Best Water Filter Pitchers

The top-rated Brita purges tap water of bad tastes, odors, and chlorine, while two low-scoring models are slow and prone to clogging

By Keith Flamer

Pitcher filters aren’t the best way to clean your tap water. But they’re a good start.

They can strip out unappetizing flavors and funk, and filter common contaminants from your drinking water. They’re also relatively inexpensive. “And water filter pitchers are convenient because there’s no under-sink installation,” says CR test engineer Rich Handel, who oversees water filter testing. “With most, you just fill it up with tap water, throw it in the refrigerator, and wait.”

These pitchers typically hold up to 10 cups of water, filtering over time. So you might find that you’re waiting—or refilling the pitcher often, depending on your drinking habits or how many housemates are pouring from the pitcher. In CR’s lab, we run each pitcher through a battery of tests and time just how long it takes to filter a quart of water at various stages of the filter cartridge’s lifespan. The best ones get the job done in a little over a minute, while others take up to an average of 43 minutes—or longer.

Do Water Filter Pitchers Work?
To be clear, the water filter pitchers we test are intended to be used with potable water—that is, water that’s safe to drink—to improve taste and remove unpleasant odors. Some manufacturers also claim that their pitchers meet accepted standards for removing specific contaminants, such as chlorine and lead. (CR verifies those claims in our tests.) All the pitchers in our tests are certified to remove chlorine but less than half are certified to remove lead.

Considering why you need a water filter will help you choose the right one. Do you need a pitcher that will improve taste and reduce odors? Or one that removes lead and chlorine from your drinking water? Your answer matters because we found that some filters are more effective than others on each of these fronts.

Smell and taste generate the biggest tap water complaints; they relate directly to the water source. And this is where water filter pitchers tend to excel. Eight of 10 water filter pitchers in CR’s tests improve flavor and reduce odor.

How Do I Choose a Water Filter Pitcher?
Capacity is key. You don’t want to spend your days and nights refilling a plodding water filter pitcher, do you? Depending on your family’s collective thirst, a small one can get by with a 2-liter water pitcher filter, while a big family should invest in a large 4-liter water pitcher. Price is another factor. Consider the water filter pitcher’s original purchase price but also the yearly cost of replacement cartridges, which can actually cost more than the water pitcher itself.

Below, in alphabetical order, we’ve listed five of the best pitchers from our water filter pitcher ratings (along with two more two to avoid). For more on filtration, see our water filter buying guide, and for even more options, check CR’s complete water filter ratings.

Best Water Filter Pitchers

Brita Stream Rapids OB55

CR’s take: Our highest-rated water filter pitcher is the Brita Stream Rapids OB55, the only true filter-as-you-pour model. It aces our flow-rate and clogging tests (Excellent ratings in both) and earns a solid score for improving taste and reducing odor. It’s certified to NSF standards for removing chlorine but not lead. You’ll see NBA superstar Stephen Curry on the packaging, and our tests show that water from this pitcher goes down smoothly, with a swish.

Clarification: This article, last published on Nov. 19, 2021, has been updated to indicate that the Brita Stream Rapids OB55 pitcher isn’t certified to meet the NSF standard for lead removal.

Kirkland Signature (Costco) Water Filtration System

CR’s take: The Kirkland Signature Water Filtration System is a mouthful, but water goes down easily once you use it. It isn’t NSF certified for removing lead, but it rates well, acing our tests with Excellent scores for flow rate and clogging. If your tap water reeks, tastes bad, or is tainted by elevated chlorine levels, this pitcher, $25 at Costco, is for you (assuming you’re a Costco member).

Pur Basic PPT700W

CR’s take: The Pur Basic PPT700W is the least expensive water filter pitcher in our ratings. It typically sells for $17 and carries a yearly filter replacement cost of $30. The Pur Basic delivers on improving flavor as well as odor and chlorine reduction. However, it’s not NSF certified for lead reduction, and it will take longer to filter—especially over time. Its flow-rate and clogging score are just average.

Pur Ultimate with Lead Reduction PPT711W

CR’s take: If you’re patient enough to wait up to an hour for this Pur to filter water (as in, you fill it up and throw it in the fridge or put it on the counter for later), this pitcher may be for you. Despite its below-average flow rate (the number of minutes it takes to filter 32 ounces of water), the Pur Ultimate with Lead Reduction PPT711W ranks near the top of our ratings. In this case, effective filtering takes its time. The upshot: It’s the best water filter pitcher at improving flavor and reducing odor, and it doesn’t clog—in our tests for each, this pitcher earns Excellent ratings.

ZeroWater Ready-Pour ZD-010RP

CR’s take: The ZeroWater Ready-Pour ZD-010RP is perhaps the steadiest filter performer. Among the top five water filter pitchers in our ratings, it’s one of two NSF certified for both lead and chlorine removal. It earns Very Good ratings for improving flavor and for odor reduction. This versatile pitcher also earns an Excellent score in our test for clogging, which means it will flow consistently over time. But you’ll pay for that effectiveness, with a pricey filter replacement cost of $78 per year. That’s more than double the replacement cost of the top-ranked Brita.

Worst Water Filter Pitchers

ClearlyFiltered COMIN16JU025114

CR’s take: The ClearlyFiltered COMIN16JU025114 is NSF certified to remove chlorine and lead. And yes, it filters well for flavor and reduces odor. But it still might leave a bad taste in your mouth—and a burn hole in your wallet: Priced at a whopping $85 (more than twice the cost of other CR-tested pitchers), it earns an abysmal Overall Score of 41 in our ratings. (Our top-rated Brita, at the top of this list, has an Overall Score of 81.) This super-slow pitcher clogs like a dam, which means you’ll spend up to $150 per year on filter replacements—about twice as much as the next-highest-priced pitcher.

Clear2O GRP200

CR’s take: The Clear₂0 GRP200 is the lowest-rated pitcher in CR’s ratings, earning an Overall Score of 38. Your patience will be tried by its extremely slow flow rate. This pitcher also has the smallest capacity in our tests (6 cups per pitcher), which means you’ll be racing from faucet to fridge more than a parched teenager after soccer practice. We’re pouring cold water on this water filter pitcher.

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