By: Jake Gallagher | September 10, 2023

A good quality filter cartridge makes for an excellent filtration system. But how to find one that outperforms all the average cartridges in terms of performance, flow rate, and durability?

I have spent four months testing and reviewing dozens of filter cartridges on the market for all types of contaminants to find the best whole-house water filter cartridge on the market. 

Let’s get right into it. 

1. PurePlus Whole House Sediment and Carbon Filter Cartridge: 9.55/10

  • Certified to remove 99% chlorine
  • $12.75

PurePlus filter cartridge will make your bleach-smelling tap water fresh and delicious using its top-of-the-line carbon filter. Its 30,000-gallon life, powerful filtration, solid certification, and accessible price point make it the best on the market.


PurePlus uses a combination of three layers of dense polypropylene and coconut shell-activated carbon filter with a rating of 5 microns to trap 99% of sediment, dirt, chlorine, and rust particles in city water. 

The biggest benefit of this filter is its authentic certifications, including Australian WaterMark, RoHS, and TUV. The product meets European food-grade regulations, as well, and is BPA-free. 

What makes this stand out from the crowd is its long filter life and ability to clean about 30,000 gallons (four to six months) at just $12.75. PurePlus filter cartridges will last 30% longer than Culligan and US Water Filter cartridges. 

Water filtered through PurePlus filter cartridges will cost you $0.015 a day, which is quite affordable compared to other brands. 

It took me only five minutes to install it in my standard 10″ x 4.5″ whole-house filter. I also like that it is compatible with a number of other models, such as Dupont, Culligan, Pentair, American Plumber, and the EPM series. You can contact them to confirm it suits your whole-house water filter system. 

It is equipped with a decent flow rate of 2.5–5 GPM, which suits a small family. Keep in mind that the flow rate is subject to the water pressure in your home.


The filter only targets the taste, color, and odor of chlorine in tap water. It doesn’t remove the sulfur smell. Plus, if you have a lot of dirt in your water, this filter will clog much faster than Crystal Quest, and you’ll experience a slight drop in the flow rate.


At such an affordable price point, PurePlus provides effective cleaning of tap water, long life, and a decent flow rate. Only a handful of brands own authentic certifications, and PurePlus is one of them. 

So, if you need the best whole-house water filter cartridge, compatible with standard blue house filters and several other models, buy the PurePlus. It’ll get the job done and then some.

2. Crystal Quest SMART Filter Cartridge: 8.50/10

  • Available in a variety of sizes
  • $59

Crystal Quest GAC filter cartridges not only target chlorine smell, taste, and color but also trap chloramines, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sediment, and some heavy metals. However, it’s more expensive than the PurePlus water filter cartridge. 


Unlike other brands, Crystal Quest uses a blend of two types of granular-activated carbon filters in its SMART filter: coconut shell and catalytic carbon. Plus, the brand uses its proprietary Eagle Redox Alloy (ERA) 6500 & 9500 blend, ion exchange resin, and tourmaline balls. 

The ERA blend is NSF-42 certified to treat chlorine and a few heavy metals. You’ll experience a big change in the taste and smell of your tap water because this filter also infuses healthy minerals and elevates the pH. The ERA 6500 further prevents the growth of algae and bacteria in your cartridge while improving the performance of carbon filters. 

I like that Crystal Quest offers three models: Plus, Ultra, and Ultimate, each with varying flow rates and filtration capacities. You can find these models in four sizes to match your whole-house filter: 

  • 2 ⅞” x 9 ¾” 
  • 2 ⅞” x 20″
  • 4 ⅝” x 9 ¾” 
  • 4 ⅝” x 20″

The SMART Ultimate has the highest filtration capacity, ranging from 30,000 to 300,000 gallons to suit both small and big families. 

Crystal Quest filters require the least maintenance and are easy to set up and replace. And lastly, according to the brand, all of its filters have a 12–18 month life, which is longer than 70% of filter cartridges in this category.


