Water filter pitchers are a popular, portable method of water filtration. They're convenient, easy to use, and decorative. But filtration, not aesthetic appeal, is the most important criteria for a good water filter. Many pitchers claim to improve drinking water and your health. It's easy to believe these claims without challenging effectiveness, so we put best-selling water filter pitchers to the test.
We've compared water filter pitchers and awarded five of our favorites for their best qualities to help you find one that suits your water needs, taste, and budget.
What qualifies us?
Like you, we wanted to find the best water filter pitchers. But we're water experts, not average consumers.
Who we are: water experts equipped to analyze water filters and educate you on which filter pitcher to buy or whether or not purchasing one is worth it
Who we are not: a lab certified to test pitchers for contaminant reduction rates
Since we aren't an accredited laboratory or medical experts, we cannot test pitchers for health claims and reduction rates. We can evaluate specifications and conduct simple tests for effectiveness to challenge pitcher claims. For awards like best pitcher for bacteria and best for lead, we compared reduction rates, evaluated the water filtration jargon, and used our water knowledge to decide which pitcher is most deserving.
The Best Water Filter Pitchers
- Clearly Filtered: Best filter pitcher for overall design
- Seychelle: Best filter pitcher for coffee
- Brita LongLast: Best filter pitcher for lead
- Zero Water: Best filter pitcher for contaminant reduction
- PUR: Best filter pitcher for bacteria
Water filter pitcher comparison
|Pitcher||Clearly Filtered||Seychelle||Brita w/ LongLast||ZeroWater||PUR||Brita Stream||Aquagear||Culligan|
|Speed||6:00||7:00||2:15||1:35||3:25||As you pour||2:00||3:25|
|Gallons/Filter||100||100||120||Depends on TDS level||40||40||150||50|
|Replacement Frequency||4 months||4 months||4.5 months||When meter reads 006||2 months||2 months||5 months||2 months|
|Ease of Replacements||Simple||Tricky||Simple||Simple||Simple||Tricky||Simple||Tricky|
|Filter Change Indicator||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||Manual dial|
|Cost of Replacements||$54.95||$24.95||$16.99||$14.99||$24.99||$6.99||$49.95||$6|
Testing water filter pitchers
We began our selection process exploring the web and pouring over buyer reviews online. After selecting filter pitchers that seemed to have the best features, contaminant reduction rates, and greatest capabilities for their price, our panel of water experts reviewed them based on the following criteria:
1. Ease of use
One of the advantages of buying a pitcher filter over another type of filter is its simplicity. Complicated assembly or filter changes defeats the purpose. Your pitcher's filter needs changing multiple times in a year, so ease of use is important for hassle-free maintenance.
How we tested: timed and evaluated pitcher assembly and filter replacement
Water filter pitchers are a convenient way to fill your glass with filtered water instantly unless they take forever to filter. Waiting for water is one of the most common complaints of filter pitcher buyers, so pitcher companies have created different designs to outperform competitors with the fastest filter. But keep in mind that the most effective pitchers are often the slowest because they give water adequate contact time with the filter media for the best results.
How we tested: timed how long it took each pitcher to filter one glass of water
Filtration is the greatest priority when choosing the best filter pitcher, but if a pitcher doesn’t pour well, then it’s not useful. Design flaws are common reasons for bad reviews and discarded pitchers. To test the functionality of each pitcher, we examined how comfortable it is to handle, how neatly it pours, and how many additional features it offers.
How we tested: tested the grip, evaluated the design, and poured a glass of water from each pitcher
4. Contaminant reduction
Pitcher filters are designed to improve the quality of pre-treated drinking water from a municipal plant, not to purify water. Even if a water pitcher claims to reduce bacteria or other hazardous contaminants, it's been tested on pre-treated tap water and is insufficient for more serious, large-scale drinking water concerns. If your water is contaminated with lead or bacteria, then installing a whole house or under-sink water filter is best.
Because we are not a testing lab, we cannot confirm whether or not a pitcher's lead or bacteria reduction claims are true or false. However, we were able to test for the following qualities with simple, DIY methods.
