The pleasure of a long hot shower is hard to beat in this world. As the room fills with steam the stresses of work and family life drift away.
Maybe after a hard day at work - hot water easing aching muscles.
Or even dusting off the remnants of a late night - the cleansing feeling of hot water, washing away a hangover!
This is a profound earthly pleasure, and yet for too many people, a hot shower leads to dry, irritated skin and frizzy hair. Who wants to break out into a rash when you’re trying to relax?
For the beating it takes, our skin is a sensitive surface and needs to be treated with a corresponding sensitivity. When we shower, we’re dousing ourselves in more than just H2O. From chlorine to chemical compounds, our water supplies aren’t as pure as we’d like to think.
Hard water - water that’s rife with mineral content such as calcium and magnesium - can be a major source of irritation for our skin.
It also leaves grubby build-up around our drains and sinks. That’s more clean-up for you!
Shower filters can be quickly fitted and free you from the burden of hard water, leaving your skin silky smooth.
They can strip away impurities from the water that lead to skin irritation, upset hair and dirty drains. They can also add nourishing vitamins such as vitamin C and E to your water, reducing your reliance on shampoo.
Let’s take a look at the best of the bunch - here are the top shower filters for hard water.
1. AquaHomeGroup Luxury Filtered Shower Head - The Best Of The Best
AquaHomeGroup has built a truly luxurious, compact showerhead filter that ticks all the boxes. The filter is built into an easy-install showerhead that screws onto your existing shower system, and it’s compatible with almost every type of shower on the market.
It’s important to note that the carbon dust in the filtering system can blacken your water upon first use - but after around 30 seconds of flow, you’ll be good to go.
With showerhead filters, there’s no aesthetic impact on your bathroom build - and AquaHomeGroup’s showerhead is a charming chunk of stainless steel that brings a touch of class to your bathroom.
It even comes packaged in a professional gift box - whether you’re treating yourself or splashing out on a loved one, it’s the full package.
The filter itself is multi-layered for maximum filtration. A KDF 55 layer combines with activated carbon to eliminate bacteria, viruses, chlorine and the majority of sediment.
You’ll have shower water that’s pure enough to drink - and the sediment filtration means hard water becomes soft.
Additional vitamin C and E cartridges add vitamins to your water that your skin will thank you for.
These filters don’t come for free, however. For luxury filtering, you’re looking at top-end prices. And replacing your filter every six months - more frequently in some areas, depending on your water quality - starts to add up.
A luxury unit with a price tag to prove it, but to turn hard water into a soft experience your skin will love, this is a filter to love.
2. Aquasana AQ-4100 Deluxe Hard Water Filter - Best For Hair Loss
An inline filter and showerhead combo gives you that new shower feeling without the bathroom redesign stress.
Aquasana’s AQ-4100 is an inline filtering unit, meaning it attaches to your system between the plumbing and the showerhead, rather than being rolled into one.
This makes for a rather bulky product, and if you've built a streamlined bathroom look, it might stand out. The polished plastic filter sticks out like a sore thumb in a traditional stainless steel system.
However, this ugly duckling can bloom into a beautiful swan when it comes to easy installation and imminent water filtering. Simply screw the filter onto your existing shower plumbing. The filter’s upflow design means you don’t lose any height in your shower - nobody likes to crouch!
A double filter system combines KDF copper-zinc filtering with a carbon layer to remove contaminants from your water. Aquasana guarantees that 90% of chlorine is stripped from your water, healthier for skin and hair.
However, they’re quiet on sediments that turn your water hard - whilst eliminating chlorine will certainly improve your water quality, particles of calcium and magnesium are prevalent in hard water.
An easy-install combination shower filter that guarantees the removal of chlorine contaminants, but lacks broad spectrum filtering.
3. AquaBliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter - Best On A Budget
A stylish and powerful filtering unit - with a great price tag attached! This inline shower filter screws into your system between the pipes and the showerhead. That’s a little more work than showerhead filters because you’re attaching it at two points.
AquaBliss have gone the distance to build a filter that’s compatible with all shower types, and thanks to its slick stainless steel design it slides into any modern bathroom to elevate the look.
