What Do Fridge Filters Remove?

Although what I’m about to write is often an afterthought for most families, fridge filters might arguably be the most common way that filtered drinking water is consumed in the United States at home.  Think about it.  It’s rather difficult to buy a fridge without a built-in icemaker and water spigot that fills up your drinking glass with cold, good-tasting water.  These fridges all require filters to give you good tasting water.  And that brings me to the topic of this article, “What Do Fridge Filters Remove?“.

Have You Changed Your Filter Lately?

First off, you need to make sure your filter doesn’t need changed.  Old Filter=Bad Water.

You know how they place a little sticker in your car window when you go to get your oil changed?  Do you have a way of reminding you when it’s time to change the water filter in your fridge?  Some fridges have an indicator light based on a time period or # of gallons filtered.  Maybe you go by the taste of the water.  When it starts to taste funky or like the swimming pool, it’s time for a replacement.  Lastly, the filter might be designed to restrict flow to signal it’s time for a replacement.  You may need to change your filter out sooner than the manufacturer’s recommendations depending on the quality of your water.

A fridge filter can be an afterthought to replace, normally you either need to lay on your belly if it’s at the base of the fridge or you need to take everything off the top shelf and sometimes watch a how-to video because it’s seems like a rocket science designed the fridge.

This public service announcement has been made by the fine folks at Pure Water At Home.  Reminding you to change your fridge filter on a regular basis for the cleanest, best tasting water.

Now that the comedy routine has ended, let’s get on with the substance of this article…

What Do Fridge Filters Remove?

When you read the packaging for your fridge filter you will probably see the following phrase, “Reduces Chlorine Taste & Odor.”

First and foremost, fridge filters are not the most effective water filters available.  They are comparable in filtration quality to a Brita or Pur filtered water pitcher and can remove or reduce anywhere from 7 to about 24 different contaminants.  They are excellent at filtering water for taste and odor but are not able to get a lot of heavy metals or contaminants out of the water.  Let me explain…

Fridge filters have to filter water instantly on-demand, so they require a fast flow.  When you go to fill up your  glass, you expect water to start flowing out as soon as you push the paddle far enough in so your glass is filled in a matter of seconds.  The average filter flows at approximately 0.5 gallons per minute.  If it filtered at the speed of a drip coffee maker, you would be calling a plumber or handyman thinking it was a clogged or frozen line.  So the quickest filtration media is loose granular activated carbon (GAC), although carbon block filters (better filtration quality) are becoming more common.   Water stays in contact the least amount of time with a granular carbon filter resulting in the fewest number of contaminants being removed.  More filtering time=More Contaminants Removed

The most effective fridge filter will be solid carbon and larger in size.  A larger filter means that the water remains in contact with the filter longer.

Fridge filters are most effective at reducing the taste and presence of chlorine up to 97 or 98%.  Certain filters can remove more contaminants than other filters.  Your average fridge filter will remove or reduce chlorine, mercury, lead, cysts, particulates, and several herbicides and pesticides at least 90-98%.  For best results, try to use a carbon block filter.  Solid carbon is a more effective filter media than granular carbon.

Fridge filters cannot remove fluoride.  If you want a filter with the capability to remove fluoride, then you need to apply one of these four methods.

What Are The Best Fridge Filters?

It can be rather difficult and time-consuming to research what your fridge filter can remove.   So I have put together a list of 3 filters to consider for your fridge and some quick buying tips.

  • Tip #1: Make sure the filter is compatible with your fridge.
  • Tip #2: Try to buy a solid carbon block filter. (The three filters listed below are carbon blocks)
  • Tip #3: The average filter is normally rated for 6 months or 200 gallons.  If the taste of the water changes or the flow noticeably reduces, than you may need to change your filter out sooner (or later than recommended).
  • Tip #4: Consider an auto-subscribe plan to encourage a regular replacement schedule and possibly receive a discount.

*The following filter recommendations are not listed in any particular order, only to show what I think are the best filters compatible with specific brands.

What Do Fridge Filters Remove?Filter Recommendation #1: General Electric MWF

This filter by General Electric (GE) is a solid carbon filter & estimated to last 6 months, 300 gallons, or until the flow becomes greatly reduced.  It is compatible with select side-by-side and under-freezer models.

The unique trait about this filter is that it is certified to filter the following trace pharmaceuticals:

  1. Ibuprofen
  2. Progesterone
  3. Atenolol
  4. Trimethoprim
  5. Fluoxetine

I doubt you will see any pharmaceuticals listed on the water quality report released by your local water utility.  They are really expensive to test for and each needs to be tested individually.  But if you are on city water, you can bet that your water contains some amount of pharmaceutical residue in it.

What Do Fridge Filters RemoveFilter Recommendation #2: Whirlpool Everydrop

 The Whirlpool Everydrop filters are an improvement in filtration technology and replace the old Whirlpool and Maytag filters that might have orginally came with your fridge.  This new filtration line removes more contaminants and come in a variety of 8 sizes that are compatible with different fridge models.  For example, Everydrop Filter 3 replaces Filter 4396841.

The small filters are only certified to remove 6 or 7 contaminants whereas the large filters can remove up to 66 contaminants including pharmaceuticals.

These filters are compatible with following brands:

  • Whirlpool
  • Maytag
  • KitchenAid
  • Jenn-Air
  • Amana

The expected life is 6 months and 200-250 gallons depending on the filter.

What Do Fridge Filters RemoveRecommendation #3: Samsung

The Samsung Aqua Pure filters are a solid carbon filter that are produced by Cuno Inc., which is a 3M company.  The filter is recommended for 6 months or 300 gallons.

It isn’t certified to remove pharmaceuticals like the GE or some of the Whirlpool Filters but is very effective at reducing 97.5% of chlorine taste and odor, and up to 99.9% of lead, asbestos, and cysts.  It can also remove pesticides, particulates and turbidity.

This is a great alternative to a granular carbon filter that you might be currently using.

Should I Use A Fridge Filter If I Have A Whole House Filtration System?

This answer depends on a couple variables.  If your plumbing pipes are older than contaminants can leach from the pipes even after the water was filtered at the point-of-entry with the whole house filter.  You may also consider it for a couple months because you might have some residue from unfiltered water before the whole house filter was installed.  In more instances than not, you cannot necessarily go wrong with using the fridge filter as a point-of-use filter for short-term use.

The filter won’t be as beneficial because it is a secondary filter and I encourage you to use your best judgement to not spend money on a filter that is already filtering pure water.

Most filtered fridges come with a bypass option so it might be easier than you think to not use the fridge filter.

Also if you have Reverse Osmosis system, your flow might be lower than the recommended 0.5 gallons per minute that fridge water is normally filtered at.  In this instance you will probably want to avoid the filter because of the slow flow & because RO is normally some of the purest water produced.


I hope this has helped you learn more about what fridge filters can remove & their are better filters available that you might be using currently.

The most effective filter is a solid carbon filter and if you have the option when purchasing your next refrigerator, I also encourage you to try and find one that is compatible with a larger filter that can remove more contaminants.

Any filter will give you more clean & healthier water.  The primary purpose for fridge filters is to reduce chlorine taste & odor (it’s what is prominently displayed on every package) but they can remove more than just this one item!

Do you use a fridge filter or another filtration method at your house (i.e. whole house, filtered pitcher, under-sink filter)?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *