A home’s water supply may contain heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The best shower filters sift harmful chemicals, heavy metals, and other byproducts out of the home’s bath or shower water.
The best shower filters last for years and are durable, easy to handle, and use materials that can intercept any junk in the water supply. This guide will assist shoppers in choosing the best filter to remove possible contaminants so that users can bathe easily (and breathe safely, believe it or not) in the shower.
- BEST OVERALL: AquaBliss High-Output Revitalizing Shower Filter
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Feelso 18-Stage Shower Filter
- UPGRADE PICK: AquaHomeGroup Luxury Filtered Shower Head
- BEST FOR CHLORINE: PureAction Water Softener Shower Head
- BEST FOR FLUORIDE: CraterAquaSystems 15-Stage Shower Water Filter
- BEST FOR WELL WATER: AquaHomeGroup 15-Stage Shower Filter With Vitamin C
- BEST VITAMIN C FILTER: PureAction Vitamin C Shower Head Filter With Hose
How We Chose the Best Shower Filters
We researched the most sought-after shower filters in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their type, filtration effectiveness and stages, materials, ease of installation, and other special features included by top brands.
While searching for the best shower filters available, the most popular types among users were Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF) filters, vitamin C, showerhead, in-line, or showerhead/in-line combo options with 1- to 15-stage water filtration. While each of our top picks is made for certain contaminants, most are capable of removing chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, dirt, odors, hard water, rust, sand, and more, protecting dry skin, hair, and nails. Select picks can also regulate the pH levels and bacteria of shower water.
Most of these filters are made with durable stainless steel, ABS plastic, or chrome and have standard fittings that install easily into a current shower or shower head. Some of these picks also come in multiple finishes, provide water-saving features, and don’t hold back water pressure.
Our Top Picks
Most shower filter shoppers want desperately to remove bacteria, compounds, and heavy metals from a water supply. They can rest assured that the following products will do the trick. We performed extensive product research to ensure that these easy-to-service models all excel at the job.
The AquaBliss High-Output Revitalizing Shower Filter is for people who want to add filtration to their current shower head. The in-line filter fits behind the existing shower head, so it’s hardly noticeable.
According to the manufacturer, 75 percent of the filtering media in this device clears contaminants, and the rest adds vitamins and minerals to the water. The filter targets chlorine, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dirt, and odors and claims to help improve hair, skin, and nails. The filter cartridges should last up to 6 months (replacements sold separately); however, they wear out more quickly in hard water.
- Type: In-line filter
- Filtration stages: 15
- Filtered materials: Chlorine, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dirt, and odors
- Materials: Unlisted
- Filters 75 percent of water contaminants, including chlorine, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dirt, and odors
- Adds vitamins and minerals to the shower water, nourishing hair, skin, and nails
- Long-lasting filter cartridges will last for up to 6 months, requiring few changes
- Standard fittings; fits existing shower head so users don’t have to worry about difficult plumbing to filter their water
- The manufacturer doesn’t list filtration stages
- Water-filter replacements sold separately, while some other kits come with multiple replacements
Get the AquaBliss shower filter on Amazon.
Folks looking to remove contaminants and undesirable material from their shower water while holding onto as much cash as possible should consider this shower filter from Feelso. This model features 18 stages of filtration. It can handle hard water, heavy metals, and odors thanks to the activated carbon, vitamin C, redox media, and ceramic beads inside, providing healthier shower water.
This model from Feelso is easy to install. It features a standard screw-on installation process that installs behind an existing shower head, meaning users won’t need to worry about complicated plumbing upgrades in order to achieve better-quality water. Also, this model uses universal filter cartridges, so should the user prefer to go with another filter, they don’t need to purchase an entirely new setup. The only downside is that this model, while inexpensive, only comes in one finish, so it may stick out in certain bathroom settings.
- Type: In-line filter
- Filtration stages: 18
- Filtered materials: Odors, heavy metals, and sediment impurities
- Materials: ABS plastic
- Features 18 levels of filtration while retaining an affordable price point
- Removes odors, sediment, and heavy metals from water for healthier skin, hair, and nails
- Uses universal filters so users can easily swap them out with other brands’ filter cartridges
- Only comes in 1 finish, so it may stand out in some bathroom settings
Get the Feelso shower filter on Amazon.
For those who look to their shower for a spa-like experience, AquaHomeGroup’s 15-stage shower filter and shower head delivers results. A rare find, this kit features a metal shower head with rain-style spray.
