Clearly Filtered vs ZeroWater Filter Pitchers: Which is Better in 2021?

Clearly Filtered and ZeroWater are two of the most popular brands for water filter pitchers in the US. If you’re caught between the two, this guide will help you determine which is best for you.

While ZeroWater has a broader range of offerings, Clearly Filtered offers the superior filter pitcher. In this guide, I’ll compare the most important elements of both filters and help you understand why Clearly Filtered is better in terms of contaminants removed, filter lifespan, customer satisfaction, and more.

⚖️ Clearly Filtered vs ZeroWater Comparison Chart

Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher
Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher
  • Capacity: 0.62 gallons
  • Contaminants removed: 270+
  • Filter lifespan: 100 gallons/4 months
  • Warranty: Lifetime guarantee
  • Price:

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ZeroWater 10 Cup
ZeroWater Pitcher
  • Capacity: 0.30 gallons – 0.75 gallons
  • Contaminants removed: 23
  • Filter lifespan: 20 gallons
  • Warranty: 90/d (pitcher); 30/d (filter)
  • Price:

💡 Clearly Filtered vs ZeroWater Filter Comparison

Clearly Filtered Filters

The Clearly Filtered filter offers three stages of filtration known as “affinity filtration technology“, which Clearly Filtered says makes it a “serious filtration device”.

The first stage of filtration is a woven stainless steel mesh screen, which prevents larger particles from entering the filter and clogging it too quickly.

Next is a granulated coconut carbon filter, a loose filtration layer that targets aesthetic contaminants such as chlorine, tastes and odors.

The final stage is a composite shell layer, which consists of more than 7 proprietary filtration materials. This dense filtration layer gives water a long contact time with the filter media, allowing for “superior removal percentages” on a broad range of contaminants.

Clearly Filtered Pitcher Replacement Filter
Clearly Filtered Replacement Filters

ZeroWater Filters

The ZeroWater filter offers five stages of filtration, and is designed to deliver pure-tasting water.

When you visit a product page on ZeroWater, it doesn’t actually tell you what the five stages of filtration are, which is not very helpful. You have to visit the “Why Choose ZeroWater” page to learn this information, which is a pretty bad decision on ZeroWater’s part – some customers may decide to leave the website if they can’t find the information they’re looking for straight away.

The first filter stage is a coarse filter screen, which removes large particles of sediment. There’s then a foam distributer, followed by an activated carbon and oxidation reduction alloy.

Next is the anion exchange bed. This contains both cation and anion ions, which remove dissolved ions in water and replace them with hydrogen and hydroxide ions, which combine together to produce H20 (water).

Finally, an ultra-fine screen and non-woven membrane layers remove any lingering contaminants.

Having five stages of filtration is certainly impressive, especially as the ZeroWater pitcher somehow manages to combine filter stages that are usually within their own dedicated filtration system, within a single filter cartridge.

The ZeroWater filters can reduce total dissolved solids (TDS) down to 0, and comes with a TDS meter to check that the filter is working properly.

zerowater replacement filters
ZeroWater Replacement Filters

🧫 What Contaminants Do They Remove?

When it comes to contaminant removal, the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher is an obvious winner. This pitcher filter can remove more than 270 harmful contaminants in drinking water, including lead, fluoride, BPA, and PFOS.

The ZeroWater pitcher filter, on the other hand, can remove a total of 23 contaminants – less than 10% of what the Clearly Filtered pitcher can remove. Contaminants removed include chlorine, fluoride, asbestos, arsenic, nitrate, iron and lead.

The majority of the most common tap water contaminants are filtered out by the ZeroWater, but when deciding between the two, it’s a no-brainer. The Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher can remove so much more.

The table below shows the contaminants that both filters can remove:

ContaminantClearly Filtered Removal %ZeroWater Removal %
Antimony99.0%98.0%
Arsenic III98.0%98.3%
Arsenic V98.0%98.3%
Asbestos99.0%99.9%
Barium99.9%99.9%
Beryllium97.0%98.0%
Cadmium97.0%97.0%
Chlorine99.0%99.5%
Chromium 398.0%97.8%
Chromium 699.0%97.8%
Copper99.9%99.9%
Cyanide99.9%not tested
Fluoride99.0%99.5%
Iron99.9%99.9%
Lead99.0%99.3%
Manganese99.0%99.9%
Mercury92.0%98.4%
Nitrate98.0%99.9%
Nitrite99.0%99.7%
Selenium99.0%99.1%
Silver99.9%98.8%
Thallium99.0%98.0%
Zinc99.9%99.9%
*247 other contaminantsnot testedvaries

Click the links below to see the full contaminant removal capability of each:

🚦 Performance Comparison

Clearly Filtered

The Clearly Filtered offers an impressive performance, both in terms of speed and contaminants removed. Considering the number of contaminants the pitcher removes, you’d expect it to filter water slowly. However, customers were happy with just how quickly the Clearly Filtered processes unfiltered water.

