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8 of the best water filters for every situation

8 of the best water filters for every situation

We’ve lined up the best water filters for removing impurities and contaminants found in tap water, including popular options from top brands like Brita.

All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

It’s 2021 – time to admit that we’re so over bottled water. 

If you trying to eliminate single-use plastic from your day-to-day life but chlorine-heavy tap water just isn’t to your tastes, don’t worry. We’ve got the solution. What you need is a water filter.

Water filters and purifiers remove contaminants and impurities from water to make it more suitable for drinking and cooking. This allows you to utilise a reusable water bottle and fill it with clean water that you actually feel good about drinking. Filters can take the place of hundreds of plastic water bottles, which helps you be more eco-friendly and reduce the amount of plastic in landfills. 

Filtration systems are also lifesavers in areas where tap water is unsafe to drink, as long as they remove the proper contaminants like lead. Some even take away the sulphur taste and smell from well water. What you get is healthier, fresher water. You’ll taste the goodness as you drink it back.

Should you filter your tap water?

It depends. If you experience a chlorine odour or taste, you might want to run your water through a filter. If you live in an area with threatened or compromised water supplies, absolutely yes you should filter your tap water — you do not want to be drinking lead or mercury or bacteria. As mentioned, if you have well water and have been living off bottled water or drums of water, you can actually get a filtration system and make your tap water drinkable. 

If you’re unsure or nervous about your water quality, then test it. This can help you determine if you should invest in a filter. More on that below.

What type of water filter is best?

There are a few different types of water filters, and they’re each best for different purposes.

Water filter pitchers and dispensers: This is the easiest water filtration option because all that’s required of you is filling up the reservoir and letting the water filter down into the container. These types of filters are easily stored in the fridge or on the counter. Pitchers and dispensers are often best for people who don’t need loads of filtered water at once. They usually don’t purify water, so they’re also best for city water that doesn’t have viruses or bacteria in it.

Tap mounts: A tap water filter allows you to dispense filtered water directly from your sink to your glass. They attach onto your tap and typically last longer than other options, filtering out more impurities than pitchers do. They tend to look a bit bulky, but on the other hand, they don’t take up any space in the fridge.

Under sink filtration systems: Under-the-sink water filtration systems are a bit more heavy duty and are typically for water that needs quite a bit of help. For instance, if you have well water, one of these systems can make it drinkable and get rid of its rotten egg smell and slightly brown colour. Complete filtration systems will do the best job cleaning and purifying water compared to just running water through a single filter into a container.

Do water filters really work?

In a word, yes. You can actually test your water a couple different ways and see what difference a filter is making. Testing for pH levels is one route, and you’ll want to make sure your water is about a seven to 10. 

Another test is for measuring total dissolved solids (TDS) or salt, metal, or minerals in the water. These are your leads and chlorines and other similar contaminants. TDS is measured in milligrams per unit volume or also referred to as parts per million (ppm). Ideal drinking water is 0 to 50 ppm, acceptable levels range from 50 to 140 ppm, and average tap water falls between 140 and 400 ppm. Essentially, the higher the number, the more metals and minerals you have in your water.

The best way to tell if a filter is making a difference is to measure the levels in your unfiltered tap water versus the levels in water from your filter. Sometimes, if a filter is old or not installed properly, your numbers will actually be higher in the filtered sample. That is a problem and you should either swap out the filter or consult the product manual to see what could be the issue.

What should I look for in a water filter?

Before you look for a water filter, look at your water. What sort of contaminants are in it? If it’s pretty standard stuff like chlorine, mercury, and pesticides, you can get away with a pretty basic filter like a Brita pitcher. If you’ve got more extreme stuff in your water like lead and bacteria, a reverse osmosis water filter or tap attachment might suit your needs better. 

While some of the filters rounded up here list out a scary number of contaminants and impurities they can handle, not all of these things will be in your water. You might only have chlorine in your water and don’t need to be concerned about lead. See if you can get your hands on an official water report to accurately know what’s contaminating your water so you can find the best filter for your situation.

After doing hours of research and reading a lot of reviews, we’ve come up with some top picks for the best water filters. There should be something for everyone and every situation in this list. You just need to pick a favourite.

These are the best water filters in 2021.

Good capacity filter • Reliable for the price

Refill reminder not as effective as advertised • May be too big for some taps • Water takes time to pass through filter

Be careful not to overfill this one as the filter system is chunky and might cause leakage. But for a low-price filter jug it’s hard to beat.

Brita is one of the best known brands for reliable, affordable water filter jugs. The Marella is a basic model but it gives you exactly what you want at this price – clean, filtered, healthy water that’s always at hand.
It uses MAXTRA+ MicroFlow Technology. Micro Carbon Pearls reduce chlorine and other impurities such as lead and copper, while improving the all-round taste. It also prevents the build-up of limescale.
It has a total capacity of 2.4 litres and a capacity of 1.4 litres with the filtration system. A slim design helps fit easily into your fridge door. It includes a MAXTRA filter, which works for an impressive 100 litres of water – that’s four weeks’ worth of water and the equivalent of 200 plastic bottles. 

Quality meter included • Side spigot • Removes lead

Filter doesn’t last as long as competitors • Replacement filters are pricey

This filter will remove a lot of gross stuff from your water, though it will need replaced more frequently.

ZeroWater Pitcher

With a quality meter and side spigot, this pitcher has some impressive features.

