Best water filters 2021: under-sink, countertop and water filter pitchers

The best water filters to keep your drinking water fresh and clean, with easily installed faucet filters and pitchers

Best water filters 2021: under-sink, countertop and water filter pitchers
(Image credit: LifeStraw)

There is nothing more refreshing than a fresh glass of cold water, but buying bottled water is often an unnecessary expense that wastes single-use plastic as well as money. The best water filters are surprisingly easy to install on your faucets and can remove all sorts of impurities such as lead, chlorine, microplastics and more. If you don’t want to install a water filter to your fauces, you can consider the best water filter pitchers. These can be filled at the sink and left on the countertop or in the refrigerator for easy-access fresh water whenever you need it. 

We rounded up everything you need to know about the best water filters, including the lifespan of the filter inserts and the size, so you can find the perfect one for your kitchen. There are also dispensers that hook up to your water supply and can fresh drinking water from your countertop, with large tanks that will keep the whole family hydrated. 

Some of the best kettles come with in-built water filters, but if yours doesn’t you can use filtered water to make your tea or coffee and avoid drinking any potentially harmful chemicals. Many claim that filtered water also just tastes better, so if you don’t like the taste of the water in your area, buying a water filter can save you a lot of money on buying bottled water. Keep reading to find the best option for you. 

best water filter

(Image credit: Lifestraw)

1. LifeStraw Home Water Filter Pitcher

Best water filter overall: looks great and fits in the fridge

Type: Pitcher
Filter life: 264 gallons
Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 14 inches
Reasons to buy
+Comes in glass and plastic+Plenty of colors to choose from 
Reasons to avoid
-Not the longest lasting filter

We love the look of the LifeStraw Home Filter Pitcher. It has a range of filter colors to choose from, including aqua, grey and white, and comes in either glass or BPA-free plastic. The seven cup design means it will fit into most refrigerator doors, while still catering to the whole family. 

The microfilter is designed to last a year with regular use, which isn't as much as some of the other water filters in our guide but it's very easy to replace when finished. 

When it comes to the filtering function, there's a two stage process in the LifeStraw pitcher. The first filter removes 99.9% of bacteria, parasites and microplastics. 

The activated charcoal and ion exchange filter removes chemicals such as chlorine for a better taste, and also removes metals such as lead and mercury.

best water filter

(Image credit: Aquasana)

2. Aquasana 2-Stage Under Sink Water Filter System with Brushed Nickel Faucet

Best under-sink water filter: keep it discreet

Type: Under counter
Filter life: 500 gallons
Dimensions: 8.25 x 4.25 x 9 inches
Reasons to buy
+DIY installation+Great price+Low running costs+Neat-looking faucet
Reasons to avoid
-Complaints of leaks-Can be hard to install

Under-counter, filters have the benefit of purifying all of the water that comes out of the faucet. They can be expensive and complicated, but the Aquasana 2-Stage Under Sink Water Filter strikes a great balance between price and effectiveness, particularly as it comes with a chrome faucet.

This system is designed to be DIY installed but make sure that you put aside a good amount of time to do the job, as installation can be fiddly. There are some reports that the plastic joints leak a little, so be careful as you install them.

The two-stage filtration system can remove 97% of chlorine in addition to lead, asbestos, herbicides, pesticides. It deals with a total of more than 60 common water contaminants, all at a flow rate of 0.5 gallons per minute. Filtration is listed as costing 10 cents per gallon.

Owners all agree that their water tastes better after this water filtration system was implemented. There are larger under-counter filtration systems and ones that deal with more contaminants, but this one gives you the best balance of price and features.

best water filters

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Cleanwater4less Countertop Water Filtration System

Best water filter for easy installation: a simple countertop model that gets the job done

Type: Countertop
Filter life: 10,000 gallons
Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 9.5 inches
Reasons to buy
+Simple installation+Well priced+Can purify thousands of gallons+Good flow rate
Reasons to avoid
-The diverter valve is the weak part-No replaceable filters

The Cleanwater4less Countertop Water Filtration System is designed to be easy to install, with a universal diverter valve that should connect directly to most faucets. That should make this system easier to set up than most others. 

Some people have complained that the system is a little fiddly to install and didn’t work with their faucets. And, over time some have said that the diverter valve stopped working properly.

There’s a lot of value in this filter, with the system rated to purify 10,000 gallons of water. Sadly, the carbon filter is built-in and can’t be replaced, so the Cleanwater4less will have to be purchased again when it wears out.

The integrated filter isn’t as extensive as some other products but is rated to reduce chlorine by 97%, plus it can deal with volatile organic compounds and sediment.

Those that have used the product like the clean tasting water that comes out of it. For its pure simplicity and low price, the Cleanwater4less Countertop Water Filtration System is a quick and efficient way to get purified water.

best water filter

(Image credit: Waterdrop)

4. Waterdrop Lucid 10-Cup Water Filter Pitcher

Best pitcher water filter: comes in plenty of colors and has a large capacity

Type: Water jug
Filter life: 200 gallons
Dimensions: 10.40 x 5.30 x 10.00 inches
Reasons to buy
+Well priced+Good capacity+Filters last a long time+Good-tasting results
Reasons to avoid
-Water filling system can be finicky 

Water jugs are one of the most convenient ways of filtering water, as you top them up with tap water, let them do their job, and then stick them in the fridge. While many can be expensive, Waterdrop Lucid is one of the best value.

Its 10-cup capacity is a good balance between size and portability, and the filter lasts for 200 gallons before having to be replaced.

There’s a comfortable wooden handle that makes it easy to pour. There’s a fill port, with a flap that opens underwater pressure, so the lid doesn’t have to be removed; some people have said that their filler flaps don’t work that well.

Waterdrop uses a seven-stage filtration system, designed to improve the taste of water. Those that have used it agree. Simple and easy to use at a great price, this is one of the easiest ways to get a water filtration

water filter

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Apex Countertop Drinking Water Filter

Best countertop water filter: for accessible purification

Type : Countertop
Filter life: 750 gallons
Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 14 inches
Reasons to buy
+Looks great+Clean tasting water+Easy to fit+Great price
Reasons to avoid
-Filter can be hard to replace

With its clear filter, the Apex Countertop Drinking Water Filter looks really cool and is certain to be a talking point for anyone in your kitchen. 

As with other countertop models, this one connects directly to your faucet, and it’s fed directly with tap water. Each filter is designed to last for 750 gallons and can remove chlorine, sediment, radon, and more.

Although the system is easy to DIY install, several owners have complained about filter replacement, saying that it’s hard to get the cover off. 

Users all over the country have said how much better water tastes after having the filter installed. Given the good price, replaceable filters, and cool looks, the Apex Countertop Drinking Water Filter is a great addition to any kitchen.

water filter

(Image credit: Brita)

6. Brita Ultra Max Dispenser

Best large water filter: a dispenser with an 18-cup capacity

Type: Dispenser
Filter life: 120 gallons
Dimensions: 5.1 x 14 x 9.6 inches
Reasons to buy
+Doesn’t take up much space+Spigot for dispensing+Large capacity+Can fit into a refrigerator
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy to refill-Can be tricky to replace the filter cartridge

If you like the idea of having a lot of filtered water readily available but don’t want the DIY hassle of an under-counter or countertop filter, the Brita Ultra Max Dispenser could be for you.

With an 18-cup capacity, this slimline dispenser has enough water for the entire family. It’s designed so that it can sit on a counter without taking up too much space, but you can also slide it into a refrigerator, too.

As this is a large item, and heavy when filled with water, there’s a spigot on the front for filling up cups or bottles, and it has a decent flow rate.

This model ships with Brita’s long-life filters, which need to be changed after 120 gallons (there’s an indicator on the lid that tells you when). You can use the standard 40-gallon filters, too.

Some owners have found it hard to get the black plastic lid off to replace the filter.

Refilling is straightforward enough, with water going in at the top and filtering through to the bottom. This product is a little cumbersome and heavy to move.

Brita says its filter can remove 99% of chlorine and lead, plus cadmium, mercury, benzene, and more. Owners generally report an improvement in water taste.

Overall, if you don’t want to plumb in a water filter but want a lot of capacity, this is the product for you.

best water filters

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. LARQ Lightweight Self-Cleaning and Non-Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Best water filter bottle: take your purified water on the go

Type: Bottle
Filter life: N/A
Dimensions: 9.6 x 2.7 x 2.7 inches
Reasons to buy
+Kills germs and viruses+Self-cleaning+Works with virtually all water sources+Long-lasting charge
Reasons to avoid
-Quite expensive-Doesn’t improve taste

The LARQ Bottle is slightly different from the other products on this list, as it doesn’t have a filter; instead, it uses a rechargeable battery in the lid to power a UV light that kills bacteria and viruses, making water safe to drink.

There are two cleaning modes. Normal is for regular tap water, where you’ve got a fair idea of how trustworthy the source is; Adventure mode is a longer cycle for less trustworthy sources. LARQ says that the minimum requirement for filling is that the water looks clear and is free of heavy sediments; so, you can technically fill it from a clean-looking stream if you need it.

There’s also a self-cleaning mode, where the bottle activates quickly every two hours to keep your water pure.

On Adventure Mode, the bottle is capable of eradicating 99.9999% of bacteria (including E.coli) and 99.99% of viruses. There’s no filtering of chlorine or heavy metals, so this bottle won’t improve the taste of water.

Other than that, this 17oz bottle is like any other insulated water bottle, keeping cold drinks cold and hot ones hot.

If you’re trying to avoid bottled water on the move, this is a handy way to get pure and safe water wherever you are.

Amazon Basics AMZB-G30CW

(Image credit: Amazon Basics AMZB-G30CW)

8. AmazonBasics AMZB-G30CW Filtration System

Best budget water filter: an affordable countertop option

Type: Countertop
Filter life: 30,000 gallons
Dimensions : 4.4 x 4.4 x 12.8 inches
Reasons to buy
+Multiple colors+Low price+High filter capacity+Easy to install
Reasons to avoid
-Cheap parts-Filter is not replaceable

The AmazonBasics AMZB-G30CW Filtration System brings you countertop filtration for less, helping those on a budget get better-tasting water.

Available in three different colors, the filtration system is rather plain looking, but it doesn’t take up much countertop space. 

It needs to be connected to an existing faucet, which should be straightforward, but it’s not compatible with all faucets. There are some complaints that the diverter valve leaks, so take care while installing.

Each product can filter 30,000 gallons of water, but there’s no replaceable filter, so you’ll have to dispose of the product and buy a new one each time. That’s a little wasteful, so look for a system with replaceable filters if you want to further lower your environmental impact.

Amazon says the product is designed to reduce chlorine and other unpleasant odors. It does the job well, with most people reporting better-tasting water after installing this.

Those on a tight budget will find this a cheap way to get a lot of filtered water, but the product is very basic.

Do I really need a water filter?

From a safety standpoint, tap water is largely very safe to drink, although some homes don’t have a safe supply. 

For most people, then, the point of having a water filter is to improve the taste of tap water. In the majority of US states, chlorine is used as a disinfectant. It’s safe to drink the detectable levels of chlorine, but the taste is affected. 

A water filter helps clean out chlorine and other contaminants, giving you better-tasting water. And, as water filters can work for many gallons, you can save money over bottled water. Not to mention that bottled water just adds to the plastic problem.

For people that have a contaminated water supply, filtration can help, but you have to know what you’re trying to filter out. If you think that you’ve got a contaminated water supply, seek professional help.

How do I choose a water filter? 

All water filters work in the same way: tap water passes through a filter that removes contaminants. There are different styles of filter, though.

Under-counter filters are designed to fit into a cupboard and usually come with a new faucet. These give you clean, filtered water at the same flow rate as your regular faucet. Although harder to install, you get the benefit of a single faucet to use for everything, and you can quickly use filtered water everywhere, from cooking to filling a water bottle to take away.

Countertop filters work in a similar way to under counter, but they’re usually connected to your faucet. You get the same advantages as with an under-counter model, but these models are easier to install. Having a bulky device on your kitchen counter is the main downside.

Jug filters have everything built into a jug. You fill up the top reservoir with tap water, and it’s filtered through to the bottom as clean water. These are quick and easy to use, and you can store a jug of filtered water ready for use. The downsides are that you need a jug double the size (half for tap; half for filtered), and there’s a short wait for filtered water every time you fill-up.

Bottle water filters are designed for on-the-go use. They’re handy if you’re on the move and want to refill your water from anywhere.

What does a water filter remove?

Each water filter system is different, so you need to check carefully what each one is designed to remove if you have a particular need. It’s worth pointing out that bacteria are generally not removed by most water filters.

Water filters will generally all remove chlorine, with most at least 90% effective; at this level, the chlorine taste is removed from the water.

Other contaminants include volatile organic compounds (harmful chemicals), heavy metals, and sediments. Don’t assume that if a filter is rated for one contaminant it will remove another.

How often should I change the filter itself?

Filters are rated by the gallon, and most water filter systems will track how much the filter has been used. Once it’s time to replace the filter, you’ll get a warning. Cheaper systems that don’t track actual usage will tell you how long each filter will last.

You should replace filters promptly, as they’ll stop working effectively, and you may as well have non-filtered water.