Best Water Filters Guide In 2021

So you’ve determined that purchasing a residential water filter for your home is a necessary investment for clean healthy water.

The only issue is determining which type of filter is best for your water quality needs.

Is it best to install a filter for your whole house at the point of entry, under your sink, on your faucet, or just getting a water filter pitcher to store in your refrigerator?

This all depends on your family, home water quality issues, and personal preference.

This is exactly why we are here to help you pick the best water filter or filtration system for your home needs.

Our team of water quality professionals has done all the research for you so that you can quickly learn which water filter is going to be the right choice.

glass of water

The Importance of Testing Your Water First

If anyone were to tell you straight away that a particular water filter is definitely best for your home without seeing your water test data then frankly you shouldn’t trust that person.

The bottom line is that picking the correct water filter depends on where you are located, your local water treatment plant or well quality, and your family/home situation.

The first step to take if you haven’t already when selecting a water filter is to run a water test on your home’s water as well as getting information from your local water treatment plant about the levels of impurities in your water and where your water comes from.

testing

We have some awesome resources you should check out if you need to test your water:

After you have completed water testing and figured out what types of contaminants you’re dealing with you can then narrow down your water filter selection to the model that will effectively work on your water quality problem.

How to Determine Which Filter is Best For Your Home

Like stated above, the first step in determining which water filter is going to be best is to understand what water quality issues you’re dealing with from your water testing.

Besides that, there are other important factors to take into consideration in order to choose the right water filter that we covered in our guide here.

Let’s review the basic steps that will help you choose the right water filter:

Get your water tested preferably using a lab test that covers a wide range of contaminants

Research your local water utility to get your water quality report if you are on city water

Determine if you also have a hard water problem

Review the most common methods of filtration to determine which type will treat your water effectively based on your test data

Match the correct filter type to your water quality problem

Determine the right unit type and size for your specific home needs

Review of The Common Location Types of Water Filters

Let’s quickly review the most common types of water filters so that you make sure you are selecting the right filtration technology based on your water quality data.

Activated Carbon

Activated carbon filtration mainly works on tastes and odors, chlorine, VOC’s, disinfection byproducts, and other chemical contaminants. It doesn’t work on arsenic, fluoride, microbiological contaminants, and minerals.

Activated carbon can be a great type of water filter for city water that just needs some extra filtration to remove chlorine, tastes and odors, and other chemicals that are still in your water after city treatment.

They are also very efficient water filters that don’t waste a lot of water which is why you see activated carbon style filters used for the point of entry in a whole home situation.

carbon

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis filtration is known for being one of the most effective forms of filtration in terms of overall contaminants removal but it’s not as efficient as activated carbon type filters.

RO removes arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, lead, copper, most microbiological contaminants, minerals, and they usually also contain an activated carbon filter so they cover those contaminants as well.

RO units are usually used under the sink or at the point of use in a home where the water quality data shows that the local water has more severe contaminant levels. They waste more water and are less efficient in filtering so they are not usually used for the whole home.

iSpring-RCC7AK-RO

Ultraviolet (UV) Purifiers

UV Purifiers are used single handedly on bacteria and viruses. They don’t work on any other contaminants but they are very effective for killing microorganisms.

This is why you will see these types of filters added to portable camping filters or standard home water filters to give an added level of microbiological protection.

If you have water quality issues with microbiological contaminant concern then adding a UV purifier to your setup would make sense.

pelican_uv

Water Softeners

Water softeners work to either remove hardness causing minerals or change the structure of hardness causing minerals in terms of the salt-free types to reduce scale buildup on your home appliances.

A large portion of homeowners in the United States deal with hard water issues and this is where installing a water softener would make sense if your water hardness levels are moderate to high.

Keep in mind that water softeners just work on hardness causing minerals and not other contaminants.

Water Softeners

Combination Types of Filtration

Often you will see water filtration systems that contain multiple types of filtration in order to get the most effective level of filtration possible for people dealing with different water quality issues.