  • What it filters:
    Dust, rust, pesticides, herbicides, mercury, chlorine, chloramine, chromium, lead, and other inorganic compounds and suspended solids
  • Capacity:
    2.5 litres
For a pitcher with more bells and whistles, turn to this ZeroWater product that comes with a meter for testing water quality and features a spigot at the base for easier water dispensing. 
ZeroWater’s filter utilises a five-step system to remove solid and chemical impurities, including rust and lead. One downside is that its filtration cartridge does not last as long as Brita’s, with a typical range of 100 to 150 litres or about one to two months. This can vary depending on your initial water quality. 
Where the filter falls short in lifespan, it makes up for in performance, removing more impurities than Brita’s everyday filter pitcher. 

Long filter life • Saves space

Bulky look • Plastic more prone to damage than metal

Though it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing, this tap attachment provides clean water with convenience.

Spardar Tap Water Filter

This attachment gives you filtered water directly from your tap.

  • What it filters:
    More than 70 contaminants including lead, chlorine, mercury, and pesticides
  • Capacity:
Tap filters like this one from Spardar look pretty bulky on your sink, but they take the hassle out of continuously refilling a pitcher. Plus, they don’t take up any fridge space. Set up is easy — it screws on in place of your existing tap head.
This filter reduces more than 70 contaminants, including lead, and lasts longer than a typical pitcher filter. Plus, the simple lever allows quick and simple switching from purified water to regular tap water. 
Note that while this tap attachment is made of plastic, which could be annoying if the entire point is to ditch plastic in the first place. 

Fits most taps • Very long life filter • Upgrades tap action

Flow of filtered water not as strong • Clunky design • Pricier than other filter options

The design won’t be to everyone’s taste but the water will be. It’s expensive but long-lasting – worth the money.

Brita Filter System On Tap

A advanced system that literally gives you filtered water on tap.

  • What it filters:
    Chlorine, pesticide, lead, micro plastic
  • Capacity:
    600 litres
This is an updated version of Brita’s on-top filter system. Worried it won’t fit in your kitchen? Don’t be. It comes complete with five adapters so it will easily fit onto any standard tap size and design.
It has real-time filter lifespan. A LCD display keeps you up to date with how many more litres of water to go until your filter needs replacing. The filter has a seriously impressive capacity of 600 litres – that’s six times the standard Brita filter jug.
The Brita Filter System On Tap will also spruce up your regular tap action. It has three water delivery options – filtered, continuous unfiltered, and a hand shower function. 

Long-lasting filter • Removes lots of contaminants

Takes up a decent chunk of space • May have to drill a hole in sink or countertop

The iSpace system removes more impurities from your water than a pitcher or tap attachment could.

iSpring Filtration System

This under-the-sink system’s long-lasting filters remove contaminants from city and well water.

  • What it filters:
    More than 1,000 contaminants including arsenic, chlorine, lead, fluoride, heavy metals, and bacteria
  • Capacity:
    280 litres per day
If you’re serious about water filtration, an under-sink system might be best for you, and this reverse osmosis system from iSpring is highly rated and praised by Amazon customers. This filter is suitable for both city and well water and removes more than 1,000 contaminants including lead, arsenic, chlorine, and fluoride. 
Users recommend switching out the filter every four to six months, which is a much longer filter life than you’d get with a pitcher or tap attachment. As this is a whole system, it does require some installation. In order to install a reverse osmosis system, you will either have to drill a hole or use an existing one to place the system. 

Attractive design • Adds minerals as well as filtering • Long-lasting filter capacity

Some reviewers prefer standard filter systems

A sleek, stylish model that infuses your water with goodness.

This Invigorated Water Replenish Glass Pitcher is an upgrade from the brand’s previous pitcher, from plastic to glass — yet another step towards totally eliminating plastic from your life. 
It’s a more aesthetically pleasing option to other countertop filter systems, and and will suit any modern design kitchen.
To purify your water it uses a ‘pH on the go’ alkaline water filter which sits in the centre of the pitcher. The filter is packed with little balls of goodness which increase the pH level and add minerals – such as zinc, magnesium, selenium and iron – while removing unwanted nasties. 

Purifies tap, well, river, and lake water • Large capacity • Long filter life

Though it’s a bit on the expensive side, this filter removes impurities from more than just tap water.

Big Berkey Water Filter

This large countertop dispenser purifies water from a tap, well, river, or lake.

  • What it filters:
    Hundreds of contaminants including viruses, bacteria, lead, mercury, and pesticides
  • Capacity:
    8.5 litres
This large, 8.5 litre Berkey dispenser allows you to keep a decent amount of filtered water on hand. Due of its size, this is a true countertop water filter unless you have a massive refrigerator. 
The Berkey’s filter can handle normal tap water or water from wells, rivers, and lakes. This is more than just a filtration system though — it actually purifies the water. It will remove viruses, pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites, and unwanted chemicals and metals. With two purification elements included, the Berkey can filter 23,000 litres of water before you have to buy new filters. 
Its design and stainless steel build means it’s also a good option for car camping. 

Portable • Removes bacteria and protozoa from lakes and streams

Straw requires strong suction

This water bottle is awesome for accessing filtered water while travelling, hiking, or camping.

LifeStraw Water Filter Bottle

This water bottle filters immediately while on the go and can even handle lake and stream water.

  • What it filters:
    Bacteria, parasites, microplastics, and chemicals like chlorine, pesticides, and herbicides
  • Capacity:
    0.65 litres
When you’re on the go, you won’t always have access to your beloved water filter, so we suggest taking one with you in the form of a LifeStraw water bottle
A filter is attached to the straw, so your water goes through filtration before it hits your mouth and can deliver peace of mind while travelling or hiking.
LifeStraw’s filter removes bacteria and parasites, microplastics, and chemicals like chlorine, pesticides, and herbicides. The water bottle holds 0.65 litres, comes in multiple colours, and includes a carabiner for convenient carrying.  

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