We tested top models including ZeroWater, Brita, and Seychelle to find the best water filter pitcher for your tap.
Drinking from the tap isn't always ideal, especially if you don't trust the quality of the water coming out of it. That's where a good filter comes in. The best water filter pitcher will improve the taste and quality of your drinking water. If you're a bottled water drinker, a good home filter system or filter pitcher can also save you hundreds of dollars each year. In fact, we did the math to see how much you can save using a Brita or other filter pitcher in place of bottled water. Spoiler alert: It's a whole lot.
Brita may be the best-known water filter pitcher brand but that doesn't mean it's the best at doing removing unwanted metals and other materials from tap water. In fact, three years running, another brand has taken the top spot as best water filter pitcher.
In yet another round of testing this year, the $50 ZeroWater still reigns supreme, removing nearly all of the total dissolved solids from water. But there are other models that did a formidable job including one extremely stylish pitcher that might catch your eye over the bare-bones, cheaper plastic models that dominate the category.
The bottom line is, if you want cleaner, better-tasting water, there are several options from the very inexpensive to the sleek yet pricey. We've run the tests and settled on these four models as the best water filter pitchers.
Three years running, the ZeroWater has proved to be the best water filter pitcher at removing total dissolved solids from tap water making it an easy pick as the best model for most people.
In our testing, the ZeroWater filter was pitcher perfect, removing all of the TDS from the water we ran through it, finishing with a 0 average reading. ZeroWater is so confident in its filter products that each model comes with a TDS water quality tester to see for yourself how well it works. We used our own tester in addition to the one included and the filter delivered a perfect TDS score on both.
This formidable water purifier pitcher is also affordable and sturdy and it's available in a few sizes all of which use the same filter. Those include a smaller 10-cup round pitcher, 23-cup dispenser with spigot and even a massive 5-gallon water jug that can be fitted onto a water cooler.
ZeroWater pitchers are slightly more expensive than Brita and Pur but by no means a luxury purchase. Each one uses the same 5-stage filter so you can bet that you'll get similarly clean water no matter which unit you decide on. A pitcher filter replacement two-pack costs $30 and each one is supposed to last for up to 40 gallons. For comparison, Brita and Pur, on the other hand, sell each of their filters for just $7 -- and claim to have the same 40-gallon filter life.
Brita is probably the best-known of the water filter pitcher brands and it performed well in our testing, second only to the ZeroWater in the overall removal of dissolved materials. The Brita removed about 40% of the TDS. Not a bad showing but still significantly less than the winner.
This model is also a few bucks cheaper than a ZeroWater pitcher of the same size making it one of the most budget-friendly water filter pitcher options out there. To make things even more cost-efficient, the replacement filters can be had for about $6 if you buy them in a multipack. Each one is said to filter 40 gallons of water, enough for roughly two months of steady use (the same lifespan as ZeroWater).
While I wasn't in love with the build of the Brita -- the plastic feels a bit cheap -- it is just 1.32 pounds which is less than half the weight of the ZeroWater. If you have small kids or folks in the home who can't lift a heavy pitcher, this may be a good pick.
Brita also makes a "Longlast" filter that's designed to last three times as long as the standard filter. We tested a Longlast and found it performed significantly worse than the Legacy (standard) filter. Plus, it's more expensive so I'd suggest sticking with the Legacy if buying a Brita.
This stylish Swedish kitchen brand is best known for its elegant sparkling water makers but now offers an equally eye-catching filter pitcher. It was the best looking of the bunch made from glass and stainless steel frame with a sleek overall design. It also did well removing about 40% of the dissolved solids from my tap water. It's not as efficient as our top pick, the ZeroWater filter pitcher, but about on par with the Brita models. Plus, this pitcher is good-looking enough to set this out for a dinner party or holiday gathering.