- TDS: the total number of dissolved solids in water. Dissolved solids include both harmful and harmless contaminants. Either way, they're dissolved. You can't see them, but you may be able to taste or smell them. TDS also includes beneficial minerals that you may prefer to retain in your drinking water. Whenever a pitcher increases alkalinity, it usually increases TDS because minerals are added. Learn how to measure TDS.
- Alkalinity & pH: If your water's pH measures above 7.5, then it's alkaline and more mineral-rich. If the pH is below 6.5, then your water is acidic and corrosive. In both instances, the water is safe to drink, but you may prefer to raise or lower pH or increase alkalinity for the flavor of mineral water or better-tasting foods and beverages.
Best under-sink option for TDS: A reverse osmosis system
Most pitcher filters contain a carbon core which is the best method for treating chlorine taste and odor. Judging the taste of water is subjective, so we tried to evaluate the taste based on observations. First, we determined whether or not we could taste a difference between the filtered and unfiltered water. Secondly, we poured soda through the water filter pitcher and observed whether or not the soda changed color and whether the filtered beverage tasted more like water or soda.
Do water filter pitchers make water taste better? Whether or not a filter pitcher improves the taste depends on your palette, but we could taste the difference in each of our 5 pitchers.
How we tested: Blind taste test & filtered soda test
Best under-sink option for chlorine taste: Everpure H-1200
Best whole house option: A whole house carbon filter
Our water quality
Pitcher filters produce greater or more noticeable results in some areas over others. Some locations have harder water, higher quantities of dissolved solids or chlorine, or more acidic water. Other areas have great-tasting drinking water with few observable issues. Our tap water in Greenville, South Carolina has relatively low TDS, slightly alkaline pH, and no chlorine taste or odor. We also tested Florida water with higher pH and hardness and received similar results.
South Carolina tap water
- TDS: 38 ppm
- Total Hardness: <1 ppm
- Alkalinity: <40 ppm
- pH: 7.5
|Pitcher||Clearly Filtered||Seychelle||Brita w/ LongLast||ZeroWater||PUR||Brita Stream||Aquagear||Culligan|
|TDS||196 ppm||125 ppm||36 ppm||0 ppm||47 ppm||36 ppm||86 ppm||38 ppm|
|Alkalinity||120 ppm||40 ppm||0 ppm||0 ppm||15 ppm||0 ppm||10 ppm||0 ppm|
|pH||8.4||>8.4 pH||6.8 pH||7 pH||7.4 pH||6.8 pH||7.3 pH||6.8 pH|
Water filter pitcher reviews
Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher- Best Water Filter Pitcher for Overall Design
- Thorough lab testing
- Extensive contaminant reduction
- Filter as you pour
- Lifetime warranty
- No filter change indicator light
- Expensive pitcher and filter replacements
Certifications: Independent accredited lab testing to NSF 42, 53, 401, 244, & P473
What we liked
The Clearly Filtered pitcher could have qualified for most the awards given, which is why we awarded it for "best overall design." It removes the most contaminants, increases alkalinity and improves pH, has the greatest fluoride reduction, and reduces different types of bacteria.
Patented filtration technology: This pitcher has its own unique blend of filter media, called "Affinity." An ion-exchange blend plus carbon media is this pitcher filter's secret sauce that allows the filter to reduce over 200 impurities by 99%. Clearly Filtered claims that their filter receives regular testing and improvements. Although it's not NSF-certified, it's tested by an accredited lab according to more NSF standards than any other pitcher we reviewed. We're not certified to test this pitcher for its health claims, but our tests revealed improvement in pH and alkalinity and filtering red soda produced clear results.
Pour while filtering: The pitcher's reservoir that holds unfiltered water is separated from the spout, which allows you to pour water while it's filtering. This prevents the unfiltered water from dripping into the filtered water, which is a complaint we've seen in customer reviews on other pitchers.
What we didn't like
There's little not to like about the Clearly Filter pitcher. It's a pricey pitcher with the most expensive filter replacements, but considering all that it offers, it's worth every penny. However, if your tap water is high-quality like ours, then a cheaper option may be more suitable for your needs and budget.