For example, there are combination water filter and softener units that contain activated carbon filters as well as salt-free water softeners so that if you are dealing with hard water and contaminants you can purchase one unit that works on everything.

water softener

Review of The Common Location Types of Water Filters

Below we will briefly go over the types of water filters used in different locations of the home and which is best for you.

Point of Use Water Filters

Point of use style water filters are meant to be used on one specific location usually under your sink or on a faucet which provides your home drinking water.

These types of filters are best for people who are just looking to provide filtered water for your home drinking water and don’t care about filtering all the water coming into your home.

Styles of point of use filters include: faucet filtersunder sink filtersshower filtersportable filters, and pitchers.

faucet filter
water filter

Point of Entry Water Filters

Point of entry style water filters are installed on the entry point where water comes into your home and they filter all the incoming water in your home, not just your drinking water in the kitchen.

These types of filters are best for people looking to filter all the water in the home including shower water, drinking water, appliance water, and more. They are the most comprehensive type of filter.

Styles of point of entry filters include: whole house carbon filterswhole house iron filterswhole house RO systemswhole house water softeners.

Criteria We Evaluate Filters On

When deciding which water filter is best we review a number of different criteria that are specific to the type of filter. These include:

Contaminants Removed

What contaminants does the water filter remove? Knowing this data will allow you to match your choice correctly with your water quality problem.

Filter Lifespan & Capacity

How long do the filters in the system last for and what level of water can they filter? This will help you determine if the product is cost effective over time based on its durability.

Flow Rate

How does the water filter affect your home flow rate? Will you be able to get clean water rather quickly or will you be taking a nap each time you need to fill up on water? This will help you determine if the water filter is going to be usable in your home.

iron-filter

Certifications

What contaminants does the water filter remove? Knowing this data will allow you to match your choice correctly with your water quality problem.

Price

How expensive is the water filter upfront and how much is it going to cost over the long term with filter replacements and maintenance?

Any other specifics that are common for the type of filter

For each specific type of filtration method we determine some of the standard criteria that’s important to look for such as a water softener’s grain capacity, if it’s salt or salt-free, a reverse osmosis filters waste water ratio, and if it contains remineralization or not. These criteria help determine how the unit stacks up against similar filters.

Overall Best Water Filters

Best Water Filter Pitcher- Clearly Filtered

Clearly Filtered’s water filter pitcher is the best on the market due to its awesome filtration capability which uses 7 different filtration media and removes a total of 232+ contaminants.

The filters last for around 4+ months before they need to be replaced and this unit has been independently tested for NSF certifications showing it’s reliability.

Another solid feature is that it filters water pretty quickly in about 10-15 minutes as compared to 30 minutes for some water filter pitchers.

Overall, the Clearly Filtered pitcher is on the higher end of the price spectrum in this category but you pay for the best quality in filtration and reliability.

Clearly Filtered Pitcher

Pros

  • Only filter independently tested for NSF certifications
  • Removes 232+ contaminants
  • Filters water in 15 minutes
  • Filters last for 4+ months
  • Solid brand reliability and quality

Cons

  • On more expensive end of pitcher spectrum
  • Filters are not cheap

Who Water Filter Pitchers Are Best For:

If you’re someone living in an apartment where you can’t install an under the sink filter or you don’t need a whole home unit then a water filter pitcher is an excellent solution to get clean drinking water in your kitchen to use for drinking and cooking.

Best Whole House Water Filter- Springwell CF1

Springwell’s CF1 whole home filter is one of the best for city water filtration.

It contains coconut shell activated carbon and KDF media to effectively remove contaminants such as chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, herbicides, and other organic chemicals.

The main filter has a 1,000,000 gallon capacity which means it will last for around 10 years and Springwell also offers a solid warranty on this unit. The unit also has a pretty solid flow rate at around 9 GPM which will keep your water flowing normally.

Overall, this is one of our top whole house filters due to the affordable price range compared to other whole home devices as well as the effectiveness of filtration.