It's worth noting that the Aarke has a reusable filter so you only buy the granules which are easily loaded into the metal filter cartridge and saves a bit on plastic waste. A three-pack of filter granules costs $19.50 on Aarke's website is about the same price as Brita replacement filters and cheaper than ZeroWater filters. One package of granules is estimated to filter about 31.7 gallons of water. That's about 9 gallons less than Brita claims its filters will purify.
You can also buy Aarke enriching granules to alkalinize your water if you so choose.
If the goal is to add alkaline to your water, then you'll want a completely different model. In a previous round of filter testing, we ran pH readings (measurements of how acidic or basic your water is) range from 0 to 14; 7 is a neutral reading.
Despite conflicting research on the topic, some people attribute health benefits to more basic (or alkaline) water. As a result, select companies make water pitchers with filters that actually add nutrients as your tap water passes through.
The $80 Seychelle pH20 pitcher took tap water from an already basic reading of 8.39 to 10.1, the largest increase out of the three alkaline pitchers in my test group. This pitcher's water filtration system uses two filters at a time, but they are supposed to last for up to 200 gallons. A replacement filter two-pack costs $50.
Here's a list of the nine pitchers we tested in this latest round:
One key thing to consider from this chart is the estimated life of each pitcher filter versus its cost. The Brita Metro Standard and Everyday models, the Pur Plus and the ZeroWater pitcher all have a lower estimated filter life of up to 40 gallons. While the Brita filter and Pur filter models cost about $7 each, the ZeroWater filters cost $15 each (but are sold in a $30 two-pack). Packets of granules to refill Aarke's reusable filter cost about $20 for three.
As you can see in the picture above, the ZeroWater filter on the far right is massive compared to others. Of course, that doesn't necessarily equal better performance but in this case, the ZeroWater did soundly outperform the others in removing contaminants. ZeroWater claims to have a five-stage filter that's better at removing particles while preventing mold from growing with use. Based on our testing results, it seems the brand may be onto something.
(Keep in mind that filter life will vary based on the quality of your tap water and how much your filter has to "work" to remove impurities.)
To test these water filter pitchers, we washed each one with mild soap and water, then followed the individual manufacturer instructions for soaking, rinsing or otherwise prepping filters for use.
We filled a marked mason jar glass with 16 ounces of tap water and used an Orapxi water quality tester to measure and note the TDS present to see how much was in the water originally and how much had been removed. While the results of my tap water varied slightly each time I filled a fresh glass with 16 ounces the TDS of the water used always read between 47 and 50 ppm, or parts per million. (Read more about TDS here and here.)
Then we poured all 16 ounces into a water filter pitcher, waited for it to filter all the water, poured it into a new glass and took the readings again. For nonalkaline pitchers, you should expect to see a drop in the TDS readings, as impurities and other minerals are removed from the water. We repeated these steps a total of three times on each of the pitchers.
TDS meters are not sophisticated enough to decipher which impurities, nutrients and other minerals each filter manages to remove (or add, in the case of the alkaline pitchers). For that reason, measuring TDS alone as an indicator of water quality has some limitations. But, in general, for a standard filtered water pitcher, we want to see a decrease in the TDS reading. Examples of the most common TDS include "calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, nitrate, and silica," according to the US Geological Survey.
In a previous round of testing, we ran three alkaline water filter pitchers through a pH test -- Clearly Filtered, Invigorated Water pH Vitality and Seychelle pH20. All saw an increase in both the pH and the TDS, since they're designed to add minerals to your water, but the Seychelle saw the biggest pH increase which is why we've listed it as the best pitcher to buy if you want to add alkaline to your tap water.
This is the least scientific test we'll run on the water filter pitchers but still an important one. After filtering water with each pitcher, we give the liquid a good old-fashioned taste test. For this latest round of testing, we took sips of each water from each in succession and compared each drink with that of purified bottled water.
Here's a table of our most recent TDS removal test results. The data represents an average of three test runs for each filter pitcher.
|TDS (% change)|
|Brita Metro Standard||-45.6|
The ZeroWater pitcher managed to reduce all of the total dissolved solids in my tap water, from an average initial TDS reading of 57 ppm down to zero. Both Brita pitchers with the standard filter tied for second place, with a reduction of TDS from 57 down to 31 (a 45.6% decrease). The stylish (and expensive) Aarke also did well, removing nearly 40% of the TDS from tap water.
Water taste is a bit trickier to measure, but every pitcher did help reduce the slightly metallic taste of my tap water. Unsurprisingly, the ZeroWater pitcher model tasted the best, with no discernible metallic taste or scent.
Overall, the ZeroWater (ZP-010) made our job pretty easy. It completely dominated in terms of removing TDS and also happened to have one of the sturdiest designs. But there are other good options here too: The Brita Metro Standard is a great budget filter pitcher that weighs less than ZeroWater's pitchers and has cheaper replacement filters. The Seychelle pH20 is a great pitcher pick if you want to add alkaline to water. And Aarke's water purifier is my pick for the most stylish water pitcher with a sturdy build, stainless steel frame and glass pitcher. It costs much more than the others but offers a bit of elegance that few others do.
One thing to note is that we're really testing the filters here and not the pitcher itself. Because most home filter pitchers made by a single brand will use the same filter, you can bet that no matter which size or shape dispenser you choose, the filter should do the same job, for better or worse. ZeroWater, for instance, has a line of about six pitchers, jugs and dispensers in various sizes, all of which use the same very effective five-stage filter. The one caveat within the brands we've tested here is Brita which offers a LongLast filter that did not perform as well as the Legacy Brita filters.
Another big takeaway is just how widely filtered water pitchers can vary, both in terms of performance and even in terms of their key function, as in the case of alkaline pitchers. As long as you identify your needs before you buy, you're bound to find the right filtered water pitcher for you.
These handy kitchen gadgets work by allowing water to pass through a filter into a reservoir and removing impurities and contaminants in the process. To operate a typical water filter pitcher, you'll simply pour water from the faucet and let it drip down into the bottom where it's ready to be poured and consumed. This generally takes one or two minutes and you may need to fill the top reservoir twice or even three times and let it filter slowly down in order to fill the pitcher completely.
Most water filter pitchers will improve the taste and smell of drinking water by ridding it of odorous chemicals such as chlorine. Some more expensive or high-quality models also remove heavy metals, pesticides, PFAs, pathogens and other contaminants. Each water filter pitcher should state clearly on the packaging or website the exact materials it is intended to remove from water.
In our testing, it was fairly clear which water filter pitcher removed the most contaminants. The Zero Water pitcher, while significantly bigger and more expensive than the other pitchers, removed all of the dissolved materials we were testing for. The Brita filter pitchers came in second place and also removed a substantial amount of contaminants.
While we haven't tested them yet, there are more elaborate water filters that you can have built into your sink from brands including Aquasana, Hydroviv and Berkley. These water filters may net better results but will run you in the $200-$500 range and require some form of installation which could incur even more costs.
No. Water filter pitchers will remove many harmful contaminants like lead, copper, chlorine and organic compounds that affect the taste but they will do nothing to kill bacteria. Your tap water should already be treated for bacteria but if you're concerned about it, a standard water filter is not going to help.
In fact, if left unchanged for long periods of time a water filter itself could build up grime that could potentially cause bacteria to grow and permeate your water. Because of that, be sure to change your filter regularly as prescribed by each brand.
The most important thing you can do to keep your water filter pitcher clean is to change the filter. Most filter pitcher brands including Brita and Zero Water recommend replacing the filter after about 40 gallons but this number varies by model.
The bulk of the water pitchers that we tested can and should be cleaned like any other piece of plastic kitchen gear every few weeks. You can remove the filter and rinse them by hand with hot water and soap, making sure to fully rinse the pitcher so as not to leave soap residue. Most water filter pitchers are dishwasher-safe as well. Just don't forget to remove the filter which should never be cleaned with soap.