Best Inline Water Filters of 2021
For many Americans, water filters are becoming less of a luxury and more of a must-have tool for a healthy lifestyle. An NSF report found that refrigerator water filters are among the most commonly used for at-home filtration – and many of us prefer to use inline fridge filters for convenience.
If you’re on the hunt for an inline filter, you may be overwhelmed with the choices. There are more than 50 inline filters on the market, and around half of these are offered by legitimate brands in the US. I’ve narrowed down your options to a list of 8 filters that are worth your attention.
Why take my word for it? Well, I’m trusted by 100,000 monthly readers, and I’ve been testing and reviewing at-home water treatment devices for nearly a decade. I’ve seen the way the market has evolved, and I only recommend the top contenders that offer something really unique or special.
In this guide, I’ll cover:
Table of Contents
Best Inline Water Filter
Best Inline Water Filter Reviews (2021)
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The Clearly Filtered Universal Inline Filter connects to any ¼” waterline, making it compatible with any water based appliance that uses this hose size – whether that’s your fridge, ice maker, or kitchen sink.
A simple 5-minute installation is all you will need – simply connect the inlet and outlet water lines and you’re good to go.
Unlike many other inline filters that only address aesthetics of water by removing chlorine, this filter removes 230 different contaminants, including: lead, PFAS, fluoride, chlorine and chloramine, glyphosate and more.
With three stages of filtration included inside the single filter unit, this Clearly Filtered has been tested by an EPA certified lab to meet NSF Standards 42, 53 & 401 for reduction of contaminants and water quality improvement:
The Clearly Filtered inlines three stages of filtration have been tested to meet NSF Standards 42, 53 & 401. These standards test for the reduction of contaminants as well as water aesthetics improvement:
The filter life is 365 gallons – lasting around 12 months or so. Clearly Filtered also boasts a strong lifetime guarantee, so if there are any problems with the filter the company will replace it free of charge.
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The Watts Inline Water Filter is considered one of the best inline refrigerator water filter systems, and it can also be installed for ice makers or under your kitchen sink for quick, convenient access to clean water. The filter uses a process called kinetic degradation fluxion, which relies on a chemical reaction called redox to remove a variety of contaminants from water, including chlorine and some heavy metals.
With an impressive 20,000 gallon lifespan, the Watts filter is designed to last for up to five years before it needs replacing (exact lifespan may vary depending on your home’s water quality). You can use the Watts in line water filter in any home, business or RV, connecting the system to your water line using 1/4 inch lines.
The Watts filter is backed by a WQA certification for the removal of chlorine, taste and odor. It is also effective at reducing scale and improving the overall clarity of drinking water. Installation is relatively simple as the Watts comes with quick connect adaptors, and as you only need to worry about changing the filter once every 5 or so years, maintenance of this system is very minimal.
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The EcoPure is an inline water filter for fridges and ice makers, and has a 5 year lifespan. It is compatible with the majority of refrigerator brands, including Samsung, Whirlpool, LG, Frigidaire, and GE. The system comes with a 1/4 inch compression with quick connect fittings for easy installation on multiple water lines. Designed and engineered in the US, the EcoPure is made from BPA-free materials, so you can rest assured it won’t add anything harmful to your water during the filtration process.
You can install the EcoPure for use in your refrigerator and ice maker in your home, RV or boat, where it will reduce sediment and chlorine taste and odor. Installation is quick and easy, and the EcoPure comes with everything you’ll generally need to get the job done.
The EcoPure is tested and certified to NSF Standard 42 for chlorine removal, which is a big bonus if you’re looking for the best inline water filter for ice maker or fridge that has been third-party proved to genuinely work. Though the EcoPure does a thorough job at chlorine removal, it’s not the best all-round inline filter for removing a broad range of contaminants.
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The LASCO is an inline water filter for ice makers that lasts for roughly 1,500 gallons of water, or 6 months. Though it’s not as long-lasting as other filters on the market, it does offer a more thorough filtration, removing chlorine, sediment, turbidity, unpleasant taste, and trihalomethanes (THMs).