SpringWell

Pros

  • Removes wide range of contaminants
  • 10 year filter capacity
  • Decent 9 GPM flow rate
  • Affordable price range

Cons

  • Not a small filter
  • Not ideal choice for someone with well water

Who Whole House Water Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone living in a home and want to filter all the water coming into your house instead of just your drinking water then a whole house filter is going to be a great choice. Whole home filters are a good choice to provide clean, safe, and pure water even after your city’s water treatment plant has finished processing the water.

Best Whole House Water Filter for Well Water- Pelican Iron & Manganese

The Pelican Iron and Manganese well water filter has a sediment filter, chlorination system, greensand plus iron removal filter, and an activated carbon filter making it a very comprehensive filter for well water with iron and manganese.

It removes 100% of manganese, up to 10 ppm of iron, microorganisms, and contaminants larger than 5 microns.

This filter has a 10 GPM flow rate so it will keep your water flowing nicely and it lasts for 600,000 gallons or 5 years which is pretty solid.

Overall, it is one of the top filters for well water to consider checking out.

pelican pc600

Pros

  • Removes up to 10 ppm of iron and 100% manganese
  • 10 GPM flow rate
  • 5 year warranty
  • NSF Certified for standards 42 and 61

Cons

  • Expensive end of price spectrum
  • The pump can generate some noise

Who Whole House Well Water Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone who has a private well and has contaminants like iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide, minerals, and other impurities then looking into a whole home well water filter for your well is a good consideration.

Best Gravity Filter for The Countertop- Big Berkey Filter

Berkey has been a powerhouse in the water filter industry for a while now and the Big Berkey is one of the best countertop gravity water filters on the market.

This water filter is a 2.25 gallon high quality stainless steel gravity filter that fits easily on your countertop, in an RV, or in a tiny home.

It comes with Berkey Black filters which have been proven to remove over 200 contaminants including viruses, bacteria, chloramine, trihalomethanes, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and heavy metals.

Overall, it’s a great home water filter for the family or even to have in emergency situations.

Big-Berkey

Pros

  • 200+ contaminants removed
  • 2.25 gallon capacity
  • Attractive stainless steel
  • Tons of great reviews
  • Compact and easy to store on countertop

Cons

  • Some possible staining
  • Not cheap

Who Countertop Gravity Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to filter all the water coming into your home but you just need a reliable filter that you can store on the countertop to get clean drinking water or you want a filter for emergency situations then the gravity countertop filters are ideal.

Best Under Sink Water Filter- Waterdrop G3

The Waterdrop G3 is a reverse osmosis under sink filter that is stylish and very powerful at filtering out contaminants.

It’s powerful with the ability to filter 400 gallons per day which is way higher than most other comparable under sink filters and it removes 99% of total dissolved solids as well as many other contaminants.

It also has a waste water ratio of 1:1 which is very good for a reverse osmosis style filter and it fits very nicely under your sink with minimal maintenance and installation required.

Overall, it’s a great unit to consider if you’re looking for an under sink specific filter.

Waterdrop-G3

Pros

  • Uses reverse osmosis
  • Removes 99% of TDS and contaminants
  • 400 GPD flow rate
  • Stylish and fits nicely under sink

Cons

  • Not cheap

Who Under Sink Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone who just wants filtered drinking water in your kitchen then purchasing an under sink water filter that fits nicely under your sink is a good option to consider. These types of units won’t filter water at other places around your home but they work great for the point of use on your kitchen sink.

Best Faucet Water Filter- PUR FM-3700

The PUR FM-3700 faucet filter is a good looking chrome filter that also packs a powerful filtration punch.

It reduces 99% of lead, 96 % of mercury, and 92% of pesticides as well as 70+ other contaminants with its activated carbon style filter.

It has also been certified for both NSF and WQA standards and you can trust PUR to be a reputable brand since they have been in the filtration business for a long time.

Overall, it’s one the top faucet filters that also looks great in your kitchen.

PUR FM 3700

Pros

  • Activated carbon filter that removes a lot of contaminants
  • Nice looking chrome finish
  • Has a filter change indicator light
  • NSF certified

Cons

  • 100 gallon filter life
  • Replacement filters are pricey

Who Faucet Water Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone who just wants a simple filter to go on your kitchen faucet to provide clean drinking and cooking water then a faucet filter is a simple cost effective solution. Most faucet filters are not nearly as powerful as an undersink or whole house type unit but they do provide a nice level of filtration comparable to a refrigerator or pitcher filter on your tap faucet.

Best Shower Head Filter- Berkey Shower Filter

Berkey is known for awesome gravity style water filters that are used on the countertop but they also produce one of the best showerhead filters around in this unit.

Their showerhead filter removes up to 95% of chlorine in addition to lead, iron, hydrogen sulfide, scale-causing minerals, dirt and odors with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute.

The filter has a 20,000 gallon lifespan or around 12 months before it needs to be replaced and it is made of white BPA free plastic which looks pretty good in the shower.

Overall, the quality of filtration that this shower head filter provides makes it one of the best units around to place in your shower.

Berkey shower filter

Pros

  • Removes chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, heavy metals, and microorganisms
  • 2.5 GPM flow rate
  • 12 month filter lifespan
  • Tons of positive reviews
  • Good looking design

Cons

  • Higher price range
  • Only comes in white

Who Shower Head Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone who cares about the water you bathe and shower in everyday and want to make sure you’re not absorbing chemicals into your body and you don’t already have a whole house filtration system then a shower filter is a good option to consider at the point of use.

Best Reverse Osmosis Water Filter- Home Master TMAFC

Besides the Waterdrop G3 RO system we covered above, the Home Master TMAFC under sink reverse osmosis system is one of the best on the market.

This is because it removes over 1000 different contaminants, has a 75 gallon per day capacity, and wastes ⅓ the amount of water compared to a lot of other RO systems.

It also contains a permeate pump and offers remineralization giving your water a boost of healthy minerals after reverse osmosis removes them.

Not to mention this unit is very affordable while getting the job done really well to provide you with a very comprehensive level of filtration.

Home-Master-TMAFC-ERP

Pros

  • Removes 1000+ different contaminants
  • 75 GPD capacity
  • Contains permeate pump and remineralization
  • NSF certified

Cons

  • Takes up good amount of space
  • Make some noise when working
  • Not the sexiest looking unit

Who Reverse Osmosis Filters Are Best For:

RO filters are best for those who are looking for the most effective filtration capability on the market and who want a step above activated carbon in terms of contaminant removal.

They are best used at the point of use under the sink or on the countertop to give you clean drinking water where it’s needed. Most units are point of use filters since they are less efficient than activated carbon and installing a whole house RO system is less efficient and costs a lot of money.

Best Water Softener for Hard Water- Fleck 5600 SXT

The Fleck 5600 SXT salt based water softener is one of the best units around for people with high levels of water hardness who are looking for a traditional salt tank softener.

It’s a 48000 grain capacity softener which will be effective for most size homes and it contains high quality technology in its digital control head which allows you to monitor the system.

It also offers automatic regeneration and at the price it sells for it’s one of the best bang for the buck purchases you can find.

fleck-5600-sxt

Pros

  • 48000 grain capacity
  • Digital control valve
  • Automatic regeneration
  • Very affordable
  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • Lacks drainage tubing
  • Doesn’t look great

Who Water Softeners Are Best For:

If you’re someone who has moderate to hard levels of water hardness and your water is causing scale formation or other home appliance problems then it’s probably smart to consider purchasing a water softener for your home to extend the life of your appliances and get rid of annoying stains and scale.

Best Portable Water Filter- Sawyer Mini

The sawyer mini portable water filter is our top pick because of it’s excellent filtration capability removing 99% of bacteria, 99% of protozoa, 100% of microplastics, and other contaminants over 0.1 microns.

This portable filter is also super easy to use, it works instantly, and it’s only 2 oz fitting in the palm of your hand or in your emergency kit.