Clearly filtered pitcher

This pitcher’s oversized grip handle makes pouring easier, and a water dam inside the top reservoir prevents water from escaping through the lid when you pour clean water from the chamber below. This also prevents the tap water in the top reservoir from contaminating the purified water when you’re pouring.

The Clearly Filtered doesn’t have an NSF certification to back up its contaminant removal claims. However, Clearly Filtered has had its water pitcher independently tested to NSF standards 42, 53, 244, 401 & 473. Independent testing is a positive sign, but a proper NSF certification is obviously the better choice.

ZeroWater

Like the Clearly Filtered, the ZeroWater is a gravity filter, so the filtration process isn’t instant. An advantage of this pitcher, however, is that you can pour filtered drinking water from the spout while the pitcher is still filtering water. You don’t have to wait for all the unfiltered water to make it into the bottom reservoir before you can drink from the pitcher.

A big bonus of the ZeroWater is that it’s NSF certified to reduce a number of contaminants. Having an NSF certification is a sign to customers that the ZeroWater filter has been deemed capable of offering the advertised standard of performance by a reliable, independent testing body.

The ZeroWater has been certified against NSF/ANSI Standard 42, for chlorine taste and odor reduction, and NSF/ANSI Standard 53, for lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium removal.

TDS Meter
ZeroWater Free TDS Meter

ZeroWater is advertised to reduce total dissolved solids (TDS) to 0, and it’s sold with a TDS meter that gives a reading of total dissolved solids after filtration. Total dissolved solids reduction can be a good sign, and the TDS meter is certainly a handy device to have. However, keep in mind that not all total dissolved solids (TDS) are bad for us.

Many beneficial minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, are seen as TDS. Removing these beneficial minerals doesn’t actually improve water quality.

I see this as bit of a shady marketing tactic, praying on people’s ignorance of the subject.

💲 Models & Upfront Cost

Clearly Filtered Models

The Clearly Filtered pitcher is available in just one capacity: 80 ounces, or 0.62 gallons. We should aim to drink half a gallon of water per day, so this pitcher can hold more than enough water for a single person’s daily water intake.

Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher
Clearly Filtered Model

ZeroWater Models

ZeroWater has a number of pitcher models and sizes to choose from:

  • 6-Cup Water Filter Pitcher
  • 7-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher
  • 10-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher
  • 10-Cup Ready-Pour Round Pitcher
  • 10-Cup Pitcher
  • 12-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher
zerowater models
ZeroWater Models

ZeroWater also offers larger pitcher dispensers that use the same filter cartridge but are designed to be more similar to countertop filters – they’re less portable and dispense water from a tap.

Comparing ZeroWater vs Clearly Filtered, ZeroWater is at an advantage for having more models and capacity options available. It’s handy to have different choices based on your design preferences and family size.

However, unless you have a reason to need a particularly small or large pitcher, having only one choice with Clearly Filtered shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance.

📆 Filter Lifespan & Replacement Costs

Clearly Filtered

The Clearly Filtered pitcher has a 100-gallon lifespan, equating to around 4 months, depending on your daily water usage. This is about as good as it gets for filter lifespan in a pitcher – Brita’s Longlast filters are the only filters I know of that have a slightly longer lifespan of 6 months.

You can buy Clearly Filtered replacement filters in packs of 1, 3, and 6. These filters aren’t cheap. Keep in mind that the original Clearly Filtered pitcher, which has a filter included, costs $67.50. A single replacement filter itself is priced at $50. You can get $10 off if you buy a pack of 3 filters (costing $140) and $30 when you buy a pack of 6 filters (costing $270).

The Clearly Filtered filters might be expensive, but you’ll only need to buy three a year. $140 for a year’s supply of filters seems fair, especially considering their contaminant removal capabilities.

ZeroWater

The ZeroWater filter, on the other hand, has a 20-gallon lifespan, though ZeroWater says that if the filter is used with water that has a lower TDS reading, it may last up to 40 gallons. Still, it’s a quarter of the Clearly Filtered filter’s lifespan. You’ll need to change this filter at least once a month.

Replacement ZeroWater filters are a little cheaper than the Clearly Filtered filters – but remember that they last for a fraction of the Clearly Filtered’s filters. You can buy a pack of 2 replacement filters for just over $30, and a pack of 4 for around $55. You’ll get the best deal if you buy 12 filters upfront for $124.99 – that means each individual filter is priced at just over $10 each.

💬 Customer Reviews & Complaints

Clearly Filtered

Customers are very happy with just how many contaminants the Clearly Filtered pitcher can remove – more than any other pitcher on the market.

