With all the skin dryness and hair damage hard water causes, I know you’re tempted to get a shower filter that removes hard minerals.
But here’s the truth that brands keep from you: Shower filters are not made for hard water because they don’t feature ion exchange technology that can effectively trap hard minerals. Your best bet is to get a whole-house water softening system.
I’ve talked about it in detail here: Do water-softening showerheads work?
Nevertheless, there are still times when shower filters can make your life better. I’ve spent three months finding and testing the best shower filters that are super effective against common pollutants like chlorine and rust in water and can alleviate water hardness to some extent so that you can enjoy that well-deserved shower.
1. Aquasana AQ-4100 Deluxe Shower Water Filter: 9.85/10
- Certified to remove 90% chlorine
Perfect for city water full of chlorine, Aquasana AQ-4100 is NSF certified to remove 90% of chlorine and balance pH levels. Long life, high efficiency, and a perfect flow rate make it the best on the market.
Aquasana’s shower filter features a patented copper-zinc filter and coconut-shell carbon filter compactly placed inside a sturdy body to remove chlorine, lead, iron, and other chemicals in tap water.
One of the significant advantages of this design is its Upflow technology, which eliminates the risk of clogging the showerhead and reducing the water pressure. You’ll experience a consistent flow rate of 2.5 GPM for about six months or 10,000 gallons without interruption.
You can buy Aquasana’s standard showerhead or a handheld fixture with this in-line filter. Or simply attach the filter to your existing showerhead if it is 4.5 inches in diameter.
Like many shower filters on the market, this is also very easy to install and maintain. You just need 15 minutes to set it up using Aquasana’s manual. If you face any trouble, Aquasana’s customer service is always available to help you along the way.
I like that Aquasana’s carbon filter is tested and certified against NSF/ANSI 61 standards for chlorine removal. Not many brands own this certification. The replacement cartridge will cost you $59.99, and you can get a 15% discount and extended warranty by subscribing to the “Water for Life ” initiative. Who doesn’t like saving a few extra bucks?
On top of it all, you’ll get a one-year warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee on this unit. A decent bargain, I must admit.
While it features KDF media that can trap heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and chromium to some extent, it cannot compete with a whole-house water softener that uses ion exchange to remove heavy metals. Don’t rely on this filter alone if your home’s water supply is full of heavy metals.
I appreciate that Aquaansa has a certification to prove its carbon filters remove chlorine, but it doesn’t own any certificate for its KDF media. Plus, I couldn’t find the performance sheet of the KDF filter on its website.
The Aquasana AQ-4100’s performance is exactly as the brand claims. If you need a shower filter with a long life of six months, a high flow rate of 2.5 GPM, and a certification for removing chlorine in the city water supply, get Aquasana today.
2. AquaBliss Revitalizing Shower Filter (SF100): 8.90/10
- Infuses Vitamin C and refreshing minerals
The AquaBliss SF-100 uses multistage filtration media that removes common pollutants in water like chlorine, dirt, debris, and trihalomethanes, while adding revitalizing minerals into your shower water.
AquaBliss features a top-quality blend of the following filtration media:
- Activated carbon
- Calcium sulfite
- Redox media
- PP cotton
- Stainless mesh
- Mineralized beads
- Magnetic energy beads
What makes this shower filter unique is that it adds vitamin C and improves the oxygen level in the water, which makes the shower experience even more refreshing.
Despite water passing through multi-stages of filtration, the water pressure will not drop. You’ll only start feeling a dip in flow rate when the filter is due for a change, most likely when your filter life nears six months. With a higher sediment percentage in water, the filter life may reduce to four months.
The AquaBliss is an in-line filter and can quickly install onto any standard or handheld showerhead. You might not even feel the need to open the manual. That’s how easy it is to set it up.
The filter costs $35.86, with replacement filters costing around $15.99, which is quite affordable compared to Aquasana’s AQ-4100. AquaBliss gives a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is a decent offer but not as good as Aquasana’s 90-day guarantee.
I couldn’t find any NSF certification that proves this filter removes chlorine and trihalomethanes in water. AquaBliss claims to be certified by the FDA, but upon digging, I found out that the FDA does not certify filters.
AquaBliss redefines the shower experience with its multistage filtration and the infusion of refreshing minerals. It is easy to maintain, lasts long, and is easily installed onto most standard showerheads. If you’re not one to obsess over certifications, you can get the AquaBliss here.
3. AquaHomeGroup Luxury Filtered Shower Head: 7.80/10
- A set of in-line filter and showerhead
AquaHomeGroup offers a set of a filter and a showerhead that work together to remove pollutants in water and add healthy vitamins to your shower water.
Imagine showering in water that passes through 20 stages of filtration. AquaHomeGroup filter cartridge features twenty filtration stages comprising these materials:
- KDF 55
- Calcium sulfite
- Coconut-shell activated carbon
- Stainless-steel mesh
- Ceramic balls
- PP cotton
This combination effectively removes chlorine, dirt, and silt. In addition to this, the showerhead separately features ceramic balls that infuse Vitamin A, E, and C in the freshly filtered water.
