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Best Refrigerator Water Filters in 2021: Buying Guide and Reviews

By Luna Regina | Updated
Our recommendations are made independently through research and testing following our review procedure. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links at no additional costs to you.
Best Refrigerator Water Filters 2021

If you have a refrigerator with a built-in ice maker and water dispenser, you will know about the importance and high cost of water filtration. Refrigerator filters generally only need to be changed every 6 months, or after 200 to 300 gallons of water, but the price and quality of these filters varies a lot. Having said that, you need to make sure that you are getting the best refrigerator water filter, meaning one that will actually improve the quality of your water and at a reasonable cost.

A Guide to Quality and Certified Refrigerator Water Filters

The first step is to check for official NSF product certifications that pertain to water filtration standards. Companies voluntarily submit product samples for NSF testing and verification. NSF 42, NSF 53 and NSF 401 are dealt with together as the core standard:

NSF 42 Certified

NSF 42: This applies mostly to aesthetic effects such as “taste and color of your filtered water. It covers chlorine, taste and odor, chloramine, particulate, iron, manganese, zinc and total dissolved solids (TDS).”

NSF 53: “This standard offers over 50 contaminant reduction claims.” Some of the most popular include: lead, cryptosporidium parasites,volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and chromium.

NSF 401: “This standard offers up to 15 specific contaminant reduction claims”, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, herbicides, pesticides and chemical compounds.

NSF 372 and 61: This certifies that the material and components and of your water filter are not contaminated with any dangerous levels of lead only.

You can browse here for NSF/ANSI 42 and 53 certified products and manufacturers, or do a search for any manufacturer, brand or product number.

As you can see, NSF 42 is the most basic certification for clean looking and good tasting water. Depending on your local water quality, this might be sufficient. For most urban or industrial centers, NSF 53 is recommended and additional NSF 401 is the safest option.

Is NSF Assurance Enough?

An NSF seal alone doesn’t verify the degree to which contaminants are reduced. Two products with the same NSF verifications could have vastly different filtration outcomes.

For further quality assurance you may want to look for the WQA—Water Quality Association —Gold Seal Product Certification Program. Their certification verifies safe construction materials, and that packaging claims are backed up by data.

Is NSF Assurance Enough

Another third party certification often seen is IAPMO’s Water Systems Certification Program. Other assurity can come from independent lab test results sometimes audited by companies themselves.

Unfortunately, the independent Consumer Reports group, as of yet, do not test refrigerator water filters. You can, however, do your own inexpensive home water test, or you can evaluate ad hoc tests done people who have purchased the same product.

Generic vs Manufacturer OEM Brands

Although most people feel more secure with popular OEM manufacturer brands, some have the need to look for more affordable options. Almost all generic water filters are rebranded products. It’s important, therefore, to research the brand name distributor, their website, and what information is available on the parent manufacturer.

Many generic brand names carry NSF and WQA certification seals, but people have trouble finding them on search databases. This is because NSF certifications generally appear under the parent company manufacturer. In this case, you should search using the product model number. If the product is WQA certified, it’s easy to just use the brand name. Just because a product is packaged with a nice certification seal, doesn’t mean you should automatically trust it.

Researching Generic Brands: Asking the Hard Questions

Always read the claims manufacturers or distributors make about the product on their website, online store, and packaging. Make sure these claims match the certifications they carry, and that claims on the package match the claims made in their product promotions.

Although most products are backed up with at least one NSF certification and data sheet, other publicly available data sheets deemed trustworthy should also be fine. If a product carries more than one certification, that is all the better. We do not recommend products that don’t meet these basic criteria.

Check Points Before Choosing Your Refrigerator Filter Replacement:

  1. Although we do this for you, search the product for their NSF or WQA listing or any other data to back up product claims.
  2. Check to see if a data and installation sheet is available through the online vendor or website— these may often contain test results.
  3. Investigate the company website to see if they are more than just a fancy name, rebranded distributor. Make sure all claims check out.
  4. Check user reviews for the frequency of ‘leaks’ any ‘tests’ done.
  5. A no hassle money back guarantee is well worth having.

Reviews of The Best Refrigerator Water Filters in 2021

We’ve thoroughly researched and sought out the best water filters for your refrigerator that have stood up to more scrutiny than others.

