Water filter pitchers have become a common staple on the American countertop. They’re typically portable, easy to use, and require minimal maintenance. That gives them some advantages over larger filtration systems, such as under-sink or whole-house filters.
While visually similar, the quality of these pitchers can vary significantly between brands. Here we will guide you through the process of finding the best water filter pitcher for your home.
How to Find the Best Water Purifier Pitcher
Let’s take a look at the important things to keep in mind when searching for a quality water filter pitcher.
1. Target Contaminants
A good indicator of filter quality whether it is certified against NSF/ANSI standards, which measure a filter’s ability to remove certain contaminants. Another indicator to watch for is whether the company is a member of the Water Quality Association (WQA).
Most pitcher filters are designed to improve only the aesthetic aspects of drinking water (taste and smell). Among these it’s good to find one with an NSF/ANSI 42 certification, which not every pitcher is. The famous Ehm is a surprising example of one that’s not certified.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to get rid of certain harmful pollutants such as heavy metals, make sure the filter is certified to the NSF/ANSI 53 standard. It can be hard to find a filter of this size that’s NSF/ANSI 53-certified, though. You may want to focus on larger, more advanced filtration systems if your home water has serious contaminants.
2. Filter Life
The lifespan of a filter depends on the level of contamination and the amount of water you put through it per day. It is usually estimated by the manufacturer in normal conditions (i.e. tap water).
It’s best to choose a filter that can last between two and six months. We don’t recommend using a filter for longer than six months, even if the manufacturer claims you can do so. Within that time, moss and bacteria tend to grow inside your filter and will begin to contaminate the water.
Ideally, it’s good to find a filter with an indicator that tells you when a replacement is needed.
3. Jug Material
Most filter jugs have a plastic body, making them affordable and lightweight.
It’s worth noting, however, that not all plastics are created equal. Low quality plastics can be a health hazard in and of themselves, as they may leach chemicals into the water that interfere with your hormone levels. We recommend going with food-grade plastics and bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) materials. They may not be 100% safe, but are still a big step up.
4. Jug Size
If you are providing drinking water for more than just yourself, always check how much water the pitcher can process at a time.
A larger capacity means you don’t have to repeatedly refill the jug and wait for the filter to do its thing. While you can still get enough water for three people using a five-cup jug if you’re diligent, a ten-cup one will save you more time and headache. A few minutes may not sound like much, but it can feel like forever if you have to stand next to the countertop waiting for it.
If refilling the pitcher at all sounds too inconvenient, an under-sink water filter may be a better idea.
5. Ease of Use and Cleaning
Look for a design that’s sturdy in all its features. The jug, lid, handle, reservoirs, and filter should all fit together tightly, preventing any leakage, especially from the upper to the lower reservoir. At the same time, the filter should also be easy to detach when the time comes to replace it.
All pitchers have a lid, but only some have an auto-open lid, a feature that comes in handy when you refill.
The pitcher will need cleaning about once a week to prevent the growth of algae, bacteria, and other unhealthy stuff inside that may pollute your drinking water. In this respect, a simple design, free of gimmicky details, can be important so you can easily clean every corner.
Reviews of the Best Water Filter Pitchers in 2021
We spent a week looking for the best water filter pitcher based on all the aforementioned criteria.
Here’s our picks for the Best Water Filter Pitchers.
- Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher- Best to Buy in 2021
- ZeroWater ZP-010-Best 10-Cup Water Purifier Pitcher
- Brita 42629 Slim Water Filter Pitcher - Best Small Water Filter Jug
- Invigorated Water Alkaline Water Pitcher-Best 15 Cup Purifier Pitcher
- PUR 18-Cup Dispenser with Filter-Best Alkaline Water Dispenser for Family
1. Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher– Best to Buy in 2021
With a filter that’s certified to exceed NSF standards 42 and 53, and has a 150-gallon capacity, this eight-cup Aquagear pitcher was an easy top pick.
Certified against NSF 42 and 53 standards
Long filter life
High price tag
No filter indicator
This jug belongs to the more expensive spectrum of water pitchers, and it offers the features you’d expect for the price.
It comes with a US-made filter that has been certified by various independant ISO 17025-accredited labs to remove a wide range of contaminants. Those include, but not limited to, fluoride, chromium 6, chloramines, mercury, arsenic, and chlorine.
The company also tested it with the notoriously harmful water in Flint, Michigan in 2016. According to lab test results, a new Aquagear filter brought unsafe levels of lead and copper down to undetectable levels. That's very impressive for this kind of filter. (It is still, however, not the greatest idea to depend solely on a pitcher filter when the contamination is that bad.)
Not only is it effective, but the filter also has an impressive capacity. It can filter 150 gallons of water before needing replacement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a filter-life indicator, but you can get by with a little calculation.
Theoretically, if every person drinks half a gallon of water (almost 2 liters) a day, it will serve a family of three for more than three months. In reality, though, most people probably don’t need that much water everyday. Plus, most likely will also get hydration from other sources as well (milk, coffee, other drinks, and foods).