Overall, it’s a really solid portable filter for your backpacking trips, emergency preparedness, or wilderness adventures.

sawyer mini filter

Pros

  • 2 oz
  • 100,000 gallon capacity
  • Removes all bacteria and protozoa
  • Works instantly
  • Plenty of great reviews online

Cons

  • Doesn’t filter viruses
  • No warranty specified

Who Portable Water Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone who loves camping, hiking, wilderness adventures, or wants to prepare for emergency situations then purchasing a portable water filter is a great option. Look for these filters to remove bacteria, protozoa, and viruses since the main issue you are dealing with in natural water sources is microbiological contamination. Also, if you already know that you want a water bottle specifically for camping or for regular on-the-go use be sure to check out our best filtered water bottle review as well as the portable filters review.

Best Iron Filter for Well Water- Springwell Whole House Iron Filter

Springwell’s whole house well water filter is one of the top devices if you have an iron issue you are dealing with.

The air injection oxidizing filter system removes up to 8 PPM of Hydrogen Sulfide, up to 7 PPM Iron and 1 PPM Manganese and it automatically runs a daily backwash to clean the filter media.

Springwell has been in the water business for a long time and is a reputable supplier of high quality water filters at affordable prices so you can count on them to deliver.

Overall, at the price point this unit is sold for and the level of filtration technology it contains it’s a great option to consider if you are having iron or other well water issues.

springwell well water filter

Pros

  • Removes iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide
  • High 12 GPM flow rate
  • Automatic backwash
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Electronic setup can be complicated
  • No sediment filter included

Who Iron Filters Are Best For:

If you own a private well and have a high amount of iron in your water that is causing orange stains and other problems with your household appliances then considering a whole house iron filter is a good option.

Best Filter for Lead Removal- Aquasana OptimH20

Aquasana’s OptimH20 is one of the best filters if you are looking to remove lead from your water supply.

It has been tested and certified to reduce lead, cysts, PFOA/PFOS, and it removes chlorine/chloramines.

The unit is a whole house system and it contains a sediment pre filter to remove dirt and debris, a ultra high dense carbon block filter, and the ability to filter out contaminants down to 0.5 microns. It also had an LED flow meter which alerts you when your filter needs to be changed.

Aquasana Optimh20

Pros

  • Removes 99% of lead and cysts
  • 8 GPM flow rate
  • IAPMO Certified

Cons

  • Not cheap

Who Lead Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone who has high levels of lead in your water supply then considering purchasing a lead filter is a smart decision to reduce your lead contamination.

Best Fluoride Water Filter- Clearly Filtered Under Sink System

Clearly Filtered produces an awesome under sink water filter that removes 99% of fluoride and a bunch of other contaminants in water.

The unit is super easy to install and maintain, it has a 12 month filter lifespan, and has been certified by NSF to remove the contaminants it claims.

Overall, you can count on this Clearly Filtered under sink system to remove your fluoride issue and provide some of the cleanest water around.

clearly filtered under sink

Pros

  • Removes 99% of fluoride
  • Lifetime warranty
  • NSF certified
  • 2000 gallon filter capacity or 12 months

Cons

  • Water flow reduced 25%
  • Replacement filters are expensive

Who Fluoride Filters Are Best For:

If you got your water tested and it showed high levels of fluoride in your water supply and you want to reduce those numbers then looking into a fluoride specific water filter that also removes other contaminants is a good way to go.

Best UV Water Purifier- Springwell UV5 Purifier

Springwell makes a great UV purifier which kills 99% of bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

It maintains an impressive 15 GPM flow rate and the UV filter lasts around 12 months before needing to be replaced.

Overall, it’s a good UV filter that will remove all your microorganisms and do it whilel maintaining your water flow rate and offering state of the art technology.

springwell uv

Pros

  • Kills 99% bugs
  • 15 GPM flow rate
  • 1 year lamp lifespan
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Higher priced
  • Installation instructions may be complicated

Who UV Filters Are Best For:

If you’re someone who’s dealing with microbial contaminants then installing or adding on a UV purifier is a smart move because it will eliminate your chances of microbiological contamination in your water supply.

