Fed up with chemical tastes? Limescale wrecking your kettle? Run your water through these filter jugs to enjoy the fresh, clean taste
A water filter jug is a must-have. After all, we all need to drink water – and plenty of it. Our bodies are, on average, 60% water, and the average adult needs somewhere between 1.6 and 2.5 litres a day. For most of us without deep pockets or an obsession with Icelandic glacier water, that water will be coming from the tap.
British tap water is cheap, well regulated and perfectly safe to drink, but it doesn’t always taste that great. In some areas and in warmer seasons, it’s heavily treated, adding a chemical tinge. In other areas – particularly hard water areas – it might have a strong mineral or metallic taste.
A water filter can fix that, removing the impurities and regulating the chemical and mineral content, to give you water with a cleaner and fresher taste. What’s more, using filtered water in a kettle or coffee maker can reduce the build-up of damaging limescale, so that your kettle or coffee machine lasts longer and isn’t filled with the flaky white gunk. You might even get nicer-tasting tea or espresso with a thicker crema top.
And while filtering your water will add to the cost of every litre, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can buy a water filter jug for under £15, while filters won’t have to set you back more than £3 to £6 per month, especially if you buy in bulk.
Best water filter jug: At a glance
|Best budget jug
|Aquaphor Compact (~£9)
|Check price at Amazon
|Most practical jug
|Aqua Optima Perfect Pour (~£20)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best high-capacity jug
|Aquaphor Provence (~£22)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best jug for families
|Brita Marella XL (~£29)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best for sustainability
|Phox V2 Glass Water Filter Jug (~£40)
|Check price at Amazon
How to choose the best water filter jug for you
The key decision to make is which cartridge system you go for. Different manufacturers promote different systems, each with its own claims about how effectively the water is filtered and how good it tastes.
There are some practical considerations, too. Certain cartridges need more preparation than others before they’re ready to deliver safe, tasty drinking water. If the cartridge only needs changing once a month, that might not sound like a problem – but if the job involves half an hour or more of soaking, plus three complete refills flushing through, you might find you end up not bothering to use the jug at all.
Speed is also an issue. Some systems take their time with the filtration, keeping you waiting while you’ve got a thirst on, while others pass the water through in a jiffy.
The market leader is Brita, one of the pioneers in this market, with its Maxtra and Maxtra+ cartridges. However, some jugs from other manufacturers will work with Brita’s cartridges, while a range of third-party cartridge manufacturers produce their own cheaper or longer-lasting cartridges that fit Brita’s jugs. This is worth bearing in mind if you’re worried about getting tied into the one system.
How much difference does the filter make?
More than you might think. While most filter cartridges are based on granules of activated carbon, there may be additional elements or layers to filter out other impurities, resulting in a different balance of water and minerals when you pour yourself a glass. This results in subtle differences in taste, not to mention higher or lower levels of total dissolved solids (TDS). You can measure TDS and use it as a measure of the effectiveness of the filter system; but a lower figure isn’t always better, since water strained of all solids won’t include the minerals you actually want, and it may taste bland.
What about the jug?
Some jugs are designed for style, others for convenience. Obviously, the former is a question of personal taste, although certain systems allow for a wide range of shapes and colours, while other designs are more conservative.
On the convenience front, go for a capacity that suits the size of your household. Bear in mind that the headline capacity might not match the capacity of drinking water it actually holds. A 2.6l jug might sound generous, but not if you only get 1.4l of filtered water at the bottom. 2.7l to 3.5l jugs are a better fit for growing families – although check the dimensions to ensure you won’t struggle when cramming the thing into your fridge.
Also look for features such as flip-top lids or covered spouts that make it easier to fill the jug or prevent dining table grime from getting in. Cleaning is important, too: not all jugs are dishwasher-safe and some designs may have divots or folds in the plastic that are difficult to keep clean.
Nearly every jug will include some mechanism to remind you to change the filter. Don’t expect anything too sophisticated: most likely this will be a simple timer that goes down every few days until the 30-day average lifespan is up. A simple LCD gauge on the lid works as well here as an app so don’t let that sway your decision.
How much is all this going to cost?
Water filter jugs work on the classic razor blade model: the jugs themselves tend to be cheap, but the manufacturer makes its money off the ongoing cost of the cartridges.
Some of the more exotic systems can cost upwards of £50 for the jug and around £10 per filter, but on average you’re looking at £9 to £25 for the jug and around £5 to £8 per filter. You can save money by buying multi-packs of three filters or more, and if your system uses Brita filters you can also save by purchasing cheaper or longer-lasting third-party cartridges – even supermarkets are in on the act. Just be aware that these may not always be as effective as the real deal.
