The Best Shower Filter for Clean Water – 12 Reviews & Guide
Written by: Maria Martino // Last Updated:
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A great shower filter reduces the amount of harmful contaminants in your shower water which will benefit your skin, hair, and nails as well as your overall health – time to say goodbye to itchiness, dryness, and irritation.
Plus, a shower filter neutralizes unpleasant odors allowing you to enjoy your daily showers to the limit.
On top of that, most shower water filters are inexpensive and easy to install without the need to make any permanent changes to your plumbing. What better solution is there to improve how you look and feel?
How to find a good or the best shower water filter? You are about to find out!
In our opinion, the best shower filter in 2021 is the Aquasana AQ-4100/4105. That’s mainly because, according to NSF Standard 177 lab testing, the filter removes more than 87% chlorine from water even after 10,000 (!) gallons filtered. That’s why for us it’s also the best shower filter for chlorine.
What’s more, it reduces water contaminants including toxic lead, chloramine, hydrogen sulfide, iron, mercury, and volatile organic compounds, says Aquasana.
Thus, you can be sure to get much better water and air quality inside your shower – for a fair price.
The manufacturer promises that you will see softer, more moisturized skin and hair after using the Aquasana AQ-4100 or AQ-4105 for some time.
Filter combines two types of filtration media: Granular activated carbon + KDF-55 (copper-zinc blend). They remove chlorine, all kinds of synthetic chemicals, different heavy metals, etc. and balance water pH.
NSF standard 177 certification for chlorine reduction.
Substantial amount of filter media allows for more contact time with the water for improved contaminant removal.
Choose from 4 different filter versions:
Filter only (use your own shower head).
With massaging head.
With massaging handheld shower wand in white.
With massaging handheld shower wand with chrome finish.
Water flow rate is 2.5 gallons per minute which is the standard. It prevents a noticeable reduction of water pressure.
Filter doesn’t lower the height of your shower head so that you can stand comfortably.
All materials are 100% BPA-free.
Unit is easy to install.
The upflow filter design prevents clogging for a long filter life of 10,000 gallons or six months. Annual cost: ~$100 USD which is okay.
Replacement is a piece of cake with no tools required.
Aquasana offers a 90-day satisfaction guarantee + 1-year limited warranty that covers defects in materials or workmanship in manufacturing.
Replacement cartridges are warranted throughout their entire service life.
Vinyl hose of white handheld wand is a little stiff. You better go with the chrome flex hose.
A few reports about leaking.
Filter nozzle may be too short to accommodate larger shower heads.
Replacement filters aren’t cheap, but you can subscribe to receive a 15% discount + free shipping.
2. Best For Well Water: Crystal Quest Luxury Shower Power Filter
In our opinion, the best shower filter for well water in 2021 is the Crystal Quest Luxury Shower Power Filter, especially due to the fact that it uses 2 types of KDF filter media: Eagle Redox Alloy 6500 and 9500.
Together, they remove or reduce chlorine, water-soluble heavy metals (iron in particular), and hydrogen sulfide. All are commonly found in well water. Above that, KDF is great for controlling bacteria, algae, and scale.
Crystal Quest Luxury Shower Power Filter with Head
Crystal Quest advertises their shower filter saying it gives you “smoother, softer skin and hair that is less dry”. And indeed, many reviewers reported seeing a positive effect on their skin.
Tub and shower area will also be cleaner.
The 3-stage filter process combines two types of proprietary KDF filter media with coconut shell granular activated carbon. This combo removes chlorine, chloramines, pesticides, heavy metals, VOCs, TTHM, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell), rust and other dirt, and bad odors.
Also balances pH.
Copper-zinc formulation also inhibits growth of bacteria, mold, fungi, and algae inside the filter cartridge.
Recommended flow rate is 2.0 gallons per minute which is slightly less than the standard.
The mixture of calcium, copper, and zinc controls mold and fungi, and inhibits bacteria from growing inside your shower head. Impurities that will be removed include free chlorine, heavy metals like lead, sulfur gas, rust, and scale.
