Buyer's Guide: Faucet Water Filters

More than four out of every 10 Americans use a home water treatment unit of some sort, according to the Water Quality Association and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-and for good reason. Clean drinking water is an essential building block of general health. With hundreds of pollutants in most drinking water, including lead and arsenic, finding and installing the right filter is one of the most important things you can do to your home to ensure wellness in your household.

While available in a variety of types-carafes, faucet attachments, under-sink mounts, and countertop varieties-the water filtration system that proves most versatile and easy to install is one that mounts to any standard kitchen faucet and filters right as the water flows. (By contrast, an under-sink model requires a direct hookup to your plumbing system, and a carafe has to be refilled almost constantly, occasionally making you wait for cool water to filter through the full pitcher before you pour a glass.) So if ease and convenience is up your alley, look no further than this variety.

When choosing the best faucet water filter for your home, bear in mind the key considerations, detailed below, as well as our top recommendations.

Find the right faucet filter for your needs.

Water contaminants vary by community, and knowledge is power. Start by researching what's affecting your own water supply through the National Drinking Water Database created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Once you have an idea of the contaminants you're exposed to daily, you'll be better able to determine your needs.

When it comes to the mechanism that makes water filters work, there are two types: reverse osmosis and carbon.

  • Reverse osmosis is considered to be the Cadillac of water filtration-superior at removing contaminants (including those too small for other filters to catch, like arsenic and perchlorate) but pricier and so bulky that they're often installed under-sink. These are not an option for faucet water filters, but available to you should you decide that the filtration best meets your household needs.
  • Carbon filters still remove a handful of noteworthy contaminants (pesticides, disinfection byproducts, and-depending on the model-possibly lead, as well as protozoan cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium) from your drinking and cooking water, but at a much more affordable cost and in more convenient models. And, ultimately, mounting a carbon filter to your faucet for $20 to $50 makes your drinking water far safer than the tap water that currently flows.

Always check a unit's package or online information to make sure the contaminants you're most concerned about won't make it through the system you end up investing in. Regardless of which microscopic contaminants they're best at keeping out of your glass, a vast majority of faucet-mounted filters considerably improve the taste of your H2O.

Installation requirements vary.

A faucet-mount attachment generally offers a quick installation. Unscrew the aerator, swap in an adapter provided with the faucet-mount water filter (models often include multiple sizes to find one that best fits your faucet), then snap the body of faucet-mount filter into place. Manufacturer instructions will also cover how to check that the filter inside the model is good to go. Among the best faucet water filters, it only takes a matter of minutes to get the unit fully functional. Once installed, many faucet water filters offer the option to toggle between filtered and unfiltered water.

The Best Faucet Water Filters

We've scouted the market for you to identify the faucet water filters that are highest rated by experts and consumers alike.

BEST OVERALL: Brita Tap Water Filter System

The no-tools-required assembly of the popular Brita Tap Water Filter System makes it a perennial favorite. Not to mention, it's 40 percent more space-efficient than competitors on the market. Highly effective at removing lead and chlorine, the Brita faucet water filter improves water's taste as well. And since a filter does no good without regular replacement, its handy green light indicates when the carbon filter needs replacing-a process that's as simple as just one click. Buy now.

BEST DESIGN PICK: PUR Advanced Faucet Water Filter

Reducing or entirely eliminating lead, mercury, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and more than 60 other particulates, the PUR has garnered glowing reviews from more than thousands of customers for its sleek design, one-click installation, 360-degree swivel, and general durability. Its only real drawback is the fact that it won't work with pull-out or hand-held faucets. Amazon.

BEST PERFORMER: Culligan Faucet-Mounted Drinking Water Filter

Its durability, low cost, straightforward installation, and ease of use earn the Culligan high marks. If you don't care about frills and are looking for performance above all, this is the pick for you. Only note that while the Culligan fits most faucet types, it does not fit all. Buy now.