A lot of whole home units made by Aquasana, Springwell, and Pelican allow the option of adding on a UV purifier for an extra level of purification so be sure to check those out.

Best Water Distiller- Megahome Countertop

Megahome’s countertop water distiller is one of the best distillers on the market because of its fast distillation process and sleek stainless steel design.

Megahome has also specialized in manufacturing only water distillers for over 20 years and this unit will offer your the best distillation technology around.

megahome distiller

Pros

  • Fast Distillation
  • UL certified
  • High level of safety
  • Sleek design

Cons

  • Higher price range
  • Power cord is short

Who A Water Distiller is Best For:

If you’re someone who works in the healthcare industry such as dentistry or you need the purest level of water possible with no chance of contamination then getting a water distiller can help you achieve your goals.

Since distillers are not as efficient as home water filters we don’t recommend them for your household drinking water but they have their application in certain niches.

Best Water Ionizer or Alkaline Water Machine- Tyent ACE-13

The Tyent ACE-13 is one of the best water ionizers on the market due to its sleek design and technology as well as the high quality alkaline water it generates.

Not only does it provide you with high quality alkaline water with high levels of molecular hydrogen but it also acts as a water filter with a .01 micron filter included. This means it removes more than 200 contaminants as well as providing alkaline water.

water ionizer

Pros

  • High level of filtration
  • Provides alkalized water
  • Sleek design

Cons

  • Doesn’t prove contaminant removal
  • Very expensive

Who Are Alkaline Water Ionizers Best For:

If you’re an athlete or someone who wants the highest quality water that is alkaline as well as filtered and have the money to spend on a water ionizer they are worth checking out.

Alkaline water has shown some benefit in scientific studies but there are also a lot of studies that don’t prove additional benefit so it comes down to personal preference and your opinion on the impact of alkaline water on the body.

Other Water Filter Brands We Reviewed

When deciding on the best water filters for each specific use we also reviewed a ton of other brands on the market to determine how they compared. Below is a brief overview of some of the other brands you should check out who produce high quality water filters.

Frequently Asked Water Filter Questions


What is the Overall Best Water Filter on the Market?

This really depends on your home water quality which is determined from your water testing data and the specific family and home situation you are in. There isn’t one best overall water filter but there are best products for different water contaminants and lifestyle situations.


What Water Filter Removes the Most Contaminants?

Water filters such as the Aquaox, Clearly Filtered pitcher, Springwell Well Water filter, and other top brands all remove the most possible contaminants. It just depends on which specific contaminants are in your water supply that you are trying to remove.


What is The Best Water Filtration System for Home Use?

We selected the Springwell CF1 city water filter as the best for a whole home use. It provides a high quality level of filtration at an affordable price for the whole house.


What Water Filter Removes Viruses?

If you are looking to remove viruses check out UV purification systems that you can purchase stand alone or added on to a whole home system. UV purifiers are focused on removing 100% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.


Should You Filter Tap Water?

Most of the time you should filter tap water if you are relying on it for your drinking water. Although, this depends on your local water treatment plant and what is specifically in your tap water. Some local water supplies are dirtier than others so it’s best to research that information.


Do Cheap Water Filters Work Well?

You get what you pay for. Cheap water filters will not remove as many contaminants or provide you with as high of water quality compared to medium to high priced models that have better technology.


Are Faucet Filters Better Than Pitchers?

No, they are not better than pitchers, they are just different types of uses to place water filters. The main differentiator will be the type of filter each model uses.


Is Reverse Osmosis The Best Way to Purify Water?

There is no one best way to purify water. It depends on your water quality and personal situation but reverse osmosis is known for being one of the most effective methods of filtration.


Do Water Filters Kill Bacteria?

No water filters do not kill bacteria. If you are looking for a device that kills bacteria with UV radiation check out UV purifiers. Water filters can remove bacteria through their filtration process but they do not kill them.


What is The Best Water to Drink?

Any type of clean water without chemical or microbiological contaminants is going to be the best to drink. After that the taste, mineral content, and look of the water is going to be personal preference.