I know that when I hear about whole-house water filtration systems, it always seems a bit of a waste for carefully treated water to be used all over the house like in my dishwasher and toilet. In showering, however, it makes complete sense that filtering my water is necessary.
Even water treated by the city carries harsh chemicals like pesticides, chlorine, and ammonia to name a few, as well as hard minerals like magnesium, calcium, and lead. While a shower filter won’t remove hard minerals, it can be very effective in treating your water and removing heavy metals and chemicals. These chemicals, if left in your water, have immediate effects, as demonstrated by chlorine. Dry, itchy skin and thin, brittle hair are side effects to name a few, and while research into long-term effects of trace pesticides and lead in your showering water is inconclusive, it’s not a stretch to assume they’re probably not beneficial.
So there we have it – you need a shower filter, and you’ve come to the right place to find one. Here we’ll be discussing what you need to know about shower filters, as well as identifying and comparing the pros and cons of each brand. This is all to ensure that your decision-making process will be efficient and quick, providing you with a thorough ground-work knowledge of the shower filters available today and which one is right for you.
Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 pick below:
Table of Contents
- 1 What Should I Look For When Buying a Shower Filter?
- 2 Here’s How I’ve Determined the Best Shower Filter
- 3 #1: SimPure Shower Filter (Best Value – All-Purpose)
- 4 #2: AquaHomeGroup Shower Filter (Best Filter)
- 5 #3: Berkey Shower Filter (Best Long Lasting)
- 6 #4: VivaSpring Shower Head Filter (Best Aesthetic Design)
- 7 #5: AquaBliss Shower Filter (Best for Reliability)
- 8 Is It Easy to Install a Shower Water Filter?
- 9 How Often Do You Need to Replace Filters?
- 10 Verdict: The Shower Filter That’s Right for You
- 11 Debunking Filtration Myths
- 12 Is a Shower Filter Right for You?
What Should I Look For When Buying a Shower Filter?
The main things you need to look for are cost, features, warranty, ratings, and lastly, appearance.
- #1. Cost: The principle that delineates the accessible from the inaccessible, cost factors into every decision we make, from shopping to even dating. (As my brother once told me, “I’d like to be with someone, but dating is expensive!”)
- #2. Features: Each shower filter is different and provides different services. The specific features of each shower filter will be key in determining general worth, as well as which filter is best suited to fill the specific needs of each customer.
- #3. Warranty: With the hope that it will never be necessary, a warranty should always be stored in the back of your mind – a resource to be used if you need it.
- #4. Ratings: The ratings are the honest responses of consumers just like you who tested their water with this product and wrote out their results for our perusal. While it’s true that there are many bogus reviews to be found on the Internet, there is a certain safety in numbers. If a product has been rated and commented on over 100 times, it’s usually a safe bet.
- #5. Appearance: By no means the make-or-break, for someone trying to put together a beautiful space, the little stuff matters. Your bathroom can in many ways be a safe place, and your shower is the scene of many solo sing-alongs. If your shower filter is an ugly, awkward object, it might ruin your zen-filled space, so how it looks and blends in with everything else is something to consider for anyone who takes pride in his or her home.
Here’s How I’ve Determined the Best Shower Filter
Researching and reading up on each shower filter was only the beginning. I then compiled a chart and compared the performance of each shower filter, as well as the criteria discussed above. I combed through, eliminating one by one, until I had my list of top five.
This list prioritizes cost and ratings, with an eye to the warranty and appearance, taking into account that not each criterion carries the same weight. That being said, the list is organized not from best to worst, but to highlight different consumer priorities. While the first is the best for all-around general value, the second is the hands-down best for the greatest expense, and so on for the rest, each with its own specific perk.
Finally, while companies can disagree on how long a shower filter with the same water (in gallons) capacity will last, I conducted calculations for each shower filter to determine how long it was likely to last, and as a model used a standard three-member household. Additionally, I specifically fought against letting this become a simple issue of popularity.
When buying a product, it’s often very easy to think that the more people who have purchased it, the better the product is. While it is certainly true that a reliable product must have many ratings to be safe, at a certain point, purely basing our trust on what has been purchased by people creates a paradigm where only the same products are being continually bought, while the other products fall further and further behind. This creates a very real possibility that other products are in fact equal-to or even more effective in serving our needs.