Installing the LASCO is relatively easy – providing you don’t overtighten the system – and instructions for the job are provided both online and in the user manual. The system comes with 1/4 inch quick connect compression fittings, and some people found that using plumbing tape instead of O-rings to tape the threads to the fittings was the best way to avoid leaking pipes. The filter cartridge is a great value, priced at just over $10 per filter.
The LASCO should noticeably improve the taste of your water without affecting water flow. The system can be mounted either horizontally or vertically behind your fridge or ice maker, and you can purchase a LASCO wall bracket for holding it in place at an extra cost.
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The Culligan IC-1 is a basic inline filter for refrigerators and ice makers. With a 3,000 gallon lifespan, you should expect to get around 12 months of use out of the filter before it needs replacing, depending on your usage and water quality. The filter has been tested and certified by IAPMO for NSF Standard 42, for the reduction of chlorine taste and odor.
It’s easy to install the IC-1, as it has twist on/twist off quick connect fittings that you don’t need to be an expert to use. Included with the filter is a filter head with mounting hardware, so you shouldn’t need to buy additional components for installation. There’s also a handy double water shutoff to make installation and maintenance safe and simple.
Included with the Culligan IC-1 is a cartridge change reminder stick, which will alert you when it’s time to replace the filter – ideal if you don’t trust yourself to remember these things without prompting. The filter needs to be installed vertically for proper water flow, so keep that in mind if you don’t have a lot of vertical space available.
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The GE GXRTDR is an in line water filter that’s designed to be connected up to your fridge from the outside, providing a clean drinking water solution for fridges that don’t have an internal drinking water filter. The system is NSF certified to Standard 42, for the reduction of chlorine odor and taste, helping to improve the taste and quality of tap water in your fridge.
You can use the GE with select GE top-freezer and side-by-side refrigerators (you can enter your model number on Amazon to check that the filter is compatible). The filter has a relatively average lifespan of 6 months – there are definitely inline water filters with a better lifespan, but going by its low price, the filter is still a fairly good value for money.
The GXRTDR filter is relatively simple to install, and doesn’t usually require adaptors for the job. It comes with push-connect fittings that you can quickly connect up to your water line. Some people experienced some leaking during installation as the quick connect fittings weren’t properly seated, so you may want to install the system with a bucket and towel to hand.
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The PureWater is an in line water filter kit for refrigerator ice makers. The system is tested and certified for NSF Standard 42, for the removal of chlorine odor and taste. It includes everything you need for immediate installation, including one filter and easy connect fittings, 1/4 inch NSF water line, and instructions. The PureWater also comes with a mounting bracket for installing conveniently against a wall.
This direct inline filter is designed to work with the majority of refrigerator ice makers, and is one of the best for the job. It removes a number of minerals that often deposit on an ice maker, helping to preserve the life of the machine. With a 1,500 gallon lifespan, you can expect to get 6 months of use out of the filter before it needs changing.
It’s easy to install the PureWater yourself, providing you follow the included instructions or follow a how-to video online. It should take you less than 20 minutes to set the filter up ready for use.
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The Woder WD-10K is a high-capacity inline water filter for refrigerators with an ice maker. Made in the USA, the system is WQA certified to NSF Standard 42, for the reduction of chlorine taste and odor. A huge benefit of the Woder is that it does much more than remove chlorine – it also eliminates heavy metals, VOCs, turbidity, Glyphosate, Mercury, and more. If you’re looking for an inline water filter that offers the most thorough contaminant removal, the Woder is an option worth considering.
Woder has produced a handy video that you can watch before installing the filtration system, which you can use as a guide for installation. Before making a purchase, check that you’re buying the right Woder filter to fit your water supply lines, as there are two options: one with 1/4 inch connections and one with 3/8 inch connections. Installation takes roughly 5 minutes – you just cut the water supply line and attach either ends of the line to either end of the filter.
