a version that attaches to the faucet outlet in place of the aerator or a filter with housing mount that fits under the sink and includes its own separate faucet.
As a side note, you might also enjoy reading our Pelican Water Reviews article, which details Pelican’s top units in various water filter categories.
In general, some of the top water filters on the market will share the following characteristics:
Certifications for Claims
Make sure the water filter you choose has been tested by an independent organization like NSF International or the Water Quality Association. Don’t settle for a manufacturer’s word on what exactly your filter can remove. Both of these organizations make databases available for consumers to learn more about water filter models they’re considering.
Appropriate Filter Mechanism
This goes back to making sure the filter you choose is qualified to filter out what you need removed. Most water filters use some form of carbon, and you can also find multi-stage filters and those that use semi-permeable membranes to provide reverse osmosis treatment.
The Right Capacity
Make sure to document how much water your household consumes during a given day so that you can choose a filter that can keep up with your needs. If you only need a small amount of filtered water, you might consider a filter pitcher, but faucet-mounted, countertop and under-sink versions provide unlimited capacity since they’re connected to your water line. They also let you switch back and forth between filtered and unfiltered tap water, depending on your needs.
A Moderate to Fast Flow Rate
Many water filters can noticeably slow the flow from your faucet, but if the rate slows down too much, the filter becomes an inconvenience that no one in your household will use. Make sure to research reviews about flow speed before you make your choice. In addition, many filters will slow down as the filter nears replacement time; once it’s replaced, the flow rate should speed back up.
A Decent Warranty
Any filter that requires a level of installation should come with at least a one-year warranty, if not a two-year; all of the units in the above water filter reviews match or exceed this. Filter pitchers typically come with a 90-day warranty, which is suitable for that level of product.
When you’re installing a filter, you’ll want to look for one that is compatible with a broad variety of sinks, faucets and plumbing setups. Sometimes consumers need to purchase extra adaptors or other accessories to make a filter work, so you’ll want to know up front if you’ll have to take that extra step. Also make sure the visible attachments are compatible with your décor – most filters offer a variety of finishes for their accompanying faucets.
Summing It Up
After reading through this article, we’d be surprised if you weren’t at least a little overwhelmed by the number of different water filter options for your home. That being said, the sheer number of options between not only filter categories but the various models within each category means you can find a water filter or combination of water filters that work to provide safe, clean water to you and those you care deeply about. We hope this best water filters post has helped you in getting an idea of what types of water filter(s) your home and location requires; as always, feel free to shoot us a comment or message if you have any questions!