If you have exceptionally hard water, then you know how unpleasant it can be to take a shower. The water can leave your skin dry and irritated, making your hair dull and lifeless.
Not only that, but your favorite soap will also feel noticeably sticky when you try to lather it up in hard water. So, what’s the solution?
One option is to install a whole-house water softener, which can be expensive and may not be practical for everyone. But what if you live in an apartment or rental home and can’t install a water softener?
That’s where a shower filter comes in. While a shower filter can’t make hard water soft, as it requires an ion exchange process, it can help reduce the amount of sediment and limescale in your water.
But here’s the deal:
Hard Water Shower Filters Compared
Here’s a table that summarizes some of the key features of each shower filter:
|Rank||Hard Water Shower Filter||Best For||Rating|
|1||AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter||Most Popular||99.5|
|2||AQUAYOUTH 2.0 Carbon Shower Head Filter||Upgrade Pick||99.2|
|3||Aquasana Shower Filter||Highly Rated||99.1|
|4||SR SunRise 20-Stage Shower Head Filter||Different Finishes||98.8|
|5||HarJue Filter Shower Head||Rainfall & Handheld Combo||98.4|
|6||miniwell L720-Plus Shower Water Filter for Hard Water||Easy Change||98.2|
|7||PureAction Water Softener Shower Head Filter for Hard Water||Small Showers||97.5|
|8||Philips Shower Filter 3-stage Water Softener||Low Maintenance||96.7|
Best Hard Water Shower Filters of 2023 Reviewed
After spending hours researching, analyzing, and comparing various shower filters, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks. Here’s what we think are the best:
Our Expert Rating
99.5 / 100
AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter
It’s easy to see why this shower filter remains one of the most popular on the market today. It’s a comprehensive solution to hard water that will leave your skin and hair feeling softer and healthier. For those reasons, the AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter remains our top pick.
With over 35,000 reviews, the AquaBliss is the best option for you when dealing with hard water on the market today. Packed within this tiny canister that rests between your shower head and shower arm is a powerful 15-stage filtration system.
As untreated water passes through each stage, it becomes increasingly pure until all left is healthy water for you to shower. The result is softer, smoother skin and hair that’s less prone to damage.
While there are 15 stages in total, some that we specifically want to call out that will target your hard water is the sand filter, ultra-fine stainless steel mesh (2x), and micro-porous PP cotton (2x). These filters will remove sediment, sand, limescale, and heavy metals like lead and iron.
If that weren’t enough, the AquaBliss SF100 also targets chlorine, bacteria, and other water impurities that may remain after your local water treatment plant has done its job.
Regarding downsides, the only few customers have reported is that the AquaBliss SF100 is somewhat hard to find locally (online only), and the replacement filters are only sold online. Additionally, the SF100 only is available in a chrome finish – so if you have white, brushed nickel, or another type of shower head, it may not match perfectly.
What customers are saying: Customers report improvements in hair and skin quality due to the filter, but some have experienced issues with leaking. The filter is easy to install and has helped reduce buildup and improve water quality.
Read More: AquaBliss SF100 Review
- 4 different types of filters to remove sediment, sand, limescale, and heavy metals
- Also targets chlorine, bacteria, and other water impurities
- Highly reviewed
- Online only purchase
- Replacement filters are also only sold online
- Only available in chrome finish
Our Expert Rating
99.2 / 100
AQUAYOUTH 2.0 Carbon Shower Head Filter
The AQUAYOUTH 2.0 Carbon Shower Head Filter is an excellent pick for those looking for a top-of-the-line product. It’s NSF/ANSI 177 and NSF/ANSI 372 certified and can remove many contaminants from your water. For that reason, it’s our upgrade pick.
Certified to NSF/ANSI 177 and NSF/ANSI 372, the AQUAYOUTH 2.0 Carbon Shower Head Filter is a high-quality product designed to reduce the negative effects of hard water and other contaminants in your water. By relying on an activated carbon filtration system, this shower filter by AQUAYOUTH can remove many contaminants from your shower water, including chlorine, lead, iron, copper, and mercury.
