In recent years, concerns about the quality of our drinking water supply have become more and more prevalent, and as a result we’ve become more aware of—and grateful for—the water filters that are included with refrigerators’ water dispensers. While these water filters offer the convenience of chilled, filtered water in our kitchens, replacing the factory model filter when it wears out can leave us scratching our heads. Because refrigerator manufacturers have proprietary filter designs, finding a replacement filter that’s the right fit can be a challenge. When you do find a filter that fits your appliance, remember that not all filters are the same. Some will simply reduce chlorine and improve taste, while other filters will also remove harmful contaminants, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and even pharmaceuticals.
This guide will review the features that shoppers will want to consider when selecting the best refrigerator water filter for their needs. These water filters are among the best options on the market and are compatible with most refrigerator brands.
- BEST OVERALL: EveryDrop by Whirlpool Refrigerator Water Filter
- RUNNER UP: Culligan Icemaker and Refrigerator Filtration System
- BEST FOR FRIGIDAIRE: FRIGIDAIRE ULTRAWF Pure Source Ultra Water Filter
- BEST FOR MAYTAG: ICEPURE PRO NSF 53&42 Refrigerator Water Filter
- BEST FOR KENMORE & SAMSUNG: PURELINE DA29-00020B Water Filter Replacement
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Refrigerator Water Filter
Determining which water filter model is compatible with your refrigerator is just one step in the decision-making process of selecting a replacement filter. The contaminants the product removes and the filter’s lifespan are other important factors to consider.
First and foremost, the water filter needs to fit in the refrigerator. Fridge filters are by no means universal. Due to the wide variety of connection types in refrigerators, most filters are only compatible with one or two refrigerator manufacturers.
There are a few ways to determine which filters are compatible with a refrigerator; the easiest method is to remove the old filter and check the model number. A quick check of the fridge’s user manual (or the manufacturer’s website) should yield the information you seek. One last option is to check the water filter manufacturer’s web page, where you should find a list of refrigerator brands and model numbers along with the filters that fit them.
Those who have older-model refrigerators without built-in filtration systems don’t have to resort to pitchers or a home water filtration system for their water filtering needs. Inline systems that connect between the water dispenser’s water supply and the fridge are just as effective as many integrated filters.
NSF Testing and Verification
NSF International is a nonprofit organization that tests and certifies consumer products to ensure compliance with certain standards for performance, safety, and quality. One of their areas of specialty is testing products in the water industry, among them refrigerator water filters. The organization uses a series of different classifications to test refrigerator water filters to certify what they can do.
- NSF 42: Any water filter worth its salt will have, at the very least, an NSF 42 certification. Filters with an NSF 42 rating will reduce impurities such as chlorine while improving taste and odor.
- NSF 53: Filters with this rating can remove a broader range of contaminants that cause health problems, including arsenic, mercury, radon, and asbestos, among many others.
- NSF 401: Filters with an NSF 401 rating can remove certain harmful chemicals in drinking water, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals, such as detergents.
Although these certifications help determine how effective filters are, they aren’t perfect. One filter may have an NSF 53 rating, but the number and type of heavy metals it can remove may differ from another NSF 53-rated filter. For this reason, it’s crucial to research the filters carefully and check the contaminants they do and do not remove before making a purchase.
The last thing one wants is to buy a water filter and find that it adds harmful chemicals to the water that is being filtered. In addition to the above certifications, there are additional NSF certifications you’ll find on water filters’ labels. These certifications show that the filters themselves do not use certain toxic materials in their construction.
- A filter with an NSF 372 rating will not leach lead into the water.
- An NSF 61 rating is broader, indicating that the filter will not leach toxic chemicals into the water.
Most refrigerator filters fit into a compartment inside the refrigerator and are quick and easy to install. They either plug into a socket and lock into place when the cover is closed or twist-lock into a receptacle. This simple installation design allows the user to change the filter easily, without leaving the refrigerator door open for a long period of time.
While changing the filter is an easy process, readying it for use is a bit more time consuming. The last step of installation for most filters is a process that involves running 4 gallons or more of water through the filter before it’s suitable for use. This is done to flush out bits inside the filter that may have come loose during shipping. This can be a tedious process, and one that requires numerous trips back and forth to the sink to drain water.
Most refrigerator water filters last for about six months before wearing out. For the average family of four, this amounts to 200 and 300 gallons of filtered water. While water filters can be expensive, many manufacturers package them in bundles of two or more at more affordable per-unit rates. Buying water filters in bulk is an excellent money-saving strategy for keeping the water in the fridge fresh.