The filter includes layers of KDF, alkaline ceramic balls, activated carbon, and calcium sulfite to provide high-quality water with fewer contaminants. It targets chlorine, heavy metals, rust, sand, and other sediments. Added vitamin E promotes healthy skin and hair.
- Type: Showerhead, in-line, KDF, and activated-carbon filter
- Filtration stages: 15
- Filtered materials: Chlorine, heavy metals, rust, sand, and more
- Materials: ABS plastic
- Rain-style shower head provides a relaxing spa-like experience
- Adds vitamins, including Vitamin E for nourishing hair, skin, and nails
- Easy to install, allowing users to replace their existing shower head quickly
- More expensive than most other models
Get the AquaHomeGroup luxury shower filter on Amazon or AquaHomeGroup.
This shower head might be the best choice for homeowners or renters who worry that an in-line filter could damage older pipes. Those with older plumbing might want to grip the water pipes lightly with a pair of pliers while installing the filter to ensure the pipes don’t get twisted and damaged. The built-in filtration system targets chlorine, fluoride, and chloramine. It also softens well water as it removes rust, metals, and other sediments.
The three settings (rain, power rain, and massage) reduce water consumption, so users may save on their water bill and conserve precious natural resources. But they might have to replace the smaller cartridges more often than other filter systems, which will cost a little more (replacement filters are sold separately).
- Type: Showerhead filter
- Filtration stages: 1
- Filtered materials: Chlorine, fluoride, rust, metals, sediments, and chloramine
- Materials: Stainless steel
- Suitable for well water and old plumbing for a universal approach to water filtration
- Water-saving design ideal for eco-minded shoppers
- 3 flow settings allow users to adjust their shower head to their comfort level
- Replacement filters sold separately
Get the PureAction shower filter on Amazon.
CraterAquaSystem’s filter features 15 stages of water filtration, including a silver layer to remove bacteria. The filter also includes KDF, calcium sulfite, and activated coconut carbon, which target fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals, impurities, and other sediments.
The package includes two filter cartridges that each last up to 6 months, 325 baths, or 650 showers. After that, manufacturer replacements (which are sold separately and are expensive) or standard universal shower cartridge filters are available for purchase. Any shower head can be attached to this device, including handheld and rain-style models.
- Type: In-line, KDF, and activated-carbon filter
- Filtration stages: 15
- Filtered materials: Fluoride, bacteria, chlorine, heavy metals, impurities, and sediments
- Materials: ABS plastic and chrome
- Removes bacteria from water to provide users with peace of mind about their shower water
- Comes with 2 filter cartridges that each last up to 6 months for plenty of shower time (filters last for 6 months, 325 baths, or 650 showers)
- Includes standard screw-on fittings, allowing this model to install behind an existing shower head
- Additional replacement filters aren’t cheap
Get the CraterAquaSystems shower filter on Amazon.
This in-line water filter from AquaHomeGroup aims to improve the quality of skin and hair and remove chlorine, bacteria, and other contaminants from well water. The 15 stages include coconut-activated charcoal, KDF, calcium sulfite, and vitamin C to provide clean bathing water that won’t damage skin, hair, and nails.
It comes with two filters, which AquaHomeGroup suggests changing every 6 to 8 months. That makes them one of the longer-lasting cartridges on the list. When it does come time to replace them, universal cartridges (sold separately) can be used. It comes in multiple finishes, including chrome, dark bronze, and yellow gold, among others. And while it does come in these multiple finishes, the manufacturer isn’t clear on the material types.
- Type: In-line, KDF, and vitamin C filter
- Filtration stages: 15 stages
- Filtered materials: Chlorine, bacteria, and more
- Materials: Unlisted
- Standard screw-on fitting attaches to an existing shower head without complicated plumbing
- Filters last 6 to 8 months, so users don’t have to worry about frequent changes
- Comes in multiple finishes so users can match their water-filtration system to their existing fixtures
Get the AquaHomeGroup 15-stage shower filter on Amazon or AquaHomeGroup.
The PureAction Vitamin C Shower Head Filter With Hose adds naturopathic remedies to its filtering media. Tourmaline may improve mood and metabolism, and negative ion balls may give skin a boost. The manufacturer says that the vitamin C-infused lemon filter can improve concentration and detox the skin. Zeolite balls remove heavy metals, chlorine, and fluoride, while lemon, rose, and lavender filters emit pleasant scents.