Additionally, the EPA has studied the effect of activated carbon and found that it can absorb natural compounds, including taste and odor, along with synthetic compounds (source). If you are looking for an upgrade pick and don’t mind spending a few extra dollars on quality, the AQUAYOUTH 2.0 is an excellent option for you to consider.
As far as water hardness is concerned, remember, this isn’t a water softener, so it won’t remove minerals like calcium and magnesium that contribute to hardness. However, it will help to reduce the negative effects of hard water by preventing the build-up of limescale and making your skin and hair feel softer.
As for downsides, a few customers have noted that the filter within the AQUAYOUTH 2.0 doesn’t seem to last as long as some of the other filters on this list. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a shower filter’s lifespan highly depends on how often the shower is used. If you are only using the shower alone or sharing with one other person, the AQUAYOUTH 2.0 should still last you a few months before needing to be replaced.
However, if it’s a shower where several people shower daily, then more economical options on this list may be a better fit for you.
What customers are saying: They report mixed experiences with this shower filter. Some customers notice improvements in water quality and reduced chlorine smell, while others complain about reduced water pressure and filters not lasting as long as advertised. Some found the installation process easy, while others faced issues with leaks. Customer support seems to be responsive and helpful.
- NSF/ANSI 177 and NSF/ANSI 372 certified
- Reduces negative effects of hard water and other contaminants
- Removes chlorine, lead, iron, copper, and mercury
- Not a water softener – it won’t remove minerals that contribute to hardness
- Some customers report a shorter lifespan than other filters
Our Expert Rating
99.1 / 100
Aquasana Shower Filter
The Aquasana AQ-4100 is a high-quality shower filter that’s NSF/ANSI 177 certified and can reduce a wide variety of contaminants. However, some customers have noted that the filter needs to be replaced more frequently than other options on this list.
Founded in 1998, Austin, TX-based Aquasana is one of the leading names in water filtration. Whether it’s their whole-house filtration system or their filtered stainless steel water bottle, they offer a wide variety of quality products that always push the envelope for technology and design.
The AQ-4100 features a carbon filter that relies on coconut shell carbon paired with a copper/zinc media. This combination is designed to reduce 90% of chlorine, chloramines, rust, sediment, and other contaminants that can negatively impact the quality and health of your shower water.
Additionally, the Aquasana AQ-4100 is certified to NSF/ANSI 177, meaning that it adheres to certain standards and protocols regarding the quality of shower water filtration (source).
With a max operating temperature of 115F and a flow rate of 2.5 GPM, this shower filter shouldn’t slow down the rate of your shower too much. Additionally, customers have reported that the Aquasana AQ-4100 is very easy to install and offers a solid seal that helps prevent leaks.
Backed by a 90-day guarantee and a 1-year warranty, Aquasana offers great customer support should you have any issues with their products.
What customers are saying: Customers report mixed experiences with this shower filter. Some praise its ability to improve hair and skin health and remove unpleasant smells from the water. However, others experience issues with leaks and no notable improvements in water quality.
Read More: Aquasana AQ-4100 Review
- Reduces 90% of chlorine, chloramines, rust, sediment, and other contaminants
- Filter made from coconut shell carbon
- NSF/ANSI 177 certified
- Easy to install with no leaks
- Some customers note that the filter needs to be replaced more frequently than other options on this list
Our Expert Rating
98.8 / 100
SR SunRise 20-Stage Shower Head Filter
No matter your bathroom fixture decor, the SR SunRise shower filter will discretely blend in while providing 20-stage filtration for an excellent value. However, Sun Rise is a relatively unproven brand compared to the other options on this list.
This shower filter by SR SunRise has quite a bit to offer compared to the other options on this list.
To start, it’s available in three different finishes – chrome, brushed nickel, and black – which allows you to choose the one that best fits your bathroom’s style.
When it comes to filtration, the SR SunRise 20-Stage Shower Head Filter uses a KDF 55 process along with calcium sulfite, activated carbon, and a host of other media that will carefully strain your hard water to make it feel and smell better.