Honestly, it’s such a cool and compact filter that you’ll forget it’s there.
This water filter packs a punch that belies its size, however. Not only is there multi-stage filtering to provide you with ultimate water purity, but AquaBliss has an inbuilt ‘rejuvenation’ cartridge that adds vital minerals to your water.
It removes the harmful impurities and boosts the nutrients in your water, keeping you clean whilst giving your hair and skin a health kick.
When it comes to hard water, removing large and medium-sized sediment is the name of the game. AquaBliss have built three layers of filter that are specifically designed to filter out these particles, starting with a sand layer that catches the big stuff before moving down to ultrafine mesh to pick up the pieces.
And they haven’t stopped there - additional layers of activated carbon and chlorine filtering target remaining contaminants.
AquaBliss’s trademarked filters are good for around 10,000 gallons of water - expect to be picking up a replacement around once every six months. Thanks to a low initial price, however, it’s worth the investment.
A great-value filter that hits all the common contaminants of concern without breaking the bank.
4. Berkey Shower Filter WITHOUT Shower Head - Best KDF 55 Filter
A big name in the water filter game, Berkey’s inline filter provides filtering peace of mind. This isn’t the most charming shower filter on the list - in fact, it looks more like Berkey was thinking about what happens under the sink rather than something to take pride of place in your shower. It’s a plasticky filter that attaches below the showerhead.
However, if you can look past the aesthetics, Berkey has built a solid filter. And they should know-how as a big-name brand in the filtering business.
It’s super easy to install, screwing on at two points in your system. As a bonus, the filter should last for around 20,000 gallons - up to a year of showers - so you’ll be fiddling around less frequently.
The unit itself relied on KDF 55 filtering technology, which is specifically targeted at chlorine reduction. That’s great if chlorine is your problem, and your hair and skin will feel refreshed and rejuvenated with this filter.
However, whilst the filter does remove some sediment and can improve your water softness, it’s not a primary function of this filter.
For those who want to “set and forget” this long-lasting filter will dramatically reduce the chlorine content of your water.
Water quality isn’t all about what you can take out - it’s always good to give a little something back. That’s what Sonaki’s inline vitamin C filter is all about.
As well as removing nasty contaminants such as chlorine and chloramine from your water supply, it introduces vitamin C to your water, nourishing your skin and hair and leaving you feeling sparkling clean and shiningly healthy.
It’s an elegant water filter that will fit into stylish bathrooms - chrome and brass finishing leaves it gleaming, and high-quality resin means you can be assured of no leaks or spills once it’s installed.
What’s more, installation is quick and easy as this unit simply screws in between your shower head and shower piping.
However, creating nourishing water doesn’t come cheap. This is a pricey unit, and given that each filter only lasts for around 1500 gallons, you could be replacing the filter on a monthly basis. That’s a long-term running cost to consider.
And whilst vitamin C might give us that glowing feeling, there are plenty of contaminants that this filter can’t handle - without the multi-layered filter technology that other filters provide such as activated carbon and ion exchange, Sonaki’s Vitamin C filter will be hard-pressed to provide completely soft water.
This Vitamin C can give your hair and skin a health boost, but without further filtering technology you’ll be compromising on purity.
6. Shower Filter System by Crystal Quest - Best Combo Filter
For those searching for the complete package, Crystal Quest have built a complete shower filtering system combining an inline filter and bespoke showerhead.
From a design perspective, this isn’t the most elegant shower filter system out there, but its basic and compact design at least won’t stand out in your bathroom. Crystal Quest have also offered the choice of two colors - a plain, white plastic and a gleaming chrome option, to fit your desired color scheme.
In terms of installation, because this unit comes with its own attached showerhead, there’s only one point of connection - that means you don’t waste time deconstructing your existing shower system. Simply switch out your old showerhead and attach the system filter-first to your shower’s feed pipes.
What impresses me about this unit is its long lifespan and powerful filtering capacity. The relatively plain outer chassis belies a well-thought-out and high-quality filter.
Three-stage filtration ensures you’ll be bathing in perfectly pure water. These stages include an ERA 6500 and an ERA 9500 (Crystal Quest’s in-house filter systems, standing for Eagle Redox Alloy) and a carbon activation layer.