Okay, hoping that I haven’t talked your ear off too much, let’s begin.
#1: SimPure Shower Filter (Best Value – All-Purpose)
The SimPure Shower Filter has a mostly circular shape with a silver finish and can be installed directly behind any household shower head. It is below average in size, weighing in at 0.85 lbs., and is made of steel for maximum durability.
Internally, this shower filter has 15-step filtration, maximizing the cleanliness and purity of the water leaving your shower head. 15-step filtration essentially means that your filtered shower water passes through high-quality mesh filters before flowing into a series of resins and beads to further weed out particulates, materials that among them are KDF55, activated carbon, and Vitamin C. This significantly decreases the amount of limescale buildup and reduces chlorine and bacteria from your water.
While studies in science and health are inconclusive on how much Vitamin C manages to absorb into your skin when infused in shower water through Vitamin C filters, the Vitamin C filter presents another small source of the vital vitamin, known for evening out your skin tone, preventing hyper-pigmentation, and protecting your skin from damage caused by UV radiation.
With small additions like redox media (a material that irreparably damages and removes microorganisms from your water) to an already effective filter, this shower filter is the perfect general, all-around shower filter to service your needs.
The SimPure is easy to install, making it ideal for families with no previous plumbing experience. Additionally, the SimPure relieves fatigue quickly, slows down aging, and makes skin smooth.
Sold at an incredibly affordable price (I’ve had single person meals that are three times more expensive) and with a 2-month money-back guarantee, the purchasing risk of the SimPure Shower Filter is infinitesimally small. Furthermore, this shower filter has the distinct benefit of using replacement filters sold at amazingly cheap prices, making the upkeep of your shower filter inconsequential both in the time it takes for the switch and in the cost of paying for the replacements.
Now, the SimPure shower filter has a 16,000 gallon water capacity before the filter cartridge needs replacing, which is above the average of approximately 10,000 gallons. Since the average American (according to the CDC) takes 8 minute showers, my rough calculation goes as follows. One shower per day (let’s make it 10 minutes for some extra relaxation time) wherein between 2 to 2.5 gallons of water are used per minute putting us at 20 gallons per shower, 7 days a week, with 4 weeks in a month, for a household of 3, means that the SimPure lasts for 9.5 months before needing a filter change. While I’ve assumed a lot about the size of your family and the length of the showers, this is a rough representation of how long you can reasonably expect your shower filter to perform at standard before you need to switch your filter. For larger families, of course, the time gap is considerably smaller, but this should help you to make the necessary analysis for yourself.
Finally, on the consumer end of things, this filter scored very highly, with comments on the high water pressure and lack of leakage issues. The few bad reviews unfortunately sounded like some customers didn’t install the SimPure shower filter correctly, however, in the instances with real product malfunction, the company was quick to replace faulty merchandise.
An all-around great buy for anyone looking to get pure, odor-free shower water, the SimPure is hands down the top value pick for the best shower filters of the year.
#2: AquaHomeGroup Shower Filter (Best Filter)
The AquaHomeGroup shower filter is a two-part filter, providing a main filtration compartment and an additional secondary filtering system in the shower head itself, which is also included. The chrome exterior of the main filtration component is small and compact. Although heavier than the SimPure, weighing in at 2.5 lbs., in appearance, the two are very similar.
Like the SimPure shower filter, the AquaHomeGroup utilizes 15-stage filtration technology, meaning that your water passes through an extensive series of ultra-fine meshes before being exposed to redox media and mineral compounds that filter out your chlorine, microorganisms, and unwanted bacteria. While 15-step filtration is essentially the same in all shower water filters, the AquaHomeGroup uses coconut shell activated carbon, which is generally considered to be more effective than the regular activated carbons that other filtration systems – and specifically the SimPure – employ. Finally, after undergoing the already rigorous process, your water once again passes through fine meshes designed to stop even the tiniest particles of sediment and dust, leaving your water sparklingly clean.
In addition to the main filtration body, the AquaHomeGroup shower filter comes with a shower head, with an adjustable metal joint between the two parts, for maximum consumer convenience. The overall appearance is sleek and modern, and within the shower head are Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
While we discussed in the SimPure all the benefits that Vitamin C brings to your skin, among them anti-aging, spot reduction, and protection from the sun, when I was reviewing these products, my question again was how much of the vitamins present in the water would manage to permeate into the skin during a shower. As discussed above with the SimPure, the Vitamin C in your shower water is only minorly additive to the Vitamin C present in your skin.
