How Long do Brita Filters Last? (+6 Signs its Time to Replace)

Whether you’re considering a Brita filter or you’ve already bought one, you might be wondering how long Brita filters last.

How long does Brita advertise its filters to last? And can they really last this long? What factors affect a Brita filter lifespan, and how do you know when you need to replace your filter?

We’ve answered these questions and more in this guide.

📉 How Long are Brita Filters Advertised to Last?

Brita currently has the following filters, with the following advertised lifespans, available to USA customers:

Model/UnitCapacityLifespan
Elite filters (previously Brita LongLast filter) 120 gallons6 months
Standard filters40 gallons2 months
Stream filter cartridges40 gallons2 months
Bottle filters40 gallons2 months
Faucet filters100 gallons4 months

Find out more about the Brita water filtration process in this guide.

🤔 How long do Brita Filters Really Last?

So, are Brita’s lifespan estimations accurate? Can you really expect to get two months of use out of most Brita filters, and an impressive six months out of the Brita Elite filters?

It depends – but in many cases, no.

Brita, like all manufacturers, estimates its filters’ lifespans based on a certain test water quality and “average” water usage. In these conditions, Brita can say that its filters last for, say, 40 gallons, or two months.

But you might not use 40 gallons of water in two months. You might use 50, 60, or 80. Plus, your water might be poorer-quality than the water Brita used to estimate its filter lifespans, so your filter might become clogged before the two-month timeframe is up.

Brita’s gravity filters are particularly likely to give up before they’re supposed to – and this isn’t just a Brita problem. Many manufacturers of gravity filters advertise their filters to last for two or three months, but poor water quality can lead to fast clogging of the filter media. A clogged gravity filter will reduce water flow rate to such an extent that you may have no choice but to replace the filter early.

So, how long do Brita filters really last? Your Brita filter might last the full two or six months – but some people need to replace their filters after one-and-a-half months, or four months.

Scale build up inside brita filter cartridge

📝 What Affects the Lifespan of a Brita Filter?

There are several factors that affect the lifespan of a Brita water filter, including:

Your Water Quality

Your water quality plays a big role in the lifespan of a Brita water filter.

Let’s say your water contains low levels of chlorine, heavy metals, and hardness minerals. There will be fewer contaminants for the filter to trap, and fewer limescale deposits on the media’s surface. The filter will last as long as advertised – perhaps even longer – because it will clog up at a slow and steady rate.

Now let’s say your water contains high levels of chlorine, heavy metals, and hardness minerals. Your filter will become clogged at a faster rate because it will have more contaminants to trap. In this case, the filter might not last as long as advertised. It could end up becoming so clogged that little-to-no water can pass through.

Your Water Usage

Your water usage also affects the lifespan of your Brita filter.

Let’s say your water usage is below average. You work away from home and have a small family. You only use your Brita filter a handful of times per day. In this case, your filter may last longer than advertised because it’s used less frequently than expected. The smaller the quantity of water that passes through the filter, the fewer contaminants can build up in the media.

Let’s say your water usage is above average. You work from home and you have a big family. You use your Brita filter more than five times per day – perhaps even more than ten. In this case, your filter will likely become clogged at a faster rate and will need to be changed sooner than expected. This is because of the higher volume of water passing through the filter on a daily basis.

Cleaning the brita pitcher

The Filter Materials

Different Brita water filters are made from different materials, affecting their contaminant removal ability – and how long they last.

Let’s compare the Brita Elite filter and the Brita Standard filter. Both of these filters are used in Brita’s water filter pitchers, but the Brita Elite has a lifespan that’s three times longer than the Brita Standard’s.

The Brita Elite filter is made from proprietary active filtering agents and patented pleated filter media. It’s not clear exactly what this is, but it’s more advanced than the activated carbon granules in the Brita Standard filter. While activated carbon has a lifespan of around two months in a gravity filter, the patented pleated filter media in the Brita Elite is designed to last three times as long.

Brita coconut-based activated carbon media

🔂 Signs You Should Replace your Brita Filter

Wondering how to know when you need a new filter in your Brita faucet filter system or pitcher? Here are 6 signs to look for:

1. Your Water Tastes Bad

You’ve probably got used to better-tasting filtered water since buying a Brita water filter.

If you notice that your water tastes like regular tap water again – or even worse – it’s a sign that you need to replace your filter. A chemical, metallic, or musty taste in your water suggests that a new filter is needed.

2. You Notice a Bad Smell

Along with a bad taste, you may notice that your filtered water smells bad if your Brita filter cartridge has reached the end of its lifespan.

An old filter may add an unpleasant odor to your water as it passes through the filter. Your filter could even be cracked, allowing unpleasant-smelling contaminants to leach into your water.

3. The Filter Develops Mold or Algae

If your Brita water filter has developed algae or mold, it’s not just a sign that you need to replace the filter – it’s essential.

The filter media shouldn’t have the chance to develop mold or algae if you’re replacing your filter regularly. Mold and algae are dangerous to drink, and may also indicate the presence of bacteria. If you notice black specks or sludge in your Brita filter cartridge, replace it immediately.

4. The Flow Rate is Much Slower

Slow flow rate is another key sign that you need a fresh filter in your Brita system. The slower the water flow through the filter, the more clogged the filter likely is.