Because of the Woder’s advanced selection filtration technology, the filtration system leaves in essential minerals while removing 99.9% of the bad stuff. The Woder’s flow rate is 3 gallons per minute, which is fast enough that your water flow won’t be affected from installation of the system. With a 10-gallon lifespan, you won’t need to worry about changing the filter until a minimum of 3 years have passed, making this a great low-fuss, low-maintenance filter option for busy families.
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Inline Water Filter Buyer’s Guide
What is an Inline Water Filter?
Inline water filters are long, thin filter cartridges that are generally connected up to a waterline in your home. They have the advantage of being space-saving and tidy, and can be installed anywhere along your water line from your water’s point of entry (POE) to the space beneath your kitchen sink, serving the cold water in your kitchen.
Inline water filters use the water pressure in your plumbing to push water through a filter or a series of filters, which trap contaminants along the way. When you switch on your cold water faucet, or press for water or ice from your fridge or ice maker, water will flow through the inline water filter before arriving at your fridge, ice maker or faucet in its filtered state. This will take a matter of seconds from start to finish.
The majority of inline water filters are carbon based, and use the process of adsorption to trap impurities and prevent them from contaminating your water and ice. Adsorption works by binding the molecules in water to a solid – in this case, the filter’s tiny micropores. These contaminants are then stuck to the filter and can’t pass through with the smaller water molecules.
You will most benefit from an inline filter water if you are looking for a simple, convenient method of water filtration. The major advantage of owning an in line water filter is that once it’s installed, you don’t need to maintain it aside from changing the filter – and in some systems, you don’t need to change the filter for up to 5 years. This means you can enjoy clean drinking water without the hassle of frequently changing filters or cleaning your system.
In line water filters are ideal for people who have drinking water that has a high level of contaminants, though contaminant removal varies from system to system. You will generally find that the best in line filters for water do an exceptional job of filtering chlorine odor and taste, with many of them being NSF certified for chlorine removal, so they’re a great option if you know your water has a high chlorine content.
Tip: if you don’t know which contaminants your water contains, order a testing kit before deciding on a filter for you.
The most common way to use a water line filter is to connect it up to your water supply just before it reaches your fridge. This type of filter is typically useful for people who don’t have built-in fridge filters but still want to benefit from great-tasting fridge-cooled tap water and ice.
You may see an inline water filter advertised for use in an ice maker, but it’s rarely the case that you can only use the filter for an ice maker. These filters are universal in that they connect onto your water line, and the majority of homes have water lines of the same gauge. This means you can simply connect your filter up to your water line for whatever use you want – for your ice maker, fridge, fridge and ice maker, or faucet.
Types of Inline Filters
Inline filters for water typically look the same on the outside – they’re long and cylindrical, with fittings on either side to connect up to your water line. But inside the filter housing, different inline water filters use their own filter material for removing contaminants. Some of the most common types of filter used in the best inline water filtration systems are as follows:
Activated carbon filters are most commonly used in a variety of water filters, including water filters inline. Using the process of adsorption to trap contaminants in its filter media, an activated carbon filter is especially effective at removing chlorine taste and odor from water.
Charcoal filters are just another type of activated carbon media, and use the same adsorption process to purify water. During adsorption, the activated charcoal binds the contaminants to the media, preventing them from passing through the system with the water.
Yet another similarly-sounding and performing filter for inline filtration systems is the activated carbon block filter. Carbon block filters consist of compressed activated carbon that is typically ground even finer than granulated activated carbon, preventing the formation of flow channels within the media and offering a more effective filtration.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Inline Filters
Like any type of water filter, an inline water filter has its advantages and disadvantages.
Depending on the brand of inline filter you buy, and the location you install it, you may be able to use an in line water filter for multiple appliances. For instance, many inline water filters can be used for your fridge’s water and ice maker, as well as your kitchen tap. Or you could choose to use the filter for one appliance of your choice, installing it underneath your kitchen sink purely for your tap water or behind your fridge as a refrigerator filter.
