The Best Water Filters for Your Money

Though laws like the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act promote the regulation of contaminants in water, it doesn’t mean that all pollutants are regulated, or that violations aren’t widespread. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are more than 287 contaminants found in US tap water. The solution? Get a water filter. It’s a cost-effective and safe alternative to tap water — and more environmentally friendly than bottled water.

The essence of a good water filters is its filtration system; here’s a rundown of the five types that any potential customer should know about.

  • Distillation: With distillation, water is boiled and turned to steam in one chamber and then cooled in another, leaving all contaminants that have higher boiling points than water behind. Distillation is great for removing lead, arsenic, fluoride, and viruses, but it won’t remove contaminants whose boiling point is equal to water, like benzene.
  • Reverse Osmosis: This filtering process pushes water through a series of membranes in such a way that the water passes freely, leaving all contaminants trapped. Reverse osmosis can remove almost all contaminants, but it has two downsides: the process is slower than other filtration systems, and only one-third of the water filtered is purified into drinking water, so there’s a lot of wastage. Reverse osmosis can successfully remove many contaminants, including—but not limited to— hexavalent chromium, fluoride, arsenic, copper, and radium.
  • Activated Carbon: One of the simplest and cheapest filtration methods, activated carbon uses adsorption to trap pollutants in a porous, carbonaceous component that has been activated through oxygen. When water passes through an activated carbon filter, contaminants stick to the carbon, and the water is left pure. Be aware that this filtering process doesn’t remove all pollutants, working best against organic substances, sediment, chlorine, magnesium, and chloroform.
  • U/V Disinfection: This filtering system is the most effective method to sterilize water from bacteria and viruses. Water is passed through a tube with a U/V lamp, which emits light waves that remove any living pathogen. U/V filtering systems aren’t effective against non-organic contaminants, so they’re usually used as an add-on to other filtering systems.
  • Ion Exchange: this process uses small zeolite resin beads that contain sodium ions. When water passes through, ions from contaminants like magnesium and calcium are trapped in the beads, which in turn release sodium ions. Ion exchange is mostly used to soften water so that all dissolved mineral contaminants are removed.
  • Point of Use vs. Point of Entry: Although there are different water filter types out there, there is an additional distinction between them that you need to be aware of. Water filters are divided into two additional types: point of use and point of entry filters. This distinction doesn’t have to do with how well the filter purifies your water; instead, it determines what waterline it uses to process water. A point of entry filtering system uses the main water line to source its water, so, once the water is filtered, it reaches every faucet and showerhead in your home. Point of use systems, on the other hand, only filter water that flows from specific areas of your home, such as the kitchen faucet or your showerhead. The best example for point of use systems is a whole house filter, while the best examples for point of entry filters are activated carbon filters, which are typically placed in faucets or showerheads.
For a healthy and great-tasting glass of water, get the best filtration products available.
Water is an crucial part of our lives and a quality filter lets you consume it in the healthiest way. To find the best filtration products, click on your state now.
HawaiiAlaskaFloridaSouth CarolinaGeorgiaAlabamaNorth CarolinaTennesseeRIRhode IslandCTConnecticutMAMassachusettsMaineNHNew HampshireVTVermontNew YorkNJNew JerseyDEDelawareMDMarylandWest VirginiaOhioMichiganArizonaNevadaUtahColoradoNew MexicoSouth DakotaIowaIndianaIllinoisMinnesotaWisconsinMissouriLouisianaVirginiaDCWashington DCIdahoCaliforniaNorth DakotaWashingtonOregonMontanaWyomingNebraskaKansasOklahomaPennsylvaniaKentuckyMississippiArkansasTexas


Important Things to Know About Buying Water Filters

  • Assessment: if your home’s water looks, smells, or tastes funny, you need a filter.
  • Use a home water quality kit to know what contaminants are in your home’s water.
  • Get acquainted with your local water quality using the EPA’s online drinking water quality report.
  • Compared to bottled water, filters are healthier, eco-friendlier, and more cost-effective.

The Best Water Filters of 2020

To find the best water filter for your needs, you must first determine what pollutants are present in your home’s tap water. There are two ways to do this: first, you can read the “Annual Drinking Quality Report”— also known as the “Consumer Confidence Report”—released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This provides information about the quality of your local drinking water. Alternatively, you can use a home water test kit, which is readily available to purchase online, and are quite easy to use. This kit will reveal how many pollutants are swimming in your tap water.

Once you know the contaminants in your water supply, you can decide which filters will work best for your specific needs. For example, if your tap water is mostly contaminated by bacteria and viruses, your best bet would be a U/V light filter, but if chloride is the highest contaminant, then activated carbon would be a great choice.

To determine whether a particular filter or brand is reliable, look for specific certifications, such as the one provided by the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI), a non-profit group that works with different health organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF). The ANSI/NSF certification is considered the best in the industry, so having this certification ensures that the water filter you’re buying meets the highest standards.

The ANSI/NSF has two certifications: one for water aesthetics—tastes and odor— and another for water safety. Each of these are assigned a specific number based on the contaminant(s) it removes. To know the meaning of each number and the contaminants it removes, or to find all the filters that fall into one particular certification, you can use the NSF’s certified drinking water units and water filter’s search engine. Clicking on the product standards tab will show you each number and its intended purpose. Here’s a breakdown of what each of these numbers means:


Given to filters that filter chlorine, taste, and odor.


For filters that filter contaminants.


This number is specifically given to water softener filters.


Specifically for filters that use UV light.


Specific for systems that use reverse osmosis.


Only for distillation systems.


Only for shower filters.


Specifically for emerging contaminant filters.

NSF P477

Specific for filters that diminish microcystin.


For filters that reduce iodine in drinking water.

Here’s a quick list of Money picks for best water filters of 2020.

  • Apex MR-1050: Best Countertop Filter
  • Ispring RCC7 AK: Best Under-Sink Filter
  • Culligan FM 15-A: Best Faucet-Mounted Filter
  • Fleck 5600SXT: Best Water Softener
  • Sawyer SP128: Best for Outdoors Activity
  • Aquabliss SF-220: Best Showerhead Filter
  • Aquasana EQ-1000: Best Whole House Filter
  • Brita Grand Pitcher: Best Pitcher