  1. WaterDrop Advanced - Best for Whirlpool and Maytag
  2. Culligan - Best Inline Refrigerator Water Filter
  3. PureLine - Best GE MWF & Kenmore 9991 Replacement Filter
  4. WaterDrop Advanced- Best LG and Kenmore Replacement Filters
  5. EcoAqua - Best Samsung DA29xxx & HAF-CIN Replacement Filter

Here are our picks for the Best Refrigerator Water Filters in 2021:

1. Water Drop Advanced - Best to Buy for Whirlpool Filter 4 and Maytag

This filter is a replacement for the Everydrop Filter 4 for Whirlpool and other selected Maytag side-by-side refrigerators. WaterDrop is a Californain company and their filters use a renewable, activated coconut, carbon-block filter. Carbon block is a structure with immovable carbon particles that ensures more uniform and better filtration.

Water Drop Advanced review
  • NSF 42, 53 and 372

  • WQT Gold Star

  • UPC certified

  • Sustainable Bamboo Carbon

  • NFS 401 Pro Version only

These filters are tested and proven to remove 96 to 99 percent of contaminants, including chlorine, lead, cyst, benzene, and carbofuran. They can last up to 6 months, or 300 gallons of water.

Assurity and Certifications

These filters carry NSF 42, 53 and 372 certifications, so you should get good tasting, clear water that is largely free of most harmful metal contaminants, herbicides, and parasites. They don't carry NSF 401 for reducing drug compounds, but for that you can try their pro version. They have additional WQA Gold Star and UPC ratings.

Installation and Maintenance

WaterDrop filters have an easy twist and lock design mechanism, and clear installation instructions are provided. You need to run water through the system for at least 3 minutes to flush out residue, and the normal flow rate should return after 24 to 36 hours. See the end of our reviews for more details on how to install Whirlpool filters.

People are by and large happy with these filters, and there are minimal reports of leaks. WaterDrop is a trustworthy company and distributor who are easily contactable. They have a range of products for most other refrigerators.

See our reviews for OEMEveryDrop Filter 1 for side-by-side refrigerators and Filter 2 for French door refrigerators— there are no competitive generic replacements for these two filters.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

2. Culligan IC-EZ-1 - Best Inline Refrigerator Water Filter

If your refrigerator doesn’t have an built-in water filter, then you can use an inline filter which sits between your refrigerator and your water source. For the most part, it’s not possible to bypass your refrigerator’s built-in filter unless it comes with a bypass plug. Culligan independently develops and largely manufactures their products locally in the US.

Culligan IC-EZ-1 review
  • NSF 42 and 53

  • Independent test data

  • Flow rate 0.5 gpm

  • 2 year warranty

  • No additional third party certificates

  • No NSF 401 option

  • Long flush required

Assurity and Certifications

These Culligan filters come in three levels of filtration. This Advanced Filter is NSF 42 and 53 approved and can filter 500 gallons or last for up to 6 months. The Basic Filter is only NSF 42-certified, so will not reduce lead or remove cysts. The higher Premium Filter will do this and reduce additional MTBE (a flammable colorless liquid) and similar volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as Mercury.

Installation and Maintenance

This filter comes complete with a built-in mounting bracket and mounting screws, and a cartridge change reminder sticker. It must be installed within 3 feet of your refrigerator, and in a vertical position for optimal flow rate. Flushing takes at least 10 minutes for an ice maker.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

3. PureLine - Best GE MWF and Kenmore Refrigerator Replacement Water Filter

Purline is one of the most popular generic filter makers and they independently manufacture their own products, rather than simply rebranding and relabelling. Like most other filters, they use carbon block technology, but layered on top of this are two additional ionization processes to further extract solids and contaminants. One of these processes is electromagnetic absorption which removes the smallest particles. They claim to remove a total of 26 contaminants.

PureLine Best GE MWF and Kenmore water filter review
  • Triple action filtration

  • NSF 42 and 372

  • WQA and IAMPO

  • Reduction of 26 contaminants

  • Independent Manufacturer

  • No NSF 401

Assurity and Certifications

Pureline is NSF 42 and 372 certified. They are also WQA certified and this means that all package claims have been independently tested and certified. On their package they claim 99% removal of lead, mercury, chlorine, odor, THM, VOC, herbicides, pesticides, and particles. Additionally, these filters claim a 95% or greater reduction of cadmium, chromium, copper, lindane, and other contaminants. They have a third certification from the IAMPO, so their products carry a high degree of trust and assurity. They make a range of competitive filters for all popular refrigerator brands.