With a 1/2″ NPT threading, the SR SunRise 20-Stage Shower Head Filter can fit any standard shower head. For value, the SR SunRise shower filter is hard to match. Priced under $30 and including three cartridges that will last up to 6 months each, it’s an excellent pick for those on a budget.
What customers are saying: Some customers report no significant improvement in water quality, while others are satisfied with the filter’s help in reducing skin dryness, eliminating chlorine smell, and being easy to install.
- Three different finishes to choose from
- 20-stage filtration
- Under $30 and includes three cartridges
- Relatively unproven brand
Our Expert Rating
98.4 / 100
HarJue Filter Shower Head
If you want a spa-like showering experience on a budget, this combo should be a top choice. However, it’s worth noting that the rainfall shower head doesn’t have any spray settings and the handheld shower head requires a separate wall mount.
Do you want a spa-like showering experience without the cost or hassle of a complete renovation? Consider this 8″ shower head by HarJue.
For under $50, you can install this shower filter that offers a rainfall-style shower head and a separate handheld shower head – both of which provide filter media that specifically targets hard water.
Normally for such a low price, one would expect cheap plastic construction, but the HarJue is made from 304 stainless steel, which should help it last for many years without issue.
Filtration on this combo has a multi-stage filtration chamber on the primary rainfall shower head and vitamin C pellets within the handheld shower head. This results in both a clean and skin-friendly showering experience.
Of course, there are some notable downsides to this option when compared to some of the others on our list. First, the rainfall shower head has no spray settings, which may not be ideal for everyone. Additionally, the handheld shower head requires a separate mount onto the wall, which may not be practical or possible for some users – especially those in an apartment or rental property.
What customers are saying: The shower filter has received mixed reviews, with some praising its easy installation, improved skin and hair feel, and good water pressure, while others reported issues with poor quality materials, parts not fitting correctly, and stripped threads causing leaks.
- Includes both a rainfall and handheld shower head
- Multi-stage filtration chamber
- Vitamin C pellets for skin-friendly filtration
- No spray settings on the rainfall shower head
- Handheld shower head requires a separate mount
Our Expert Rating
98.2 / 100
miniwell L720-Plus Shower Water Filter for Hard Water
Overall, we loved the idea of being able to see just how effective the filter was over time. However, the reduction in flow rate may be a dealbreaker for some users. If you have a high water pressure shower head, we would recommend checking out a different option.
With an activated carbon block filter, the miniwell L720-Plus Shower Water Filter is designed to remove harmful contaminants from your shower water, including chlorine, trihalomethanes, and more. If you have hard water rich in minerals, this filter will also help remove the lime scale, iron, and rust that can often build up in your fixtures and shower head.
What we particularly loved about this filter was the transparent bottom to give you an idea of just how dirty the filter was getting over time. This way, you know it’s working hard to keep you and your family safe from harmful chemicals and contaminants.
However, one notable downside to this filter is the flow rate. If you are one that never wants to compromise on shower pressure, this may not be the best pick for you. Miniwell states that this filter is only capable of a max flow rate of 2.0 GPM. So if you have a 2.5 GPM shower head, the 20% reduction in water flow will be noticeable. We recommend checking out a high-pressure shower filter if you have concerns about water flow.
What customers are saying: The shower filter effectively treats hard water, benefiting both hair and skin. However, some customers mention concerns with the filter’s cost and frequency of replacement, while others praise its overall performance and noticeable water softening effects.
- Transparent bottom lets you see just how effective the filter is
- Activated carbon block filter
- Filters out harmful contaminants like chlorine, trihalomethanes, and more
- Flow rate is reduced by 20%
- Not ideal for those with high water pressure shower heads
Our Expert Rating
97.5 / 100
PureAction Water Softener Shower Head Filter for Hard Water
We loved how compact and effective this shower filter was, making it our top pick for small showers. However, if you’re looking for more color options, you may want to check out a different option.
This water softener shower head by PureAction is designed to remove the hard water minerals that can often cause skin irritation and dryness. The mini 2-stage filter is designed to target hard water, fluoride, and chlorine – basically, all the major offenders regarding shower water quality.