When we tasted water from this pitcher, it had a distinct flavor that didn't appeal to some of our water experts, but the quality of flavor depends on preference. As far as aesthetics, this pitcher doesn't have much to offer. It comes in one size and color (white) without any additional bells and whistles, but it filters well.
Seychelle pH2O Alkaline Water Pitcher- Best Water Filter Pitcher for Coffee
- Improves pH
- Increases alkalinity
- Includes extensive filtration
- Secure lid
- Difficult to open
- Slow filtering
- Not FDA approved
Certifications: Independent accredited lab
What we liked
We tested the Seychelle pitcher with hopes that it would improve pH and increase alkalinity, and it did not disappoint. Mineral content and alkalinity in water enhance the flavor of coffee. With the Seychelle filter pitcher, our water came closest to the desired level of quality for coffee.
An alkaline water success: According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), alkalinity should be at or near 40 ppm for the best flavor. The Seychelle filter pitcher increased our water's alkalinity to that exact measurement. The SCAA also recommends that total hardness be near 150 ppm. The pitcher increased our water's total hardness from 0 to 125 ppm, a little lower than desired, but closer than the other pitchers we tested.
Filtration plus pH improvement: If your water has a low pH, it can corrode pipes and appliances. The Sychelle pitcher successfully raises water's pH. Our tap water's pH was already neutral and in no need of improvement, but the pitcher filter did raise the pH from 7.5 to 8.5. This pitcher also claims to reduce aesthetic, chemical, and radiological contaminants in addition to improving pH.
What we didn't like
The Seychelle pitcher took the longest to filter one glass of water. Water flows from the filter one or two drips at a time. The pitcher's lid required brute force to remove. Removing it was so difficult that the spout cover popped off, and we nearly broke the pitcher. But at least the lid stays in place while pouring water.
The pitcher also claims to remove over 99% of TDS, but when we poured red soda through the filtered, it retained its color. For comparison, the Zero Water pitcher that makes the same claim removed all the color from the soda. This filter pitcher has also not been FDA approved, so you can't be sure it's made from BPA-free materials.
Brita Monterey with Longlast Filter- Best Water Filter Pitcher for Lead
- Great for lead reduction
- Filter life indicator
- Loose lid
Certifications: NSF 42, 53, 401
What we liked
The Brita Monterey pitcher was perhaps our best looking pitcher, but it's the Longlast filter that makes this pitcher award-worthy.
Lead reduction: Not only does this pitcher filter lasts about a month and a half longer than other Brita filters, but it provides superior lead reduction. The Clearly Filtered and PUR pitchers are close seconds for lead claims. However, the Brita has the highest overall percent reduction at both 6.5 and 8.5 pH levels. The Brita is also NSF-certified to standard 401 for emerging contaminants, unlike many other NSF-certified pitchers.
What we didn't like
The Brita Monterey pitcher looks nice and would make a pretty addition to your tabletop, but it has design flaws. Several times, the lid fell off as we poured water, so it's best to hold the pitcher with two hands. Once removed, the lid can also be tricky to put back in place. The pitcher is also bulky and hard to handle. Thankfully, Brita offers multiple pitcher models compatible with the Longlast filter if you prefer functionality over style.
Zero Water Water Filter Pitcher- Best Water Filter Pitcher for Contaminant Reduction
- Most effective filtration
- Fast filtering
- Comes with TDS meter
- Shorter filter life
- Expensive filter replacements
Certifications: NSF 42 & 53
What we liked
Out of all the pitchers we tested, the Zero Water pitcher is the most effective and efficient. And on top of that, it's one of the most affordable pitchers.
Effective filtration: The Zero Water pitcher earned our award for "best contaminant reduction," not because it removes the greatest variety of impurities, but because it nearly reduces several major ones to nonexistence. Most noteworthy, this pitcher removes all dissolved solids from drinking water. Zero Water provides a TDS meter with each pitcher because they know you have to see it to believe it. The claims are true, our TDS meter read 00 ppm after testing. And our filtered red soda came through the filter crystal clear, measuring only 1 ppm of remaining sugar.
