Looking for the perfect water filter shower head? In today’s post we review the top 5 market leaders and give the lowdown on each. Read on to find out which model we recommend and why.
Sometimes a large, expensive water filter just isn’t necessary. A perfect example of this is when you just wish to improve the condition of your bathing water. The best shower filters can reduce chlorine and other harmful contaminants and cost just a fraction of some other types of water filters.
Today, we take a close look at 5 of the best shower water filters on the market. Our reviews deal with the things that matter, so you can make the most informed decisions.
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Start by taking a look at our review comparison table. Here you can quickly compare the key features. If you crave more information then check out our reviews that follow. We give our honest opinion and say which model we would choose and why.
Compare Shower Head Filter Reviews
|Model||Wall Mount/Handheld||Price||Rating||Key Features|
|Culligan WSH-C125||Both Available||$||4.3||-EPA Water Sense certification|
-5 spray settings
|CaptainEco 10-Stage Filter||Wall Mount||$||4.4||- 10 filtration stages|
- 2 filters included
- Great value
|Aquasana AQ-4100||Wall Mount||$$||4.1||- NSF certified|
- Multiple massage settings
- Reduces multiple contaminants
|Rainshow'r CQ-1000-MS||Wall Mount||$$||4.4||- NSF certified|
- Massaging head
- Long lasting filter
|WaterChef SF-7C||Both||$$$||4.0||- NSF certified|
- 5 adjustable spray modes
- 3 year warranty
Shower Filter Reviews: The Top 5
Take a closer look at the top 5 shower heads with filters. Here we go into more detail about what makes them special. Find out which one is right for you, as we give the pros and cons of each.
Culligan WSH-C125 Incredible Value for Money
This filtered shower head proves really popular as it combines some top features in a great value package. Let’s start by taking a look at some of these features.
First , there’s the EPA Water Sense certification. This certification is usually reserved for shower heads at much higher price points. What it means is that this shower filter will reduce demands on water heaters, save electricity, save water, and therefore save money. It’s also much better for the environment than conventional shower heads that can be extremely wasteful.
Secondly, it comes with NSF certification. That means that it has been rigorously tested to prove its effectiveness in reducing chlorine. The filter will also protect against any sulfur odor and also limescale build up (caused by hard water).
The replaceable filter cartridge offers great value too. It lasts for 10,000 gallons of use or around 6 months in time. They don’t break the bank like some can either. A 3 pack of filters can be purchased for a really reasonable price, which makes the running costs of this shower head among the best.
The head itself has 5 different spray settings. There’s a full body setting and also a relaxing pulse mode that’s great for tired muscles. It also comes in a choice of 2 styles. There’s a wall mounted head (seen in the image) and also a slightly more expensive hand-held model. They both install without the need for any tools and will fit comfortably onto a 1/2″ threaded shower arm.
Bottom Line: An amazing price considering all the features. Taking into account what you get for the money, this is one of the best shower filters on the market.
EPA Water Sense certification
Long life filters
5 spray settings
WaterChef SF-7C Premium Full of Features
This model from WaterChef is the most expensive of our choices. But, as you’d expect from something costing more, it does come with some nice extra features.
For a start I think it looks great. The flexible hose is stainless steel and the head and fixtures are finished with ABS chrome plating. They give the unit a modern and stylish look which most models lack.
The main difference here is that this shower offers both hand-held and regular stationary shower head positions. This flexibility in function isn’t common among shower heads with filters and is one of the reasons this one commands a higher fee.
The actual filter is fully NSF tested and certified to reduce chlorine. The filter has a rated capacity of 20,000 gallons which is impressive. This kind of capacity is only second best to the Rainshow’r model in our reviews. This gives the WaterChef very reasonable running costs, despite the more expensive initial outlay.
The shower wand comes with 5 adjustable spray modes. This includes a pulsating massage mode, which sounds wonderful. The nozzles use an anti-clog rubber material and aren’t something you need to worry about. They ensure a consistent stream of hot water.
