Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Microplastics?

🤝 Our content is written by humans, not AI robots. Learn More

Microplastics are everywhere in the environment, so it’s no surprise that they’re also found in drinking water supplies.

You’ve heard that reverse osmosis systems are ideal for removing total dissolved solids – but does this include microplastics?

In this guide, we’ve answered the question, “Does reverse osmosis remove microplastics?”

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Reverse osmosis filtration systems remove up to 99% of microplastics from drinking water.
  • An RO system is one of the most effective methods of reducing plastic particles – but be sure to consider other filter types, too.
  • Ceramic water filters, water distillers, and nanofiltration can also effectively reduce microplastics, and are usually cheaper than RO.

🤔 Does A Reverse Osmosis Filter Remove Microplastics?

Yes, reverse osmosis filters remove microplastics from tap water.

RO systems can remove up to 99% of total dissolved solids in water. Since microplastics are dissolved particles, they can be effectively removed by the RO purification process.

However, that doesn’t mean that RO water filters are your best option for filtering microplastics. It depends on your budget and your preferences.

Dispensing water from the Waterdrop N1 RO system

🔎 How Much Microplastics Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?

Reverse osmosis filtration can remove nearly all microplastics from drinking water – up to 99.9%.

That means, if you tested tap water samples before and after RO filtration, the purified tap water sample should be virtually microplastics-free.

The effectiveness of an RO system’s ability to reduce microplastics depends on the quality of its membrane, the age of the system, and the other impurities present in the water.

If you want to know whether or not a particular system removes microplastics from water, search for test results for the system. This testing data should break down the contaminants that an RO filter can remove, and what percentage of each can be removed.

Test results aren’t always readily available to view online, so contact the manufacturer if you can’t find them for a certain product.

✅ How Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Microplastics?

Reverse osmosis systems use a process called membrane separation to remove a range of harmful contaminants, including microplastics, from water.

Contaminated water is forced through several pre-filter stages (including a sediment and carbon filter) and a semipermeable membrane, which has tiny pores of around 0.0001 microns.

Microplastics are as small as 0.7 microns, but they’re still much larger than the RO membrane pores, so they’re blocked from passing through.

The microplastics and other drinking water contaminants are flushed away down a drain, while water particles pass through the membrane to the other side.

Water that leaves the RO system has a bottled water quality, but with one important difference: it doesn’t contain dangerous plastic particles.

Membrane Filtration Process

🧐 Are Microplastics Difficult To Remove?

Yes, microplastics are difficult to remove because of their tiny size.

These plastic particles are as small as 0.7 microns, and their average size is around 2.5 microns. A standard water filter won’t be able to remove microplastics because they’ll simply slip through the filter pores along with the water particles.

That’s why a more thorough purification method, like reverse osmosis, is required for removing microplastics from drinking water. Most other filter types might reduce the concentration of these plastic particles, but RO is one of the only water treatments that near-eliminates microplastics.

📤 Should You Use A Reverse Osmosis System To Reduce Microplastics?

If you have a budget of around $300-$650 and you want to eliminate almost all impurities from your drinking water, including plastic particles, you should buy a reverse osmosis system because it’ll best meet your needs.

However, you don’t have to spend so much money if your budget is tight. There are other water filters, including some water filter pitchers (which cost less than $100 upfront), that offer very similar microplastics reduction at a fraction of the price.

Our advice is to write down a few important factors that will help you with your buying decision, including:

  • Your budget (for the upfront purchase and for the annual spend on filter changes).
  • Your installation and maintenance preferences.
  • The contaminants you want to reduce alongside microplastics (if any).
  • Your preferred use point (under-sink, countertop, etc).
  • Any other requirements (such as portability, suitability for apartments, etc).

Once you have your list of preferences, you’ll find it easier to decide whether or not a reverse osmosis system is the best microplastics removal option for you- and if not, which other filter types are more suitable.

Microplastics in drinking water

📑 Alternatives To Reverse Osmosis For Microplastics Removal

Reverse osmosis systems might be some of the best at microplastics reduction, but there are other filter types to consider too. These include:

Ceramic Filters

Ceramic filters have a pore size of around 0.2 microns, so they’re capable of removing the majority of microplastics from drinking water.

These filters also reduce sediment, turbidity, and pathogenic bacteria.

You can find a ceramic filter in countertop filters, portable emergency preparedness filters, and under-sink systems.

Nanofiltration Filters

Nanofiltration filters have tiny filter pores of around 0.0001 microns, so they shouldn’t allow even the smallest plastic particles to pass through.

Other contaminants removed by these filters include salts, viruses, and organic molecules.

Water pitchers, emergency preparedness filters, and point-of-use filters that also use other filter media (such as activated carbon), may all contain nanofiller media.

Water Distillers

Water distillers are countertop units that remove virtually all impurities with the water distillation process.

A distiller heats water until it evaporates, and the majority of contaminants (including microplastics) remain in the boiling chamber.

As well as microplastics, water distillers reduce or remove dissolved minerals, heavy metals, and most chemicals.

Countertop water distiller

Some Activated Carbon Filters

Carbon block filters, granular activated carbon filters, and powdered activated carbon filters remove microplastics – to a certain extent.

These filters have a pore size of around 5 microns, which means that some microplastics may slip through. Look for activated carbon filtration media combined with other filter types, like ceramic media, to enhance their ability to reduce microplastics.

You can find various carbon filter types in a range of different filters, including water filter pitchers, under-sink filters, refrigerator filters, and faucet filters.


Ultrafiltration is a bit like reverse osmosis, but has a slightly larger pore size of 0.01-0.05 microns. Since microplastics are as small as 0.7 microns, they’re still effectively removed by ultrafiltration.

Other contaminants removed by this filtration method are heavy metals, chemicals, and microorganisms.

Most UF systems are designed for under-sink installation.

📄 Final Word

Reverse osmosis filters are ideal for reducing microplastics because their membrane pore size is small enough to block even the tiniest plastic particles from passing through.

However, RO systems are more expensive than other filter types, so we recommend considering all your options before you spend your money.

Remember to do your research, look a the filters that are being recommended by experts, read customer reviews, and only buy from a trusted manufacturer.


How do microplastics get into water?

Microplastics get into water from plastics that have broken apart (like plastic bottles, bags, and other plastic waste), and from products that use microbeads. Because plastic pollution is such a major problem in the environment, it’s incredibly likely for microplastics to enter our drinking water supplies. Many bottled water products also contain plastic particles from their plastic containers.

Are microplastics dangerous?

Microplastics are considered dangerous to human health and are linked to a whole host of health concerns. Some of the potential health effects of microplastics are neurotoxicity, increased cancer risk, and metabolic disturbances.

Will boiling water remove microplastics?

No, you can’t remove microplastics from water by boiling it. All that will happen is that some of the water will evaporate, meaning that you have the same concentration of microplastics in a smaller volume of water. You need a dedicated drinking water system, like a reverse osmosis system, to effectively reduce microplastics in your tap water supply.

What is the best water filtration system for microplastics?

The best tap water filter to remove microplastics is a reverse osmosis water filter, which removes up to 99% of all total dissolved solids – including plastic particles. RO water has a bottled water taste and quality without the dangerous plastic particles. If you don’t have the budget for RO filters, also consider ceramic water filters, nanofiltration, and water distillers.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

Leave a Comment

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

Scroll to Top