However, I found that topical Vitamin E is generally acknowledged to significantly increase the amount of Vitamin E in your skin even when it is only 0.1% of the solution applied. As the Vitamin E present in your shower water is much greater than .1%, the conclusive evidence is that the Vitamin E added to your shower water is more than enough to have a significant impact on your skin.
This is uncommonly beneficial, as Vitamin E has long been a touted scar treatment. It is known to combine well with Vitamin C in protecting your skin from the sun, as well as having anti-inflammatory effects on sensitive skin.
Not only is the AquaHomeGroup an impressive shower water filter, but the general user experience is also a luxurious one. The product comes in beautiful black packaging, and within are included little extra goodies like shower caps, pliers, tape – anything that you would need for installing. The installation itself is easy, and you have the option of setting up your shower as a fixed unit or one that can be taken off and handheld, adding versatility and making it clear that the customer’s comfort is the company’s top priority.
While the initial financial output is significantly more than the SimPure, we’re still talking about products where even the most expensive is about as costly as a nice meal. The filter cartridge replacements are affordable, and the overall filter is well worth the expenditure for those looking for the best of the best. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a quote for how many gallons could be successfully filtered before requiring a filter change, however, the general opinion was that it could last approximately six months – four, in hard water areas.
Finally, this product not only received truly stellar reviews but also was the most widely reviewed, with thousands of people writing in to say how they were initially skeptics and were converted into true believers. The AquaHomeGroup truly is the best shower filter available on the market, and if you can afford the additional expense, well worth your money.
#3: Berkey Shower Filter (Best Long Lasting)
The Berkey Shower Filter is more of a dark horse, or in this case a white horse, when it comes to understanding its inner workings. While the SimPure and the AquaHomeGroup were very explicit with all their fancy doodads and intricacies, the Berkey posts no elaborate pictures and makes no great fuss about all the many things it will provide.
With a similar housing frame as the SimPure and the AquaHomeGroup, the resemblance stops there. While the other two are chrome colored and slightly circular, like a square going chubby around the middle, the Berkey has a conservative, white exterior and weighs 1.5 lbs., right between the weights of the two designs discussed above.
The interior is designed to reduce scale, mold, and eliminate fungi from your shower water, and the carbon within eliminates odor, chemicals, and pesticides. Additionally, these shower head filters are proven to reduce chlorine from your water up to 95%, making the water soft and pleasant on the skin and hair without all those harsh chemicals.
The Berkey can be attached to any shower head design and has a water capacity of an amazing 20,000 gallons. This, more than anything else, sets it apart from its competition. It is the longest lasting of all the high-quality shower filters available on the market today. Now this means that it is the most suitable shower filtration system available for a large family, or even smaller families that want virtually no involvement with their shower filter.
To put this in perspective, a family of five that purchased the SimPure for maximum filtration would have to replace the filter every 5.5 months, whereas that same family purchasing this shower filter, the Berkey, would replace it almost 2 whole months later, cutting down on filter cartridge replacement fees over time.
For a single person or a smaller family, this filter will last forever and never die. (This may be a bit of an exaggeration. For a single, this filter lasts 35.7 months. Have fun!) Understandably, the incredible, long-lasting proficiency of this filter makes it another of the more highly-priced shower filters available, which it makes up for by the greater length of time between filter replacements.
Finally, this shower water filter system is a highly rated product, with many of its buyers commenting enthusiastically on its success and efficiency. One customer who moved from New York to Los Angeles (although this next part offends me as a Californian born and raised) said that, upon her move, she noticed an immediate adverse effect on her once shiny hair and that, upon installing this filter, she saw an immediate return to her healthy New York shine.
All in all a great product, for families looking for long-lasting, thorough filtration between cartridge changes, this is the shower head water filter for you.
#4: VivaSpring Shower Head Filter (Best Aesthetic Design)
As discussed above, the KDF 55 tech significantly reduces limescale and build up around the faucet and shower, while FF-15 filtration is an ultra-fine filtration system, certified to eliminate 99.99% of all particles. Additionally, the VivaSpring is certified to NSF/ANSI standard 177, which means that it eliminates all free chlorine, and EPA Watersense, signifying that it meets the EPA’s standards of efficiency and performance in water purification.
