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What Are Countertop Water Filters and Do They Really Work?


Remember the famous line, “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”? Well, you might feel this way if you don’t trust your home’s water quality. 

While there are plenty of solutions and filtration systems on the market, many people turn to countertop water filters, hoping to take advantage of benefits like convenience and cost effectiveness. But does this quick fix address all your water quality concerns? Would you be better off with a more comprehensive system?

Let’s find out.

Why You Might Want a Countertop Water Filter

There are plenty of reasons to want a water filtration system like a countertop filter, whether you have evidence of specific contaminants or just don’t want to take any risks.* Here are just a few examples:

what countertop water filters can and can't doYou Saw Concerning Water Test Results

After a home water test, you’ll get information about your house’s water quality. If you don’t have a professional to help you break down the details, it’s easy to get concerned about these results. You might go looking for a quick fix — and countertop filters seem like a good fit at first glance.

You’re Worried About Contaminants

Even without water test results, you may still be concerned about contaminants. Maybe you read an article about how many different types of water pollution there are or saw a social media post about contaminated water in a friend’s city. No matter where your concern comes from, you’ll probably feel inspired to look into water filtration solutions like a countertop filter.

You’ve Noticed Unpleasant Odors, Tastes, Smells or Colors

There are few things worse than going for a refreshing drink, only to notice something wrong — like a rotten egg smell in your water or an unpleasant reddish tint that looks like your water has rust. These issues can make you want any filtration solution you can get your hands on, even if it doesn’t directly treat your concerns.

You’re Investing in Your Health

If you’re making lifestyle changes to improve your health, it’s important to remember that water contributes to wellness in big ways. Even if you don’t have any reason to worry about your home’s water quality, focusing on your health can make you want a water filter so you can be sure you feel good about what’s coming out of your tap.

You Don’t Want Any Hassle

When it comes to countertop water filters, most people are looking for speed and convenience. They seem like a good choice for anyone who doesn’t want to have a more comprehensive system installed; however, there’s always more to the story.

How Do Countertop Water Filters Work?

To find out if countertop water filters are the right choice for your water quality concerns, it’s important to find out how these systems work.

Although countertop filters are similar to faucet filters, countertop models have a larger filter component that sits beside the sink. This system is attached to your faucet using a diverter tube, which carries your tap water to the filter. Here, water is sent through filter cartridges to address certain water quality issues, commonly including:

  • Unpleasant tastes
  • Odors
  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride
  • Sediment

Once the water has been filtered, it comes out through the system’s built-in faucet and is ready to use.

Do Countertop Water Filters Really Work?

In a world where you have only the simplest water quality concerns and just one sink, a countertop water filter might be a good choice. However, that’s rarely the case. 

While countertop filters can work for basic needs, they aren’t effective for more comprehensive water filtration and aren’t able to filter all your water. For example, a countertop filter might remove chlorine smells from your drinking water, but your showers would still have that swimming pool odor.

Pros and Cons of Countertop Water Filters

Before you make any final decisions about countertop water filters, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these systems.

Advantages of Countertop Water Filters

  • Size: Countertop filters are compact compared to some other water filtration solutions.
  • Simplicity: Easy to install and even easier to use, countertop filters shine in the “convenience” department.
  • Cost: The initial price of a countertop filter can range from around $40 to over $450, depending on the system and the number of filtration stages. 

Disadvantages of Countertop Water Filters

  • Functionality: While countertop filters may be more comprehensive than systems like shower filters (which generally only filter chlorine), they still aren’t always complete filtration solutions. Many don’t address more complex water quality issues like lead, arsenic or mercury, and some can’t even reduce the presence of fluoride. 
  • Filter replacement: Although every countertop filtration system is different, some need their filters replaced every six months. That’s a lot of time and money for a so-called “quick fix.”
  • Appearance: Although some countertop filters are designed with looks in mind, they’re not always the most stylish addition to your kitchen. There’s also the inconvenience of the space these units take up on the counter. 

Are Countertop Water Filters Worth It?

At the end of the day, countertop water filters generally aren’t worth the time and money. Think of them like water polishers instead of water filters: They aren’t much good for heavy lifting and are a better fit for improving the quality of already-filtered water. Instead of combining multiple little solutions like this, it generally makes more sense to choose one comprehensive system that does all the work on its own, like an under-sink filter.

Already Have a Countertop Water Filter?

Do you have a countertop water filter that suddenly doesn’t seem like such a great investment? Don’t worry — there’s a way to find out how much it’s actually doing for you.

The key is to have a professional water test and consultation. You should have one test performed on your unfiltered tap water and another on water from your countertop filter. That way, you can clearly tell what is and isn’t being addressed. Just as importantly, you’ll know what water quality issues are present in all the tap water your countertop filter doesn’t reach — like showers and bathroom sinks.

Schedule your free in-home water test and consultation today.

Alternative Solutions to Countertop Water Filters

If you’re ready to say goodbye to countertop water filters, you’ll need something more comprehensive to get the job done. Here are a few better options:

Whole-House Filtration

Unlike a countertop filter, whole house filtration systems can address water quality problems throughout your house — not just at the kitchen sink. A whole-home system can address chlorine, iron, sulfur and more; that means your water has been comprehensively filtered no matter where you turn on the tap.

Drinking Water Filtration

If you’re looking for a filtration solution that specifically addresses drinking water, consider an under-sink filtration system. These often use multistage filtration and can reduce the presence of contaminants that wouldn’t be touched by a countertop filter, including lead, arsenic, and mercury. 

Water Softening

If you want an even more comprehensive water quality approach, you’ll want to add a water softener, too. Softening and filtration aren’t the same thing, which means you need this separate system to help manage hard water issues — including dry skin, brittle hair, soap scum and more. The best part is that a water softener can work hand-in-hand with your whole-home or drinking water filtration system, so you’ll end up with water that tastes and feels better.

Learn more about whole-home water filtration systems, drinking water filtration and water softening systems for your home.

Take Better Care of Your Home’s Water

A countertop water filter might seem like a good choice at first, but the closer you look, the more problems you’ll see. In truth, these systems aren’t a comprehensive way to take care of your home’s water, and they certainly don’t provide the peace of mind you can expect from a more comprehensive solution.

Instead, you need filtration systems that address a wider range of water quality issues. Aside from being more complete solutions, under-sink and whole-home systems also don’t take up space on your countertop, so you don’t have to worry about whether they clash with your decor. In fact, you don’t even have to install them; your local Culligan Water® expert can do it for you.

No matter what your water quality or filtration situation is, the first step toward better water is a free, in-home water test and consultation. Get started by scheduling yours today.


*Contaminants may not be present in your water.

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