How Often Should You Change Your Pitcher Water Filter?

Author: Jason Hollow - Published: 2022/08/12 - Updated: 2022/12/22

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Water filter pitchers require very little maintenance. At most, you’ll have to replace the filter cartridge every once in a while. While there’s a general time frame of 1-6 months for this replacement, it changes from model to model.

If you are not sure how often you should change your water pitcher’s filters, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of changing the filter cartridges of your water pitcher, how often you should do it, and the signs that tell you your filters need changing.

So, here is our guide on how often to change your pitcher water filter!


  • The general rule for changing pitcher water filters is to change them every one to three months.
  • Pitcher filters are designed to work effectively for a specific volume of water. So, if you use your water pitcher often, you might need to change it more frequently.
  • It is always best to check the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines to be sure that your pitcher water filter is functioning optimally.

Why Change a Pitcher Water Filter in the First Place?

Water pitchers are equipped with filters that have a limited lifespan. These filters are designed to process a certain amount of water, after which they must be replaced. A water pitcher filter traps contaminants and prevents them from passing into the filtered water compartment. However, filters can only hold a limited contaminant volume before losing effectiveness.

If you keep an old filter unchanged for too long, you might not notice any changes at first, but once you replace it, you can usually tell the difference between the last glass you drank before replacing the filter and the first glass you drink afterward.

How Often Should You Change a Pitcher Filter Cartridge?

How Often to Change Water Filter Pitcher thumbnail

Although every model is different, many of the water filter pitchers on the market fall within a common range of 1-3 months. It is a good idea to stick to these numbers as a general guideline if your pitcher manufacturer hasn’t provided specific instructions.

That said, you can typically determine how often you need to replace your water pitcher filter by following manufacturer specifications. Such guidelines are provided for almost all filter pitchers on the market.

There are also models that include an indicator that lets you know when to replace the filter. However, they are not always accurate since they don’t account for all factors that affect filter life.

How Long a Pitcher Water Filter Lasts: Key Factors

Your filter’s usable life is largely determined by three factors: how often you use it, the quality of your water, and the type of filter you have. Let’s take a closer look at each factor:

Water Consumption

While many manufacturers suggest that their products should be replaced after a specific period of time, for example, several weeks or months, these estimates are based on the average consumption habits of a standard household. Realistically, the performance of filters degrades primarily depending on the amount of water that passes through them.

If you live in a large household with several family members, your filter will need to be changed more often than if you live alone.

Although measuring your water consumption can be difficult, you should try. To do so, you can write down how many times you have filled your pitcher within 48 hours.

Water Quality

Before purchasing a pitcher, it can be useful to know the water’s quality.[1] The dirtier your water supply is, the sooner filters may expire. There are DIY test kits that you can run at home, though they may not always provide you with the most accurate results.

You should have your water supply professionally inspected if you want to be absolutely sure. Be aware that this can cost a lot of money and can take a long time.

Pitcher Model

Filtration performance varies between pitcher brands. Some are very effective at removing contaminants from the water, but this might mean that their filters need to be replaced more frequently.

When selecting the right model, it is also important to consider how many people live in the household. An inexpensive water filter pitcher may be a good option if you live alone. However, if you want advanced filtration capabilities and more durable filters, you should choose a more expensive one.

Telltale Signs That You Need to Change Filter Cartridges

Some telltale signs that your pitcher’s filter needs to be replaced include the taste of your water changing or slowing down filtering speed. You should change your filter cartridge if you notice any of the following:

Slowed Filtration

Filters in water pitchers start to clog up as they capture more and more contaminants over time. This results in water flowing slower. This is a sign that the cartridge needs to be replaced.

Bad Taste or Smell

Water filter pitchers affect water taste mainly depending on what contaminants are present in the water. Even a simple filter can drastically improve your water’s aesthetics. If you notice that your water is reverting to its original unpleasant taste[2], that’s a sign that the filter needs to be replaced.

The same is true for water odor. Using a filter pitcher doesn’t always lead to a noticeable improvement in how your water smells. However, if it does, then it is another factor you should watch out for as an indication that the filter cartridge should be replaced soon.

Young woman in the kitchen drinking water

Filter Life Indicator

Water filter pitchers sometimes have an indicator that tells you how the filter is doing. However, keep in mind that these indicators are not very accurate. Most of the time, they simply estimate the amount of water that has passed through the filter.

Furthermore, the indicator may not function properly if you have a highly contaminated water supply.

How to Change a Pitcher Water Filter

When replacing filters, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Most pitcher models follow the same general process. However, there might be a few differences depending on your particular filter.

Here’s what the process generally looks like:

  1. Start by emptying your pitcher completely and removing the current filter. To reach the filter, you may need to disassemble some additional parts. You should take the pitcher apart at this point anyway, since you should wash it thoroughly while you’re at it.
  2. Priming is often necessary before using many filter cartridges. To do so, you might have to immerse them in cold water or hold them under a running faucet.
  3. Install the new filter into your pitcher after it has been primed.
  4. Before drinking the water, it is recommended that you fill the pitcher completely and drain it twice. After that, you should be good to go!

On Recycling Used Pitcher Filters

Cartridges for water filters can be recycled in some cases. As an alternative to simply throwing them away, you can send them to specialized companies that will extract any useful materials.

Some companies, such as Epic Water Filters, will also accept old filter cartridges directly as opposed to going through a third-party recycler. Check the manufacturer’s website for more information. You may find that the process is simpler than you think; for example, the manufacturer may cover your shipping costs, making the whole thing completely free for you.

More Tips & Tricks

Follow these tips to extend the usable life of your water filter pitcher:

Avoid Using Third-Party Filters

A huge market exists for third-party filter cartridges, especially those from popular brands. However, these products often come with hidden costs. Filters made by anyone but the original manufacturer are generally not recommended.

It is possible that the third-party filters are less effective than the ones provided by the manufacturer, which could lead to lower quality filtration or even higher costs in the long run.

Filter Cold Water Only

Water filter pitchers are designed specifically for cold water. Be sure not to process anything else, such as hot water, juice, or beverages.

Learn How to Clean Your Water Filter Pitcher the Right Way

The best time to clean a pitcher is when you’re replacing the filter cartridge. It may be possible to clean some models with the filter in place, but it’s not recommended. Once you’ve finished cleaning, be sure to remove any soap residue before placing your filter back in.


There’s no universal constant for how often you should change your pitcher water filters.

While the rule of thumb is that you should replace them at least every few months, this could change depending on the pitcher model and how often you use it.

If you notice your water starts to taste funny or smell, then it’s probably time to change the filter. You should also consider changing it if the filtering speed starts to slow down a lot.

Further Reading


Meet Jason Hollow

Jason Hollow Jason is the founder of Water Masterz and head of content creation. After six years in the industry, he has tremendous knowledge and first-hand experience on all things related to water treatment.

His credo: Not a single American should have to drink unhealthy water at home.

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