Considering this filter can’t trap sediment, the brand’s claims about its 12–18-month lifespan are a bit suspicious. The filter will get clogged up with sand, dirt, and debris, reducing its life. If you’re going to install this cartridge, make sure you have a sediment filter in place.

Another downside is you may find this quite expensive. 


Crystal Quest SMART uses multistage filtration, including two types of carbon filters and ERA blend, to remove chlorine and chloramines effectively. Although it’s expensive, the filter does an excellent job of making your tap water taste fresh and healthy. 

If you can fork out for a filter cartridge, try Crystal Quest SMART.

3. US Water Lead & Cyst Carbon Block Filter: 7.80/10

  • Affordable
  • $19.95

US Water carbon filter — a 0.5-micron rated cartridge — can treat chlorine, lead, and cysts. One of the major calling cards of this filter is its affordability. 


The US Water filter cartridge uses carbon-block media manufactured in the US and a single layer of spun-bonded polypropylene net to remove chlorine, lead, cysts, and many other pollutants larger than 0.5 microns. 

According to the manufacturers, this filter can achieve almost 95% reduction of these pollutants in water at a filtration capacity of 5 GPM. 

In addition, it is certified against NSF 42 standards for removing chlorine, taste, color, and odor. 

I like that it fits easily in my standard 10-inch filter housing.


One big downside to this filter cartridge is that it has no certifications confirming it can effectively remove tricky pollutants like lead and cysts in water. 

This cartridge filters only 17,000 gallons, lasting about 2–3 months before needing a change. Compared to PurePlus and Crystal Quest, this life is too short. 

Another downside is, unlike the Crystal Quest whole-house water filter cartridge, this filter comes in only one standard size.


US Water’s whole-house filter cartridge removes anything bigger than 0.5 microns and is certified to remove chlorine in water, but it has no certifications for lead removal. If its lack of certification and short life doesn’t bother you, you can buy it here.

4. PurePlus Pleated Sediment Filter for Well Water

If you’re on well water and need a solution for sediment, dirt, and silt, PurePlus has just the right solution for you. Priced at $27.99, this heavy-duty pleated filter cartridge uses 3D weaving technology, allowing for a larger surface area to trap all the dirt and solid particles in your well water.

I love that it has a huge filtering capacity of 30,000 gallons that lasts four months, depending on the water quality. It also fits a wide range of models and filters from brands like Dupont, Culligan, Pentek, and Aquaboon.

One of the significant benefits of choosing this PurePlus sediment filter is that it is washable and reusable, saving you a lot of money.

This sediment filter is rated for 5 microns, so it cannot capture smaller particles. But considering its strong performance and long life, it’s a great filter for well water. 

5. Crystal Quest SMART + Calcium GAC Fluoride Reduction Cartridge 

If you’re looking for a reliable filter that traps fluoride in your city water, I have a suggestion.

This Crystal Quest fluoride filter uses a combination of its proprietary Fluoride Removal Blend, coconut-shell granular-activated carbon media, 1-micron filter pads, and ERA 6500/9500. This super-strong combination gets rid of chlorine, trihalomethanes, sediments larger than 1 micron, and fluoride in city water. 

The filer will last about 12 months, but you may experience a dip in flow rate after around eight months if your water has high dirt content. 

You can choose between two sizes to suit your whole-house filtration system:

  • 4 ⅝” x 9 ¾”
  • 4 ⅝” x 20″

It’s a decent cartridge, but keep in mind that it doesn’t have any certifications to prove that it removes fluoride in water. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t discover any test results on the website, which makes me a bit skeptical about the fluoride removal efficiency. Nonetheless, many people vouch for this product.

It’ll cost you $69 and you can get a 5% discount if you go for the monthly subscription.

6. Culligan (RFC-BBSA) Sediment Filter

Priced at $25.49, the Culligan filter cartridge for sediment can remove dirt, sediment, rust, debris, and scale larger than 25 microns at a flow rate of 3 GPM. Compared to PurePlus sediment filters, this flow rate is very low. 