The whole shower head filter weighs 1.2 lbs. and flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute, effectively minimizing unnecessary water waste and maximizing longevity. The overall water capacity for the VivaSpring is 10,000 gallons, lasting a family of three that showers once a day per person exactly six months before requiring a filter change, although reviewers were clear that the length between necessary filter changes is much longer.
The VivaSpring Best Shower Head Filter has an affordable price – not as expensive as the AquaHomeGroup but certainly not as affordable as the SimPure. However, in terms of seamless design, there is no equal. VivaSpring is unobtrusive and brings subtlety to the otherwise large and cumbersome filtration systems available. Replacements are relatively low cost.
Reviewers were very positive, with many remarking on the good water pressure and the return of shine and life to hair previously weighed down by hard metals and harsh chemicals. As a whole, consumers saw improvements in both hair and skin, also commenting that itchy, irritated skin suffering from acne or bumps cleared up after continuous use of the VivaSpring shower head.
As far as any negative comments, the few that existed said that the filter would not remove large amounts of iron and that it was recommended before beginning use to apply plumbers tape to all the internal threads of the shower head to reinforce anti-leakage.
In closing, for any families looking for filtration but dissuaded by the obtrusive, more cumbersome designs of the other models, this is the perfect shower head filtration for you.
#5: AquaBliss Shower Filter (Best for Reliability)
A return to the more classic designs discussed prior to the Viva Spring, the AquaBliss Shower Filter is a chrome, 1.6 lbs. rounded-square-shaped model that attaches between the piping and the shower head, providing thorough filtration with a sturdy exterior.
While not employing 15-step filtration, the AquaBliss goes for the simpler approach, packing maximum filtration into its small frame. While the first three designs on this list have mesh filters before and after approximately 10 layers of different materials, the Aquabliss seeks to maximize the effectivity of filtration by increasing the depth of every layer and packing the filter with more of each of the high-performing filtering materials.
In addition to the meticulous pre and post-filtering meshes, the main filtering body has 3 filtering layers: calcium sulfite, redox media, and activated carbon. Again, while the 15-step filters have all three of these materials, they rely on having many different media to accomplish complete filtration, while the AquaBliss believes in deepening the filtration layers of all the most effective media so that a more concentrated filtration occurs as the water passes through each filtering layer.
The first layer, calcium sulfite, is highly effective in reducing chlorine. This is followed by the redox media, which is a copper and zinc combination that effectively damages or traps microorganisms rendering them impotent, thereby riding your water of cysts and other microorganisms. Finally, the activated carbon removes any remaining chlorine, leaving your water clear of odor, pesticides, bacteria, and other impurities, so when it flows through the final micro-porous pp (polypropylene) cotton and mesh filters it emerges completely clean and clear. This filtration system is highly effective in reducing dry, itchy skin, dandruff, and eczema caused by harsh chemicals and heavy metals and is proven to improve the general health of hair, skin, and nails for all members of the family.
The average life expectancy of this filter is between 10,000 and 12,000 gallons, meaning that if we use our previous calculation model, the AquaBliss can reasonably be expected to last a family of three showering once a day between 6 and 7 months. The overall cost of this shower filter is a middling price, and while filter cartridge replacements are not the cheapest, they certainly do not break the bank. Like the other models, the AquaBliss is an easy install, signifying that there is no additional expense wasted on a professional installation.
Reviews for the AquaBliss were positive and widespread, with remarks on the noticeable absence of a chlorine smell, the shampoo lathering better, and the water being more efficient at removing soap residue. One young’un commented that the AquaBliss changed her college dorm life experience, converting her water from harsh and chlorine-heavy, to smooth and pleasant.
In closing, this shower filter is a reliable choice for any homeowner looking for a healthier, more positive showering experience.
Is It Easy to Install a Shower Water Filter?
Installing a shower water filter is very easy, although installation varies depending on the different design types of shower filters. All shower water filters are made so that the consumer can install them independently, and there is certainly no need to call in a plumber to install.
The AquaHomeGroup is one of the most difficult models to install, as it comes with a whole new showerhead, and of course, the ability to make it fixed or moveable. However, even then consumers agreed that they had no issue with self-installation.
Aside from the AquaHomeGroup, the most common steps to installing a shower filter are to unscrew the head, attach the shower filter in its place, and then reattach the shower head to the front of the filter, adding plumbers tape or sizing rings as indicated. If directions differ from this, they are explicitly outlined in the product details, and many companies offer step by step guides to how best to install their product.
How Often Do You Need to Replace Filters?
We discussed it a bit earlier for specific products, however, here I’ll show you my formula and explain separately from a specific shower water filter. Obviously, the timing for replacing a shower filter varies based on the internal filtering water capacity that each filter possesses. While companies will usually specify how long a shower filter will last based on its water filtration capacity, it is a bit frustrating that they tend to disagree over the same data. For instance, I can’t tell you how many times I read about how 10,000 gallons will last 4 months, 6 months, or even 9. Something didn’t line up there.
To know how long your shower filter will last, consider how long your family’s showers are, how many people are in the family, how frequently each member showers per week, and for real accuracy, whether your shower flows at 2 or 2.5 gallons per minute. (Most American homes are somewhere between the two flow rates.) Then, you calculate as follows.
(Number of gallons listed as the water capacity) / ((Number of gallons per minute) x (Number of family members) x (Shower length) x 7 x 4)
This equation gives you a much more specific answer for how long your shower filter will last.
Verdict: The Shower Filter That’s Right for You
Alright, now that we’ve slogged through all that information, let’s break it down.
If you’re looking for all-around general bang for your buck, the SimPure Shower Filters are your best choice.
If it’s pure filtering awesomeness you’re searching for, there is none better than the AquaHomeGroup shower filter and shower head combo.
To finish off our trio, if you’re looking for subtlety, the VivaSpring Shower Head is your best bet.
As always, I’ve enjoyed our time together; I hope you have too. Keep calm and shower on.
Debunking Filtration Myths
#1. Shower Filters Soften Water
Okay, the response is no. That’s not to say they don’t improve the quality and feel of your water (because they do), but to understand why they don’t perform like a real water softener, we need to understand what hard water is.
Hard water is a term that refers to water with high concentrations of metals like calcium and magnesium, to name a few. To remove these metals from your water, larger filtration systems will treat your water with beads coated in a salt-based solution, swapping out your metals for sodium. The swapping process changes your water from technical hard water to soft water.
This process is impossible to condense inside a small filtering unit, as there is no way to include the complex water flushing and backflushing necessary, and no place to store a salt-based solution in a shower filter.
What shower filters do address are the chemicals, sediment, and microorganisms present in your water, improving the feel of the water on your skin and making it safe to bathe in. Those in hard water areas should expect more frequent filter changes, and also to continue to see minor water markings left by hard water.
#2. While Showering, Your Body Is Exposed to Highly Damaging Doses of Chlorine
While many sources cite the health problems caused by extended exposure to chlorine (which, of course, exist and are serious), the reality of showering in chlorinated water is much less concerning.
Direct exposure to lots of chlorine will affect your body in adverse ways, however, there is no conclusive data indicating that showering in chlorinated water has any serious health risks, because the chlorine simply does not absorb through the skin and enter the body in enough quantity to cause true damage. What does occur is the chlorine gets caught on the upper layers of skin, causing itching and dryness, which are the main concerns from showering in chlorinated water.
Is a Shower Filter Right for You?
In general, there aren’t many cases where a shower filter wouldn’t be the correct decision, however, those cases do exist. A shower filter is effective, but it does not fix hard water issues in the plumbing, and it’s an at-site treatment, meaning that if you live in an area with true water issues – like in well water zones, you will face the same problems that you do with your shower water in every other water-using appliance.
For instance, hard water will have harmful effects not just in your shower, but also in your laundry machine, dishwasher, toilets, and coffee maker. This means that, to treat the problem, you will have to purchase a separate filter for each tap, and still many issues will continue in your plumbing and water-using appliances.
Additionally, you will have to pay for frequent filter cartridge changes for each of these separate water filtration systems. In this instance, it may be that you should opt for a larger, whole house water filtration system, which while initially more expensive, a more cost-effective decision for you in the long run. That said, any other scenario where your water is not very problematic but heavy in adverse chemicals and sediment, a shower filter is the perfect, money-saving option for you.