December 3, 2022

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5 Best Shower Filters of 2022

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Before we tell you about the best shower filter for your home, know this: You might not actually need one.

Consumer interest in shower filters has been surging behind marketing claims that the devices improve hair and skin health by removing chlorine from the home’s water. It makes sense when you think about the damage swimming pools can do on hair and skin. But residential tap water is usually a different story. “Chlorine is present in municipal water at minutely small concentrations which are low enough to kill bacteria, but not affect [hair],” says Trefor Evans, Ph.D., Director of Research and Institute Fellow at TRI-Princeton, an independent hair fiber science research organization. The impact on skin is a little more plausible, especially for people with extreme sensitivities. “At higher levels, chlorine is known to be drying and can lead to a rash on the skin known as contact dermatitis,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at the Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology.

It’s true that shower filters claim to remove more than chlorine — like scale for example, which makes soap and shampoo less sudsy. But if your home has very hard water, you’re better off installing a whole-house water softener, since scale also wreaks havoc on plumbing and water-consuming appliances, like the dishwasher and washing machine. Having said all that, there are still times when a shower filter makes sense. Maybe you do have very sensitive skin. Or you’re a renter and your landlord won’t put in a water softening system to fix the hard water. Or you don’t like the smell of treated water. Or science be darned, you just know the chlorine is causing bad hair days.

We’re here to help — especially since no real harm can come from putting in a shower filter. With that, the engineers and beauty pros at the Good Housekeeping Institute reviewed reams of user manuals and technical data, including third-party certifications, to come up with the definitive list of top shower filters.

Our top picks:

Once you’ve sorted through the options, read on for more details on how we evaluate water filters and what to look for when choosing one for your bathroom. And be sure to check out related tips from our beauty experts, including the best shampoos for dry hair and hand creams that can repair cracked, damaged skin.

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1

Best Overall Shower Filter

AQ-4100 Deluxe Shower System

  • Excellent filtration
  • Multi-spray settings
  • Quality construction
  • Less water efficient than some

A 25-year leader in water filtration, Aquasana impressed our experts with the combination of performance, value and ease of use on its Deluxe Shower System. Like all filters in this roundup, it’s certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 177, so it’s guaranteed to remove virtually all chlorine from your home’s water. The all-in-one filter and shower head combines superb filtration with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, meaning you won’t have to give up an invigorating spray for chemical-free shower water. Our experts also like that the adjustable shower head offers multiple settings, from gentle to pulsing. With a claimed filter life of 10,000 gallons, you’ll only need to change the filter a couple of times a year.

Filter type: All-in-one
Filter capacity: 10,000 gallons
Filter replacement annual cost: $100

2

Best Budget Shower Filter

GXSM01HWW Shower Filter System

  • Excellent value
  • Easy installation

If you’re looking for a quick and inexpensive way to test out the benefits of a shower filter in your home, consider this no-frills model from GE. It costs three to four times less than other top picks but is backed by the same NSF/ANSI certification. That means it should do the job of removing chlorine and other impurities from your water. The in-line filter is compatible with standard ½-inch plumbing, so our engineers say it should retrofit to any shower configuration without the need for extra tools. Replacing the filter is simple too — simply unscrew the housing and swap in a new filter.

Filter type: In-line
Filter capacity: 10,000 gallons
Filter replacement annual cost: $27

3

Best Handheld Shower Filter

Hand-Held Showerhead

  • Excellent filtration
  • Quality construction
  • Works as handheld or overhead

If you prefer a handheld spray, our experts tapped this option from Culligan, another brand that’s performed well in our tests over the years. With its NSF/ANSI Standard 177 certification, the filter is sure to remove chlorine from your water, and Culligan claims it can also take care of sulfur odor and scale. In terms of user experience, the five spray settings give a range of massage options, and the magnetic dock makes it easy to switch from handheld to overhead. Our engineers say the stainless-steel construction and anti-clog rubber spray nozzles should extend the life of the system, a fact backed up by the product’s generous five-year warranty, compared with the one-year warranty of many other filters.

Filter type: All-in-one
Filter capacity: 10,000 gallons
Filter replacement annual cost: $50

4

Most Water-Efficient Shower Filter

Aquifer Three-Spray Pattern Shower Head

  • Saves water
  • Multi-spray settings
  • Sleek design

This high-efficiency all-in-one shower filter from Kohler uses just 1.75 gallons of water per minute (GPM), down from 2.5 GPM of standard shower heads. That’s good enough for the EPA’s WaterSense seal and, better yet, it could save you up to 3,000 gallons of water over the course of the year! Our engineers also like the Aquifer’s smart design, including the multi-spray feature that lets you switch from a gentle mist to a concentrated pulse with the press of a thumb button. In terms of style, this is one of the better-looking filters our experts reviewed, whether you choose the polished chrome or brushed nickel finish.