How we test water filter jugs
We test water filter jugs by using them in a hard water area for a period of at least five days. We unpack the jugs and install the filter cartridge, taking note of how quick and easy the process is, then we use the water for drinking and to fill the kettle. We run comparative taste tests between different jugs and use a TDS meter to compare the total dissolved solids with other cartridge systems and with water straight from the tap. We also evaluate each jug for how easy it is to fill and pour, how long it takes to fill, and how simple it is to clean.
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The best water filter jugs you can buy in 2024
1. Aquaphor Compact: Best budget water filter jug
Price when reviewed: £8.99 | Check price at AmazonThe Aquaphor Compact is about as basic as jugs get, with no real features beyond a flip-top lid. The plastics certainly feel cheaper and less durable than some of the more expensive options, and the removable handle slides off a little too easily as time goes on. Still, this is easy to store in the door of your fridge and, those few grumbles aside, a fine filter jug for not much money.
The flip-lid makes it easy to fill and there are no obvious leaky areas in either compartment. And Aquaphor’s own Maxfor+ cartridges work brilliantly – just soak it in cold water, run it through two times, and you’re good for 200 litres worth of tinge-free, clean-tasting water. In TDS tests, the filtration isn’t quite as effective as Brita’s, with 129 parts per million against 100ppm, but some of our testers preferred the taste. Replacements cost around £5.50 each or £9.99 for three, so you won’t spend a fortune on your cartridges either.
Key specs – Total capacity: 2.5l; Drinkable capacity: 1.4l; Features: Flip-top lid; Dimensions: 248 x 280 x 105mm
2. Brita Marella XL: Best jug for families
Price when reviewed: £28 | Check price at AmazonThe standard-sized Brita Marella is a best-seller – and with good reason. It’s a well-designed 2.4l jug with a flip-up flap in the lid for easy filling, using Brita’s tried-and-tested Maxtra cartridges.
The Marella XL takes the basic design and ups the size, with a 3.5l total capacity that delivers 2l of filtered water. It comes in a range of colours with matching tinted lids and filter compartments, not to mention some nice limited-edition designs. It’s also dishwasher-safe, barring the lid, which has a simple electronic timer to remind you when it’s time to change the cartridges.
The Marella XL works with Brita’s Maxtra+ filter cartridges, which are designed to reduce more impurities than the previous-generation Maxtra cartridges. The filtering is extremely effective, with TDS levels of only 100ppm in our tests. The water tastes smooth and neutral, without being totally bland, and at around £12 for a pack of three, the cartridges aren’t prohibitively expensive. If you’re trying to cut costs, however, you can move to third-party alternatives from Aquaphor, Amazon and others. Trying to keep a thirsty family properly hydrated? This is the filter jug to buy.
Key specs – Total capacity: 3.5l; Drinkable capacity: 2l; Features: Flip-up lid, electronic change indicator; Dimensions: 245 x 270 x 135mm
3. Aqua Optima Perfect Pour: Best water filter jug for practicality
Price when reviewed: From £20 | Check price at Amazon
Aqua Optima’s new Perfect Pour jug has one of the smartest, most practical designs we’ve seen, with a more square shape that’s easier to cram into the fridge, plus a simple sliding cover near the front of the lid that pushes back for filling. We found the jug easy to fill and to pour, with a wider than usual spout that maintains a smooth flow. It’s even quick to filter, with the brand’s Evolve+ cartridges running water through at roughly twice the speed of the Maxtra Pro cartridge in our Brita Marella jug.
Normally, this might leave us worried that the Perfect Pour isn’t doing such a great job of filtering, but we saw TDS levels drop to 116 parts per million, close to the results of the Brita and Aquaphor jugs. The water also had a nice, slightly creamy taste. Plus, with three Evolve+ cartridges selling for just £8.49, it’s cheap to run. In fact, you can pick up the 2.4-litre version for £30 with six months worth of cartridges bundled in.
Key specs – Total capacity: 2.4l/3.6l; Drinkable capacity: 1.2l/; Features: Easy-fill lid, laminar flow spout; Dimensions: 221 x 258 x 100mm
4. Philips AWP2918: Best jug for long-lasting filters
Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at AmazonThe AWP2918 is a chunky filter jug without a handle, instead sporting a sculpted area at the rear for lifting. While that makes it more difficult for smaller hands to manage, it also makes it easier to fit it in the fridge. There’s no space in the lid for easy filling, but it only takes a moment to remove the lid before it goes under the tap, and the lid itself does a solid job of preventing leaking as you pour.
The big selling point here is the long-lasting filters – you only need to change the filters roughly every 60 days, or 200 litres – and with them costing under £15 for three you’ve got a water filter jug that’s both cheap and cheap to run. The water tastes good as well, although our TDS tests show higher levels than with the Brita or Aquaphor systems, at 162ppm. The only other minor issue is that sometimes water seems to get stuck in the filter, but immersing the cartridge in water and tapping it seems to cure the problem. Too lazy to keep changing filters? This is the jug for you.