This handheld unit comes with a hose that attaches to the water pipe easily without the use of tools. The clear plastic construction creates an interesting and fun design. The vitamin C filter needs to be replaced monthly, and the filtration balls need to be swapped out every 3 to 4 months (both sold separately).
- Type: Shower head and vitamin C filter
- Filtration stages: 7
- Filtered materials: Metals, chlorine, and fluoride
- Materials: Stainless steel and plastic
- Vitamin C-infused lemon filter may improve users’ moods and metabolism for a better all-around lifestyle
- Filter contains negative ion balls that may help skin feel healthier
- Lemon, rose, and lavender filters emit pleasant scents, allowing for a more luxurious-feeling shower
- Vitamin C filter needs to be replaced monthly
Get the PureAction shower filter on Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Shower Filter
Besides the range of filter types available, shoppers might want to keep a few other considerations in mind when choosing the best shower filter for their home. They’ll want to think about what the appliance is made of, how long the filter lasts, and what it can filter to help with water filtration, dry skin, and better overall health.
Lifespan and Replacement Filters
Filters themselves aren’t terribly expensive unless they require frequent replacement. Consider a filter that uses long-lasting, affordable cartridges that are easy to find. Shoppers can use the manufacturer’s replacement filters or universal ones. Shopping around will reveal filters that last for more than 1,300 showers.
When it comes to detachable shower heads that have media and aroma filters in the handle, be sure to find one that’s easy to maintain. These filters are likely to require more frequent replacement, so it should be a simple process. Some of these devices have pellets in the handle. It’s not likely to find universal replacements for those pellets and handles, but it is possible to find universal aroma filters.
Most filtration systems claim to be 99.9 percent effective, so don’t settle for less. However, manufacturers are pretty shy about what their filters can do specifically; they don’t want to overpromise. Still, shoppers should know what contaminants these appliances target.
The best shower filters should aim to do the following:
- Reducing or eliminating heavy metals, such as iron, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, nickel, chromium, cobalt, zinc, and selenium.
- Reducing or eliminating bacteria and parasites, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.
- Removing chlorine, chloramine, and disinfection byproducts (DBPs).
Most shower filters are plastic; they last a long time and won’t corrode. Shoppers can even find plastic with finishes to match the other fixtures in their bathroom. Chrome options are plentiful, but choices in bronze might be a little more limited.
If folks prefer to limit the use of BPA (bisphenol-A) plastics in their home, there are some models that will fit that need. BPA imitates estrogen hormones, which can accumulate at unsafe levels in the body. This can cause several health issues, especially for infants.
Weight has a lot more to do with maintenance than actual filtration. Water filters are generally light out of the box. However, after installing the filter and adding water, there’s quite a bit of added weight. Add contaminants to that, and they get even heavier.
In an in-line filter, all this can put extra stress on the water pipe. The filter installs on the end of the shower neck, providing quite a bit of leverage once the water and contaminants build up in the filter. The weight can bend or even break the pipe—or cause it to separate from the fitting.
Adjustable water filters may allow users to choose the rate at which the water flows and control how much water they use. Some shower heads will adjust for increased jets, pulsing massage settings, and even a rainfall setting.
Regardless of the setting chosen for the shower head, the filter will operate the same, removing contaminants from the water. However, it’s important to note that water pressure will automatically decrease over time, and this is most likely the result of a clogged filter, not a setting on the shower head. Users will have to replace the cartridges to regain full flow from their shower head.
Types of Shower Filters
Different filtering media may target distinct contaminants or offer other benefits. Whether it’s for a shower or faucet filter, some models are more powerful than others, and certain models may be a better fit for a particular type of plumbing or water. Here’s a look at the different types of shower filters on the market.
Shower Head Filter
Shower head filters come with a built-in filtration system and are meant to replace an existing shower head. They look like standard shower heads. Shoppers can also find handheld detachable models that contain filtration elements inside the handle. They’re a great option for folks already using a detachable spray nozzle.
These handheld devices typically don’t provide as much filtration as an in-line filter, though some do use multilayer filtering media, which increases their capabilities. Aroma filters, also available for certain models, give the water a pleasant scent. This feature may be especially useful for homes with hard water that has an eggy smell.