Brittle hair and flaky skin are symptoms of chlorine exposure. Filtering your water with the Berkey shower filter helps reduce these symptoms.
The unit is effective for both hot and cold water.
BPA-free materials only.
Installation? Don’t worry, it’s child’s play.
One filter cartridge lasts between 20,000 and 25,000 gallons of water or up to one year.
Backflush attachment prevents premature clogging.
You get a 6-month manufacturer warranty.
Not all people saw a difference in the quality of their water after installing the Berkey.
According to Berkey, high chloramine content can compromise chlorine reduction which might explain the ineffectiveness in some cases.
Some users experienced a considerable drop in water pressure and flow after some time.
Regardless of the backflushing feature, filters don’t always reach their claimed capacity limit which adds to the costs.
The Frizzlife 17-stage shower filter set is a combo of shower filter and shower head filter. With 17 filter stages, it removes a wide range of different water contaminants and ultimately prevents dry skin and repairs damaged hair.
The Hydroviv shower filter is the only we know that uses both activated and catalytic carbon to filter out chlorine and chloramine. Combined with KDF-55 and KDF-85, it makes a promising candidate for the best shower water filter. Let’s find out more!
The Sonaki SUF-100V outperforms any other shower filter when it comes to chlorine removal. As water passes through it, vitamin C dissolves and neutralizes 99.9% of all chlorine and/or chloramine (test data provided).
Only water filters based on vitamin C are that effective.
The Sonaki uses natural pharmaceutical-grade vitamin C recovered from oranges. No need to worry about quality issues here.
Optional upgrade: Puremax 5-stage water filter which removes a range of contaminants including particles, turbidity, rust, lead, phenols, chromium-6, and THMs.
We like the durable brass material.
The whole setup attaches easily before your shower head and will affect its height and positioning only slightly for comfortable standing.
According to Sonaki, each vitamin C filter cartridge has a lifetime of approx. 3 to 6 months or up to 2,640 gallons.
This is an ideal value and rather unrealistic. Most users have to insert a new cartridge about every month or so (more on this in a bit).
Cartridges are translucent so that you can tell when they are empty.
A wrench for opening the filter is included and the whole replacement process is fairly easy.
By far the biggest drawback is the purchase price of the vitamin C filter cartridges which go fairly quickly. You are probably looking at monthly or bi-monthly replacements. Thus, costs will start to add up.
We recommend you to simply refill the cartridges yourself.
The filter may not drain properly after you’ve turned off your shower. As a result, the remaining water will dilute the vitamin C in the cartridge which will then flush out the next time you turn on the shower.
You can work around this design flaw by turning the filter upside. If that doesn’t help, try to loosen the nut above the filter where it attaches to the outlet pipe to allow a possible vacuum to break – not the most elegant solution, but it works.
Ascorbic acid quickly degrades in water so you need to make sure that the powder doesn’t stay wet.
The majority of Amazon customers love the AquaBliss SF100 and SF220 shower filters. They report about skin and hair that feels noticeably softer and looks healthier. Also, the price seems fair. Just don’t expect the most sophisticated water purification process. 3.5 stars from us!
The AquaBliss SF100 and SF220 are well received and amongst the most popular shower filters on Amazon.
Both combine multi-stage filtration – calcium sulphite, KDF 55, and carbon among others – to neutralize odors and tackle common contaminants like chlorine, lead, mercury, nickel, bacteria, and pesticides (as per manufacturer). The growth of algae, fungi and mold is inhibited. A micro-porous polypropylene cotton layer helps to get rid of sediment and dust.
The difference between the two is that the AquaBliss SF100 not only reduces a wide range of contaminants, it also infuses your water with revitalizing minerals and ascorbic acid are supposed to rejuvenate dry skin as well as brittle hair and nails. Total filter stages: 12. Filtration capacity: 10,000 gallons or up to six months. This is pretty standard for a shower filter and keeps maintenance requires down to a minimum.