Another great feature of this water filter is the outstanding 3 year warranty. This length of warranty is excellent for a shower head system and it’s the best warranty among our recommendations. It actually comes with a 60-day money back guarantee too, so your buying rights are respected.
Bottom Line: A bigger price tag means more options and features. The running costs are very reasonable due to the outstanding filter lifespan.
Hand-held or stationary wand
5 spray modes
Long life filters
3-year warranty/ 60-day money back guarantee
Aquasana AQ-4100 Deluxe Top Class Design
Aquasana are one of the biggest names in the water filter world, producing some units of real distinction. The AQ-4100 is another high quality operator that comes with all the perks you’d expect.
The Aquasana filter is NSF certified to remove more than 90% of chlorine from water. It actually reduces a whole lot else too and will combat iron, mercury, lead, pesticides, herbicides, VOCs, and hydrogen sulfide. It does this using a patented two media combination. There’s the classic carbon (coconut shell) that’s so good at tackling chlorine, and also a copper and zinc mixture that besides reducing harmful chemicals, also increases the pH to healthier levels.
These filters last for around 6 months or 10,000 gallons of use which is about average for a good shower head water filter. However, the filters are a little on the expensive side. They are the most expensive that we have encountered in our reviews. You can be assured of their quality though, as they come with NSF certification. Furthermore, their ability to raise pH is a skill which is uncommon among competitors.
The customization options for this model are really impressive. The shower head comes in 4 different styles to suit your bathroom. Each use the same massaging head with multiple stream settings. They also use Aquasana’s up-flow design. This ensures that water pressure remains strong and also that the water has the maximum contact time with the filter media. You won’t lose much shower head height either, which is a big issue for some models.
Bottom Line: It’s a great piece of high quality design. The replacement filters are a bit pricy though. This Aquasana shower filter reviews very well on large consumer sites like Amazon too.
Long life filters
Multiple design options
CaptainEco 10-Stage Shower Filter
This is another model that offers superb value for money. Despite being one of the cheapest models that we have included, it offers the most stages of filtration. A whole 10 of them! We’ll begin by discussing what the key filtration stages are and exactly what they bring to the table.
One thing to note is that there are numerous shower filters that make this “10-stage” claim. They are all very similar and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are all manufactured in the same place. We chose this particular model because the filter cartridges are easily available to buy.
Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) – this media is perfect for reducing levels of chlorine and also harmful contaminants such as chloramines, trihalomethanes, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Polypropylene Cotton – this removes larger particles like sediment.
KDF-55 – this filtration media is great at reducing heavy metals like lead and mercury.
Calcium Sulfite – this targets chlorine and heavy metals too.
Alkaline Ceramic Balls – this raises the pH of the water slightly. They are also thought to make give the water more antioxidant potential. Check out our guide to water ionizers to read more about this.
A great thing about this model is that it treats the pH and softens the water too. However, the effect on pH and water hardness is only very slight. It does an awful lot for something so relatively inexpensive.
Like the Culligan model, these filters last for 10,000 gallons of use, which equates to around 6 months for the average household. The filters are well priced considering the numerous stages of filtration they achieve. However, the Culligan filters are significantly cheaper with a 3 pack costing about them same as a single CaptainEco filter. The CaptainEco shower head does come with 2 filters included, which makes the price point even more impressive.
Bottom Line: This one does an awful lot, but the filters are a bit pricier than some of the competition.
10 filtration stages
Long life filters
2 filters included
Rainshow’r CQ-1000-MS Effective Filtration
The Rainshow’r filter is another that’s certified to reduce chlorine (typically more than 90%). The KDF filter media is also great for reducing levels of mercury, lead, iron, and hydrogen sulfide.
One of the main selling points of this model is the extra long life filters. Most filters last for around 10,000 gallons of use, but these are said to last for a massive 25,000 gallons. This longer lifespan justifies the slightly higher price tag that they have.