Per our rough estimates, it should last about five or six months. Of course, mileage will vary from household to household. To get the exact number, take notes of how many times you and your family member refill it each day, and do the calculations yourself. Note that it can hold half a gallon of water at a time.
Remember, if you have a small household or don’t use the pitcher much, we still recommend replacing the filter before the sixth-month mark. There’s a subscription program you can join to get a replacement delivered to you after every few months.
The jug looks basic and function-oriented, but it’s made out of FDA-approved food grade plastic, and is BPA free. If you care about living green, this pitcher is a good choice because it’s 100% recyclable. It’s vegan, too, according to the manufacturer, though we’re not convinced that’s very meaningful in the world of plastic pitchers.
2. ZeroWater ZP-010 – Best 10-Cup Water Purifier Pitcher
Slightly larger in size than the Aquagear, and NSF 53-certified to remove 99% of lead and chromium in tap water, the ZeroWater ZP-010 is a reliable water pitcher for families of two to four people.
NSF-certified to remove lead, chromium
TDS meter included
Easy to clean
Water may taste acidic
The ZeroWater ZP-010 comes with an excellent five-stage filter that can remove anything from dust and algae to pesticides, herbicides, mercury, chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals. Its effectiveness in reducing lead and chromium is certified by the NSF — an achievement seen in very few other pitcher filters on the market.
The ZeroWater ZP-010 is also likely the only with a total dissolved solids (TDS) meter attached to its lid. This allows you to measure and compare the water before and after filtration. While the TDS level is more of an aesthetic indication than a legal standard for drinking water, it can at least give you an idea of whether or not the filter is working properly. This way, you can examine water quality to gauge when to replace the filter. It's a more precise method than elapsed calendar time or water mileage.
The downside of the ZeroWater’s filter is that, while removing inorganic and organic contaminants, it also strips out the dissolved solids responsible for the “sweetness” in natural water. Your drinking water may sometimes taste slightly sour, similar to reverse-osmosis (RO) water.
The pitcher is made of BPA-free materials, and has a smooth, plain design, which is an advantage when it comes to cleaning. It holds up to 10 cups, or more than a gallon of water at a time. A drawback of the design, however, is that the upper reservoir is only about one quarter the size of the lower one. It requires several rounds of refilling before you actually have a full pitcher.
With the filter and the TDS meter included, the ZeroWater ZP-010 is still a very affordable pitcher. If you don’t mind the repeated refilling and the flavor after filtration, it’s a good option.
3. Brita 42629 Slim Water Filter Pitcher – Best Small Water Filter Jug
Looking for a small pitcher that gives you quality water without taking up too much countertop or fridge space? Check out the Brita Slim five-cup filter pitcher.
Small— fits inside fridge
Simple, easy to clean design
No filter life indicator
Like others from this famous brand, the filter that comes with the Brita Slim is NSF certified to improve drinking water aesthetics (i.e. making it taste and smell better). It has an effective life of only 40 gallons, but the pitcher is also compatible with the 120-gallon Longlast filter if you want to buy fewer replacements.
The reservoir is small (five cups), so it’s best for a household of only one or two people.
True to its name, the Brita Slim jug is, well, slim. The design allows it to fit easily in the door of your fridge, which is not the case with most other pitchers. The jug has a BPA-free plastic shell, and is so lightweight you can hold it with one hand even when it’s full. It’s easier on your wrist for sure, but it also means the shell appears rather flimsy.
The jug has a semi-ergonomic handle for easy handling, but other than that, its design is nothing to write home about. That’s actually a good thing when it comes time to clean it. There’s no filter-life indicator, so you’ll need to keep notes on when your replacements are due. You can also join their subscription program to get the replacement filters automatically shipped to you at the time interval of your choice.
4. Invigorated Water Alkaline Water Pitcher–Best 15 Cup Purifier Pitcher
With a multi-stage filter that can handle a 96 gallons of water in its lifetime, the Invigorated Pitcher is a great choice for a household of three to five people looking for a simple drinking water solution.
BPA free, SGS Certified
Multi-stage filter for clean alkaline water
Can combine with separate membrane to enhance results
Filter life indicator
High price tag
Not NSF-certified as a complete filter system
The Invigorated gives you a little more filter choice than most: you can use the included filter, the PH001, which is great by itself. Or, you can combine it with the PH002 (which you will have to buy separately) for even better results.
The PH001 has a duo micronet system combined with layers of zeolite, activated coconut carbon charcoal, and an ion-exchange resin. These work to remove visible particles and various heavy metals such as lead, copper, arsenic, and mercury. There are also stone and ceramic pellets in the filter stack, which reintroduce some of the beneficial trace minerals that the filter removes from your tap water, making it more “alkaline”. It can handle 96 gallons of water in its lifetime.
The PH002 is an ultrafiltration membrane filter with pores as small as 0.01 microns. For comparison, the smallest objects the human eye can see are 40 microns. This filter can remove 99.9% of all organic and inorganic matter from the water. While results may vary depending on the quality of the water you feed it with, many customers have reported that they find remarkable improvements in the taste and smell of the water after passing through this filter. Better yet, it can filter 264 gallons before replacement.
All filtration materials used are NSF-certified, according to Invigorated, but as of this writing, the filters themselves are not.
