Water Filter Buying Guide

So many things require filtering these days—politics, social media, and, quite possibly, your water. The Flint, Mich., water crisis was a tragic reminder that we take water quality for granted. We assume our drinking water is safe. And so did the residents of Flint, where insufficient chlorine treatments triggered a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and lead pipe corrosion seeped into drinking water.

Water Filter Buying Guide

Recently, a joint Consumer Reports-Guardian US news organization investigation of the nation's tap water revealed that 118 of 120 tested locations across the U.S. had detectable amounts of lead, arsenic, or PFAS above CR's recommended maximum levels. PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—synthetic compounds known as "forever chemicals") are linked to major health problems. Those sampled water systems serviced more than 19 million people.

One way to get rid of contaminants in water is by filtering your water. Water filters not only protect against harmful contaminants but also can improve the taste. The biggest drinking water complaints relate to taste and smell, so we test flavor and odor reduction in both our pitcher water filter ratings and under-sink water filter ratings. Our ratings also include countertop, faucet-mounted, and reverse osmosis water filters from previous testing.

In addition to refrigerator water filters, the most popular are pitcher-style filters—the kind you fill from the tap and keep in your fridge. They're easy to use, require no installation, and take up little space. They are also relatively economical: Most cost less than $40.

Under-sink filters are more expensive, ranging from $100 to $430. They hide discreetly under cabinet and filter a higher volume of water at a greater flow rate. They may require custom plumbing, or sink or countertop alterations for the water dispenser. But if convenience is important to you, under-sink filters are a good option.