When investing in a healthy home, one of the most important purchases you can make is a water filter. Not only is filtered water better for you, but making tap water taste fresher might just inspire you to stay hydrated. With these concerns in mind, we've updated our list of top water filters, presenting a range of price points and different filtration methods. Whether you're a small-space dweller, a renter, or the head of a big water-guzzling family, there's a solution here that will work for you.
To Get Started: Figure out how clean your tap water is by checking your municipality's mandatory Consumer Confidence Reports, an annual water quality summary that's released each year by July 1st. If you have well water, or if you're worried about what happens to your water on the journey from the source to your faucet, you'll want to pick up a test kit at the hardware store. Particularly if your home was built before 1986 (when lead-free pipes were mandated), you should test your tap water. Make sure whichever filter you choose addresses your specific concerns.
How Filters are Tested: Specific contaminants are added to water, and once it's gone through the filter, the water is tested to determine how much of each impurity is left. NSF International is a trusted organization that sets certain standards for judging the results. When you see "NSF Standard 42," it means that the filter passes for "aesthetic effects," like removing chlorine, which makes water taste and smell better. If you're more focused on the health effects of filtration, look for a product that passes "NSF Standard 53," which evaluates a list of dangerous impurities, like lead and giardia. If a filter is "NSF Standard 401-certified," it has been shown to remove trace amounts of prescription drugs and pesticides. Curious how your current water filter stacks up? Search for it on the NSF website.
DuPont WFFM100XCH Premier Faucet Mount Drinking Water Filter, $13.10 from Amazon
This faucet-mounted water filter has a sleek look, and the price can't be beat. The filter inside reduces sediment, chlorine, cysts, linden, benzene, asbestos, mercury and lead. Replacement filters cost $24.31 for a pack of 3.
Waterdrop 320-Gallon Long-Lasting Water Faucet Filtration System, $23.99 from Amazon
The Waterdrop system has a particularly long filter life compared to other faucet-mounted water filters, with each filter lasting up to six months. A 3-pack filter replacement is just $18. The 5-stage filtration system reduces chlorine, sediment and other contaminants, and users rave about the system's ease of use and the water's excellent taste.
Culligan FM-100-C Faucet Mount Water Filter, $23.99 from Amazon
Users praise this system's ease of installation: I like the indicator light, which flashes red to let you know it's time to replace the filter. It's certified by the Water Quality Association to reduce lead, chlorine taste and odor, lindane, atrazine, turbid and sediment. A diverter tab allows you to switch between filtered and non-filtered water.
Advanced Faucet Water Filter, $34.99 from PUR
This faucet-mounted filter removes a lot more than most pitcher filters—it's NSF-certified to reduce more than 70 contaminants, including 99% of lead, 96% of mercury, and 92% of pesticides. Visit the NSF website for the full list. Because of its lead-removing abilities, this is one of the filters that were given to Flint, Michigan residents in January 2016 in response to the water crisis. One thing to note: this filter intentionally does not remove fluoride, which you may want to consider depending upon your stance on the fluoride debate. A 3-pack of filters cost $36.99. If you prefer a portable option to carry to the table or the backyard, PUR also makes a pitcher that's been shown to reduce lead in unofficial tests and was rated the #1 pitcher by The Wirecutter.
Filtrete Advanced Under Sink Quick Change Water Filtration System, $46.99 from Amazon
Undersink water filtration systems may be a little more difficult to install, but one advantage of this sort of system is not having a bulky thing hanging off your faucet. Also, it doesn't reduce water flow to the faucet, like many faucet-mounted systems do. The Filtrete system is NSF certified to Standards 53 and 42. A single filter costs $36.95, but only needs to be replaced once every six months.
APEC 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Filter, $199.99 from Amazon
At first glance, this looks like a bulky system, but it all hides under the sink so the only thing you see is the sleek chrome faucet. The heavy-duty filter works by reverse osmosis, which if you remember from chem class, is a process of pushing water through a semipermeable membrane to strip away ions and minerals. The system is built with NSF-certified tubing, and it reduces a laundry list of top contaminants, including arsenic, chlorine, lead, fluoride, and bacteria. Need any more proof that this filter is a top performer? Take a glance at the rave reviews on Amazon.
Whirlpool Filter 1 Refrigerator Filter, $49.99 from Home Depot
This in-refrigerator filter only works with certain models of Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, and Jenn-Air fridges (search by model number to see if yours is compatible), but the luxury of having clean, cool water without refilling a pitcher makes it worthy of a spot on the list. Both NSF 42 and 53 certified, it reduces 24 contaminants, including pharmaceuticals.
GE MSWF Refrigerator Water Filter, $36.99 from Amazon
Another unbeatably convenient solution, this refrigerator filter is for GE owners. It reduces up to 99% of lead, as well as cysts, asbestos, and more. At just a little over two inches wide, it won't take up much room in the back of your fridge, but it will keep the fresh filtered water flowing. Replace the filter every six months or when the water starts to run a little slower.
Other Sources We Trust:
- Good Housekeeping's Tested Water Pitchers - Good Housekeeping
- The Sweethome's Favorite Water Filters - The Sweethome
Reactual's Roundup of Water Filters - Reactual
Big Berkey, $258 from Amazon
This serious filter has gained a cult following among clean-water enthusiasts—and when you look at the stats, it's easy to see why. Capable of holding 2.1 gallons, with cleanable, self-sterilizing filters that last for up to 3,000 gallons, the Big Berkey reduces or removes a long list of contaminants, including chlorine, lead, bacteria, parasites, and cysts. If you're concerned about fluoride, you can also buy an additional filter to remove it. What makes the Big Berkey remarkable is that, unlike most other systems, it can still work during a power outage and without water pressure, making it a must-have for relief organizations—or your home emergency kit. Reader Rikkitikki says, "It's awesome ... the water is great ... we drink so much more and that has cut down on juices or sodas for the sugar freaks in the house. I love my Berkey! I got the Big Berkey ... plenty for 1-4 people, and it's great for car camping."
Ovopur Origin Water Filter, $799 from Aqua Ovo
Maxwell uses this beautifully designed water dispenser and filter at home. The egg-shaped chamber is ceramic and rests on top of a maple wood base. The organic, curved shape not only creates an attractive dispenser you won't mind leaving out on your kitchen counter, but it also helps the circulation of water through the filters. The Aquacristal filter replicates the natural underground water filtration process, and uses quartz crystals and carbon to remove chemicals and organic pollutants.
Aquasana 3-Stage Under Counter Water Filter, $286 from Aquasana
Another under-counter option, this 3-step system reduces 66 contaminants. In addition to tackling the usual suspects, the filter is NSF 401-certified for reducing emerging contaminants, such as prescription drugs and new pesticides. To catch all the impurities, water is run through four types of filtration, including both active and catalytic carbon. But what really makes Aquasana stand out from the pack is its focus on what their filters leave in the water, including healthy minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Aquaperform Under-the-Sink Filter with Faucet, $505 from Multipure
Maxwell has been using this solid carbon filter for years now, and says, "The water tastes great and the ease of use couldn't be better (it's just not refrigerator cold)." The filter comes in stainless steel housing that hides away in a cabinet beneath your sink and comes with a chrome faucet, so there's no bulky attachment taking up sink space. The system is NSF-certified for both aesthetic effects (Standard 42) and health effects (Standard 53) in water.
*Updated from a post originally published 6.7.2016 - N.M.