Filter type: All-in-one
Filter capacity: 8,000 gallons
Filter replacement annual cost: $72

5

Most DIY-Friendly Filtered Showerhead

Multipure Aquashower Water Filter

  • Easy to install
  • Exceptional capacity

Our experts consider Multipure another top brand in residential water filtration thanks to its consistent performance and reliability over the years. (Its Aquaversa MP750 is one of our top-rated under-sink water filters.) Our engineers expect the same filtration power from the Aquashower, especially with the removal of chlorine. But it’s the simplicity of the design and installation that makes the Multipure our fave for DIYers. Simply unscrew your current showerhead and thread the Aquashower onto the pipe, then put the shower head back on. When it comes time to replace the filter, the Aquashower unscrews at the middle, one of the smartest designs our engineers have seen in the category.

Filter type: In-line
Filter capacity: Up to 25,000 gallons
Filter replacement annual cost: $76

How we choose the best shower filters

Our market experts keep constant tabs on water filtration, which is how they noticed the increased consumer interest in shower filters. They also stay on top of trends by attending trade shows and industry events, including the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. For this report, they identified the top-selling shower filters that you’re most likely to find at home centers and online.

Drawing on decades of water filter tests, our pros then focused on brands with a proven track record for performance and reliability. Though formal Lab tests were not part of the review, the filter industry is closely regulated, so our experts were able to review reams of technical data based on rigorous standards and third-party certifications. Our engineers also reviewed user manuals to get a sense of how easy each filter is to install and replace. Finally, they pored over thousands of consumer reviews to spot any red flags related to usability, safety and maintenance.

How to choose the best shower filter for your home

First and foremost, make sure the shower filter is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 177. “This ensures that the product is capable of reducing the levels of chlorine by 50%, or to 1mg/L or less,” says Stefan Buck, Senior Manager of the Global Filtration Division, NSF. “It also ensures that the product does not leach contaminants from its materials that would be harmful to your health and also ensures its structural integrity under household pressure.”

From there, the decision comes down to the installation method. There are two basic types to consider:

✔️ In-Line Shower Filter: This type of filter sits between your current showerhead and the main shower arm that connects to your home’s plumbing. Installation and filter replacement can be a bit more complicated, but in-line filters let you keep your showerhead.

✔️ All-in-One Shower Filter: With this type, you replace your existing showerhead with a new showerhead with a built-in filter. It’s an easy swap, but might not be worth it if you love the look and feature set of your current showerhead.

If you go the all-in-one route, you’ll then need to sort through all the same features you’d find with standard showerheads:

  • Multi-setting vs. Single-setting: Some showerheads feature ten or more spray settings. You’ll usually pay more for the luxury compared to showerheads with just one spray.
  • Overhead vs. Handheld: If you like to luxuriate under the shower, go for the overhead. If you like the option of holding the showered to get your whole body, choose the handheld.
  • Flow vs. Efficiency: Showerheads can crank out as much as 2.5 gallons per minute, for an invigorating spray. Water-efficient models that carry the EPA’s WaterSense badge can’t emit more than 2.0 gallons per minute.

6

How often should shower filters be replaced?

Most shower filters need to be replaced every 10,000 gallons, though that’s admittedly a little hard to measure. This is why brands also suggest replacing the filter every six months. This is based on the average person’s shower consuming 17 gallons of water, according to a study by the Water Research Foundation. That works out to 68 gallons per day for an average four-person household, or 12,240 gallons over six months. Not every household member will shower every day, so it’s safe to assume 10,000 gallons in a six-month timeframe. These are rough guidelines, but you can use the basic math to figure out how often you’ll need to change the shower filter in your home. Keep in mind that water quality is yet another variable. For example, if you have very hard water, the scale buildup will cause the filter to clog more quickly.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

The Good Housekeeping Institute Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab provides expert reviews and advice on all things home-related, including water filtration systems. In his role as Director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab, Dan DiClerico brings more than 20 years of experience to the Institute, having reviewed thousands of products for Good Housekeeping, as well as brands like Consumer Reports and This Old House. He has also overseen the testing of all types of point-of-use water filters, including carafe-style, under-sink and faucet-mounted.

For this report, Dan worked closely with Health, Beauty, Environment and Sustainability Lab director Birnur Aral, Ph.D., who provided insights into hair and skin care and helped evaluate the contamination-removal claims behind each of our picks.

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