You know your tap water is filled with things like PFAS (“forever chemicals”), microplastics, and other toxic chemicals, so you want to filter it… BUT, you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a new water filter.

But you also don’t want to get a water filter that’s cheap but doesn’t adequately filter out contaminants. (Sorry Brita—I’m looking at you!)

I’ve done a ton of research to pick out the most affordable water filters that filter the most contaminants. They are Epic, Clearly Filtered, and AquaTru. They’ve all got their pros & cons, and I’ve got the full breakdowns for you below to help you choose what’s best for you and your household.

best affordable water filters on TheFiltery.com

This guide contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. As always, we only make recommendations that are genuine.


How I chose these water filters

It’s difficult for me to recommend a “best” water filter. Everyone’s water is a little different depending on where you live, and everyone’s preferences and living situations are different, too.

There’s not really a “one-size-fits-all” recommendation when it comes to water filters.

A whole-house water filter is a great long-term solution for folks who own their home and who can afford to make the up-front investment. But if you rent or are looking for budget options, you probably want a pitcher or countertop water filter.

So, that’s what this specific article is focused on. I’ve picked my top 3 choices for pitcher and countertop water filters (although these brands also offer some other options, like under-the-sink filters, which I’ve also noted).

I looked at a ton of water filters over the years and picked out the best ones factoring in both cost and filtering ability.

Yes, getting something like a Brita is cheaper, but it’s not going to be able to filter out as many contaminants.

Below I’ve also given you the up-front cost versus the approximate yearly cost of replacing the filters. That way, you can decide if you want to spend a little more up-front in order to save more over the next few years. To get the most affordable yearly cost, I used each brand’s pricing for multi-packs and subscription options.

You’ll see that I’ve listed the contaminants that each filter “removes or almost removes.” That means the filter has been tested to remove 98% or above of that contaminant. I’ve made notes for the the ones below 98%.

Keep in mind though, that a filter’s ability to remove contaminants will also vary depending on your water source. For example, folks with hard water may not be able to filter out as much, or might have to replace their filters more often.


Alright, let’s get into it. Here are my recommendations and why:

1. Epic Pitcher or Dispenser

Epic offers two different types of filters: the Pure removes fluoride & PFAS (among other things), and the Nano removes bacteria & PFAS (among other things). I’m focused on the Pure option for the purposes of this article, since most folks in the U.S. & other countries in the Global North aren’t as likely to have an issue with bacteria in their tap water.

Up-front cost: $62 (pitcher) – $68 (dispenser)

Approx. annual cost for family of 4: $220 (the replacement filters are the same for both the pitcher and the dispenser)

Removes (or almost removes):

  • PFAS
  • Fluoride (97.8%)
  • Microplastics
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Pesticides
  • Chlorine
  • Chloramine
  • Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) (some tested are in the 95% range)
  • Radioactive particles
  • Pharmaceuticals (some tested were in the 90%+ range)

Does not remove:

NSF Certifications: NSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, 401, P473, and P231

Warranty: Lifetime (As long as the product is not discontinued. You pay shipping costs.)

Other Filter Options:

You can use the code THEFILTERY for 15% off your first order.


2. Clearly Filtered Pitcher

Clearly Filtered review on TheFiltery.com

Up-front cost: $81

Approx. annual cost for family of 4: $274

Removes (or almost removes):

  • PFAS (some specific PFAS tested were removed above 99%, whereas others were removed above 95%. None of the PFAS tested were removed below >95.00%.)
  • Fluoride
  • Microplastics
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Pesticides
  • Chlorine
  • Chloramine
  • Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs)
  • Radioactive particles
  • Pharmaceuticals

Their filter targets (and they have data for) over 370+ contaminants, which is the most of all 3 brands recommended here. (As far as I can tell, Epic specifically tests for 88 and AquaTru specifically tests for 83.)

Does not remove:

  • Nothing

NSF Certifications: NSF/ANSI standards 42, 53, 401 and 473

Warranty: 24 months (does not cover general wear & tear)

Other Filter Options:

Use the code THEFILTERY20 for 20% off. (Applicable to the pitcher only.)


3. AquaTru Dispenser

aquatru water filter review on TheFiltery.com

I’ve been using an AquaTru Countertop Dispenser for years now, and I really like it. The up-front cost is definitely more than the other two brands, but the yearly cost of replacing the filters is significantly less. So if you go with the AquaTru, you’ll end up spending less overall after about 1.5 years.