Our Top Picks
The list below narrows the field of water filters to include some of the best ones on the market for the major brands of refrigerators. With their multiple NSF certifications, they can filter out a broad range of contaminants. The water filters below will help improve the water quality in a fridge water dispenser and ice maker.
EveryDrop is one of the rare fridge water filters that is compatible with numerous major refrigerator brands. Its broad compatibility coupled with its ability to remove a wide range of contaminants makes it one of the best all-around options for purifying water from the fridge dispenser. This filter goes beyond improving taste and sifting out chlorine; it has undergone testing for NSF 42, 53, and 401 standards and also removes various chemicals, including pharmaceuticals, lead, pesticides, mercury, and a whole host of other contaminants.
Compatible with a wide range of bottom freezer and side-by-side fridges by Whirlpool, KitchenAid, JennAir, Maytag, and Amana, EveryDrop is not the cheapest filter on the market, but it’s also not the most expensive. Each filter lasts for 200 gallons, or about six months for a family of four. While running the recommended 4 gallons of water through it prior to use is a tedious process, installation is easy: simply insert the new filter into the filter compartment and lock it in by closing the compartment door.
Just because a refrigerator doesn’t have a built-in water filtration system for its ice maker and water dispenser doesn’t mean one must look for an alternate means for filtering the home’s drinking water. The Culligan installs between the water source and the refrigerator, filtering the water that goes into the water and ice dispensers. Although this filter does not have the high-level NSF 401 rating of some high-end refrigerator filters, it is NSF 42 rated to reduce chlorine and improve taste.
What’s nice about the Culligan is that it is about half the cost of higher-end filters but filters about 500 gallons, which is about twice as much as a normal filter does. One potential downside to this system is that installing it can be tricky for fridges in tight spaces. Though this filter includes a wall-mounting kit, it must be mounted within 3 feet of the refrigerator to function correctly. Installing it inside an adjacent cabinet is an excellent option.
This water filter removes contaminants ranging from heavy metals to pesticides, which makes it an attractive option for those who are serious about having clean drinking water. While it is pricier than other filters on the market, you do get what you pay for. This carbon-based water filter is NSF 42, 53, and 401 rated, meaning it does more than just make the water taste better: It will also remove lead, nitrates, pesticides, and mercury, making the drinking water healthier as well.
Installing the FRIGIDAIRE filter is easy: Open the cartridge holder on the upper rear of the fridge, take out the old one, pop in the new one, and close the cover. Flush the filter before use by running water through it for three minutes; once installed, the Pure Source Ultra will be effective for about six months, or 200 gallons.
With filtration stages that remove heavy metals such as lead and mercury, reduce chlorine content, and improve taste, the ICEPURE water filter is an excellent option for Maytag refrigerator owners. This water filter has NSF 53, 42, and 372 ratings and comes in an affordable two-pack.
In addition to removing many heavy metals from drinking water, ICEPURE has carbon filters to improve the water’s taste. Another advantage of purchasing this product is that it can filter up to 300 gallons of water, whereas many comparable products recommend a filter change at the 200-gallon mark.
This model replaces the water filter in most Maytag fridges, and installing it is easy. The filter connects quickly to the fridge filter bay with a quick turn connection and snaps in quickly.
Kenmore and Samsung refrigerator owners who are reluctant to spend big money to change out the old water filter can save a bundle on this three-pack from PURELINE. Each filter is less than a third of the cost of other water filters, making this pack an attractive, affordable way to keep the fridge water clean.
The PURELINE filter uses three stages, including a coconut carbon filter block, to improve taste while reducing chlorine and filtering out sediment and large metals. Each PURELINE filter will treat about 300 gallons of water before wearing out. This cartridge-style filter installs in minutes in the fridge’s cartridge holder.
FAQs About Refrigerator Water Filter
If you’re still wondering about refrigerator water filters, read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these products.
Q. Is there a difference between refrigerator water filters?
There is a difference. Refrigerator water filters are certified to filter out different contaminants. While some water filters may only reduce chlorine and improve taste, others will remove cysts, heavy metals, pesticides, and even pharmaceuticals.
Q. How do I know if my refrigerator water filter is clogged?
Over time, a water filter will become clogged with the contaminants it removes. If you notice that it is taking longer than normal to fill a glass with water, it may be time to replace the filter.
Q. How long do refrigerator water filters last?
Most refrigerator water filters last for about six months, which equates to between 200 and 300 gallons of water depending on how frequently the filter is used.
Q. Can I recycle my old refrigerator water filters?
While water filters cannot be recycled through standard city recycling programs, many manufacturers or recyclers have recycling programs for used filters.