The water that runs from your showerhead might not be as clean as you think. In many homes, tap water contains traces of minerals and chemicals like chlorine that can irritate your skin. When you take a shower or bath, these impurities can leave a film on your body, making it more difficult to lather up and rinse clean. Washing up in hard water can also lead to hair that appears dull, brittle, and flat, as well as dry or irritated skin. And in higher concentrations, contaminants in the water supply, including heavy metals like lead, can cause serious health issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Shower filters provide a simple fix that helps remove contaminants and ward off hard water's harmful effects. Much like filters used for drinking water, these devices contain layers of materials that work to sift out chemicals, metals, sediment, and other pollutants as water passes through. Installing a shower filter is easy to do yourself and can be especially beneficial if you live in an area with hard water or if you notice a chlorine smell or other unpleasant odor when the water is running.
Types of Shower Filters
There are several types of shower filters, including showerheads and inline models. A showerhead filter functions just like a regular showerhead but uses a built-in filtration system to soften water and remove impurities. An inline shower filter screws onto the pipe behind your existing showerhead, so you don't have to swap out the whole fixture. These devices use standard fittings, so most showerheads can screw directly into the filter.
When determining the best shower filter for you, it's important to know what needs to be filtered out of water. Tools like EWG's online tap water database can help you identify contaminants in your local water system, so you can choose a shower filter that's best suited for your needs.
Shower filters that include multiple layers of carbon (usually in the form of activated coconut charcoal) are most effective at removing chlorine, sediment, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and odors in the water. However, high water temperatures might decrease the carbon filter's ability to capture chlorine and other contaminants. Kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF) filters, which are made out of copper and zinc, use a chemical reaction to neutralize impurities like chlorine, bacteria, lead, mercury, iron, and hydrogen sulfide. These filters can also help reduce limescale and mold in your shower, but they tend to cost more. Vitamin C shower filters are also popular and help dechlorinate tap water while adding the nutrient into your shower stream.
Here are our picks for the best shower filters for cleaner water and healthier skin and hair.
Best Inline Shower Filter
With nearly 14,000 five-star ratings, this shower filter is a top choice for reducing chemicals and neutralizing odors in water. It features a 12-stage filtration process that works to remove sediment and impurities while infusing water with minerals to give your skin and hair a healthy boost. "I could actually feel a difference when showering, the water almost felt softer if possible and the chlorine smell was gone," one reviewer writes. "After showering, my skin didn't have that tight feeling, and my hair felt much softer." The inline filter attaches behind your showerhead and can be easily installed in minutes.
Best Showerhead Filter
Swap your regular fixture for this showerhead filter for cleaner water and better air quality. It combines copper-zinc and carbon filters to remove more than 90% of chlorine in shower water while enhancing the pH balance and reducing synthetic chemicals. The long-lasting shower filter only needs to be replaced twice a year.
Best Shower Filter for Hard Water
This showerhead filter uses a 15-stage system that includes both carbon and KDF filters. Great for homes with hard water or well water, it filters out chlorine, heavy metals, rust, sand, and other impurities. One reviewer writes, "This filter has made my water so much softer and that pesky chlorine smell is totally gone when I turn up the heat in my shower."
Best Shower Filter for Chlorine
Add this shower filter behind your existing fixture to remove more than 97% of the chlorine and sediment in your water. The filter combines activated carbon, KDF, calcium sulfite, and silver to remove chlorine, heavy metals, and bacteria from water. The standard size works with a variety of shower types, including wall-mount, rain, and hand showers.
Best Handheld Shower Filter
This shower filter combines hand-held flexibility with the benefits of purified water. The sprayer features five massaging settings and mounts easily on a bracket. The built-in filter captures chlorine, dust, and odors, prompting one reviewer to say, "It's like taking a shower in bottled water."
Best Vitamin C Shower Filter
Create a spa-like experience at home with this vitamin C shower filter. The showerhead features more than 300 spray-plate holes to deliver optimized water pressure and luxurious pressure. Vitamin C concentrate pairs with a microfiber filter to neutralize chlorine and trap dirt, rust, and other contaminants.