The SF220 on the other hand is a “heavy duty shower filter” that aims at removing as many contaminants as possible. Total filtering stages: 7. Filtration capacity: 10,000 to 12,000 gallons or 6 – 8 months.
These are inline filters that you can use with the shower head of your choice thanks to the standard ½” connections. Compatible shower types include fixed, rain and handheld.
Installation is easy and can be done within a couple of minutes – no tools needed (sealing tape provided).
If you require any help, the AquaBliss customer service is knowledgeable and quickly to respond.
We miss NSF certifications backing the manufacturer’s claims regarding contaminant removal capabilities. It would also be helpful to know exact reduction rates.
Some Amazon reviewers complained about a lack of improvement in water quality (pH, chlorine and heavy metals tests showed no detectable differences).
The AquaHomeGroup is a multi-stage water filtration system. The goal is to remove as many unpleasant odors and contaminants from your shower water as possible to counter dry skin, dandruff, and improve the overall health of your skin, hair, and nails.
Stage one is an ultra-fine stainless steel mesh for filtering large particles.
Filter stage 2 is a polypropylene cotton layer that tackles turbidity, sediments, rust, and bacteria.
At stage 3 we have another high-density stainless steel mesh.
The next stage makes use of alkaline ceramic balls that enhance your water with natural minerals. Maifan stones add even more minerals to your water. Both mineral media are supposed to restores your body’s pH balance.
A blend of copper and zinc (KDF 55) reduces heavy metals as well as chlorine and hydrogen sulfide.
Stage 7 consists of microporous ceramic balls.
At filter stage 8, Vitamin C is used to neutralize chlorine/chloramine used for municipal water disinfection.
Filtration stage 9 is made up of coconut shell granular activated carbon that traps chemicals, mainly volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Germanium balls help to detox your body, increase blood oxygen content, and boost your immune system.
Stage 11 is most important as calcium sulphite further reduces heavy metals such as lead and iron in addition to residual chlorine.
At stage 12, tourmaline and germanium stones provide benefits similar to a far infrared therapy.
Stage 13, 14 and 15 are identical to the first three filter stages.
According to the company, the AquaHomeGroup filter also prevents the growth of algae and mold inside your shower head.
It’s a universal shower water filter that fits all shower types with industry standard connections (0.5″).
One filter cartridge lasts for up to 6 months under ideal conditions. 2 cartridges are included in the package.
Replacement filter cost per year: $20-40 USD at max.
Some people saw a slight drop in water pressure.
Others struggled with leaks.
Customer support seems to be excellent while the instructions could do with an upgrade.
The Luxsego is a hand-held device with 2 functions:
Enriching your shower water with minerals that your skin can absorb making it more elastic. The minerals are also supposed to promote blood circulation and thus delay skin aging.
Trapping contaminants, first and foremost chlorine, to restore the balance in your skin’s oil glands to increase its smoothness and reduce oil secretion for better cell viability.
Whether or not these claims are true remains to be proven. The majority of customers are more than happy with their purchase, though.
The shower filter stores bioactive stones in its transparent head: Infrared and anion mineral beads. They are recommended to be changed every 6 to 8 weeks.
Choose between 3 different spray patterns: Rainfall, jetting, massage.
The metal penal increases water pressure by as much as 200% at a standard flow rate of 2.5 gpm.
The flexible hose comes with a 360° rotary joint making it tangle-free for ease of use.
The filter is easy to install, fits any ½” standard-sized hose, and is detachable for easy cleaning.
In some cases the plastic head cracked after a couple weeks/months use.
It’s a bit hard to bend the head.
The beads may cause clogging.
The nozzles in the filtered shower head are tiny. The water that comes out is more like mist than a stream which feels very soft and refreshing but we assume not everyone likes it. Plus, it’ll soak your bathroom if you don’t pay attention.