When you compare water filters in line with other types of water filtration systems, inline filters are one of the cheapest options. If you’re looking for an affordable long-term water filtration solution, whether for your fridge, ice maker or tap water, inline water filters are a great choice.
The best products are made for the simplest installation possible, and have quick connect fittings that allow you to twist the filter in place at your water supply. Even if you’re not a fan of DIY, you shouldn’t have to call a plumber for help with the installation process.
Unlike other water filtration systems, that need regular filter changes of multiple filters and weekly cleaning, inline water filters can be left to their own devices for months without requiring maintenance. Most inline water filters have a lifespan of at least 6 months, so you won’t need to worry about replacing the filter as often as is common with other filters.
You can install an inline water filter in a cupboard or in another discreet location, where it’ll work behind the scenes to filter water for your refrigerator and ice machine. Unlike some filters, like countertop water filters, you don’t have to have your inline water filter on full show as it’s small enough to install out of sight.
Though inline water filters are designed to make installation as easy as possible, the task still requires some plumbing knowledge for you to carry it out successfully.
Even the best inline water filters aren’t designed to filter water for a whole home. You can only install an inline water filter for use in your fridge, ice maker, or kitchen sink. The filtration system isn’t powerful enough to provide clean water for all your home’s appliances.
Inline water filters are only really useful for chlorine reduction, though you may find a few that can also remove heavy metals. If you’re looking for thorough contaminant removal, you won’t get it from an in line water filter.
Considerations When Buying an Inline Water Filter
You can pretty much guarantee that an in line water filter will remove chlorine taste and odor from your water, and many are NSF certified as proof (tip: it’s worth buying an NSF certified filter if you want to be sure you’ll get good value for money). Many also remove dirt, dust, sand and other sediment from your water, which can help your fridge’s ice maker stay in top condition.
Some of the best in line water filters remove bacteria and other microorganisms, and some remove trace metals like lead. Though many customers who own inline water filters claim that they no longer have hard water from using the filter system, it’s rare that an inline water filter will be able to soften water. That would require an entirely separate, and different, process of water conditioning.
Because an inline water filtration system is connected up to your main water line, flow rate becomes an important issue. You want to be able to get immediate, easy access to ice in your ice maker, or water from your fridge and faucet, without having to wait for it to slowly pass through the inline water filter. Luckily, flow rate isn’t usually compromised by an inline water filter system until the filter is reaching the end of its lifespan, when it may be too clogged up with contaminants to filter water quickly.
Inline filters typically have a 3000 gallon capacity (equating to roughly half a year) to a 20,000 gallon capacity (or roughly 5 years). A lower capacity doesn’t indicate a poorer-quality filter – it just means that the filter will have a cheaper upfront cost and will need to be replaced more frequently.
You can usually get a better deal from paying, say, $30 to $40 for a 5-year filter than $20 for a half-year filter, as it’ll save you money in the long run. However, many in line water filtration systems that are advertised as having long lifespans rarely last as long as they’re supposed to. Many customers have commented that they’ve only been able to get a couple of years out of a 5-year system – which is good, and still a great value for money, but is still something worth keeping in mind.
The size of an inline water filter is usually a combined result of its capacity and the manufacturer’s ability to design something space-saving. If space in your kitchen, basement or wherever you choose to install your filter system isn’t an issue for you, then physical size won’t matter. But if you plan to install an inline water filter behind your fridge or in a cupboard space, for instance, you may need to find something that is small enough to fit.
Most inline water filters are around 10 inches in length. Width can vary from filter to filter, with some being a mere 2.5 to 3 inches in width and others being more than 6 inches. Most filters are between 2 and 4 inches in height.
The most common certification for an inline drinking water filtration system to have is NSF Standard 42, for the reduction of chlorine taste and odor in water and ice. Rarely, an inline water filtration system may also be NSF 53 certified, for the reduction of heavy metals, namely lead.
Buying an inline filter system with a certification can give you confidence that you’re choosing one of the best filters available for reduction of a certain contaminant or group of contaminants. If a filter has been tested and certified by the WQA to NSF/ANSI Standards, it means a third party has confirmed its filtration claims to be accurate. It’s an easy way of knowing that you’re not going to waste your money on a filter that doesn’t work.
You don’t need the biggest budget for an inline water filter, but depending on the filter system you buy, you may need to prepare to make regular investments in new filters every half-year to year. Even the best inline water filter systems aren’t designed to last forever – so while you won’t need to splash out on a new filter as frequently as you would for, say, a pitcher filter or a faucet filter, you’ll still need to factor the cost into your future.
Most inline filter systems cost between $20 and $40, with some systems with a longer filter life costing up to $50. Spending more usually means you’re buying from one of the more established and trusted brand names; you’re buying a filter that can remove a broad range of contaminants (and has an NSF certification for one or several of the manufacturer’s claims); or you’re buying a system with a long filter life.
Paying less for an off-brand filter can sometimes be a gamble, but plenty of people have success with it. Just because a filter isn’t produced by a well-known company, don’t rule it out – while it’s wise to be cautious, you can find some great deals if your budget can’t stretch too far.
Installing Your Inline Filter
Installation of an in line water filter is usually easy enough to handle yourself; ideal if you’re looking to save money and avoid hiring a professional. Though installation varies slightly depending on which inline water filtration system you buy, the general process is the same:
Inline Filter Maintenance
Filter changes are the only real maintenance you’ll need for your inline water filter. Check your filter’s user manual if you’re not sure of filter life. You may need to replace the filter more frequently if filter life has been reduced by poor water quality and your flow rate has slowed.
Replacing the filter is another easy job. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need to replace the entire system and install a new one following the installation instructions above. Don’t forget to flush your new filter before you start using the system.
Frequently Asked Questions
In some ways, yes. Though both filters obviously provide clean water, an inline water filter generally has a much longer lifespan than an internal fridge filtration system. With an internal filter, you may also be restricted in exactly which filters will fit your system, whereas you can use any type of inline water filter for your fridge and ice maker regardless of its brand – even if it doesn’t have a space for a filter inside.
There are only so many contaminants an inline filter cartridge can remove from drinking water before it becomes too clogged to be effective. When your filter has outlived its recommended lifespan, it’ll filter water at a much slower rate, and will be ineffective at producing clean water. It’s important to remember to change your filter cartridge if it doesn’t automatically remind you when it’s nearing the end of its lifespan.
Chlorine is added to municipal water during treatment, and is used to disinfect water and make it safe to drink. In small amounts, chlorine won’t cause any major health concerns when consumed. But many people don’t like the taste of chlorine in their drinking water and ice maker, and, as consuming too much chlorine can be harmful to health, you may prefer not to drink it at all. Inline filters remove the majority of water, giving it a much nicer and fresher taste.
Usually a leaking filter is a result of an installation issue, and not a flaw with the filter cartridge. For this reason, fixing the issue is generally easy. One of the most likely causes of leaks is that the water line isn’t quite pushed into the filter deep enough. In this case, it’s best to switch off your water, push the water line in as far as it goes in either end of the water filter, then turn the water on and check for leaks again.
Because the majority of inline water filter systems are very similar, the answer to this question mostly comes down to budget and contaminant removal. If you you know your water has a high level of one or two contaminants, finding an inline filter for your fridge and ice maker that targets these contaminants will help you see the biggest improvement in water taste and quality. When it comes to price, determine your yearly budget and choose wisely from there.
If you’ve just installed the filter, check whether you followed the manufacturer’s instructions correctly, and that you flushed around 2 gallons of water through the filter before using it. If you have, the funny taste is most likely a result of compressed air bubbles in the filter that make their way into your water. This taste should go away on its own after one or two days of use.
You might think it best to clean your filter manually, but this is not a good idea. You should always throw away your filter once it has passed its recommended lifespan. It’s impossible to clean an inline water filter by simply running water through it, as it’s packed with tiny filtration media that trap contaminants, preventing them from escaping. It’s fine to clean the outside of your filter by wiping the system down with a clean cloth.
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