The two ERA filters remove chlorine and heavy metals whilst the carbon layer removes organic compounds and pollutants. The result? Crystal clear shower water you could drink straight from the showerhead!
Further, Crystal Quest have built a filter that can handle long-term use. You should get around a year out of these filters before they require replacement, almost double many other brands on the market.
Given the initial bargain price of the product, and its impressive lifespan, this is a great shower filter for shoppers on a budget.
7. Pelican Premium Shower Filter - Best For Extra Features
Pelican’s premium shower filter comes packed with unexpected features, proving that water filter systems don’t have to be boring!
It’s a chic plastic combo system which means the filter and showerhead are combined into one unit.
I have to say, the plastic design seems simplistic - I prefer a gleaming chrome in my bathroom. However, I can look past some aesthetic flaws thanks to exceptional functionality.
But first, let’s see how it installs. Combo units are great thanks to the ease of install - simply detach your old showerhead and put the filter-showerhead combo unit in place. It’ll screw into any existing shower piping system.
The filter unit itself is doing the hard work so let’s take a look.
It’s a three-stage filter system, featuring an activated carbon layer and copper and zinc oxidation. These will filter out the majority of harmful contaminants - chlorine is a big one - to soften your water, and soften the impact your water has on your skin and hair.
It’s certainly an adequate filter system, but Pelican haven’t stopped there. Additional features are where this shower filter really shines.
The showerhead itself has two functions, one for powerful water pressure and another eco mode that saves water - and your wallet. This is a great feature as it’s something for everyone, the soakers and the savers.
There’s also an ocean breeze scented insert for the product. Simply clipping this cartridge into the filter turns your bathroom into a spiritual spa - you’ll end up spending hours in the shower!
Pelican have added a fresh twist on a traditional product with features like the scented bar. You get all this for a highly affordable price - a great buy.
With the filter built into the showerhead of this product, it creates a neat unit that slips seamlessly into your bathroom design - you won’t even notice this product doing the work in the background, but you’ll feel the difference.
Installation is particularly easy with showerhead filters - because the filter is inside the showerhead, you have just one point of attachment to wrangle with. Culligan’s showerhead fits onto any ½ inch threaded shower arm. Measure up and you’re good to go.
However, you’ll need to run water through the filter for ten minutes before use to flush it out. Run it cold, to save your heating bill!
Replacing the filter cartridge is quick and easy too - simply unclip the filter compartment for the showerhead, no need to de-install your unit to swap out the old filter.
The filter itself has been NSF certified to remove chlorine from your shower water. NSF certification isn’t something every shower filter comes with, so that’s added security.
The WHR-140 filter also contains a KDF layer, reduces bacteria in your water, and should reduce the TDS (total dissolved solids) to soften your water. With a capacity of 10,000 filtered gallons, you can expect to change your filter around twice a year - pretty standard for these products.
Culligan has built a showerhead filter without losing sight of a shower’s primary purpose: good flow rate and shower spray options!
The stainless steel showerhead is stylish and modern-looking. While this is certainly a functional unit, PureAction have invested time in building a showerhead filter that also possesses a chic look.
There’s more to this than your average showerhead filter, so let’s see what’s in the box. Because it’s a handheld unit that you can lift off the wall, it comes with a hose and a wall attachment - there are a few parts to get to grips with, making installation a little more complicated.
But don’t fret, you won’t need to call in the plumber. All the pieces screw easily together, and it should mount onto any standard shower arm you have pre-installed in your shower stall.
The 60” included hose should stretch to your needs - but can become tangled in the faucet.
The filter itself in PureAction’s showerhead promises powerful purity. As well as removing sediment and minerals - turning hard water soft - chlorine and chloramine are also effectively removed. And with fluoride filtering as standard, this filter really stands out.
Top-tier filtering at an affordable price. If you’re looking for a showerhead and hose combo for flexible filtering, this should stand out to you.
This hefty shower filter is one of the bigger units, but it installs between your showerhead and shower piping, so it never gets in the way. A stainless steel chassis will match the majority of shower styles, as it’s a basic bathroom look!
The filter simply screws in, and Aqua Earth is keen to encourage you to take this filter on your travels so you never suffer from showering in hard water again. But to be honest, I think you might get in trouble installing this at the gym.
Once you’ve screwed your filter into the system, you need to run water through the filter for 20-30 seconds to remove excess sediment - this offers almost instant access to purified water.
15 stage filtering is some of the most effective on the market, and the usual suspects such as chlorine, calcium and heavy metals are specifically targeted. They’ve also built fluoride filtering in as standard - not something you get with every filter.
And an additional layer introduces vitamin C to your water, nourishing your skin and hair as you shower. Who needs shampoo!
The inline filter is built to allow your shower’s water flow to continue uninterrupted, so you shouldn’t notice any impact on water pressure. A long, relaxing shower remains one of life’s great pleasures, and now you have the added enjoyment of vitamin nourishment while you soak.
A solid inline shower filter with effective 15 stage filtering - including fluoride - and a low price to boot.
Built from a combination of stainless steel and transparent plastic, this shower head water filter isn’t going to win any beauty pageants. The mixed material chassis might show off the inner filter, but who needs to see your shower filter at work? You trust it, right?
Despite some questionable design decisions, it’s a well-built unit. With multiple screw-in parts, you could be worried about it springing a leak, but Teflon tape seals any gaps.
Because the filter is built into the showerhead, it’s super easy to get it installed in your shower - compatible with any ½” shower piping, it’ll screw into most showers in seconds.
The showerhead doesn’t compromise itself by containing a filter - it comes with three, high-pressure spray options. A traditional rain mode gives you a wide spray to wash yourself under, power rain increases the intensity and lastly, massage mode puts the water pressure to powerful use.
Because Pure Action’s filters have a limited lifespan, they’ve included two replacement components with the unit - whilst most other showerhead filters will have you splashing out on new filters within six months, you’re set for a year or more with this product.
And these filters are highly effective - chlorine, fluoride, and water hardening compounds such as calcium and magnesium, be gone!
If you need shower water filtering without a compromise on shower features, this is a fantastic product that won’t break the bank.
Sparkpod’s shower filter comes as an isolated unit but can be paired with their own showerhead - something that offers the best guarantee of powerful water pressure. This is slightly concerning, as it indicates that water pressure could be compromised with a generic showerhead.
Despite this worry, it’s a solid unit. Although it’s easy enough to install, set aside an afternoon as you’re going to fit it between the showerhead and piping - that means a bit of fiddling on your part.
Inside the sleek stainless steel chassis are multiple layers, all working together to create effective filtering. SparkPod have included activated charcoal, KDF 55 as well as nutrient cartridges to turn your hard shower water into something as soft as silk.
Chlorine and sediment will be trapped by this filter, but fluoride is notably absent. Science is drawing new links between fluoride and damaged hair, so if this is something on your mind you may need to look elsewhere.
Filters themselves have limited lifespan, so you’ll be opening this unit up to replace it. Given that a filter should last 4-6 months, this isn’t the most long-lasting product. The unit itself is great value, but you’re looking at a long-term upkeep cost.
A solid inline filter, but a shorter filter lifespan bumps up the cost.
The Shower Filter Buyer’s Guide - Everything You Need To Know
Freeing yourself from the scourge of hard water can rejuvenate your hair and skin, but with so many choices on the market, you might feel like you’re jumping out of the frying pan and into the shower!
Now you’ve seen the best models on the market, let's take a closer look at how a hard water filter is necessary for your shower system - and how you can make the best choice for you and your family.
What’s Hard Water When It’s At Home?
It might come as a surprise to you that water can be hard and soft, but these two classifications don’t really have anything to do with how water feels in your hands.
No, hard water isn’t going to bump you on the head!
Hard water refers to the mineral content of the water, and at a certain threshold of minerals, usually made up of calcium and magnesium, water is considered to be hard.
The vast majority of household water supply is in areas with hard water, and it can lead to all sorts of problems.
These minerals build up in your household appliances, from your kettle and boiler to, yes, your showerhead. The mineral content damages these appliances, allowing limescale to build up.
Your skin notices the difference too - hard water can irritate your skin and wreak havoc with your hair.
Hard water is hard work, so let’s see exactly how a shower water filter can soften the blow.
Why you need a shower water filter
Removing Bacteria And Deadly Viruses
Most of us have had that creepy sensation of an intruder lurking behind the shower curtain, only to draw it back to see empty space. But what if I told you there could still be a killer in your shower?
Viruses and bacteria in your water supply can find their way into our bodies through the shower, as it’s almost impossible to prevent some water from getting into our mouths or ears. Water in our eyes has a direct line to our bloodstream, fast-tracking the damage of any dangerous contaminants.
A shower filter strips these lousy lurkers from the water before it ever gets to the showerhead, protecting you from death and disease.
Ever turned on the shower only to be greeted with an unpleasant aroma? Some of us light lavender-scented candles, but anyone who lives near a sulfurous water supply will be smelling something a little less relaxing.
That rotten eggy odor comes from sulfur buildup in your water supply - and not only does a shower filter purify your water of any unpleasant odors before it pours, they often come with scented cartridges to keep your bathroom smelling blooming wonderful.
Hair and Skin Health
You might be racking up a healthy skincare bill with your lotions and potions, but did you know your shower could be undermining all that work? Hard water - water contaminated with mineral deposits - often leaves our skin feeling dry and itchy.
So stop splashing out on expensive products, and pick up a shower filter for hard water instead!
It’s Better For Your Children
Hard water can be especially harmful to children, who frequently have sensitive skin while they’re growing. Eczema, for example, can be painfully exacerbated by the presence of these compounds.
Chlorinated water poses another risk to children as the fumes given off from heating such contaminated water can be inhaled, damaging kids’ lungs. When chlorine is vaporized in the shower it turns into chloroform gas and can trigger asthma attacks!
A Cleaner Bathroom
Nobody likes scrubbing the bath but it’s an unfortunately frequent chore. With hard water, limescale build-up is a scourge of the sponge - but hard water filters strip these compounds out of your water so they never make it to the tub.
You’ll be keeping your bathroom and rain systems sparkling clean by only showering in the purest of water.
Shower Water Filter Styles
When shopping for shower filters, it’s easy to become bamboozled by the many options on display. So we’ve broken it down into three main types to keep you right.
The easiest unit to purchase and install in your at-home shower system is the showerhead with an inbuilt filter. By building the filter into the showerhead, you have less work to do to attach your filter - simply swap out your old showerhead and screw in the new. They’re relatively bulky, and the downside is that you often compromise on showerhead features to get the best filtering options.
Inline models are fitted between your existing showerhead and the shower’s in-flow piping. Water hits the filter, and then travels - purified - to your regular showerhead.
Whilst you get to keep whatever showerhead you’ve chosen, some inline filters can restrict water flow if they aren’t used with certified showerheads. Nobody wants to shower under a trickle of water, no matter how pure.
3. Inline and Showerhead Combo
Because of the issues that arise with inline-only units, many water filter brands sell inline and showerhead combination units. These units offer a best-of-both-worlds approach, enabling you to maximize water flow and showerhead features whilst still benefiting from purified water - but they take a little more installation.
As with any water filtering product, it’s the filter itself that’s doing the heavy lifting. The filters, tucked away in stainless steel chassis, are often cloaked in mystery - so let’s cast some light on these things.
Carbon filters usually come with multi-layered components, each targeted at a different contaminant. Typically, fine mesh will remove the majority of sediment from the water, and then further layers will absorb chlorine, heavy metals and other bacteria, pesticides and herbicides. Because they remove microscopic compounds from your water they’re highly effective water softeners.
KDF 55 Filters
These filters are specifically targeted for chlorine - a common water contaminant that not only dries your skin out but also vaporizes into noxious gas when you shower! For this reason, they’re commonly built into shower filters, either alongside carbon layers or alone. They also remove bacteria and viruses, but may be less effective against inert - but water hardening - compounds such as calcium and magnesium.
Vitamin C Filtering
Vitamin C is normally associated with the humble orange, but it’s also effective at filtering water thanks to the power of ascorbic acid to absorb chlorine. Vitamin C filters have the added bonus of introducing this healthy vitamin to your shower water even as it purifies, nourishing your skin and hair - and they often have a shorter lifespan than other filter components.
What To Consider When Buying A Shower Water Filter
Purchasing your first shower water filter is a big decision - nobody wants to spend an afternoon screwing their shower back together only to be rewarded with a disappointing trickle of water or the return of that eggy odor.
Here’s everything you should be considering when you’re shopping for a shower water filter.
1. Filter efficacy
Shower filters come with all sorts of extra gadgets from spa-mode to scented cartridges - but if it can’t do its job as a filter it’s not worth salt. The first thing you should be looking at is the filter build, and what contaminants it’s targeted at removing.
Chlorine is a big one - it can irritate your skin and vaporize into your lungs! Both KDF 55 and vitamin C filters are exceptionally good at dechlorinating your water - but won’t necessarily remove many of the compounds which contribute to hard water. Look for filters that include activated carbon and fine mesh layers if you’re after truly soft water.
2. Filter lifespan
Nothing lasts forever - I hate to break it to you! And shower filters are no different - these things have finite lifespans. Filters can be certified for anything from 5,000 to 15,000 gallons and beyond, but lifespan will depend on how often you and your family are taking a shower, as well as water quality. Replacing filters every few months can become another costly outgoing.
3. Construction materials
Shower water filters tend to be built from stainless steel and plastic, and construction is vital to the longevity of the product. Whilst plastic filter systems might be a little easier on the wallet, they can often crack and leak over time. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is built to last.
Many shower filters also come with Teflon tape - high-grade plumbers tape that helps you seal during installation. This is always a professional added touch to look out for.
You’re probably not looking to retrain as a plumber any time soon, so you want a shower filter that doesn’t require specialist knowledge to install. Most shower filters simply screw into your existing system and are built for compatibility with common ½” pipes, but some require more attachment points than others.
And remember - most filters need to be flushed with water before they’re ready to work. Some require just 20 seconds of flow but others may need to have the shower run for ten minutes before you can trust your water is perfectly purified.
5. Water pressure
It’s a curse of motel rooms far and wide - weak water pressure turns a rejuvenating shower into a disappointing trickle. Keep showers special by prioritizing powerful water pressure with any filter system.
If you’re buying an in-line filter that fits between your showerhead and your piping, you’ll want to ensure it’s compatible with your current water pressure. At the same time, greater water flow means more energy consumption and more water waste - some states such as California limit water flow to 1.8 gallons a minute, meaning some showerheads will be in breach of local regulations.
6. Showerhead options
A showerhead is never just a showerhead. From soothing “rain” features to high-powered jets, you can turn your shower into a simulation spa with a few twists of the knob. Water filter showerheads are increasingly coming packed with luxurious features so you don’t have to compromise on comfort to get the cleanest water.
In the case that something goes wrong with your new prized water filter, some kind of warranty is essential to ensure you can get a timely replacement. When you’re buying a shower filter, it’s important to note that you’re often buying two products bundled together - a water filter and a chassis or chamber that fits into your shower system.
Filters themselves tend to come with a three-month warranty, whereas you can claim a warranty of anywhere from one to five years for the whole filter unit. Stay informed to be a crafty consumer.
Some units, especially handheld showerheads with inbuilt filters, can really pack a punch. Consider the weight of the unit and who’s going to be using it - for example, children or the elderly may not feel comfortable wielding a hefty showerhead. For fixed filters - whether that’s showerhead, inline, or combination filters, weight won’t be such an issue.
From chloramine to KDF 55, there’s plenty of lingo to learn when you’re shopping for shower filters.
And once you start digging deep, you’ll be astounded by what’s waiting in our water supply. Even chemically inert compounds such as magnesium and calcium can irritate sensitive skin and clog our drains.
Whether you’re picking up an inline filter that preserves your showerhead function or are upgrading your whole system to create a sublime spa experience right at home, there’s a shower filter for everyone.
A shower filter can solve your hard water problems - a fresh start for you and your family. Once you feel the difference on your skin, there’s no going back - from dry, itchy skin to silky smoothness thanks to soft water.