In addition to TDS, the pitcher reduces lead and chlorine to levels comparable with the Brita Longlast. It also reduces hydrogen sulfide and chromium, which many other pitchers aren't certified to reduce.
Fast filtration: The Zero Water pitcher could have received an award for ease of use and convenience. It won our race for fastest filtration and was one of the simplest filters to replace.
What we didn't like
Excellent speed and reduction capabilities of the Zero filter pitcher mean the filters have a shorter lifespan and are more expensive to replace. However, a Zero Water pitcher lasts longer for some areas over others depending on the level of dissolved solids in the water. For this reason, these pitchers have no predicted lifespan. Zero Water recommends that the filter be replaced when the meter reads 006 ppm. Because our tap water has low TDS, our pitcher filter will last longer than locations with higher TDS.
PUR Ultimate Pitcher- Best Water Filter Pitcher for Bacteria
- Certified cyst reduction
- LED filter change indicator
- Loose filter
- Loose, leaky lid
Certifications: NSF 42 & 53
What we liked
The PUR pitcher offers comparable reduction rates to the Brita pitcher. We selected the PUR pitcher for its lead reduction claims and were pleasantly surprised at the other capabilities of the filter.
Cyst reduction: Unlike any other pitcher we reviewed, the PUR pitcher is NSF-certified to reduce over 99.99% of cysts. This is because the PUR filter has 3-stage filtration that includes a mesh layer with microscopic pores small enough to prevent cysts from passing through. This pitcher is great at reducing lead, copper, and other contaminants, and it increased the alkalinity of our tap water slightly.
Size: The PUR pitcher is compact and fits snugly inside most refrigerator doors. It's also lightweight and easy to transport.
What we didn't like
The quality of the PUR pitcher did not impress our panel of water experts. The filter came loose easily, the lid did not fit securely, and drips of unfiltered water leaked from the reservoir and into the glass when pouring. Also, the replacement filters are more expensive than Brita replacements, but the capabilities are not much different.
We tested the Aquagear pitcher to compare with the Seychelle and Clearly Filtered pitchers for alkalinity and pH improvement and contaminant reduction. The pitcher did not reduce contaminants as well or to the same standards as the Clearly Filtered and had little effect on alkalinity and pH during our tests. The pitcher was also bulky and hard to grasp.
The advantage of the Aquagear pitcher is that it's 100% recyclable, and the company provides six months of clean water to underdeveloped countries for every filter purchased. It also claims to reduce a long list of contaminants according to NSF standards 42 and 53.
The Brita Stream filters water as you pour so there's never need to wait for filtering, and you could fill the pitcher with ice water. The convenience is a plus, but the speed only allows enough contact time for basic chlorine taste and odor reduction. If you live a busy, active lifestyle and aren't concerned about hazardous contaminants, then this fast-filtering pitcher may be just the one for you.
The Culligan pitcher is inexpensive and adequate for basic filtration needs. It's NSF-certified for chlorine taste and odor reduction in addition to mercury and copper. However, the quality of this pitcher and its filter is inferior to the other pitchers reviewed. The lid must be held in place while pouring, and our filter replacement had a lot of loose carbon granules leaking out.
How to choose a filter pitcher
1. Consider reduction claims
Some water filter pitchers are better at removing certain contaminants than others. The Clearly Filtered pitcher, for example, removes the most contaminants, including fluoride, but does not reduce dissolved solids. The ZeroWater pitcher is better at TDS reduction than at reducing harmful contaminants. When shopping for a filter pitcher, ask these two questions:
What's my water quality?
Testing the water is the first step in considering any type of filtration. If you learn that your drinking water contains high levels of dissolved solids, then you may need a reverse osmosis system. If you have hard water, then you'll need a whole house water softener to prevent damage to your appliances. A simple pitcher filter will not fix these concerns. You may want a filter pitcher if your water contains contaminants at a safe level for aesthetic reasons like chlorine taste and odor or trace amounts of harmful contaminants that it's certified to reduce.
What are my water concerns?
