We all know how important it is to drink enough water. While many people have water dispensers in their fridge, some still rely on good ol’ tap water. If that’s the case, you may want to add a water filter to your kitchen arsenal to help filter out harmful contaminants like chlorine, lead, pesticides, and more.
The Good Housekeeping Institute is a champion of safety and sustainability, which is why water quality and water filters have been important to us for decades. Our Kitchen Appliances and Environmental Sciences Labs regularly team up to evaluate the efficacy of popular water filters, because ultimately, products that claim to filter harmful contaminants must work.
To find the best water filters, our experts narrowed it to the top-selling options (all NSF-certified), then collected hundreds of data points and evaluated contaminant removal certifications. We also took into account how easy it was to set up the filter, how quickly it filtered, how heavy it was when filled, how easy it was to clean, and more.
Remember, no matter which water filter you opt for, it’s no good if you don’t regularly change the filter. Many picks are designed with an indicator that lets you know when it’s time to replace. If your model doesn’t have one, a slower flow rate or different-colored water are both signs that you need to change the filter.
Do you really need a water filter?
Access to safe drinking water is an issue across the globe and can even affect communities in the U.S. If you’re not sure about your water quality, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) just updated its Tap Water Database this month. It’s free and easy to search, and has information for all states. Enter your zip code or search your state to find details on your drinking water quality based on EWG standards (which are stricter than those of the government). If your tap water does exceed EWG health guidelines, it may be a good idea to consider buying a water filter.
Opting for bottled water is a short-term solution to potentially unsafe drinking water, but it creates a much larger problem with serious long-term implications. Yes, we’re talking about pollution. Americans throw away a whopping 30 million tons of plastic a year, only 8% of which is recycled. The majority ends up in landfills because there are many different regulations about what can be recycled. Your best bet is to get a water filter and a cute reusable water bottle — some even have filters built-in!
Here are the top-tested water filters so you can stay hydrated, no matter what:
Brita’s 10-cup pitcher easily fits in the fridge and is proven to get rid of chlorine (for better-tasting and -smelling water) plus some heavy metals. Our pros like that you can swap its filter with a Longlast one that also removes lead and other substances — and lasts for up to six months. An indicator in the lid lets you know when it’s time to replace it.
Capacity: 10 cups
Clean Water Machine
Create the ultimate water station on your counter with this plug-in Aquasana unit. It removes the widest range of contaminants of all our winners and comes with a 16-cup dispenser to fill glasses and an eight-cup pitcher for the fridge. We were impressed by how much it’s certified to filter — even lead and asbestos. It was also the fastest in our test, working through 16 ounces in just half a minute. The mobile app is great for tracking usage and filter status.
Capacity: 16 cups
3-Stage Max Flow Under Sink Water Filter
This under the sink system requires a little more effort upfront to install, but once you do, you’ll get filtered water for up to six months with zero effort. It filters out chlorine, heavy metals, cysts, herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, and more. Not to mention, it’s the one GH Environmental Sciences Lab director, Birnur Aral, Ph.D. has in her own home!
“I use filtered water for absolutely everything from cooking to coffee-making, so tabletop water filters can’t keep up with my use,” she says. “With this one, there’s no need to refill any carafes or tanks.”
Capacity: 800 gallons
Clean Water Bottle In Stainless Steel
Aquasana’s bottle nixes lead, bacteria, chlorine and other contaminants. If you’re traveling and not sure about water quality, this will give you peace of mind. This is one of the few portable options that filter out more than chlorine, and we love how quickly it works.
Great to keep in your gym bag or bring on a trip, Brita’s squeezable 20-ounce bottle makes quick work of filtering chlorine wherever you are. It improves odor and taste as you sip (the filter is in the cap), so you don’t have to wait to hydrate. While not designed to remove lead or other harmful chemicals, it’s lightweight (even when full) and dishwasher-safe.
10-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher
ZeroWater’s pitcher filters out chlorine to help water water smell and taste better, and removes any lead that it could have picked up from pipes along the way to your kitchen. The coolest thing about this one? It’s designed with a spigot below the handle to dispense water with just the push of a button! Keep in mind: It took some time to filter a full pitcher in Lab tests.
Tumbler with Filter
Get lead- and chlorine-free water with this handy tumbler bottle. The built-in strawmakes it perfect for at-the-pool or at-the-desk sipping, but not for stashing in a backpack. Our experts love that, unlike most bottles, it has an indicator that tells you when it’s time to replace the filter. Good to know: You’ll need some patience, since it took longer than others to filter a full glass of water.
Capacity: 26 oz.
If you’re primarily concerned with your water’s taste and smell, this 10-cup plastic pitcher is perfect. It filters out the substance so your water will smell and taste better. Our pros like that the small pitcher filters in seconds and has an indicator on the lid that lets you know when it’s time to change the filter.
Capacity: 10 cups
Ultralight Water Purifier
If you’re a traveler who wanders off the beaten track this should be your go-to bottle. Not only does it remove lead, it also filters out organisms you might find in a dirty stream or a fountain or faucet you don’t trust (think viruses and cysts). We found it took a little bit of force to press the top which activates filtering, but once you get it, it works quickly. While it’s heavier than some other bottles when filled, its filtering power and dishwasher-safe design make it worth it.
Capacity: 16 oz.
If you want a pitcher that looks as great as it works, this glass carafe is super chic. It filters out chlorine for better-tasting and -smelling water. It took a little extra time to filter in our Lab tests, so be sure to fill it before guests arrive. Our pros also recommend getting a bottle brush to help make cleaning it easier.
Capacity: 6 cups
Water Filter Pitcher
This pitcher is great for filtering lead and chlorine from your water. While it didn’t filter instantly, our Lab experts found it worked faster than others we looked at. It took a little time to set up the filter, but we were impressed at how lightweight the pitcher is, even when full.
Capacity: 8 cups