After using this for a few days, we immediately noticed how much softer our skin felt. This was especially apparent for those with eczema or other sensitivities.
But want we particularly like about this shower filter compared to all others on our list is the size. The 4″ long shower head and filter combo are perfect for standing shower stalls, RVs, and small apartments. So if you’re tight on space, this may be the perfect solution.
What customers are saying: This shower filter for hard water has mixed reviews, with some customers enjoying the high water pressure and easy installation, while others find it confusing or having issues with the adjustable settings and water usage. Additionally, some customers report the product not being durable enough.
- 2-stage filtration system
- 4″ long shower head perfect for small spaces
- Removes hard water, fluoride, and chlorine
- Not as many color options as some other shower filters
Our Expert Rating
96.7 / 100
Philips Shower Filter 3-stage Water Softener
Overall, we were very impressed with the filtration power of this shower filter. If you have a large household or want a filter that will last a long time between changes, this is a great option. However, the 9″ long filter may be an issue for some users.
If you have a heavy concentration of rust, sediment, and other impurities, which are often naturally occurring in hard water, then consider the Philips 3-stage shower filter.
This progressive multi-stage filter contains a filter mesh, KDF filter, and another filtering mesh that will work in concert to give you the cleanest shower water possible. By trapping both sediment and reducing odor, largely due to the KDF filter, you’ll enjoy a much more pleasant showering experience.
But perhaps this filter’s biggest advantage over the competition is its large capacity. Able to filter 50,000 liters of water between filter changes, this is one of the longest-lasting filters on our list. So if you’re looking for a long-lasting yet low-maintenance filter, then we think you’ll like what Philips has to offer.
One noteworthy downside to this filter is the size. At 9″ long, it will significantly lower your shower head. So if you or someone in your household is tall, it may be an issue.
What customers are saying: This shower filter effectively reduces itchiness and improves water quality, although it lacks a replacement indicator. Some customers question its effectiveness through water testing.
- Multi-stage filtration system
- Long lasting – up to 50,000 liters
- Large capacity
- 9″ long filter will lower your shower head height significantly
Considerations When Choosing a Shower Filter that Treats Hard Water
If this is your first time buying a shower filter, or if you’re unfamiliar with water hardness, then there are a few things you should keep in mind before making your purchase.
While a shower filter won’t necessarily soften hard water, it can effectively remove most of the sediment that often accompanies it. The most common type of filtration media used in shower filters is KDF or Kinetic Degradation Fluxion. This media is effective in reducing heavy metals and can also trap sediment.
Activated carbon is another effective type of filtration media and is often used in conjunction with KDF. This media is especially good at reducing chlorine, which can cause dry skin and hair.
However, as you will learn when researching shower filters, companies may use other media for filtering the water, including ceramic balls, cotton, and more.
Recommended Reading: Types of Shower Filters
Water Pressure / Flow Rate
While water pressure and flow rate are two different topics, most people use the terms interchangeably to mean the same thing. And while the terms are related, they don’t necessarily mean the same thing.
Water pressure is the force with which water flows through your pipes and is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI. The average home has a water pressure of around 30 to 80 PSI.
Flow rate, on the other hand, is the volume of water that flows through your shower head in a given amount of time. This is usually measured in gallons per minute or GPM. The average shower has a flow rate of around 2.5 GPM.
When buying a shower filter, you want to select one that matches the flow rate of your shower head. If the flow rate of the shower filter is lower than your shower head, then the amount of water that hits your body – which most people try to avoid.
All-in-One vs. Inline
You’ll see two basic types when shopping for a shower filter: all-in-one and inline.
- All-in-one shower filters replace your existing shower head with a new one that contains filtration media. This provides a more streamlined appearance. However, all-in-one shower filters often feature fewer filtration stages than inline filters and may not be as effective.
- Inline shower filters, on the other hand, are placed between your shower arm and existing showerhead. These filters tend to have more stages of filtration and are often more effective than all-in-one filters. However, they can be unsightly while also lowering the height of the shower head, which can be a problem for taller people.