Clearly Filtered water dam feature

Customers also say that the filter works speedily to filter water into the bottom chamber for drinking, and that water tastes great.

There aren’t a lot of complaints about the Clearly Filtered, but some customers do say that they wish the filter was less expensive. Some customers also mentioned that the design of the handle made it flimsy, and some said that they wished the pitcher would have a tap, allowing it to dispense water from the fridge.

ZeroWater

ZeroWater’s customers are generally happy with the design of the pitchers, especially those with the ready-pour spout, which makes it easier to pour from them when they’re heavy and full of water. Customers say that the filter produces water that tastes great, and is just as enjoyable as bottled water. Customers also say that the pitcher is easy to wash between uses, and can be easily stored in the fridge.

ZeroWater Pitcher reviews

However, a recurring complaint about the ZeroWater pitcher is to do with the quality of build.

Several customers mentioned that the pitcher had cracked or split, with others saying that the handle and base have sharp, unpolished edges and a poor-fitting filter change indicator.

One customer speculated that they had been given a replacement model that wasn’t the same as the one on the website, though there is no evidence to confirm the validity of this.

☑️ Pros and Cons of Clearly Filtered vs ZeroWater

👍 Clearly Filtered – What I Like

  • Good filter life of up to 4 months
  • Pitcher removes more than 200 harmful contaminants
  • Greatly improves drinking water quality
  • From a manufacturer with years of industry experience
  • Reduces more contaminants than any other pitcher
  • Fast filtration

👎 Clearly Filtered – What I Didn’t Like

  • Clearly Filtered replacement filter cartridges are expensive
  • Only one size and model available
  • Not actually NSF certified

👍 ZeroWater – What I Like

  • Sold with a TDS meter for checking that the filter works
  • Features 5 stages of filtration, including a carbon filter and an ion exchange resin
  • Multiple styles and capacities to choose from
  • From a reliable, trusted manufacturer
  • The only pitcher to reduce TDS contaminants to 0
  • NSF certified to standards 42 and 53

👎 ZeroWater – What I Didn’t Like

  • TDS reduction isn’t an indication of water quality
  • Misleading marketing tactics used to sell the product
  • Less impressive filter life of 1 month
  • Pitcher removes far fewer contaminants

🤔 Should I Buy Clearly Filtered or ZeroWater?

Comparing ZeroWater vs Clearly Filtered, Clearly Filtered is the better choice. While the Clearly Filtered pitcher is only available in one design and capacity, it offers a far more impressive contaminant removal than the ZeroWater.

There are a few similarities between the Clearly Filtered and the ZeroWater. They’re both made from BPA-free plastic, and they both reduce some of the most common drinking water contaminants, like lead and chlorine (though ZeroWater’s contaminant reduction abilities are nowhere near as impressive as Clearly Filtered’s). Both produce purified water to some extent, and both improve water’s taste.

However, if water quality is important to you, and you want to make sure your drinking water is 100% safe to drink, you need the Clearly Filtered pitcher. Using affinity filtration technology, the filter can remove hundreds more contaminants.

Considering that the ZeroWater has five stages of filtration, it does make you wonder why it wouldn’t be capable of removing more than 23 contaminants. It seems that ZeroWater’s aim is to reduce TDS to 0 – the filter is even sold with a TDS meter so you can confirm this – without focusing on removing the dangerous contaminants and retaining the beneficial minerals.

With its longer filter life, a more thorough filtration process and more impressive contaminant reduction abilities, I would recommend buying the Clearly Filtered over the ZeroWater.

🧠 FAQs

Can I use both pitchers with hot water?

No. Both filters are designed for cold drinking water only.

Are both pitchers Free From BPA?

Yes, both filters are made from BPA-free plastic.

How do I know when to change the filter cartridges?

With the ZeroWater, you can use the TDS meter to analyze your water quality. If the TDS meter indicates that your water quality is getting worse, it’s a sign that you need to buy a replacement filter.

The Clearly Filtered doesn’t come with a TDS meter or a filter indication light. I recommend making a note of when you started to use your current filter. You can then change the filter after 4 months, or when it starts to filter water very slowly.

Can I clean and reuse the filter cartridges in these pitchers?

No. Both filter cartridges are single-use only, and you should recycle them and buy new cartridges when they have reached the end of their filter life.

How important is a TDS meter?

You might be wondering whether how useful the ZeroWater’s free TDS meter is. I would say that the importance of a TDS meter depends on the contaminants you want to remove. A TDS meter measures all contaminants in water, including those that don’t negatively affect water quality, such as alkaline minerals. A low reading on a TDS meter can be a good sign, but it also shows that health minerals have been filtered out, which you may prefer to retain in your water.