Key specs – Total capacity: 3l; Drinkable capacity: 1.5l; Features: N/A; Dimensions: 220 x 105 x 265mm
5. ZeroWater 10 Cup Water Filter Jug: Best jug for removing all impurities
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at AmazonThe ZeroWater is on the verge of being ludicrously expensive while the cartridges (£30 for two) have hopped straight over the border. On the other hand, if you’re serious about removing all impurities, ZeroWater’s tech is leagues ahead of most competitors.
In fact, the manufacturer is so confident about its five-stage filtration system that it includes a digital total dissolved solids (TDS) meter so you can check your water is free from solids, or at least 99.6% of the way there. That’s significantly higher than with any rival system and on a level with the best purified bottled waters.
The jug has a few nice touches, too, including a part-removable lid for easy filling and a spout at the back that dispenses water with a push.
In most areas and for most people, the ZeroWater is arguably overkill, but if you’re concerned about minerals and metals in your drinking water, this jug should give you peace of mind.
Key specs – Total capacity: 2.3l; Drinkable capacity: 1.3l; Features: Flip-top lid; Dimensions: 264 x 255 x 105mm
6. Aquaphor Provence: Best high-capacity filter jug
Price when reviewed: £22 | Check price at AmazonAquaphor’s biggest jug has a hint of luxury about it, thanks to a graceful, curved design and the use of a special Tritan plastic that looks like glass. The good news is that it’s a lot more durable, and shouldn’t discolour or become brittle through washing or everyday use. The lid fits securely on the top of the pitcher, with a flip up central section that makes filling nice and easy.
The Provence uses one of Aquaphor’s A5 cartridges, which filter limescale, chlorine, heavy metals and other pollutants, while the A5 Mg variant adds small amounts of magnesium on top. Either way you get clean-tasting water at a decent pace. Each cartridge lasts roughly 60 days as well, and there’s a mechanical life indicator on the top of the lid to help you keep track. It’s too big and bulky for fridge use, but the Provence is a great option for thirsty families and one of the more stylish filter jugs around.
Key specs – Total capacity: 4.2l; Drinkable capacity: 3l; Features: Flip-top lid, mechanical replacement indicator; Dimensions: 275 x 224 x 160mm
7. Phox V2 Glass Water Filter Jug: Best water filter jug for sustainable filtering
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at Amazon
One of the biggest downsides to using a water jug filter is worrying about all those cartridges ending up in landfill, though many manufacturers, stores and local councils are offering recycling these days. Phox takes a different approach, however, supplying its V2 Water Filter Jug with a refillable cartridge, then supplying refills through the post. Each refill lasts for approximately 45 days of use, and you can have two for £14, so it isn’t any more expensive to take this more sustainable route than it is to use the leading brands.
The V2 Glass Water Filter Jug is unusually tall, standing 30cm high, which can make it tricky to get under the tap if your sink isn’t clear. The glass jar beneath the plastic reservoir also contributes to its hefty 1.2kg unfilled weight. All the same, the flip-up cap in the lid makes the jug easy to fill, and the style has a certain touch of class. If you prefer a more conventional design, Phox also sells a 2.9l Wave filter jug that should do the job. Either way, the filter puts through clean-tasting water with a TDS of just over 150ppm according to our tests, and you also have the option of a calcium and magnesium-enriching Alkaline filter or a water-softening option should you prefer. All in all, a great filter jug that ditches disposable cartridges without adding too much hassle.
Key specs – Total capacity: 2.2l; Drinkable capacity: 1.5l; Features: Refillable cartridge, Clean, Alkaline and Softener refills ; Dimensions: 300 x 120 x 120mm
8. pH Restore: Best glass filter jug
Price when reviewed: £58 | Check price at AmazonNot everyone wants to drink water straight from a plastic jug, and some people just prefer the look and feel of glass. The pH Restore is one of the few glass filter jugs available, and while it’s an expensive option, it includes a PH001 filter that should last through 360 litres worth of filtering – enough to fill the jug roughly 133 times. At £40 for three, however, this isn’t a cheap system to run.
It’s a nicely made, cylindrical jug with a glass handle, mould-resistant bamboo lid and rubber anti-slip base. And while the multi-stage filter cartridge removes chlorine and the usual chemical pollutants, it’s also meant to reduce acidity and raise the pH value in areas where it’s normally low. Don’t get too excited, though: UK regulations state that the pH of tap water needs to be higher than 6.5 by law, and in many areas the water is slightly alkaline. In any case, the water running through tastes smooth and clean, and you won’t find another water jug with this much style and class.
Key specs – Total capacity: 3.7l; Drinkable capacity: 2.7l; Features: Flip-top lid, mechanical replacement indicator; Dimensions: 291 x 152 x 127mm