In-Line Shower Filter
In-line shower filters are small barrels that attach directly to the pipe behind the shower head. The filter screws onto the pipe, and the shower head then screws onto the filter. These types of shower filters use large, easy-to-replace filter cartridges that contain multiple layers (or stages) of filtration. Carbon, calcium sulfite, vitamin C, ceramic balls, and silver intercept bacteria, DBPs, and other unwanted substances.
In-line shower filters are easy to maintain. The body of the filter separates into halves to allow access to the filter cartridge. Cartridges last from 650 to 1,300 showers or more.
In-Line Shower and Shower-Head Filters
For folks looking for the best of both worlds, they can double up on these options for even more filtration power.
Since these units use standard fittings, they will attach to one another. The water will pass through the in-line filter first and remove most of the contaminants right away. Once the water makes its way to the shower head, the built-in filter will remove any remaining pollutants.
Keep in mind that users will still need to change the in-line filter as recommended (after every 650 to 1,300 showers), but this modification should make the shower head filter last longer.
Multilevel Carbon Filters
Multilevel carbon filters use several layers of carbon and other media to remove sediments and bacteria like chlorine, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), lead, and fluoride safely from the water.
Each layer targets a specific type of contaminant. Carbon, for example, removes chlorine, sediment particles, VOCs, and any foul taste or odor. A popular source for this carbon is granulated activated coconut charcoal.
Multilevel carbon filters are less expensive than other options, but the hotter the water, the less effective charcoal filters are at removing chlorine.
Slightly more expensive than charcoal filters, KDF filters are still an affordable option. They contain copper-zinc media and remove metals, chlorine, and hydrogen sulfide from water through a chemical process called redox.
Unless users have a chemistry degree, the redox reaction is complicated and difficult to understand. Essentially, the KDF media transfers electrons from harmful contaminants and changes their chemical composition altogether. (KDF Fluid Treatment, Inc., provides even more reading material on the matter.) Redox essentially renders contaminants harmless.
Some filters and shower heads offer a layer of KDF filtration inside multilayer cartridges to provide extra protection against heavy metals.
Vitamin C Filters
Though there’s some debate about its efficacy, vitamin C may neutralize chlorine that’s added to the water supply. While dechlorinating the water, vitamin C pellets inside the handle or cartridge add the powdered nutrient to the water stream.
Some argue that these filters are just a luxury trend that doesn’t affect chlorine levels at all. But vitamin C is known to build collagen, so it could make a difference in the health of skin and hair.
And there’s nothing wrong with a little vitamin C coming out of a shower head. So if folks would like an extra touch of the antioxidants, add a vitamin C filter after the in-line filter or buy a cartridge with a vitamin C layer.
The Advantages of Owning a Shower Filter
Disinfectants in our water supply kill microbes and bacteria that could make a person sick, but those disinfectants come with some risks. They can interact with naturally occurring organic compounds found in water and create DBPs.
There’s a limit as to how much can be in the water supply—about 50 to 100 parts per million. Small quantities probably won’t cause damage, but large amounts pose real risks. That’s why some people just don’t want DBPs in their water at all.
Exposure to DBPs and other contaminants through water is especially intense. They can get into the lungs and skin. The steam that billows out of the shower is full of tiny particles. Since the lungs have such a large surface area, they can grab up these tiny particles from the air during and even after a shower. (In that respect, a shower filter can even improve the air quality in the home.) The pores in skin—the body’s largest organ—also soak up water. A shower exposes skin to between 10 and 20 gallons of water, which is far more than anyone could possibly drink in a day.
Research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology suggests that unfiltered bath water, especially hard water, may contribute to dry skin, hair loss, and nail problems. The best shower filter can help.
- The best shower filters help remove remaining DBPs and other contaminants from shower water.
- Filtered shower water may improve the health of dry skin, hair, and nails.
- Shower filters can improve the air quality in the home.
Want to know more? Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about shower filters.
Q. Are there toxic metals in household water?
There are heavy metals found in household water. They include lead, iron, mercury, arsenic, and nickel. Your new filter will remove them from the water.
Q. How do you install a shower filter?
Installation is tool-free. Twist the old shower head off at the pipe fitting, wrap the pipe threads with Teflon tape, and screw on the new filter in its place. You can repeat the process for screwing the shower head onto the filter. Remember to tighten no more than hand-tight.
Q. How long does a shower filter last?
It depends on how many people live in the household. Generally speaking, the lifespan of a family shower filter is 3 to 6 months.
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