What's Best: A Whole-House or Under-Sink Water Filter?

Whole-house water filters (different from softener systems for hard water) are best for removing large sediment, such as sand and iron. (The latter can stain sinks and clothing.) These water filters can also improve the taste of your water, but the most basic ones don’t filter for the contaminants that under-sink water filters do.

What's Best: A Whole-House or Under-Sink Water Filter?

"Some advanced whole-house purification systems can remove potential hazards such as volatile organic compounds [VOCs], pesticides, and heavy metals, but they’re expensive—and can be overkill," says John Galeotafiore, associate director of product testing at CR. For example, you probably don’t need filtered toilet water.

If you’re worried about sediment as well as contaminants, Galeotafiore recommends pairing a basic, less expensive whole-house water filter with an NSF/ANSI-certified point-of-use water filter for the water you ingest.

For filtering large capacities of water over time, standard under-sink water filters also do an effective job of removing contaminants. All eight recently tested options in our under-sink filter ratings are certified to NSF standards for reducing lead and chlorine from water. And all but one earn an Excellent rating in our test for improving flavor and reducing odors, even if some take longer to filter.

Check our water filter buying guide for more information, and see our water filter ratings for an in-depth look at how each model performs in our tests. Here, CR members can see ratings our four top-rated under-sink water filters, listed in alphabetical order: