Clearly Filtered vs AquaTru: A Data-Driven Comparison

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Clearly Filtered and AquaTru systems are both popular methods of countertop water filtration. 

We put the Clearly Filtered pitcher and the AquaTru RO system to the test, conducting our own practical trials to compare them using data-driven evidence across a range of performance categories. After reading this review, you should be able to decide which of the two filters (if any) is right for you.

Clearly Filtered and AquaTru are both countertop water filtration systems, but they use different methods to improve water quality and reduce contaminants. The AquaTru purifies water with reverse osmosis, while the CF pitcher uses filtration to reduce hundreds of common contaminants.

We were impressed with both filters in our testing, but the AquaTru purified our water more thoroughly. However, its performance came at a higher price, and we thought the Clearly Filtered pitcher offered exceptional value given its ability to reduce most contaminants in our water.

📊 Our Testing Data

Our water filter reviews are based on firsthand testing, where we assess the filters based on 6 main scoring criteria. Here, we’ve shared how the Clearly Filtered and AquaTru systems performed across each testing category.

FactorClearly FilteredAquaTru
Contaminant Reduction8.249.91
Filtration Rate10.007.00

We’ve provided a more detailed look at the data that influences the overall above scores for the systems in the next table.

FactorClearly FilteredAquaTruWinner
Overall Score8.789.54AquaTru
Health Related Contaminants8.309.90AquaTru
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.909.90Tie
Performance CertificationNSF/ANSI 42 & 53NSF/ANSI 42, 53, 58, 401, & P473AquaTru
Filtration Rate2.27 GPH0.04 GPMClearly Filtered
Component QualityOutstandingOutstandingTie
Component CertificationNSF/ANSI 42, 53, 372NSF/ANSI 42,53, 401 & 372AquaTru
Servicing RequirementsOutstandingOutstandingTie
Costs$0.55/ gal$0.11/ galAquaTru
Warranty Length2 years1 yearClearly Filtered
ShippingFree shipping to all statesFree shipping to all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto RicoTie
Returns30 days30 daysTie

🚰 Contaminant Reduction

A big part of our hands-on testing process was conducting water quality tests on the filtered water from the Clearly Filtered and AquaTru systems. We combined this data with evidence of certifications from recognized testing organizations, giving us an overall contaminant reduction score.

Our Lab Test Results

We tested the Clearly Filtered pitcher with treated groundwater, while our AquaTru filter test was conducted with chlorinated city water. 

Each water source contained varying concentrations of trace contaminants.

We analyzed our test results to see how effectively the systems could reduce the contaminants present in our water. 

The next table shows the contaminants detected in each of our water supplies, and how these were reduced by Clearly Filtered and AquaTru. 

ContaminantMeasurementUnfiltered WaterClearly Filtered% ChangeUnfiltered WaterAquatru%Change
Nitrate (as N)PPM3.53.1-11.43%2.10-100.00%

AquaTru got the highest score here because it did the best job at reducing contaminants and has better performance certifications than Clearly Filtered.

Health-Related Contaminants

The test water we used for the AquaTru contained 11 contaminants with health effects. Of these, we were the most concerned by lead and uranium because they were detected in concentrations that exceeded the testing lab’s Health Guidance Levels (HGLs).

PPM1.5 0.8
Nitrate (as N)PPM2.110.0
SodiumPPM9.9120.0 (EPA Standards)
ZincPPM0.559 2
CopperPPM0.0525 0.3

We had high hopes for the AquaTru’s ability to reduce these contaminants, and we weren’t disappointed: the system eliminated all 11 impurities from our water. 

The water source we used to test the Clearly Filtered pitcher with contained several different types and concentrations of contaminants. This time, 8 contaminants with health effects were detected, and fluoride and arsenic were detected at levels exceeding the Tap Score HGL.


Like AquaTru, the Clearly Filtered pitcher completely eliminated fluoride, uranium, and copper. It also reduced 86% barium, 67% strontium, and 53% molybdenum. It did a poorer job of reducing just 11% nitrate and 3% sulfate. So, while it still addressed most contaminants, it didn’t purify our water like the AquaTru.

One testing outcome was surprising to us: cobalt wasn’t detected on our unfiltered water, but 0.0054 PPM of this metal was detected in our filtered water. The CF pitcher has been tested to reduce up to 98% of cobalt, so we don’t know why it actually increased in our filtered water. We plan to retest the pitcher to see if this was a one-time testing anomaly rather than a leaching issue with the filter. 

Aesthetic Contaminants

Chlorine is used to disinfect our two unfiltered water sources, and at low levels, it’s considered safe to drink. But it affects water’s aesthetic properties, including its taste and smell, so we were keen to remove it with our water filter systems. 

Clearly Filtered Pitcher chlorine test

The Clearly Filtered pitcher and the AquaTru reduced 100% chlorine in our water, and our filtered water from both systems had no poor tastes or chemical odors. 

Minerals, Salts, TDS, & Other Water Parameters

The AquaTru is a reverse osmosis system, and due to the RO water purification process, TDS (total dissolved solids) is greatly reduced as the majority of impurities are reduced – including healthy minerals and salts. 

So we expected that the AquaTru would affect the concentrations of these ions in our water, but we thought the Clearly Filtered system would not. 

However, the Clearly Filtered pitcher actually did reduce the calcium and magnesium levels in our water, despite the manufacturer explicitly claiming that the filter doesn’t remove beneficial minerals. 

Our filtered water test results showed us that the pitcher had reduced calcium by 32%, and sodium by 48%. Magnesium increased by 64% and Potassium slightly by 2.5%, so it’s possible that the filter uses a potassium-loaded cation exchange resin. Our water’s pH actually increased from 7.4 to 8 – we didn’t expect this because of the mineral loss. 

The AquaTru performed as we’d expected, reducing more minerals from our water and purifying it more thoroughly. 

The system reduced 97% calcium and 94% magnesium, as well as 87.1% TDS. We used AquaTru’s base model, but if you prefer to retain healthy minerals in your water, you can upgrade to the model with a remineralizing VOC filter, which reintroduces the minerals that are lost during the RO process. 

Minerals aren’t essential in drinking water for folks who follow a healthy diet, but we prefer our water to contain trace minerals because of their taste-enhancing effects.

Performance Certifications

Our own water quality testing is limited because we can only assess a water filter’s ability to reduce the contaminants present in our water. 

That’s why we also look for performance certifications from trusted testing organizations, which offer the best proof that a system can reduce contaminants based on official testing.  

The Clearly Filtered pitcher has performance certifications – it’s WQA certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 42 and Standard 53 – but it didn’t do as well as AquaTru in this category because it’s only certified to reduce 3 contaminants: chlorine, PFOA, and PFOS. View the performance datasheet here.

The AquaTru is certified by IAPMO to NSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, 58, 401, and P473, for the reduction of all 83 contaminants that the manufacturer claims to reduce, including chlorine, taste and odor, pharmaceuticals, VOCs, BPA, and more.

🚦Filtration Rate

The Clearly Filtered pitcher uses gravity to pull water through the filter, while the AquaTru uses an electric pump to force water through the RO filters and membrane. The filtered water collects in a tank and is dispensed via gravity. 

Because of these differences in water processing, we measured the Clearly Filtered’s filtration rate in gallons per hour (GPH), and the AquaTru’s in gallons per minute (GPM). Our scores are based on different criteria for gravity-fed units and pressurized systems, so we can’t directly compare the two units using the same benchmarks. AquaTru’s filtration rate is actually faster.

Here are the filtration rates we recorded for both systems. 

ProductFiltration Rate ScoreFiltration Rate
Clearly Filtered10.002.27 GPH
Aquatru7.000.04 GPM

Clearly Filtered treated 0.5 gallons of water in 13 minutes and 12 seconds, giving it a filtration rate of 2.27 GPH. 

We measured the AquaTru’s purification rate as 0.04 GPM, based on its ability to purify 11 cups in 15 minutes and 53 seconds.

If we convert the gallons per hour measurement of the Clearly Filtered pitcher into gallons per minute (0.037 GPM ), we can directly compare to AquaTru and see that it’s actually just slightly slower than AquaTru’s filtration rate.

💲 Upfront Cost

The Clearly Filtered pitcher cost $90 at the time that we got it to review, so it’s on the more expensive end for a water filter pitcher. 

The upfront cost of the AquaTru unit depends on the model you choose. 

We went for the AquaTru Classic, which was priced at $449.00. We had the option to upgrade to one of three systems, at an extra cost: 

  • The AquaTru Alkaline Classic (with a remineralization VOC filter): $469.00
  • The AquaTru Connect (with smart phone system connection): $499.00
  • The AquaTru Alkaline Connect (with a remineralization VOC filter and smart phone system connection): $519.00

AquaTru is clearly the most expensive option here, but in terms of value for money, which do we think is best?

That depends on what you’re looking for. If you just want to target a selection of specific drinking water contaminants, Clearly Filtered is the best value. But if you want to purify your water with reverse osmosis, the AquaTru is quite expensive, but offers the convenience of countertop purification without an invasive install. Let your budget and preferences guide your decision.

ProductPriceFilters Included
Clearly Filtered pitcher$90.001
AquaTru Classic$449.003
AquaTru Alkaline Classic$469.003 + Alkaline VOC Filter
AquaTru Connect$499.003 + VOC filter or Alkaline VOC Filter
AquaTru Alkaline Connect$519.003 + Alkaline VOC Filter

📐 Design

When it comes to design, the Clearly Filtered pitcher and AquaTru systems have more differences than similarities.

They’re both countertop water filters, but they’re very different in appearance and function.  

We scored the systems based on their build quality and whether or not they had materials safety certifications. 

Our scoring data for design can be found in the table below. 

ProductDesign ScoreComponent QualityMaterials Safety
Clearly Filtered9.70OutstandingCertified

Both systems got the same score here because we were impressed with their overall designs, and both are certified for materials safety.

Component Quality 

The Clearly Filtered pitcher is made of Tritan plastic, and it is one of the best-quality water filter pitchers we’ve tested. While most other pitchers have a thin, flimsy plastic feel, the CF pitcher feels sturdier and more rigid. 

The pitcher is small and lightweight, with a simple design. It holds just one filter, which separates the upper reservoir and the filtered water storage in the main pitcher body.

brian pouring filtered water from clearly filtered water pitcher

Tritan plastic is BPA-free and shouldn’t leach. But if you want to avoid exposing your filtered water to plastic, this pitcher (and most pitchers, given that plastic is commonly used because it’s affordable and lightweight), may not be best for you. 

The AquaTru unit is also made from BPA- and BPS-free Tritan plastic. The unit is bigger, heavier, and slightly more complex in design, but we noted that it also felt sturdy and durable. 

Again, you might feel uncomfortable storing your purified water in the AquaTru’s filtered water tank if you’re trying to limit your exposure to plastics.

a closer look of the Aquatru ro system

Filter Materials

The Clearly Filtered pitcher might only use a single filter, but it’s still one of the most advanced filters in a water pitcher that we’ve tested. 

The filter combines activated carbon block media with a composite shell, a woven stainless steel mesh screen, and several unnamed proprietary materials (our guess is KDF media and ion exchange resin, judging by the filter’s contaminant reduction abilities). 

The AquaTru purifies water with several separate water filter cartridges. The main purification stage is the semi-permeable reverse osmosis membrane. There’s also a carbon block pre-filter and an activated carbon filter. 

The disclosed filtration materials in both systems are safe, effective, and commonly used for water filtration. 

Design Setbacks

We noticed a few setbacks with the design of the Clearly Filtered and AquaTru systems, which we want to quickly highlight here. 

The Clearly Filtered pitcher is smaller than the AquaTru – its water-holding capacity is 10 cups. That meant we had to refill it more frequently. 

The AquaTru is a static countertop system, so we couldn’t carry it from room to room as we could with the Clearly Filtered pitcher. We also had to fill the water tank and empty the reject water tank (containing wastewater from the RO process). 

Materials Safety Certification

Water filter manufacturers can get their products certified for materials safety by the organizations that offer performance certifications: the NSF, IAPMO, and the WQA.

Both Clearly Filtered and AquaTru have materials safety certifications: 

  • The Clearly Filtered pitcher is WQA certified to NSF Standard 372 for lead-free design. It also has a materials safety certification as a component of its performance certifications. 
  • AquaTru has identical certifications: an NSF 372 certification for lead-free design, and a materials safety certification included in its IAPMO performance certifications.

⚙️ Setup

We wanted to compare the setup speed and complexity for a water filter pitcher with a basic design compared to a more advanced multi-stage countertop purification system. 

Here are our setup times and scores for both systems. 

ProductSetup ScoreSetup Time
Clearly Filtered9.50Less than 10 minutes
Aquatru10.00Less than 5 minutes

We assembled the Clearly Filtered pitcher and prepared the filter within 15 minutes. 

The actual assembly process – including washing the pitcher and reservoir and slotting the reservoir into the pitcher – took less than 5 minutes. Preparing the filter took a bit longer than most other pitchers we tested because we had to prime it first. But the priming bag came included with our pitcher and was easy to use, so this process wasn’t challenging. 

The AquaTru was refreshingly easy to set up because it arrived partially assembled, with the tanks already washed*, in the box. It was much easier to install than a traditional tank-based under-sink RO water filter system

We connected the two water tanks and plugged in the power cord, then inserted and primed the filters. This was the most time-consuming part and involved running 4 tanks of water through the system.

*We still washed the tanks before use, as the user manual instructs.

🔧 Maintenance

We had different experiences for maintenance with Clearly Filtered and AquaTru because AquaTru uses multiple separate filters, and there were differences between the filter lifespans for the two systems. 

The big surprise was that the Clearly Filtered pitcher actually cost more to maintain, despite only having one filter to replace. 

See how the systems compare for maintenance in the table below. 

ProductMaintenance ScoreServicing RequirementsCosts
Clearly Filtered8.75Outstanding$0.55/ gal
Aquatru9.75Outstanding$0.11/ ga/

AquaTru got the higher maintenance score because of its more affordable ongoing servicing spend.