Water pitcher filters can also serve as an extra source of protection or contaminant reduction for minor drinking water concerns. For example, if you want to filter fluoride or increase the pH of your drinking water, then a filter pitcher would be the most budget-friendly option. You would want to choose a pitcher certified to reduce fluoride or tested for pH improvement and alkalinity. There's no one water filter pitcher that does it all.
Filter pitcher certifications
The best filter pitchers are either certified by the NSF or have been tested by an independent, accredited laboratory according to NSF standards for all contaminant reduction claims. If a pitcher is NSF-certified, then you can trust that it does what it says. If a pitcher is certified by an independent lab, then you may want to do more research to make sure the certifications are legitimate.
Just because a filter is not certified by the NSF, does not mean that it's a bad filter. Clearly Filtered, for example, uses their own patented filter media that they test and improve on a consistent basis. An accredited laboratory may be the most economical option if a filter company wants to conduct more rigorous testing according to multiple NSF standards.
Here are NSF standards you may find on a filter pitcher:
- NSF 42: aesthetic contaminants
- NSF 53: contaminants with harmful health effects
- NSF 401: emerging contaminants
- NSF 244: material safety
- NSF P473: PFOA and PFOS
What do water filter pitchers remove?
|Pitcher||Clearly Filtered||Seychelle||Brita w/ LongLast||ZeroWater||PUR|
|Lead||99.5%||>99%||pH 6.5 99.5%/ pH 8.5 99.6%||pH 6.5 99.7%/ pH 8.5 99.0%||pH 6.5 99.5%/ pH 8.5 97.9%|
|Chloramines||99.9%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
|Fluoride||96.9- 98.2%||>90%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
|Chromium||96.9%||>93.7%||Not certified||pH 6.5 99.6%/ pH 8.5 93.3%||Not certified|
|TDS||Not certified||>99%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
|Arsenic||99.6%||>47%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
|Copper||99.9%||>98.5%||Not certified||Not certified||pH 6.5 99.1% pH 8.5 99.7%|
|Aluminum||Not certified||>90%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
|Cysts||99.9%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified||>99.99%|
|Mercury||99.99%||>99.25%||pH 6.5 99.5%/ pH 8.5 93.4%||pH 6.5 96.8%/ pH 8.5 96.7%||pH 6.5 96.7%/ pH 8.5 96.4%|
|Benzene||99.99%||Not certified||93.5%||Not certified||>96.5%|
|Particulate||Not certified||Not certified||Class 1 99.6%||Not certified||Class 1 97.6%|
|Asbestos||Not certified||Not certified||>99%||Not certified||Not certified|
|Nitrites||Not certified||>88.43%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
|Radon 22||Not certified||>99%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
|Turbidity||Not certified||>99%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
|THMs||99.7%||90.9%||Not certified||Not certified||Not certified|
Some of the pitchers in the chart claim to reduce many more contaminants than we list here. See the pitcher spec sheets on the various manufacturer websites to see what else these pitchers can remove from your water.
2. Weigh replacement filter options
The inner filter is crux of a water filter pitcher, but it has a short lifespan. To guarantee fresh drinking water months after you've purchased your pitcher, you must replace the filter. This is why filter life and filter replacement cost are important considerations when shopping for a new filter pitcher. Some pitchers are cheaper than others have the highest filter replacement cost or may not last as long.
But just because a pitcher has an expensive filter, does not mean you should automatically scratch it off your list. For example, Clearly Filtered or Zero Water filter replacement filters are expensive, but they're also some of the most effective. You may also be able to find a compatible aftermarket filter for your water pitcher at a lower cost. However, knock-off pitcher filters may not reduce contaminants or have the same certifications like those from the original manufacturer.
Shop replacement filters:
3. Note your preferences
You may prefer a pitcher that pairs well with your tableware or kitchen decor and looks nice enough for serving guests. You might also want a pitcher that pours smoothly without dripping water all over the table. Some pitchers, like the Aquagear or Clearly Filtered, only come in one size and color. Others are clunky and dysfunctional like the Brita Monterey. Ultimately, the filter is the most important consideration, but you may regret purchasing or use less often a pitcher with design flaws.