If you’re using a Brita pitcher, it should be fairly obvious when you need a filter replacement. Pitcher filters use gravity filtration – they’re not powered by water pressure, so once a filter becomes too clogged, the flow rate will slow right down.

5. The Filter Has Dried Up

Perhaps you’ve been away from home for a while, and when you go to use your Brita water filter, you notice that it has dried up.

If your filter is nearing the end of its lifespan anyway, we’d recommend saving yourself the hassle and replacing it. Otherwise, soak the filter in cold tap water for 15 minutes, and you should be able to continue using it.

Flushing the brita filter

6. Enough Time has Passed

Finally, the most obvious sign that you’re using an expired Brita filter: it’s been two months (or six months, in the case of the Brita Elite) since you first installed the new filter.

If you struggle to keep track of time, either make a note of when you install a new filter in your calendar, or buy a Brita pitcher with an electronic filter change indicator.

❔ What Happens if you Don’t Replace your Brita Filter?

You might think you can get away with using your Brita filter beyond the end of its filter life. However, there are several risks of doing this:

The Filter No Longer Removes Contaminants

Too many contaminants in the filter media will eventually affect filter performance. If you don’t change your filter regularly, the filter may start allowing contaminants to pass through with the water. Eventually, the filter’s performance may be so hindered that you may as well be drinking normal tap water.

Bacteria Accumulates in the Filter Media

A big risk of failing to replace your Brita water filter is bacteria buildup. Bacteria thrive in damp conditions, so an old filter is likely to harbor bacteria growth. This could result in dangerous microorganisms leaving into your water through the filter, potentially making you sick.

Bacteria

Holes Develop in the Filter Cartridge

If you don’t change your filter, the filter could become so old and worn that holes form in the filter cartridge. These holes allow contaminants trapped in the media to leak out of the filter, along with carbon particles or carbon dust (which look like black specks in your water). As a result, you could end up drinking water with a higher-than-usual contaminant concentration.

The Water Flow Rate Reduces

Finally, if you don’t replace your Brita filter according to your calendar or the filter indicator, the flow rate of water through the filter will slow right down. If you’re using a Brita pitcher or Brita bottle filter, the flow rate could become so slow that no water leaves the filter at all. Slow filtering isn’t ideal if you want relatively fast access to filtered drinking water.

📰 How to Change a Brita Filter

To change a Brita filter in a pitcher, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the old filter from the reservoir and dispose of it sensibly.
  2. Take out the new sealed filter from the filter packaging.
  3. Hold the water filter under cold water from your faucet for up to 15 seconds.
  4. Place the new water filter in the reservoir and reset the filter indicator light (if you have one).
  5. Add cold tap water to the top chamber. The filter is now ready to use.

You can learn more about how to use a Brita filter, and how to change filters in a Brita system in this guide.

Separating brita water pitcher components

🧠 How Long do Brita Filters Last: FAQs

Can you use expired Brita filters?

No, you shouldn’t use an expired Brita filter. Old filters may leach bacteria into your water and won’t retain its optimal performance.

What can you do with old Brita water filters?

Brita has a recycling program that lets you sensibly dispose of old filters. Recycling your filters is the best decision for the environment. Simply collect your old filters until you have a 5-pound batch to ship at once. You can learn more about recycling Brita filters here.

Why do you need to change Brita water filters?

You need to buy replacement filters for your Brita filtration system because an old cartridge will no longer be able to remove all the contaminants from your water. Even if your Brita filter is still filtering your water with a fairly good flow rate, if it has reached the end of its lifespan, it’s best to replace it to stay on the safe side.

How do you know when your Brita filter needs changing?

You’ll know when your Brita filter needs changing because your filtered tap water will have a metallic, musty, or chlorine taste, your flow rate will slow right down, and the electronic indicator (if you have one) will tell you to replace the filter.

Brita grand pitcher performance

What happens if you use a Brita filter for too long?

If you use a Brita filter for too long, there’s a risk that bacteria could accumulate in the filter. An expired filter may also fail to trap contaminants or develop holes, allowing contaminants to seep out of the filter and affecting the filtration technology.

For how long will a Brita filter remove chlorine?

On average, Brita Standard and Stream filters remove chlorine for two months, and the Elite filter removes chlorine for six months. The exact amount of chlorine in your water will affect how long the Brita filter can remove this chlorine. The more chlorine your water contains, the faster the filter media will become clogged with this contaminant, and the more frequently you’ll need to replace the filter.

Can you flush Brita filters to extend their lifespan?

No, you can’t flush Brita filters to extend their lifespan. Some filters allow you to send water in the opposite direction through the media to flush out trapped contaminants and give them a new lease of life. However, Brita filters can’t be flushed in this manner to remove impurities. When the flow rate slows down, you’ll just need to replace the filter.

How does the Brita Elite filter last so much more than the other Brita filters?

The Brita Elite filter, previously called the Brita LongLast filter, is made from a different material from the Brita standard filter. While a Brita standard filter is purely made from coconut carbon block, the Brita Elite also contains pleated media that extends the lifespan of the overall filter.

What’s the shelf life of a Brita filter?

The shelf life of a Brita filter – i.e. how long the filter can be stored in sealed packaging before use – is indefinite. This means you can store the filter for as long as necessary before you use it, as long as it’s stored in a cool, dry place. You may need to soak the filter for 15 minutes if it’s over a year old, as the filter may dry out after so long in storage.