One factor that separates reputable companies from fly-by-night operations is their willingness to back up their products with a warranty. So before making a purchase, make sure the company offers a warranty on their shower filter and that the warranty length is reasonable. Most companies offer a one-year warranty, but some go above and beyond with a two-year or three-year warranty.
You will need Teflon tape (also called plumber’s tape) and a wrench to install a shower filter. Most companies will, at minimum, include plumber’s tape, but it’s always a good idea to check and make sure. You’ll need to buy it separately if the company doesn’t include it.
Of course, price is always a factor when making a purchase. However, when it comes to shower filters, you need to consider the initial cost and maintenance cost of replacement cartridges.
Installing a Shower Filter
Putting a new shower filter into your home can be completed in less than 30 minutes. But, to do it, you’ll need a few tools, including Teflon tape and a wrench.
- Make sure the water is turned off in your shower.
- Remove your old shower head by unscrewing it from the shower arm.
- Clean the threads of the shower arm with a rag to remove any debris or old Teflon tape.
- Wrap the threads of the shower arm with Teflon tape in a clockwise direction (this is important because if you wrap it the other way, it will peel off when attaching the shower filter).
- Screw on the shower filter using the wrench. Hand tighten the filter, and then give it an extra 1/4 turn with the wrench to ensure it’s tight.
- Attach your shower head to the shower filter and hand tighten. Again, give it an extra 1/4 turn with the wrench to ensure it’s tight.
- Turn on the water and check for any leaks. If there are no leaks, then you’re done!
Depending on the shower filter type, you may need to replace the filter cartridge every few months. This is usually indicated by a decrease in water pressure or by the water no longer being as clean as it once was.
When replacing the cartridge, make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. In most cases, you’ll just need to hand loosen the cartridge canister, remove the old cartridge, insert the new one, and then hand tighten the canister back into place.
How We Rated the Different Shower Filters for Hard Water
Throughout the country, the hardness of water will vary from one location to the next. Even within the same city, water hardness can be large differences. Therefore, we took into account many factors to come up with our final ratings, which include the following:
- Customer Feedback: We spent hours reading through customer feedback on sites like Walmart, Home Depot, and more. We looked at both positive and negative comments for each shower filter to get a well-rounded idea of what people liked and didn’t like about each one.
- Online Forums: We also spent time reading user feedback on online forums like Reddit, YouTube, and even plumbing-specific forums, like the aptly named PlumbingForums, to collect qualitative feedback from users.
- Product Release History: While we only list the latest iteration of each shower filter on our list, we also research the release history. This helps us to understand any patterns that might exist with a particular brand or model.
- Company History: We also looked at the company’s history to see how long they’ve been making shower filters and other types of water filtration products. We also research their Better Business Bureau rating to get a feel for how they treat their customers. This helped us remove many of the knock-off brands that flood the market.
After blending our data with all the factors listed above, we came up with our final list of the shower filters that we shared with you today. This list was created using our proprietary algorithm, which considers all of the factors mentioned above.
The result is a well-rounded list of shower filters that will work great for most people, regardless of the hardness of their water.
Frequently Asked Questions
As we researched and read customer feedback for the different shower filters on the market, we noticed that many similar questions were being asked. So, to help save you time, we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions below.
How often should I replace the filter cartridge?
This will vary from one filter to the next, but most must be replaced every six months. You’ll know it’s time to replace the cartridge when you start to notice a decrease in water pressure or when the water doesn’t seem to be as clean as it once was – indicators will be an increase in sediment, a foul smell, or a change in color.
Do shower filters soften hard water?
No, to soften hard water, the water must go through a process known as ion exchange. This is typically done with a water softener, not a shower filter. A shower filter simply can’t efficiently do this process.
Does this buying guide contain the latest information?
Yes, this guide was last updated in September of 2023. We are constantly updating it to ensure it contains the latest information available.
We are confident you’ll find the perfect shower filter for your needs by following the information and links provided in this article. If you have any questions we didn’t answer or would like to share your experiences with a particular shower filter, please contact us and let us know. We love hearing from our readers!