The Best Water Filter Pitchers and Dispensers, Tested by HGTV Editors

From pitchers perfect for mini fridges to larger 18-cup dispensers, keep your family hydrated with clean drinking water with one of our top filtering picks.

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January 01, 2021
By: HGTV

Our Top Picks for Water Filter Pitchers

Clean, good-tasting drinking water is essential for keeping your family hydrated and healthy, and a water filter pitcher is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to make sure your home always has filtered water without the need to continually buy wasteful single-use plastic water bottles. Beyond price, these are important factors to consider when shopping for a water filter pitcher:

  • Capacity: The capacity will determine how often you need to refill the pitcher and also how easily it will fit in your fridge or on your countertop. A 6- to 7-cup pitcher is a good size for mini fridges in a dorm or home office. A 10- to 11-cup pitcher is a good average size for most couples and families. An 18-cup dispenser will make life easier for large families who go through a lot of water or just anyone who wants to go longer periods between needing to refill a pitcher or dispenser.
  • ANSI/NSF Standards + Certifications for Filters: Whether you want your filter to improve the taste and smell of tap water or are more concerned with potential downstream contamination, which the EPA says is a higher concern for older homes with old piping built before 1986, the best and most reliable way to know what a pitcher filters out is to look at the industry-standard certifications they meet. The American National Standards Institute and NSF International (ANSI/NSF) are private, non-profit organizations and the two main certifying labs are NSF International and the Water Quality Association (WQA), both accredited by ANSI. As a general rule of thumb, the more certifications from these organizations, the more contaminants the product filters out. All of the filters included with our pitcher or dispenser picks are certified by these organizations. As an example, the Brita Standard Filter removes chlorine taste and odor, mercury, cadmium, copper and zinc, and the Brita Longlast Filter removes those materials plus lead, asbestos, benzene and other particulates.
  • Replacement Filters: Replacing the filters is part of regular maintenance for the pitchers and an ongoing cost to consider. Most standard filters included in our picks need to be replaced after 40 gallons of use or about every two months, with the exception of the Brita Longlast Filter. Since the Brita Longlast Filter removes more contaminants, it takes a little longer to filter and is more expensive, but it lasts about six months instead of two.
  • Filtering Time: Probably the most inconvenient aspect of water filter pitchers is the time it takes for the water to filter. The standard filters with which all of our recommendations include usually take just a few minutes to filter, with the exception of about 10 minutes total for the 18-cup dispenser. If you upgrade to a lead-reducing filter like the Brita Longlast, expect the total filter time to almost double. While you probably won't want to sit and wait for the pitcher or dispenser to completely filter every time you refill, it's not a big deal unless you let the pitcher get completely empty and need water right away. A perk of our pick for a large dispenser is you can dispense water at the same time more water is being filtered.
  • Filter Replacement Indicators: Most pitchers come with a sticker indicator where you can note when you need to replace the filter next, and for slightly more money, you can opt for a pitcher with an electronic indicator. Since most filters have the same two-month timeframe recommendation, we didn't prioritize an electronic indicator as a feature. You may not even find the sticker reminder necessary — you could simply enter a reminder in your phone, set up reoccurring Amazon orders every two months for a new filter or just leave yourself a note in the kitchen with the date by which you need to replace the filter.
  • Pour Functionality + Ease of Use: For a water pitcher you'll presumably use every day, a comfortable, easy-to-hold handle and a spout that's precise are important features. If you plan to fill narrow-mouth water bottles frequently, the accuracy of the spout is especially important.
  • BPA-Free Plastic: All of our top recommendations are made from BPA-free plastic. The pitcher we recommend for small spaces is also available in glass if you prefer a glass option.

We considered all of these factors when testing and selecting our top picks.

$27.99

This top-rated water pitcher from Brita with more than 10,000 reviews on Amazon is a great mid-range size, and despite it looking wider than comparable pitchers we tested, this one is actually the slimmest option for fitting on the counter or refrigerator. The NSF 42-certified standard filter it comes with only takes a few minutes to filter (the Brita Longlast takes a little longer), and the spout is more directional and accurate than others we tested — spouts with a “hood” can sometimes get stuck or cause a too-heavy pour. Our tester filled a narrow water bottle with a 1.5-inch mouth opening, and it was mess-free and easy.

Our Editor Says: "It’s simple and there aren’t any bells or whistles, but it does the job well."

Buy It
$29.99

An alternative "best" for this pick could be "best-looking" because we love the sleek design of Soma's pitchers (and all of the brand's products, really). This 6-cup pitcher is perfect for a small fridge — it fit perfectly in our tester's mini fridge — and it only takes a few minutes to filter. Compared to the other small pitchers we tried, Soma's filter, made with activated coconut shell carbon and charcoal and certified for NSF/ANSI Standards 42 and 53, worked the fastest. Soma's pitcher also comes in a 10-cup size and a glass option. A few downsides we noticed when testing and why we didn't pick this one as a best-overall pick: The spout is not as precise as others and is difficult to use with narrow-mouthed water bottles. The filter also requires more initial prep since you have to soak it for 15 minutes prior to use and need to discard the first few batches to flush out the carbon taste; our tester actually noticed residual carbon taste for about a week. We do like that the brand suggests using the first few batches to water your houseplants though since plants like carbon.

Our Editor Says: "I like the look of this one the best and how easy it is to pour."

Buy It
$24.97

If you go through a lot of water as a family or you just don't like refilling a smaller pitcher constantly, this 18-cup Brita UltraMax dispenser is a great buy. Although it's large, the small footprint and height mean it still easily fits in a fridge or on a countertop. With the same standard or lead-reducing filter options as the Brita Everyday pitcher, it does take longer to filter all 18 cups of water — about 14 minutes with the Standard filter and about 20 minutes with the Longlast filter, but a perk to this dispenser is you can fill your cup while the water is in the process of filtering. This dispenser comes with a sticker filter replacement indicator, a flip-up lid that means you don't have to remove the entire lid to fill and a spigot that has the ability to lock in a fixed position. Due to the size, it's a little awkward to fit in a sink to refill with tap water, but if your faucet has an extender, it's much easier.

Our Editor Says: "I like that the larger capacity means I don’t have to refill it as often, and I like that the spigot can lock into a fixed position, meaning I don't have to hold it the entire time it's dispensing.

Buy It

Editor's Note: Our recommendations for filtered water pitchers are for home use; these products are not certified or intended to purify water containing viruses or bacteria.

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