Do Water Filter Pitchers Target Bacteria in Water?

Author: Rory Mullan - Published: 2022/02/23 - Updated: 2023/01/05

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Water filter pitchers are probably the most popular type of home water filter out there.

They not only remove harmful water contaminants like lead and pesticides, they also greatly improve the taste and odor of drinking water.

But do water filter pitchers also target bacteria? Find out below!

So, here is our guide answering the question, do water filter pitchers remove bacteria.


  • Some water filter pitchers can target bacteria.
  • The capacity to remove bacteria depends on the filtering medium/procedure applied.
  • When using sub-micron filtration, a water filter pitcher can eliminate bacteria.

Do Water Filter Pitchers Remove Bacteria?

Do Water Filter Pitchers Target Bacteria Thumbnail

Bacteria, single-celled organisms, exist in varying sizes. Their size can range from 1 to 10 microns in length and 0.2 to 1 micron in width.

Bacteria exist everywhere around Earth, including your water supply, regrettably.

Although a few bacteria types are useful, others are hazardous and contribute to severe health problems.

As such, removing harmful bacteria from a residential water supply is crucial to remain protected and healthy.

But can water filter pitchers help in this regard? Do water filter pitchers target bacteria swimming in your water?

Fortunately, yes, they can. However, we cannot claim this for all pitchers available.

In other words, bacteria elimination entirely depends upon the type of filter media used. Because they are extremely small, not all pitchers can trap waterborne bacteria successfully.

Models applying submicron filtration work best. They may use a ceramic shell for example.

What Other Contaminants Do Filter Pitchers Target?

Quality water filter pitchers target a range of water contaminants alongside bacteria. Nonetheless, their effectiveness depends on the filtration process applied.

Therefore, make sure you check the pitcher for NSF certifications. It is the only possible way to be sure about contaminant reduction rates.

We’ve curated a list of contaminants a good water filter pitcher can eliminate.


Because fluoride prevents tooth decay, water suppliers mix it in your water supply. Though this step is meant to benefit people, it can have the opposite effect if the fluoride levels are too high.

Consuming highly fluoridated water can discolor teeth and also lead to skeletal fluorosis.

Pitchers featuring ion exchange filter media can reduce fluoride in drinking water to safe levels.


Microplastics are everywhere, even the arctic.[1]

Drinking microplastic-laden water for long periods can lead to severe health problems like reduced metabolic activity, inflammatory lesions, toxicity and even cancer.

But can filter pitchers help?

Unfortunately, most pitchers do not eliminate microplastics. However, ceramic pitchers can be somewhat helpful in this regard.

microplastics on spoon


Long-term mercury exposure can hinder brain development in fetuses and cause kidney problems in adults.

Inhibited brain development can affect overall brain functioning and lead to memory problems later in life.

Fortunately, granular activated carbon filter pitchers work great to reduce mercury from water. Additionally, ion exchange filter media and KDF also target mercury.


Chlorine isn’t an impurity per se and is intentionally added to your water supply for disinfection purposes. However, it can cause aesthetic water issues.

Luckily, activated carbon-based water filter pitchers reduce chlorine levels with ease. Check for NSF certification standard 42 just to be sure.


Chloramine is a more stable water disinfectant than chlorine and contributes to forming nitrosamine – a new water contaminant type.

Luckily, catalytic carbon water filter pitchers can eliminate chloramine.


Your tap water may contain disinfection byproducts like HAAs and TTHMs among others.

These DBPs can cause rather severe health issues like bladder cancer when ingested long-term.

The good news, activated carbon filter pitchers successfully eliminate disinfection byproducts from your water.


Lead enters our water through the plumbing system or distribution lines. The neurotoxin is incredibly detrimental to health and can even be life-threatening.

It causes irreparable side effects in children, including lower IQ and hindered brain development. Even worse, it also affects pregnant women, causing miscarriages and premature birth.

In order to get rid of lead in your drinking water, use activated carbon block, ceramic or ion exchange pitchers.


These synthetic chemicals are relatively new but sadly exist all around us nowadays.

PFAS can lead to liver and pancreatic issues and also lower immune activity.

Catalytic activated carbon and ion exchange resin are two types of filter media capable of removing PFAS giving you healthy drinking water.


Drinking water containing chromium 6 can lead to reproductive issues in males and females.

Besides, it can also contribute to liver and kidney dysfunction, diarrhea and cramps.

Lucky for you, ion exchange filter media reduces chromium 6 in water.


If you want to remove pesticides and/or herbicides, an activated carbon water filter pitcher would be ideal.

Farming tractor spraying a field with pesticides


VOC ingestion can cause shortness of breath, skin-related issues, fatigue and headache.

On top of that, consuming high VOC levels can lead to liver, kidney and nervous system malfunctioning.

You can use a carbon-based filter pitcher for protection.

Trace Pharmaceuticals

Various pharmaceutical wastes, including animal and human hormones and antibiotics, can be present in your water supply.

Standard activated carbon pitchers can work to eliminate them.

How Do They Work?

A water filter pitcher follows the universal filtration principle: Water crosses one or more types of filter media where all the contaminants get trapped.

However, some people are skeptical about the operation and effectiveness of water filter pitchers due to their small size.

Yes, these filters are built to treat small amounts of water only. This, however, does not mean they aren’t good at what they do.

As long as you buy a high-quality water filter pitcher and remember to replace the filter element frequently, you are guaranteed to hold a very powerful water filtration device in your hands.

What If You Don’t Replace the Cartridge or Clean Your Water Filter Pitcher Regularly?

Replacing the filter cartridge in your pitcher is critical. It’s the only way to guarantee effective contaminant removal in the long run.

In addition, occasional cleaning is required. Otherwise, mold, bacteria and other dirt may accumulate affecting filtered water quality.

When and How to Clean Filter Pitchers?

Most water filter pitchers are similar in design. They feature parts like curves, hollows, reservoirs and crevices. Therefore, the cleaning process remains the same regardless of what model you own.

Here are a few steps that’ll help clean your pitcher.

  1. First off, you need to disassemble all parts. However, be careful as you do that. Pitchers are fragile, and you can easily break the plastic.
  2. Add some dish soap to a bowl of water and pour this mixture inside the feed and clean water reservoirs.
  3. Shake the mixture for a bit and let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Now, use a sponge or a soft brush for a more thorough cleaning.
  5. Rinse the parts with lukewarm water and remove all the soap properly.
  6. After rinsing, let the pitcher dry completely.
  7. Reassemble and you’re good to go!

How Often Should You Replace Filter Cartridges?

pitcher water filter cartridge submerged in water

Cartridge replacement depends upon several factors, including your water condition, usage and overall pitcher filter capacity.

For instance, if your water is highly contaminated, it will put more pressure on the filter media, and you’d need to replace it more frequently.

The capacity of the pitcher filter depends on the model. Generally, 20-40 gallons is the bare minimum. Long-lasting filter elements can provide up to 150-gallon capacity. As such, they need fewer replacements.


In conclusion, some water filter pitchers can target bacteria.

Besides, a quality unit also reduces fluoride, microplastics, mercury, chlorine/chloramine, DBPs, lead, chromium, PFAS, herbicides/pesticides, VOCs and trace pharmaceuticals.

If you want to make sure that your water filter pitcher works at its best, you need to clean it regularly and remember to replace the cartridge in time.

Further Reading


Meet Rory Mullan

Rory Mullan Rory has joined the Water Masterz team as a contributing writer. He has covered all sorts of topics in the last several years.

Outside of his writing work, Rory enjoys photographing the Irish landscape and making music!

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