Pureline is NSF 42 and 372 certified

Installation and Maintenance

GE filters are quite noticeable and usually located in the top right hand corner of your refrigerator. The general procedure is to gently twist counter clockwise to loosen and take out. The arrow on the new filter should be aligned to the arrow on the filter head, and you just insert and turn clockwise until it stops. Don’t over tighten or force the filter beyond this point, and flush 2 to 3 gallons of water afterwards.

See our review of the OEM GE MWF Water Filter.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

4. WaterDrop Advanced - Best LG LT, ADQ and Kenmore 6990 Refrigerator Water Filter

LG OEM water filters are some of the most expensive, so people often seek out cheaper alternatives. There are many generic brand alternatives with not much difference between them. We chose to go with WaterDrop because they are a trustworthy distributor, their products check out, and they have a professional and informative website.

WaterDrop Advanced review
  • NSF 42, 53 and 372

  • WQT Gold Star

  • UPC certified

  • Sustainable Bamboo Carbon

  • 30 day money back guarantee

  • NFS 401 Pro Version only

These filters will fit a wide range of LG French door refrigerators as well as Kenmore Elite 9690, 469690 and 46-9690 numbered water filters. The LG LT800P filters have a wider compatibility with side-by-side models. These filters are often located hidden behind the lower door bin which must be taken out to access the filter.

Assurity and Certifications

All WaterDrop series for LG and Kenmore refrigerators have NSF 42, 53 and 372 certification. In addition, they also carry WQT Gold Star and UPC seals. The WaterDrop LT700P Plus filters and LT800P Plus filters have additional NSF 410 filtration. They also offer a 30 day, no hassle, money back guarantee.

Installation and Maintenance

LG water filters are some of the easiest to replace. The filter is usually located at the top of your refrigerator in the upper left hand corner. Simply press the button to release the hatch, pull the filter down, and then pull it out. Kenmore refrigerators vary from model to model. After installation, you just have to remember to flush the system for about 3 min or 2.5 gallons of water.

Check Latest Price on Waterdrop

5. EcoAqua - Best Samsung DA29xxx & HAF-CIN Refrigerator Water Filter

EcoAqua is a Hong Kong based company and their replacement filters for Samsung DA29XXX series and HAF-CIN numbered filters are quite popular. Like many similar generic brands, they utilize carbonated coconut shell and carbon block technology. This ensures finer filtration and a more eco friendly product. Carbon block is a structure with immovable carbon particles that ensures more uniform and better filtration.

EcoAqua EFF-6027AP NSF review
  • NSF 42, 53 and 372

  • Affordable

  • Eco friendly

  • 30 day money back guarantee

  • No NSF 401

  • No additional certification

Assurity and Certifications

These filters carry NSF 42, 53 and 372 certification and they have many approved filters on the NSF website. This filter provides a mid-range level of filtration with no dangerous levels of lead, other metal contaminants, or pesticides. There are no additional certifications, but they offer a 30 day unconditional money back guarantee.

Installation and Maintenance

This filter replacement is for a number of side-by-side and French door models. If this is the first time to replace your filter, check your manual to see where it is. Usually it's between the two crisper drawers with French doors, and in the bottom corner grille with side-by-sides.

Make sure to switch off the water supply at the back of your fridge and purge the remaining water. The old filter unscrews counter clockwise. After firmly inserting the new filter clockwise the 12 o’ clock position and flush about 2 to 3 gallons through. Press the filter reset button, and you’re good for another 6 months or 300 gallons.

See our review of the OEM Samsung Water Filter.

Check Latest Price on Amazon

Comparison Table of The Best Refrigerator Water Filters

ProductCapacityBrand CompatibilityCertifications
Water Drop300 galWhirlpool FIlter 4, MaytagNSF 42, 53, 372, (401)
WQA, UPC
Culligan300 galModels with a filter bypass plugNSF 42, 53
PureLine300 galGE: MWF, GWF, HWF, FMGNSF 42, 372
WQA, IAMPO
Water Drop300 galLG: LT700P, Kenmore 6990NSF 42, 53, 372, (401)
WQA, UPC
EcoAqua300 galSamsung DA29xxx > HAF-CINNSF 42, 53, 372