Servicing Requirements 

The Clearly Filtered pitcher needed new filters around once every 4 months on average. We had to prime the filters using the priming bag that came with the pitcher, as we did with the first filter. 

We also cleaned out the pitcher and reservoir once or twice a week. We were pleased with how easy the pitcher was to maintain, owing to its uncomplicated design. 

The AquaTru was also easy to maintain, although there’s a bit more to remember. As well as filling and emptying the water tanks, we also had to replace the filters according to their own schedules. 

We were a bit apprehensive about remembering the separate filter lifespans, but AquaTru has made this easy with lifespan information and filter change reminders on the unit’s display screen. We were able to replace the filters quickly, but they each had different priming processes. 

Along with replacing the filters, we followed AquaTru’s advice and flushed the unit with pure water once a week to clean out the filters, hopefully extending their lifespans. 

Maintenance Costs

Clearly Filtered has a cost per gallon of $0.55 – 5 times the cost of the AquaTru. 

Based on AquaTru’s projected filter lifespans, we estimated that the unit costs $0.11/ gallon to maintain. The RO membrane costs $0.04/gallon, the carbon pre-filter costs $0.03/gallon; and the classic VOC carbon filter costs $0.04/gallon.

We think Clearly Filtered’s higher ongoing cost is linked to the fact that its lifespan is shorter than any of AquaTru’s filters (it has a 100-gallon filter capacity). 

🏢 Company

Finally, we compared Clearly Filtered and AquaTru’s warranty, shipping, and returns policies to see how they differed as companies. 

We’ve shared the company scores for both manufacturers in the table below. 

ProductCompany ScoreWarranty LengthShippingReturns
Clearly Filtered9.002 yearsFree shipping, all orders to all states30 days
Aquatru8.801 yearFree shipping to all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico30 days

Both filters impressed us here, but Clearly Filtered’s score was slightly higher because of its better warranty offering.

Warranty Length 

Clearly Filtered’s 2-year warranty is better than any other water filter pitcher warranty we’ve seen. AquaTru warrants its products defects in materials and workmanship for 1 year – a little disappointing given its higher upfront cost snd its use of electrical components.  


Clearly Filtered and AquaTru both provide free economy shipping to all 50 states, with no minimum spend, making them on equal footing here. 


Again, both manufacturers offer a 30-day returns policy from the day of purchase, so they got the same returns score from us.

⛔️ System Setbacks & Flaws

The AquaTru and Clearly Filtered systems are two of our top-reviewed filters, but they still have some setbacks and flaws that you should be aware of.  

Clearly Filtered Setbacks

  • Reduces healthy minerals – We didn’t expect Clearly Filtered to reduce the healthy minerals in our water.
  • Costly to maintain  – The filters in the Clearly Filtered pitcher last around 4 months, so they need replacing more frequently, and ongoing maintenance costs are higher. 
  • Smaller water-holding capacity – The CF pitcher holds just 10 cups of water, so it needs refilling frequently.

AquaTru Setbacks

  • Expensive – At $450+, the AquaTru isn’t a budget-friendly water filtration system. 
  • Wastes water – The AquaTru uses RO purification, which wastes around 1 gallon of water per 4 gallons purified. However, it is much more efficient and wastes less water than many other similar RO systems we’ve tested.
  • Optional remineralization costs extra  – We wish that AquaTru’s base model came with a remineralization filter, rather than this being an optional upgrade.  

🆚 Clearly Filtered or AquaTru: Which Should You Choose?

So, is AquaTru or Clearly Filtered the better offering? It depends on what you’re looking for in a water treatment system.

We Think Clearly Filtered is Best If:

Your priority is premium water filtration without the side effects of RO purification (water waste, greatly reducing healthy minerals, etc).
You want a smaller and more portable gravity filter, which doesn’t need an electricity connection.
Your budget is smaller and you want to spend less than $100 upfront on a filtration system.

Choose AquaTru if:

You prefer to reduce TDS in your water and are in the market for an advanced, no-install Countertop RO System.
You want the option of upgrading to a model with remineralization.
You value certifications and prefer to go for a system that has been certified to reduce as many contaminants as possible.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

2 thoughts on “Clearly Filtered vs AquaTru: A Data-Driven Comparison”

  1. Avatar for Brian Campbell

    What would be an option if I want to avoid exposing my filtered water to plastic ? I have been spending hours comparing the Clearly Filtered , Zero and Epic Pure but then I saw your comment about the plastic .

    1. Avatar for Brian Campbell
      Brian Campbell

      Great question, Lisa. A couple of ideas:

      • Go for a countertop reverse osmosis system that holds the purified water in a glass vessel, like the Aquatru carafe.
      • Get one of the pitchers you mentioned, and right after the water is done filtering move it to a glass holding vessel.

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