Buying Guide: What to Consider When Buying a Shower Filter for Your Home
Shower filters are small, simple devices. Thus, we cannot compare them to whole house filtration systems that are much larger and more complex, and therefore way more effective, but also a lot more expensive.
Simply put, don’t set your expectations too high.
That being said, there are some key elements you need to consider when buying the best shower filters for your home:
Purification: Knowing What’s in Your Water
First of all, you need to know what it actually is that you’re facing. In other words, you need to test the water in your home as your first step. Once you know about the contaminants present, you can go out and find an appropriate water filter.
Side note: You might also find that using a shower filter won’t be enough.
An alternative to testing a direct water sample is reviewing your latest Consumer Confidence Report. You can do so here or use the EWG Tap Water Database. However, this only applies to people who receive tap water.
In case you receive water from a well, or you are worried about contaminants dissolving into your water supply along the way from the treatment facility to your place, we definitely recommend you conduct your own testing or hire a laboratory to do it for you.
Type (& Filter Media)
There are different types of shower filters and different types of filter media being used. We are going to discuss each type in more detail below, but for now, you should know that there are
Inline shower filters – for use with your own shower head
Showerhead filters – they don’t require an extra shower head
Also, depending on what you want to achieve, a certain type of filtering media will be more effective than others.
For instance, if you are on a chlorinated city water supply, a regular carbon a.k.a. charcoal water filter seems like the way to go. After all, activated carbon adsorbs all kinds of chemicals from water, such as pesticides, herbicides, and of course chlorine. Another advantage is that carbon filtration is budget-friendly.
However, charcoal is a cold water filter. It exceeds at low temperatures; with hot water not so much. Some online sources even claim that in very hot water activated carbon will release some of the impurities it has previously trapped.
Often the better solution is a multi-stage shower water filtration system that combines regular activated carbon with KDF (and maybe even other media layers). KDF (copper-zinc blend) is effective against heavy metals – think lead and mercury – sulfur gas, and free chlorine. Also, it stops microorganisms from accumulating.
Lastly, we want to mention shower filters based on ascorbic acid. These are very effective at removing chlorine PLUS chloramine from cold, warm, and hot water. (Source)
Manufacturers can make promises about contaminant reduction rates all day long, but only NSF/ANSI certifications provide proof.
A Standard 177 certification means a shower water filter has met the NSF requirements for chlorine reduction, safety of materials, and structural integrity. Unfortunately, the standard only indicates that a tested product is capable of eliminating a minimum of 50% free chlorine (not to be confused with total combined chlorine).
Filtration Capacity (Lifespan) & Replacement Cost
Most companies say their shower filters last for around 10,000-15,000 gallons or 6 months – whichever comes first. However, this only applies under ideal conditions.
If you live in an area with hard water, chances are that you will need to replace your filter far more frequently, maybe every 2 to 3 months. Also, the actual longevity depends on how often and how long you shower.
Furthermore, you want to double-check that replacement cartridges are widely available. Replacing a filter on a regular basis is vital to ensure that it’s working properly. Above that, remember that replacement filters come at additional cost. This can become a significant outlay over the course of let’s say 5 to 10 years.
Bottom line: Check the cost and lifespan of new filter cartridges before you commit to a certain shower filter model.
Materials and Durability
Another imperative factor is durability determined by materials used to produce a unit.
Simply put, all shower filters we know are plastic. But there are nuances, since there are different kinds of plastic and material thickness also comes into play.
Size, Weight and Adjustability
A shower water filter featuring an upflow design is great as it does not lower the height of your shower head. This is a must under certain conditions provided that you want to stand comfortably.
Apart from that, we prefer slim and lightweight units as long as water filtration performance doesn’t get compromised. A ball joint provides for adjustability.
Water Pressure/Flow Rate
Most filters for showers work at about 2.5 gpm water flow. Shower head filters with an EPA WaterSense certification have a maximum flow rate of 2.0 gallons per minute. This will save water and reduce your water bill, but you might notice a slight drop in water pressure.