The in-line filter cartridge runs for six months, depending on your water quality, and costs about $14. The ceramic ball filter in the showerhead lasts a month and costs $16.
I love that they send five shower caps for your hair, one high-pressure spray plate, and Teflon tape that you can use to prevent leaks, if any.
AquaHomegroup claims to remove heavy metals from well water, but I couldn’t find any solid certification that proved their claim. KDF 55 can remove a few soluble heavy metals but is ineffective against metals like iron, calcium, and magnesium in high concentrations.
Another issue with this filter is it disturbs the water pressure after a few weeks of use. The ceramic balls inside the showerhead get smaller and eventually block the holes. You may need to replace the showerhead filter more often than the 20-stage cartridge. But $16 a month for a ceramic ball seems ludicrous.
This brand offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which only applies to unused products. What if I want to return the product after discovering it does not filter my water properly?
The AquaHomeGroup shower filter set removes chlorine and adds refreshing vitamins to water. While it has no solid certifications, this filter does clean city water and improves the overall shower experience. Find it here.
4. Invigorated pH Energize Shower Filter
The Invigorated pH Energize filter features fifteen stages of filtration to remove sand, silt, chlorine, chloramine, some fluoride, and even a few heavy metals like lead.
But the one thing that separates Invigorated filter from the rest is it improves the pH of water, making it slightly alkaline by infusing beneficial minerals. This makes the filtered water feel smoother and gentler on the skin.
Its proprietary filter includes activated carbon, KDF media, zeolite, and calcium sulfite. This filter also uses maifan balls and tourmaline to improve pH and add minerals like zinc and magnesium.
While it makes big claims of removing tricky and stubborn pollutants like chloramine, lead, and fluoride, it owns no certification to back this up.
Upon running my tests, I determined that it removes a small percentage of lead and fluoride in the first few runs but loses its efficiency afterward. Plus, this filter doesn’t work against chloramine. You might want to go with Aquasana to remove chlorine by-products in water.
The filter costs $28. It will last about six months before needing a replacement filter, which is priced at around $14.
5. PureAction Showerhead
PureAction claims to remove chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, and about 99% of lead and other heavy metals. But my tests show otherwise.
The first two shower runs were free of pollutants like lead and fluoride to some extent. But its efficiency significantly dropped in the third run, where it could only remove dirt, silt, sediments and chlorine.
This is one of those brands that proudly claims to make your water soft but does not feature any ion-exchange technology.
This filter will work well if you want to eliminate chlorine in water. But don’t expect it to last longer than four months, despite them claiming it to last over eight months.
I like that this showerhead has three settings: rain, power rain, and massage to suit your showering needs. Know that the small laser-cut holes in the showerhead don’t increase the water pressure as the brand claims.
It costs $39.86, but considering it can only remove chlorine and dirt in water, it’s too expensive.
I appreciate that they offer a one-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
6. Miniwell Shower Filter
This shower filter comes as a set of an in-line shower filter and a showerhead. It contains a composite carbon filter that differs from the traditional carbon filters due to its high adsorption rate.
The Miniwell shower filter features a dual-filtration design that lets you remove the clogged PP-cotton filter easily without changing the composite activated-carbon filter that lasts about six months. The filter comes with a chrome-plated showerhead that can be adjusted to five different spray settings.
The filter is good at removing sediment, dirt, debris, and chlorine in the water. I would’ve given it a higher ranking if Miniwell hadn’t included “shower filter for hard water” in its title. This filter has no filtration media to remove any heavy metal in water, let alone magnesium and calcium. This is a classic example of false advertisement.
The filter costs $51.88, and the replacement will set you back $23.78.
7. iSpring SF1S
If you’re tight on budget, try iSpring’s SF1S shower filter, which costs only $25 and is quite effective against chlorine in shower water. I didn’t expect it to have 15 filtration stages along with a vitamin replenishment feature at such a small price point. While the filtration is mediocre at best, it does infuse refreshing vitamins in the water.
The brand claims this filter removes heavy metals in water and alleviates water hardness, but I was quite disappointed with the test results. Like all the other shower filters, this cannot remove heavy metals and reduce hard minerals in the water.
Its installation is a breeze, and the filter will easily last about five to six months. What I like about iSpring is that it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and an extended warranty upon registration.
8. Aroma Sense Handheld Showerhead
The most expensive shower filter on my list — Aroma Sense — features aromatherapy, where different essential oils are mixed in the shower water so you feel like you’re in a spa. It further creates a feeling of freshness by infusing negative ions in the water that relax your senses.
You can choose between various aromas, including jasmine, lemon, vanilla, and lavender. But if you’re sensitive to scents and want a fragrance-free shower experience, this one is not for you.
Regarding filtration performance, Aroma Sense filter can remove chlorine but is not good against rust and heavy metals, as it claims. Plus, it doesn’t have any certifications.
Lastly, despite being so expensive, the brand offers no money-back guarantee, which is disappointing. You can get a better value at half the price if you go with Aquasana or AquaBliss shower filters.