One thing to note with this model is that it will take a few inches off of your original shower height. The unit is quite long and doesn’t feature the clever space saving design of something like the Aquasana model. This one is perhaps not for the taller people out there.
The unit is easily installed without the need for any tools. It includes a massage head for comfort too.
Bottom Line: The extra long life filters make this a unit that you can forget about for long periods. The filters mean it’s very low maintenance and represents great value too.
WQA certified filters
Long life filters
Water Softener Shower Heads
There’s an important distinction to be made before we go any further. The truth is that no shower head water filter really softens your water that much. At least nowhere near to the extent that a fully fledged water softener unit does. A traditional water softener physically removes problematic hard water calcium and magnesium ions. A shower head unit won’t really do this.
What a shower head filter or “softener” does is remove chlorine. Chlorine is terrible for drying out skin and hair. A shower head unit therefore has the ability to make the bathing water feel much less harsh. This means softer, healthier skin and hair. A shower head water softener gets its name more for the softening effect it has on the skin and body, rather than on the water.
However, there are a couple of shower head units available that soften water more than others. There’s only one that we feel we can recommend as a hard water shower filter, as it is able to improve the condition of the water in multiple ways.
Jonathan Hard Water Shower Filter System
This shower filter from Jonathan Products combines a variety of methods to produce some of the cleanest and refreshing shower water possible. This company also manufacture a range of beauty products, so they know a bit about what’s good for your hair and skin.
It uses a patented 2-stage filter to deliver this. The filter first targets and reduces chlorine, before the second stage of granulated activated carbon refines the condition of the water even more.
The key here is the addition of ion exchange resin beads. These are the functioning components of water softeners and therefore give this unit more credibility than most that claim to be softeners. The ion exchange resin binds the hard water calcium and magnesium ions and replaces them with harmless potassium. This softens the water, making it less “soapy” and reduces limescale. It should be noted that the water softening effect is not as pronounced as the large whole home softener units.
The 2nd stage of the is water filter is also able to reduce levels of harmful heavy metals like lead and also hydrogen sulfide. The third important function it has is to raise the pH of the water. The ideal pH of water is slightly above 7 (slightly alkaline). Unless you are one of the lucky few, water tends to be slightly acidic (less than pH 7) so this is a great feature.
The replacement filter is a bit more expensive than a regular shower filter for hair. It’s easy to install and can be replaced without any tools in just a minute.
Bottom Line: In our opinion, this is the best shower filter for hard water. The filters are a little expensive, but they’re very good at what they do. It’ll improve the condition of your bathing water in a variety of ways.
Removes a range of contaminants
Why Get a Shower Water Filter?
Our skin covers a huge surface area and is incredibly good at absorbing things from the atmosphere. Many of these things benefit our bodies, with Vitamin D from sunlight being a prime example. However, some things that are readily absorbed by our skin are aren’t so good for us. Chlorine is one of these things and it is heavily present in city drinking water supplies. Chlorine is the primary concern as it is harmful to health and also has negative effects on our physical appearance. We’ll go into this in more detail in the next section.
Shower heads are also excellent places for mold to collect (biofilm). This collection of microorganisms and bacteria covers you every time you turn on the shower. A good shower filter prevents the growth of biofilm, resulting in a much more hygienic shower environment.
The best shower head filters provide bathing water that is kinder to your skin and hair. Without chlorine, both skin and hair will retain more moisture and feel softer. Removing disinfectant chemicals like chlorine can also have a big positive impact on your health.
So what’s so wrong with chlorine?
Chlorine is considered a necessary addition to our drinking water. It helps kill off harmful bacteria and pathogens that can be potentially fatal. However, chlorine also kills good bacteria that have a positive effect on our skin and hair. In fact, that’s not the only reason it’s bad for us. Let’s take a look at some more.