How much do water filter pitchers cost?
Most water pitcher filters cost $20-40 but some with special blends of filter media or unique features can cost up to $75. The cost of a pitcher filter increases with capacity or material. Buying a filter pitcher is not a one-time purchase but a small investment considering filter replacements. You'll pay a little more for a glass or stainless steel pitcher filter over a plastic one or for one that holds ten gallons versus six. However, the filter replacement cost usually remains the same no matter the difference in size or material.
Where to buy a water filter pitcher
You can purchase a filter pitcher from the manufacturer, Amazon, or retail stores like Walmart or Target. We noticed during our pitcher shopping that the price does not vary much from place to place. No additional shipping cost is the advantage of purchasing from a store location or Amazon Prime. Retail stores, however, are limited in variety of pitchers and only offer the most popular models from major brands like Brita, PUR, or Zero Water.
Do you need a filter pitcher?
Whether or not a filter pitcher is necessary depends on your water quality. You may not need a water filter pitcher if you already have another type of drinking water system installed. Or, you may need to install a more extensive filtration system under your sink or on your countertop instead.
If you install an under-sink or countertop water filter, using an additional filter pitcher has little benefit. The same could be said for whole house water filters depending on the type you use. If you're on pre-treated city water and have a whole house water softener to protect your appliances from scale, then a filter pitcher could provide adequate drinking water filtration for your needs. On the other hand, if you're on well water, then a simple water pitcher filter without any other treatment will not provide safe drinking water.
Pitcher filters pros & cons
- Insufficient for serious water contamination
- Frequent filter changes
- Limited capacity
Do filter pitchers work?
If a water filter pitcher is lab-certified to reduce specific contaminants, then it does exactly as it claims and nothing more. Most filter pitchers use a carbon filter, which effectively reduces chlorine taste and odor. Some have ion-exchange resin to attract more contaminants or micron filtration to remove particulate or cysts. But if you forget to change the filter when necessary, then your pitcher will no longer work.
Filter pitcher alternatives
Under-sink water filter vs. pitcher
An under-sink water filter is better than a pitcher filter if you need more extensive contaminant reduction or want to treat all of your drinking water instead of just a pitcher full. But you cannot install an under-sink system in a rental home, apartment, or dormitory. A water filter pitcher is the most convenient option if you're not a homeowner. Under-sink filters last longer and come in a wider variety, but pitchers are portable and don't require complicated installation. Countertop water filters are another option that gives greater contaminant reduction without permanent installation.
Water filter pitcher vs. reverse osmosis
Reverse osmosis filters water through multiple stages that include activated carbon and a semipermeable membrane that reduces dissolved solids. Water filter pitchers don't even come close to the level of filtration a reverse osmosis system provides. However, your water quality may not require reverse osmosis filtration. RO systems are most frequently installed under the sink and are not as environmentally friendly as water filter pitchers.
Water filter pitcher vs. faucet filter
Faucet filters and pitcher filters are similar in what they reduce and how frequently they need replacing. The main difference is that water pitcher filters are portable, and faucet filters attach to your sink faucet. Pitcher filters filter only a certain capacity, but faucet filters filter water straight from the spigot.
Water filter pitcher vs. bottled water
Reducing plastic pollution is a filter pitcher's greatest asset. Drinking bottled water is more costly to the environment and your wallet. Let's compare the potential yearly savings using a filter pitcher instead of bottled water.
Scenario: You've purchased a $30 pitcher that requires $15 filter replacements every 4 months (3 times per year), and you drink 10 cups of water each day.
Cost per year:
Pitcher + maintenance: $30 (pitcher) + $15 x 3 (4 month replacements) = $75/ year
Bottled water: $0.40 (per bottle) x 5 (bottles per person each day) x 365 (days) = $730/ year
Total savings: $655/ person each year
Plastic savings per year:
10 cups per pitcher / 2 cups per bottle = 5 bottles per pitcher or 1 pitcher/ person each day of the year
5 (bottles a day) x 365 (days) = 1,825 bottles/ person saved in 1 year