The pitcher is made of BPA-free clear plastic. The lid has a flexible flap that opens under pressure when you pour water in, so you don’t have to bother removing the lid. There’s also a digital timer on the lid that counts backward every day from the number you set it. It runs on a non-replaceable battery, but as per our conversation with the company, they will be happy to send you a new one on request.
5. PUR 18-Cup Dispenser with Filter–Best Alkaline Water Dispenser for a Family
If your household consumes more than two gallons of drinking water everyday, getting a filter jug as big as the 18-cup Pur Water Dispenser may be a good investment.
Improves water taste and smell
Slim design, fits in fridge
The PUR filter that comes with this pitcher is NSF-certified to treat a wide variety of contaminants, from chlorine and microbial cysts to mercury and cadmium. If you’re concerned about heavy metals in your tap water, the PUR Lead Reduction Filter removes 99% of lead, 96% of mercury and 92% of certain pesticides, according to WQA certifications.
Unfortunately, it can only handle 40 gallons of water. If you have a large crowd (more than four people) in your household, you’ll find yourself replacing the cartridge every month or even more often.
The dispenser has a BPA-free clear container with a beautiful deep blue reservoir. It holds up to 18 cups, or more than 1 gallon at a time. That minimizes refills, but the slim design still allows it to sit in your fridge with ease.
As a dispenser, the Pur doesn’t have a handle or spout like the pitchers on this list. Since it’s so big, it would be too heavy and cumbersome to pour from anyway. Instead, it features a tap near the bottom to dispense your filtered water.
Most complaints on this water dispenser is not about the water quality, but rather about the container itself. Some tend to leak within a week after you start using it.
Best Water Filter Pitcher Brands
Here are the five most important reasons why you should try a filter jug.
Established in 1966 in Germany, Brita now consists of two global companies: Brita GmbH and Brita LP with products distributed in 66 countries. They are one of the top residential water filtration brands in the world. Brita is especially famous for their faucet-mounted filters and filter pitchers, as well as excellent customer support. All Brita pitcher filters are NSF-certified.
PUR has been on the market for over 30 years, and is now a subsidiary of Helen of Troy. This is a company that owns a plethora of brands in the health, beauty, and houseware industry, including Honeywell, Pert, and others.
PUR is more famous for their faucet filters, but their pitchers are also well recognized as being among the few to have received certifications from the NSF for their lead-removal ability.
Aquagear was developed by two aerospace engineers in California about 15 years ago. To date, it has dedicated itself purely to making water filter pitchers.
The Aquagear pitcher is known for its long filter life and effectiveness in removing lead and other harmful contaminants including chlorine, fluoride, and mercury. It has a high price tag, but with such long-lasting filters, the costs can balance out in the long run.
Viewing themselves as a rival to Brita, Zerowater is becoming popular as a brand that offers water purifier pitchers of all shapes and sizes.
Zerowater pitcher filters come in multi-layered cartridges, and the company prides itself on reducing TDS to extremely low levels. Their pitchers are also very affordable, especially when taking into account their NSF-certified performance in lead and chromium removal.
5. Lake Industries
Lake Industries was launched in California in 1979. It is now a company that owns 11healthy-living product brands, and operates in 97 countries around the world.
Lake Industries pitchers are sought after for their complex filters, which have seven layers of filtration materials. The reason they didn’t make it into our recommendation list is that their products, while loved by fans, do not seem to come with certifications for their effectiveness.
5 Reasons to Have a Water Purifier Pitcher
Here are the five most important reasons why you should try a filter jug.
1. Water Aesthetics
Most filter jugs are based around a carbon filter. Some go further with multi-stage processes featuring stones, ceramic pellets, an ion-exchange resin, and other filtration materials. These are all useful in removing the smell of chlorine, sulfur, and iron, as well as odors caused by organic contaminants (particles of decomposing plants or animals, for example).
As a result, your drinking water will become clearer, crisper, and more pleasant to drink.
2. Removal of Harmful Contaminants
Tap water is not always safe straight out of the faucet. Some pitchers come with ion-exchange resins and other media that can reduce the levels of certain heavy metals, including lead, chromium, copper, and others. Of course, we don’t recommend relying on even the best water filter pitchers for serious water problems. However, they can be useful as an extra line of defense along with other filtration systems for drinking water.
Water filter pitchers are typically small, countertop friendly, and easy to carry around. They take mere minutes to assemble, require minimal maintenance, and are not attached to the plumbing. That makes them very easy to introduce into rented apartments, offices, and college dorms. Those are places where the installation of a whole filtration system would be too much hassle.
Since they can make tap water safer and better tasting, filter pitchers can reduce your need for bottled water. (Peaking of which, bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water in the first place). A pitcher can take the place of thousands of water bottles in its lifetime.
At under a hundred dollars each, and with no installation fees, filter pitchers are significantly cheaper than countertop or under-sink filters. Plus, you won’t have to spend a fortune on maintenance — the assembly, cleaning, and replacement are all DIY-friendly. They may cost more than bottled water upfront, but they pay for themselves after a couple of months.
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.