It uses radial flow carbon and is certified against NSF-42 standards for material requirements only. 

Although it does a great job at filtering particles greater than 25 microns, you can find more effective sediment filter cartridges at the same price that can remove particles as small as 5 microns, like PurePlus sediment filter. 

Culligan is on my list because of its durability and high quality. All the components are manufactured in the US. Plus, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

7. AquaCrest (FXHSC) Whole House Water Filter

AquaCrest’s 5-micron rated sediment filter features “W-Plea” technology with 69 polypropylene pleats to enhance the filtration efficiency by 40%. It is good for both well water and city water supply and fits most standard-sized (10″ x 4.5 “) whole-house water filter systems. 

Made with 100% food grade, BPA-free, and lead-free materials, this AquaCrest filter cartridge removes solid particles bigger than 5 microns, including rust and chlorine. But what makes it unique is its super low price of only $11 per cartridge. 

The filter is equipped with a 30,000 filtration capacity, which lasts about three to five months. It is compatible with several filtration housing models of brands like Culligan, GE, American Plumber, DuPont, and Aqua Pure. 

I couldn’t find any certification on this filter. Some people also reported that it has a shorter lifespan than the brand claims. 

8. IcePure CTO Carbon Sediment Water Filter Cartridge

The IcePure carbon filter has three layers of powerful carbon-block filters that provide a high surface area for chlorine filtration. One major benefit you will get out of this filter is its ability to trap particles greater than 1 micron. This means it can capture pesticides and herbicides along with dirt and sediments. 

The filter cartridge can replace the standard 10″ x 2.5″ filters. 

You will get 13,000 gallons of water filtration capacity that lasts about three months, depending on the water quality. But what makes it great is its super-affordable price. The IcePure CTO carbon filter is priced at only $7.50. 

You wouldn’t expect it to have any certification at such a small price tag, but this filter is certified against NSF/ANSI 42 standards for materials requirements. However, this doesn’t say much about its chlorine-removing ability.

I got a little disappointed with its filtration performance during my testing phase. The filter captured some rust and sediment in the first few weeks but gradually lost its efficiency. You’ll have to buy it more frequently if your water has a lot of dirt and debris. 

9. Waterdrop Iron and Sediment Filter for Well water 

The Waterdrop iron filter cartridge is equipped with a manganese sand layer sandwiched between polypropylene filters. Iron in water is oxidized when it comes in contact with the strong manganese oxide. 

Waterdrop claims this filter can remove about 99% of iron and 96% of manganese in well water, but I couldn’t find any certifications to prove this. Waterdrop does display a test report by Pony Testing Laboratory, though.

Upon testing, I determined that it does remove heavy metals in water but loses its efficiency after two months, which contradicts the six-month life the brand claims. 

It is compatible with most 10″x 4.5″ filter housings, including a few models of iSpring and Culligan. 

The waterdrop filter is priced at the higher end of the spectrum and will cost you $52.99 for one cartridge. If you can splurge this amount every two to four months, you can buy it here.

10. DuPont (WFPFC8002) Carbon Wrap

Priced at $13 per cartridge, DuPont Carbon Wrap is great at removing chlorine and sediment in the water. It is rated for 5-micron particles and can replace several standard-size housings, like Culligan, GE, Whirlpool, and Omni. 

Dupont Carbon wrap is made to filter 15,000 gallons and last around three months if your water quality is not too bad. 

I couldn’t find any certifications on this unit, and some customers complained that it wasn’t an actual carbon filter but a rip-off that didn’t remove a thing. My test results confirmed these claims. 

The Bottom Line 

I scoured the world (well, maybe not the whole world) for the best water filter cartridge for your whole-house water filtration system. Well, the results are in and the PurePlus whole house water filter cartridge takes the lead because of its long life, high filtration performance, and authentic certifications.

