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Best Countertop Water Filters of 2023 – Consumer Reports

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Make space for cleaner tap water with these top-rated filters
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If the cost of bottled water (on your wallet and the environment) is too much for you, you might consider a countertop water filter. For $100 or less, you can score a countertop filter that can remove toxic contaminants from your tap water and give your wallet, recycle bin, and the environment a break from pollutive plastic bottles.
Like faucet-mounted models, countertop filters attach to your tap, but they divert your water through a small sink-side purifying device equipped with a spout. But they typically cost more than faucet filters and filter pitchers because they offer more water filtering capacity and versatility in how they clean water.
Countertop filters are a good option for apartment dwellers or renters who might not have permission from their landlord to install a system that ties into the plumbing. Installation is easy: Just remove the faucet aerator and screw the filter onto the faucet. Once installed, most can switch between filtered and unfiltered water, which can help your filter last longer. For instance, if you’re washing dishes or watering plants, you may want to use unfiltered water.
However, keep in mind that replacement filters for the countertop models in our tests are considerably more expensive than replacement filters for the faucet-mounted or water pitcher filters we tested.
All the countertop water filters we test use carbon filtration to clean your tap water. These filters are lined with black granular activated carbon (GAC) which, like a magnet to metal, pulls solid and gas toxins from water and air that flows through it. Activated carbon-block technology is good at filtering funky tastes and odors, chlorine, sediments, and sometimes even lead, solvents, and pesticides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carbon-block filters are not effective at eliminating bacteria, however.
For that, you’ll want a UV countertop filter that destroys bacteria and viruses or a multistage reverse osmosis water filter that can remove dozens of contaminants, including volatile organic compounds (such as benzene and formaldehyde) and toxic metals (such as lead, arsenic, mercury, and chromium).
If you’re concerned about a particular contaminant in your tap water, obtain a Consumer Confidence Report from your water supplier, or have your water tested if you’re on a well. Then choose a filter that is certified to remove whatever concerning substances those tests reveal. Don’t assume all filters are the same or use the same technology. According to the CDC, for example, filters that remove chemicals don’t often effectively remove germs and vice versa.
When shopping, don’t be fooled by manufacturers’ claims that a filter was “tested to” a specific standard. Make sure it is certified for removal of that contaminant by an independent certifying organization like the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), Water Quality Association (WQA), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). Products certified by these organizations are regularly monitored and subject to follow-up testing over a period of time.
CR tests countertop water filters for flavor and odor reduction, flow rate, and clogging. Below, we note whether they are certified for lead, chlorine, and PFAS removal.
All countertop filters in our ratings effectively remove bad tastes and odors from tap water. But the top-rated models also deliver filtered water quickly and continue to do so without clogging over the life span of the filter cartridge, while the two lowest-ranked filters performed dismally in these areas. Some are certified to reduce lead and chlorine, and one also removes PFAS. Below, in alphabetical order, are the top three countertop filters from our water filter tests.
CR’s take: Unlike most filters in our ratings, the Amway eSpring uses ultraviolet light in addition to carbon purification to purify your water. With a price of $1,200, it’s also by far the priciest water filter in our ratings. Cartridge replacement, at $259 per year, isn’t cheap either. But it’s NSF-certified to remove PFOA, PFOS, lead, and other contaminants, including mercury, radon, asbestos, and VOCs. Its UV light is designed to eliminate bacteria and viruses. It aces our tests with very good flavor and odor reduction and excellent flow, and its cartridge won’t clog on you during its 1,320-gallon life span (a filter end-of-life indicator will let you know when time’s up). As the largest water filter in our tests, it’ll take up plenty of counter space—it’s bigger than an Amazon Echo. If clean water is priceless to you, this might be your water filter.
CR’s take: If you need a device that filters a lot of water, the Apex MR 1050 will do the job. This transparent countertop filter dispenses what the company claims is high-pH alkaline mineral water infused with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. (But be aware that while some attest to alkaline water’s health benefits, these claims are unsubstantiated, according to the Mayo Clinic.) In our tests, we find that the Apex reduces bad tastes and odors, flows well, and doesn’t clog, despite its cartridges’ 1,500-gallon life span.
CR’s take: This top-rated Home Master countertop filter is the lowest-priced water filter in our ratings. But we estimate it will cost about $112 per year for replacement cartridges, which filter just 500 gallons each—a third of the capacity of some other countertop models we tested. Available in black or white, we find that it improves flavor and reduces bad odors with an excellent flow rate that won’t slow over the course of the filter cartridge’s life span.
Keith Flamer
Keith Flamer has been a multimedia content creator at Consumer Reports since 2021, covering laundry, cleaning, small appliances, and home trends. Fascinated by interior design, architecture, technology, and all things mechanical, he translates CR’s testing engineers’ work into content that helps readers live better, smarter lives. Prior to CR, Keith covered luxury accessories and real estate, most recently at Forbes, with a focus on residential homes, interior design, home security, and pop culture trends.
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