- Chlorine can destroy vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Vitamin E is a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant, while polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthy fats that can help lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart diseases.
- Chlorine is said to promote the generation of free radicals in the body, and in the skin. These free radicals are heavily linked to cancer.
- Chlorine reacts with other chemicals present in water to form harmful by-products like trihalomethanes (THMs), and chloramines. These have been linked to cancer. Studies have also shown an increased chance of cancer from bathing/showering in water than from drinking it. Our liver is great for detoxing drinking water, but our skin has no such protection.
- Hot shower temperatures cause water to vaporize and the chemicals that are contained within it to be released into the air. We inhale these vapors that can contain harmful THMs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) state that levels of harmful chlorine related by-products can be high. Studies show that these by-products of chlorine can be incredibly dangerous when ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
- Excessive exposure to chlorine is thought to cause premature ageing. Anti-ageing creams use anti-oxidants which are thought to fight against free radicals that cause premature ageing of the skin. Chlorine of course increases the presence of harmful free radicals.
- Chlorine is also thought to reduce levels of protein in the body. Proteins are important to healthy skin. Chlorinated water is linked to dry and itchy skin which is lacking in essential, natural oils.
- Chlorinated water is really bad for asthma sufferers and can increase the frequency of asthma attacks.
Information from Livestrong.com unless stated.
Before You Buy: Shower Water Filter
In this section we’ll discuss the key features that you should be looking for when buying a shower head water filter. They come in a variety of styles so its important that you know exactly what you’re getting. These are the features that you should consider before you buy:
1. Water Flow Rate
The water flow rate is the amount of water that is able to pass through the shower head per unit of time. It is typically measured in gallons per minute (gpm). The higher the value, the stronger the jet from your shower.
The EPA set their WaterSense certification benchmark at 2.0 gpm, while most shower heads work at around 2.5 gpm. A showerhead filter with EPA WaterSense certification will save water and reduce water bills. However, you might notice a slight drop in pressure.
Some water filter manufacturers are prone to bold claims about how effective their products are. They can also be very creative with their language in such a way that makes their water filters seem better than perhaps they are. The way to separate the facts from the fiction is to look for independent certification. Independent authorities like NSF and WQA perform thorough tests on water filters to verify these claims. If you need a shower filter that effectively reduces chlorine then look for a model that is certified to do so. We’ve noted this in each of our reviews. The very best shower head filters come with an official mark from the NSF or WQA.
3. Handheld or Wall Mounted
The two types of model available are the hand-held and wall mount style. Most only come in the wall mount style but some offer a choice of the two. The WaterChef model that we review actually combines the two styles into the one unit.
4. Filter Lifespan & Cost
This is one of the most important features and probably the one that is most overlooked. You will need to replace the filter every 6 months (on average). Depending on what model you choose, this can represent a significant outlay. The one off purchase of the actual shower head unit will be just a fraction of what you spend on filters over the course of 5 or 10 years. Make sure you check the cost and lifespan of the filters before you commit yourself to a specific unit. Some of the more expensive models have extra long-life filters, so this might actually work out cheaper in the long-term.
5. Spray Settings
Some showerheads come with multiple spray settings like pulsating mode and massage mode. If you need this choice when showering then make sure you check out whether a model has this option.
That brings us to the conclusion of our shower filter reviews. We feel that our selections cover the best there is to offer. From the best budget buy right up to the more luxurious option.
Though we’re very happy with our choices, we’ll update this post when new models are released that we feel can improve our list.
The alternative to a water filter shower head is a whole house filtration system. These units are more expensive but they provide both clean drinking water and clean bathing water. If you’d like to find out more then check out our comprehensive guide.
If you’d like to be notified of any updates or when we post new articles at Water Filter Answers, then you can follow us on Facebook. We also post informative articles about the environment and pollution. There’s a link in the top right corner of the page.
There’s a lot more to come here at waterfilteranswers.com over the coming months, so stay tuned!