For installation, it’s important that a filter fits industry standard ½” connections. This is the case for all models that are part of this guide. As long as there’s a standard fitting, most shower filters are easy to install.
Warranty and Support
Aquasana, Crystal Quest, and Pelican clearly outperform the competition here. Their filters are warranted for 1 year, and Aquasana and Pelican even offer a 90-day money-back satisfaction guarantee.
This is the last factor to consider: Your budget. The good news is, even the top shower water filters aren’t overly expensive.
More on Shower Filters
What Is a Shower Water Filter?
A shower water filter is a piece of equipment that can be used to purify shower water.
It gets installed directly onto the shower stem providing filtered water at the point of use.
Most systems use 2 to 3 filter stages to target a wide range of contaminants. Filter media we commonly find are activated carbon and different types of KDF. They excel at removing chlorine taste and odor, chemicals like pesticides, VOCs, heavy metals, and hydrogen sulfide. KDF also controls the growth of microbes.
The greatest benefits of installing a filter in your shower is improved water quality – ideal if you’re facing excessive chlorine, lead, etc.
Generally speaking, shower filters are easy to install and maintain. And they’re affordable, too!
The Different Types of Shower Water Filters and How They Work
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of shower water filters and how they work.
There is activated carbon and there is catalytic carbon. With shower filters, we usually find the former. Carbon filters are effective against chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, chlorine, and disinfection byproducts. Carbon also helps to remove unpleasant tastes and odors from water.
But, carbon filter media performs better in cold water. That’s why, for shower applications, using just carbon isn’t optimal; unless you like to enjoy cold showers.
Combining carbon with KDF filters is really effective. That’s because with KDF, or Kinetic Degradation Fluxion, media it doesn’t matter if you’re using cold or hot water.
Besides, it’s effective against many heavy metals, hydrogen sulfide, and free chlorine. In addition to that, KDF is bacteriostatic and protects your filter from algae, fungi, mold, and bacteria infestation.
Vitamin C Filter Systems
Vitamin C is most effective at removing chlorine and chloramine, regardless of water temperature. Achieved reduction rates are 99.9%, according to test data.
The main drawback of using ascorbic acid is that it quickly degrades in water. That’s why water filters based entirely on ascorbic acid require frequent replacements.
Inline Shower Filters
As the name suggests, inline shower filters are installed in-line. So the actual filter element sits in front of the shower head. This allows you to use the shower head of your choice.
Showerhead filters have the filter element integrated, which means that you can’t use your own shower head. These also come in the form of handheld wands.
What’s more, shower head filters tend to be more expensive both at purchase and for maintenance. Often you can’t change the filter cartridge alone but have to replace the entire unit.
Inline Shower and Showerhead Filter Combos
Some setups combine inline shower filters with shower head filters for the most comfortable shower experience. Costs tend to be higher for obvious reasons.
How to Install a Shower Water Filter
Shower filter installation is simple and straightforward. We’ll explain the process on the basis of the wall mounted Pelican PSF-1:
Remove the existing shower head.
Wrap Teflon tape around the threaded end of the shower pipe to create a good seal.
Attach the body of the filter using the collar. Use pliers for tightening, but don’t overtighten to prevent cross-threading.
Install the filter element by turning clockwise.
Before using the water, flush with cold water for a few minutes until the water comes out clear. Adjust to normal shower temperatures. Wait a bit for the temperature to adjust. Run water until clear.
Attach shower head.
Maintenance: How to Change Filters in Your Shower Unit
All you need to do for maintenance is change the filter on a regular basis. This is even easier than installing the unit in the first place. Again, we’ll explain the process using the Pelican PSF-1 as an example:
You might need to remove the shower head for better access.
Remove the old filter cartridge by turning counterclockwise.
Install the new filter by turning clockwise.
Benefits of Using a Shower Filter System
What are the main benefits of installing a shower filter system in your home?
Reduced Contaminant Exposure
The number one benefit is that your overall exposure to water contaminants goes down. Less pesticides, herbicides, VOCs, metals, disinfectants and their byproducts, etc. in the water you’re using at home, who wouldn’t want that?
Chlorine and other chemicals are known to cause skin conditions like eczema and dandruff. 2 good reasons to have it removed from your water!
More Vital Hair
Brittle hair is often another consequence of substandard shower water quality. If you want vital hair, get yourself a shower filtration system.
Chlorine is a volatile water contaminant. It evaporates into the surrounding air above a certain temperature. Chlorine-laden air in the bathroom makes it harder to breathe and can even cause allergies and asthma. No, thank you!
Improved Taste & Smell
Personally, I don’t mind using shower water that doesn’t smell like a swimming pool. Also, you can even take a sip or two when you’re getting thirsty –only if the water quality allows of course!
What’s Wrong About Showering in Unfiltered Water?
You may be wondering, Why use a shower water filtration system in the first place?
Is a Shower Filter Really Necessary? What’s in My Shower Water?
First of all, if you already own a proper whole-house water treatment system then there’s probably no reason for you to use an additional filter in the shower.
If that is not the case, a shower water filter can be a convenient and cost-efficient way to protect your body from potentially harmful contaminants that might be present in your water supply.
Water Disinfectants & Disinfection Byproducts
Do you purify your drinking water before consumption? If so, it’s not a huge leap to consider a shower filter to eliminate chlorine, chloramine, and any other disinfectant and its byproducts.
Because these chemicals don’t need to be ingested to cause health problems such as asthma. And this is not only about your lungs and the fact that you can breathe easier in chlorine-free bathroom air. Your skin absorbs all kinds of things while you are in the shower. For example, it is estimated that more than half of our daily chlorine exposure comes from chlorinated shower water.
On top of that, chlorine damages your hair and skin by causing dryness through removing oils that your body produces naturally. Less to no chlorine is also a remedy against eye irritation and skin conditions like eczema. Not to mention that chlorine-free water smells a lot better. In fact, it doesn’t smell at all.
Bacteria in the Shower Head
Back in 2009, a team of scientists conducted a study analyzing showerhead biofilms, concluding that “showerheads may present a significant potential exposure to aerosolized microbes“.
So, you can try to keep your shower as clean as possible. But if bacteria and other germs form in the shower head which you can’t clean, they rain down on you whenever you are showering.
Other Contaminants in Your Shower Water
Unfiltered shower water can also contain impurities like heavy metals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Ideally, you want to have them removed to keep them off your body.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do shower water filters really work?
They do. However, a shower filter won’t remove everything from water. There are different types, but most do a solid job removing contaminants like chlorine and other chemicals.
How long does a shower head filter last?
If you check the reviews on this page, you’ll find that most shower filters last between 10,000-15,000 gallons or around 6 months.
Which shower head filter removes the most contaminants?
That’s hard to say with certainty. The most promising candidates are probably the Aquasana and the Crystal Quest.
Is there a shower head filter that removes fluoride?
There are a few water filters that are supposed remove some fluoride, but not a lot. One example is the Propur ProMax which removes around 50% fluoride.
Is it OK to drink shower water?
Filtered shower water should not be confused with drinking water. It may still contain harmful contaminants. Of course, this applies even more to unfiltered shower water. One exception is if you use a whole house water filtration system.
I already own a water softener. Do I still need to filter my shower water?
Yes, because a water softener softens hard water. So, a water filter and a water softener and two entirely different things.
Questions about the best shower head water filters? Ask away!
And keep in mind: We’ll add new shower filter reviews occasionally. So come back for more!
About the Author Maria Martino
Maria Martino is one of our part-time content creators. She owns a B.A. in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Chicago and enjoys writing about all walks of life. When she doesn’t write, Maria likes to portray people and support her local community.
Learn more about Maria and the rest of the BOS Team.