The filter uses polypropylene and carbon to trap 99% chlorine, dirt, dust, and sediment.

What makes it the best cartridge for whole-house water filters is its long life of 30,000 gallons. The filter has American Watermark, RoHS, and TUV certifications. 

On top of all of that, it’s quite easy to install in 10″ x 4.5″ standard-sized filtration housing. Installing this filter means enjoying chlorine and sediment-free water from all the taps around your home at just $12.75.

Research Methodology

You must be curious to know how I arrived at my choices for the best filter cartridges for tap water out of the dozens of options out there. So this section is all about the research process I followed to determine the best filter cartridges.

Step 1: A big list of filter cartridges 

The first step was to make a big list of all the popular filter cartridges easily available on the market. I started my search online by visiting popular marketplaces like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target. I also dropped a message to my friends asking about their favorite water filter brands.

And I contacted a few local water contractors and professional plumbers to refine my list and noted their recommendations for the best filter cartridge. I made sure my list contained filter cartridges that would fit standard-sized housings. 

FYI, the filter cartridge size that fits most housings is 10″ x 4.5″ and 10″ x 2.5″.

Step 2: Product analysis

While making the list, I read a few product descriptions, which made me curious about the filtration technologies and what they were good at removing in tap water. I asked Google some questions:

  • What pollutants are commonly found in city water and well water?
  • Which filtration technologies are best for removing chlorine, dirt, lead, heavy metals, and microbes in water?
  • What should be the optimum flow rate? 
  • What is the average life of a filter cartridge, and what external factors can change it?
  • What certifications should I be looking for in my filter cartridge? 

Step 3: Online reviews

The next step was to read all the online reviews and testimonials I could find on trustworthy websites like Amazon, Angie’s List, and Consumer Reports. I carefully jotted down the pros and cons of each filter cartridge and highlighted the ones with the worst reviews and ratings online. 

Step 4: Interviews with real customers

Online reviews can be fake, so I contacted real customers and asked them about their experiences with the water filters. 

Of course, not everyone was willing to help out a stranger asking about their water filters, but many responded with the details that helped me rank my filters better. Some were even kind enough to send their water test reports, while others invited me to their homes to taste the filtered water. 

Step 5: Interviews with the brands on my list 

During step 3, I read a few comments by people complaining about the brand’s customer service. So, I contacted every brand and asked them some hard-hitting questions about their warranties and certifications. 

I carefully noted their responses and rated my experience with their customer representative out of 10. Some brands, like SpringWell, Culligan, and PurePlus, even followed up to make sure I was happy with their products. 

Step 6: Test drives

Finally, it was time to test and taste the water filtered by the cartridges on my list. I bought the filter cartridges and rented a whole-house filter system. I tested each filter cartridge for three days and analyzed the performance in terms of removing contaminants, flow rate, ease of installation, and leakage. 

This step took me a month, but I was able to pinpoint the best three cartridges out of my list. 

Step 7: Ranking

Now that I had enough information on the filter cartridges, I opened up a spreadsheet on my laptop, plugged in all the details, and started scoring each filter against the following features:

  • Filtration technology
  • Test results
  • Flow rate
  • Filter lifespan
  • Build quality 
  • Ease of installation 
  • Ease of maintenance 
  • Cost
  • Certifications
  • Warranty 
  • Customer reviews

In the end, I had a list of filters ranked from 1 to 10.

The Best Whole-House Water Filter Cartridge

Four months of meticulous research helped me identify the PurePlus whole-house filter cartridge as the best water filter cartridge because of its longevity, epic filtration, and authentic certifications. 

Here are the most notable benefits of this filter:

  • 30,000-gallon water filtration capacity 
  • Solid certifications
  • Compatibility with many brands 
  • 2.5–5 GPM flow rate 

If you’re interested in buying a filter that is guaranteed to remove chlorine and rust particles in your tap water, get yourself a PurePlus today.