Best Refrigerator Water Filter Brands

All refrigerator brands such as GE, Whirlpool, Samsung, LG and more have their own OEM water filters and most people prefer to go with the authorized brand. For a more affordable price, there’s an array of generic brand distributors— here’sa list of the more popular ones, their websites and where their products are manufactured:

Culligan Water - All US facilities and one in Sri Lanka

PureLine - Independent manufacturer, China

Water Drop - EcoAqua HG and Ecopure Filter Ltd, Qingdao China

AmazonBasics - EcoAqua HG and Ecopure Filter Ltd, Qingdao China

FilterLogic - EcoAqua HG and Ecopure Filter Ltd, Qingdao China

AquaCrest - EcoAqua HG and Ecopure Filter Ltd, Qingdao China

K&J Filters - Tianjin Yunda Industries, China

IcePure - Tianjin Yunda Industries, China

PurePlus - Tianjin Yunda Industries, China

Tier 1 Filters - Tianjin, China

How to change a Whirlpool Refrigerator Water Filter

Refrigerator designs vary as much as water filter designs. Whirlpool is one of the most popular manufacturers, so if you have a Whirlpool side-by-side refrigerator, or a French door refrigerator, here is what to do:

Know Where Your Whirlpool Filter is Located

  • Filter #1: Upper right-hand corner inside the refrigerator, or in some models, in the left side base grille near the floor.
  • Filter #2: Upper right-hand corner inside the refrigerator roof.
  • Filter #3: Left side of the base grille near the floor.
  • Filter #4: Upper right-hand corner inside the refrigerator.
  • Filter #5:Lower left corner of the base grille near the floor.

The standard filter replacement procedure is to first switch off your refrigerator water supply, and purge out the remaining water from the dispenser. Some water may come out when you remove the filter, so have a tea towel handy. After replacing your filter, turn the water supply back on, and usually you need to purge at least three to five gallons. Releasing air may gurgle and splatter, but that’s quite normal. It may take about 24 to 36 hours for the normal flow rate to return.

How to install Whirlpool FIlter #1

In the upper right hand corner you will clearly see the filter cover hatch. As you lift up the hatch, the filter will partly eject. Once the hatch is completely open, just pull the filter out. Take the protective cap off the new filter, and make sure the two O-rings are still aligned correctly on the two protrusions. Align the filter according to the arrow, and as you gently insert, the hatch will start to close. Push the hatch lid down to secure the filter, and it will snap closed.

How to install Whirlpool Filter #2

In the upper right hand corner of your French door refrigerator, you’ll see a roof filter hatch which you press to snap open. Twist the old filter to the left, or counter clockwise, to remove it. This filter has an oblong protrusion which looks like an arrow pointing upwards. When inserting the new filter, make sure this tapered end is facing up, aligned according to the arrow. As you gently insert it, it will actually self rotate into place, and you simply snap the hatch shut.

How to install Whirlpool Filter #3

You’ll find your filter below the door, in the grille, on the left hand side of your side-by-side refrigerator. Press the eject button on the side, and pull the filter out. Twist the filter cap counter clockwise to remove it from the old filter. Remove the protective cover from the front of the new filter, and make sure the O-rings are in place. Place the cap on the new filter aligned to the ridge, and twist clockwise until it snaps into place. Insert the new filter with the arrow aligned on the top, and push in until the eject button pops back out.

How to install Whirlpool FIlter #4

Locate the filter in the upper right hand corner of your French door refrigerator. There’s a tab on the underside of the hatch which you pull towards you, or push in if it’s facing you. Twist counter clockwise to remove the filter, and insert the new filter correctly aligned. Push and twist to the right until it clicks into place, then close the hatch and you’re done.

How to install Whirlpool FIlter #5

This is an older type of filter found in some side-by-side refrigerators. It’s located to the left of the base grille near the floor. Twist counter clockwise until the handle is in a vertical position, and pull out. You have to slide the handle cap off along the groove and place it onto the new filter. Make sure to remove the front cover and check if the O-rings are in place. Simply insert with the handle in a vertical position, and twist to the right until it's horizontal.

Conclusion

Finding the best refrigerator replacement water filter is no easy task. They are mostly rebranded generic filters from a number of manufacturers based in China and Hong Kong. There’s not a lot of difference between them, so it’s better to go with a reputable distributor and one that also has a no hassle money back guarantee. If you have any comments to add, or a question to ask, please use the comment feature below.

Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen. Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it. Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.

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