9. BWDM Filtered Shower Head
I had to include the BWDM shower filter because of its super-strong chlorine removing abilities. The one knock against it is that it gets easily clogged by dirt and sediment, greatly reducing its efficiency. If your water is sediment-free or you have a pre-filter installed at the point of entry, this shower filter is a good choice.
The BWDM filter lasts six months but can give out early if your water quality is poor. It is easy to install and costs only $24, but it does not offer any warranty or free shipping.
The Bottom Line
Aqusana AQ-1000 takes the lead because of its effective filtration for the longest period of time.
During my research, I’ve seen that most shower filters lose their efficiency after a few months of use. The Aquasana filter, however, keeps filtrating without a dip in the water pressure. Its patented copper-zinc blend and carbon filters remove every last molecule of chlorine along with some concentration of lead, mercury, and chromium.
What I like the most is its NSF/ANSI certification for removing chlorine in city water.
Despite the slightly expensive price tag, this filter is worth your investment in terms of quality, consistent filtration, flow rate, and durability.
Out of dozens of brands selling shower filters on the market, finding the right one that actually removes pollutants in tap water was no walk in the park.
This research methodology helped me point out dupes and subpar products that are a waste of your money.
Step 1: A list of shower water filters
First of all, I needed to make a list of showerhead filters with the highest sales on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target. The quickest way to do so was to ask ChatGPT, but to refine my list I also requested a few self-proclaimed water connoisseurs in my friends list to pour in their suggestions.
Within an hour my inbox was flooded with the names of shower filters.
Step 2: Product analysis
It was time to enhance my knowledge of how shower filters worked and what technology removed the most commonly found pollutants in both well water and city water.
Shower filters typically feature a variety of media:
- Granular-activated carbon
- Carbon-block filters
- KDF media
- Maifan stones
- Calcium sulfite redox media
- Copper zinc media
These technologies cannot remove hard minerals like calcium and magnesium. Only ion-exchange resin can effectively trap hard materials and this resin media requires regular regeneration with brine solution. Even if a shower filter claims to have ion exchange filtration media, it’ll only work for a few days unless it is refreshed and recharged with brine solution.
This information helped me point out fake products right off the bat.
The common pollutants a shower filter can effectively target are chlorine, dirt, debris, sulfur smell, and a few organic compounds.
Step 3: Online reviews
I hopped on the internet and searched for online reviews and testimonials for each product on my list. I surfed review websites like Consumer Reports, Angie’s List, Good Housekeeping, Google reviews, and Amazon reviews. I carefully noted down the pros and cons of each unit.
Online reviews can be fake and paid for, so I didn’t make them the basis of striking the products off my list.
Step 4: Interviews with real customers
To make sure I was moving in the right direction, I reached out to a few customers and asked them about their experiences with the shower filters.
Everyone was quite friendly and explained in detail what they liked and disliked about the filters. Some were super satisfied with their purchases while others complained about delayed delivery and bad customer service. I have included that in my rankings.
Step 5: Interviews with shower filter brands
I needed to convey customer complaints to the manufacturers and I had a few questions of my own that could only be answered by the company representatives.
So I emailed the brands my questions about their fake claims to remove hard minerals in the water, their warranties, and their refund policies. Only a few brands responded with clear answers and some even followed up a few weeks later to make sure I was happy with their service. Others didn’t respond at all.
Step 6: Test drives
Finally, it was time to test the shower filters and conclude my rankings. For this step, I rented a few shower filters and bought the rest. I prepared a testing rig where each shower filter was tested for three days consecutively at an average flow rate of 2 GPM.
I periodically took water samples and tested them using an at-home testing kit for chlorine, sediment, dirt, sulfur iron, fluoride, and hard minerals. The test results further confirmed that shower filters cannot remove calcium and magnesium in water.
During the testing phase, I also noticed the change in flow rate, ease of maintenance, and filtration quality.
Step 7: Ranking
I started my research with 20 filters but after rigorous testing and research, only 9 filters made the final cut. For the final scoring, I took out my whiteboard, made a few columns and started giving each filter scores in the following categories:
- Filtration technology
- Number of contaminants removed
- Filter lifespan
- Build quality
- Ease of installation
- Ease of maintenance
- Customer reviews
By the end of the day, I had my filters ranked from #1 to #9.
Final Thoughts: Best Shower Filter for Hard Water
Unless you find a filter that uses ion exchange technology and also has a way to regenerate the filter media every so often, you can’t expect a shower filter to remove hard minerals. It’s better to invest in a whole-house water softener if you want to get rid of calcium and magnesium effectively.
Shower filters are generally made to remove commonly occurring pollutants in tap water like chlorine and some heavy metals. And for this, my four-month-long review suggests that you use Aquasana’s AQ-1000 showerhead, which traps chlorine effectively for six months, at a consistent water pressure.
Here are a few benefits of this filter:
- Longer lifespan
- NSF-certified carbon filter
- One-year warranty
- 90-day money-back guarantee
Buy it today at Aquasana’s website.