Up-front cost: $349 (usually $449, but you can get $100 off with our link)

Approx. annual cost for family of 4: $75 (when you get the Classic 2-Year Pack)

Removes (or almost removes):

  • PFAS
  • Fluoride
  • Microplastics
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Pesticides
  • Chlorine
  • Chloramine
  • Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs)
  • Radioactive particles
  • Pharmaceuticals

Does not remove:

  • Nothing

NSF Certifications: NSF/ANSI Standard 42, 53, 58, 401, & P473

Warranty: 1 year

Other Filter Options:

Unlike the above two brands, the AquaTru water filter uses reverse osmosis filtration. This means pretty much everything is removed from the water, including beneficial minerals. Because of this, you may want to either choose the Alkaline +Mineral Boost filter option—which adds minerals back into the water—or you can just add them back in yourself using something like Trace Minerals.

It’s also worth noting that this filter requires electricity, whereas the other two don’t.


Okay, but all of these water filters are made of plastic…

Yep—all of the filters above involve plastic containers. Considering the fact that toxic plastic constituents can migrate from plastic containers and into our drinks, this is definitely a valid concern.

This is one of the reasons that whole-house and under-the-sink filters might be a better option for some folks, because then you don’t have to worry about the plastic container situation. But again, that just might not be the best option for people who rent. Or there may be other reasons why you personally want to use a pitcher or countertop dispenser instead of installing something in your home.

But here are the reasons why I’m not super concerned about the plastic in these water filters:

  • The 3 things that increase chemical leaching out of plastic are heat, acidity, and time.
    • I’m not worried about the heat aspect because the water in my pitcher will always be either cold or room temperature.
    • Water is neutral, not acidic.
    • Personally, I drink a lot of water, so the water is never sitting in my plastic filter for long amounts of time. I will say that whenever I leave for a longer amount of time (like on vacation), I will dump the water in the pitcher when I get back and refill it.

  • When you weigh it all out, you’re still getting much cleaner water. Even if a small amount of microplastics may leach from the pitcher to your drinking water, it’s still filtering out a lot more contaminants (including microplastics that are already in your tap water). So, I personally still feel good about it.

Now, there are a few non-plastic water filters on the market, such as Boroux (formally known as Berkey), but so far, I haven’t been able to find one that I feel confident recommending in terms of filtration capabilities.

I’d love to see a water filter hit that market that is plastic-free, affordable, and can thoroughly filter drinking water. Until then, I’m okay with the options listed here.


What about Zero Water?

I did use Zero Water for several years, and it was okay.

They have pitchers and dispensers. Their products are very affordable and can remove/reduce many contaminants (including PFAS, fluoride, and lead), but I simply had to change the filters way too often and sometimes it made my water taste weird.

Also, they recommend you replace your filter based on your TDS reading, but TDS is not actually a great measurement of water quality, so this can be kind of confusing.

If you already have a Zero Water filter, I definitely recommend you continue to use it. It’s definitely better than nothing, and it’s even better than many other pitcher filters on the market.

It’s just not my top choice if you’re looking to buy a new filter.

P.S. While I have you here, here’s a shameless plug for The Filtery’s reusable, stainless steel water bottles! Because ‘you deserve clean water.’ 😉💧


Want to dive deeper into water contamination?

If you’re interested in learning more about what the heck is even in our tap water and why it’s important to filter it, I have a whole lesson about this in my Low-Tox for Real Life Course.

You’ll learn all about the different types of contaminants in your tap water, how municipalities skirt by federal regulations (leading to situations like what happened in Flint, Michigan), and of course, what to look for in a water filter for your home.

(And to say thanks for checking out this article, you can use the code WATERFILTER to get $50 off the course if you decide to sign up!)

One last (important!) thing

The last thing I have to say is that any water filter is better than no water filter. If you use your built-in fridge filter, or if you have a Brita and you can’t afford a new filter at all—great! That Brita is at least getting rid of some of the contaminants in your water, and it’s definitely better than nothing…

BUT, there’s one important caveat!

Make sure you’re replacing your filter regularly.

If you don’t replace your filter when you’re supposed to, it can become “over-saturated” with contaminants and then those chemicals can basically “overflow” into your water. So, not changing your filter can actually make your water worse!

So, check the manufacture’s instructions, put reminders on your calendar, or do what you need to do to swap out your filters regularly.

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful! If you have any other questions about affordable water filters, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to address them.

To get more low-tox lifestyle advice, news, and more delivered to your inbox once a week, sign up for Filtered Fridays:



About Abbie

Abbie Davidson is the Creator & Editor of The Filtery. With almost a decade of experience in sustainability, she researches and writes content with the aim of helping people minimize environmental toxins in an in-depth yet accessible way.


Related Posts

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *