Do Shower Head Filters Really Work?

In our quest for pure water and healthier showers, many of us turn to shower head filters as a potential solution. The manufacturers of these devices utilize numerous scientific processes and materials that claim to remove chlorine and other impurities from the water—providing a safer, more refreshing and beneficial showering experience. But, do shower head filters really work?
With countless varieties of shower head filters to choose from, how can we go about separating the genuine filtration champions from the marketing gimmicks? In this article, we will delve into the effectiveness of shower head water filters, exploring their pros and cons while shedding light on the technical aspects of filtration media.
So, let's uncover the truth and answer the burning question: Do shower head filters work?

Cleanliness of Shower Water and Its Affect on Health

Understanding the Purpose of a Shower Head Water Filter

Shower filters are designed to remove impurities, such as chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, and sediment, from your shower water. These impurities can have negative effects on your skin, hair, and overall health. By filtering out these contaminants, shower head filters aim to provide a cleaner and healthier showering experience. 

A filter for showers is especially essential because the higher temperature of the water vaporizes chlorine and chloramines—not only making them more concentrated, but also significantly increasing your exposure to them. As if worrying about absorption of contaminants by your body’s largest organ (your skin) wasn’t enough, your respiratory system is also being targeted.

How Do Shower Head Filters Work?

A shower head water filter is a compact filtration system, either attached directly to the shower arm behind the shower head or integrated into the shower head itself, that removes or neutralizes harmful additives and contaminants in your shower water before it sprays out of the shower head. This is achieved by passing the water through one or more various types of filtration media—the substance found inside of the filter.

Handheld All Metal Shower Head with Shower Water Filter

Types of Filtration Media for Shower Head Filters

If you’re a pro at skimming articles, this is where you will want to stop and take notes.

Although many companies tout an array of impressive results and features, a shower head filter is only as effective as its filtration media. If you are serious about protecting your health, and your wallet, start by zeroing in on the specifics of which media (and how much of it) the filter contains.

There are four main types to consider: 


Kinetic Degradation Fluxion filtration media, commonly referred to as KDF, consists of high-purity zinc and copper granules that initiate a redox process (short for reduction-oxidation: simply put, a transfer of electrons between compounds). Through this exchange of electrons, KDF works in two ways:

• By altering the composition of harmful contaminants to change them into harmless substances
• By attracting contaminants that then attach themselves to the granules rather than the water molecules, effectively trapping them 

Calcium Sulfite

Calcium sulfite is a chemical compound that converts chlorine into nontoxic chloride ions when it comes into contact with water. 


Carbon (also called activated carbon or activated charcoal) removes contaminants through a process called absorption. Similar to KDF, impurities attach themselves to the carbon, allowing the cleaned water to pass through the filter while trapping contaminants. 

Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that neutralizes both chlorine and chloramines essentially on contact. 

Many shower head filter attachment manufacturers use a combination of filtration media to extend the lifespan of the filter and eliminate as many impurities as possible. But as you will see in the next section, most of the filtration media out there is actually not ideal for shower head filters (including half of the list above!).

Plastic Cheap Shower Head Filter
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Which Filtration Media is Best? Common Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting Your Filter

In the vast online marketplace, particularly on platforms like Amazon, it is not uncommon to come across shower head filters that fall short of their promises. Many of these brands prioritize flashy marketing claims over scientific evidence and engineering prowess. Their filtration media often consists of basic materials that have minimal impact on chlorine removal or other impurities, and can actually be potentially hazardous for health.

Multi-Stage Filters  

A quick search for shower head water filters yields dozens of cross section images of multi-stage filters with neatly banded layers of filtration media, from as few as 3 to upwards of 20. Scanning the listings, the price point and promised coverage start to sound like a no-brainer.

The problem? Too little of each filtration media and insufficient contact time. 

Multi-stage filters pass water through a lesser quantity of more types of materials, and the chemical reactions and processes responsible for cleaning the water require more time than these filters allow. 

The quality of the filtration media itself has also been compromised as shower head filters have grown in popularity. Companies look for cheaper ways to mass produce a range of filtration media—focusing on variation rather than efficacy. This approach introduces untested (and in some cases unwanted) materials without clear indications of their filtration power or safety.

Problematic Filtration Media 

Some filtration media rely on their reputation in other household products and association with wellness brands to compensate for their lack of lasting performance: Carbon and Vitamin C fall into this category. 

Despite being widely accepted in the marketplace, there is ample scientific evidence against the use of Carbon in shower head filters. Carbon is an excellent choice for cold to warm water, but temperatures higher than 80° damage the media and release contaminants back into the water. 

While Vitamin C does not tackle heavy metals or other impurities, it is highly effective at eliminating chlorine and chloramines.

The catch? Ascorbic acid loses its potency extremely quickly, and a month’s worth of washes is sometimes all it takes to render these filters useless. This leaves you shelling out some serious cash for replacement cartridges.

Jolie Filtered Shower Head KDF and Calcium Sulfite High Quality Filtration Media

Highly Effective Filtration Materials (for a Shower Head Filter that Works!)

On the other hand, reputable brands understand the significance of using quality filtration media. Two extensively tested materials known for their effectiveness in chlorine removal are KDF and Calcium Sulfite. These materials are backed by scientific evidence and proven to provide efficient filtration results.

Again, many shower head water filters include small amounts of these specific media. But in this case, more really is more as there needs to be an adequate amount to give the necessary contact time for consistent results. 

So, whether it’s a filtered shower head, an inline shower filter, or a detachable filtered shower head, you can consider yourself covered if KDF and Calcium Sulfite are the primary filtration components.

The Benefits of Shower Head Water Filters

When you opt for a shower filter with genuinely effective filtration media, prepare to reap several benefits:

Chlorine Removal

One of the primary advantages of a filter shower head is its ability to remove chlorine from the water. Chlorine, commonly used as a disinfectant in municipal water supplies, can cause dryness, skin irritations, and damage to hair. A quality filtered shower head can significantly reduce chlorine levels, resulting in a gentler, more beneficial and enjoyable showering experience.

Impurity Reduction

In addition to chlorine, shower head filters can also help remove other impurities present in the water. This includes heavy metals, sediments, rust particles, bacteria, and algae, leading to cleaner and healthier showers.

Skin and Hair Benefits

By minimizing exposure to chlorine and impurities, filtered shower heads contribute to healthier skin and hair. Users report improvements in skin hydration, reduced dryness, and fewer scalp irritations. Filtered water can also enhance the vibrancy and softness of hair, making it more manageable and less prone to damage.

Hard Water Mitigation—Can a Shower Filter Fix Hard Water?

If you are among the 85% of Americans dealing with high amounts of calcium and magnesium in your water (aka hard water), you might perk up at claims that shower head filters can positively impact, or even fix, this problem. We love shower filters a lot—maybe too much—but we also believe in giving credit where credit is due. 

While shower filters have no effect on calcium or magnesium and therefore cannot soften water, they CAN mitigate the effects of hard water (for more on this topic, check out our article here). Chlorine and chloramines could very likely be the culprit behind the dry skin, hair, and nails often associated with hard water. Shower head filters containing KDF can also help reduce limescale deposits by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and controlling scale-causing microorganisms.

The Disadvantages of Shower Filters

Filtered shower heads offer numerous advantages, but there are several potential limitations to consider:

Limited Filtration Capacity

Most shower head water filters have a limited filtration capacity, meaning they require regular maintenance and cartridge replacements. Failure to replace the cartridges in a timely manner can result in reduced filtration performance and diminished benefits.

Flow Rate Reduction

Some filtered shower heads reduce the water flow rate due to the filtration process. While this reduction is generally minimal, individuals who prefer high-pressure showers may notice a difference. 

Fortunately, there are shower head filters that have been expertly designed to balance effective filtration with satisfying water flow, so you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. 

The Verdict: Do Shower Filters Really Work? 

Our final answer—Yes, a shower head filter can revolutionize your shower experience and boost your health on multiple levels. BUT it all depends on the quality of its filtration media. 

We hope this article has given you the tools to scroll past marketing ploys and select a real deal filter with advanced filtration capabilities thanks to materials like KDF and Calcium Sulfite. By choosing a shower head water filter from a trusted brand, your investment is on the side of verifiable research and proven results as opposed to baseless claims and poor performance. 

Our Pick for the Best Shower Head Water Filter (and what to look for)

When it comes to shower head water filters, high performance and lasting quality are determined by two main factors: the filtration media and the shower filter housing. Plastic housing not only cheapens the aesthetics of your bathroom decor, but is also much more prone to breaks and leaks. 

HammerHead Showers Universal Shower Head Filter is the perfect combination of all the elements that make for a product you can have confidence in. Our science-backed proprietary blend of KDF and Calcium Sulfite guarantees powerful filtration capabilities, while the high-strength brass housing ensures a level of durability that is rarely found in this industry. The inline style allows you to pair the shower filter with equally built to last shower heads and accessories.  

A filtered shower head is an affordable, low-maintenance solution that DOES work!


Are shower head water filters easy to install?

Yes—whether you opt for an inline shower water filter or a filtered shower head, you can expect to install your shower filter start to finish in less than 15 minutes (no professional tools or services required!). Check out our detailed guide for a simple step-by-step process and pro tips for getting the most out of your filter.

Do filtered shower heads really work?

Yes, if you select a shower head water filter that utilizes effective filtration media then you can drastically improve the quality of your shower water and shower experience.  

What does a filtered shower head do?

A filtered shower head removes impurities and contaminants from the shower water. This means eliminating or significantly reducing your exposure to chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, and other harmful chemicals.  

Can you get a shower head that filters water?

Yes—shower head water filters are primarily separated into two classes: 

  • Filtered shower heads integrate the filter and the shower head into one unit
  • Inline shower filters are an independent device installed between the shower head and the shower arm  

Which filtered shower head is the best?

Our criteria for the best shower head filter is simple: effective filtration media and durable construction. We recommend a HammerHead Showers filtered shower head because of its science-backed filtration media and high-strength brass housing.

Is it worth buying a shower head filter?

The bottom line is, we can’t afford NOT to address the quality of our shower water. The question isn’t if these harmful contaminants are present; it’s how much and how many of them. A shower head filter is a vital investment for improving and protecting your health (with all of the added benefits of upgrading your shower experience!). 

How often should you change the shower head filter cartridge?

This depends on several factors including household size, water quality, and the specific filtration media used in the filter. Each shower head filter should come with a manufacturer recommendation, but on average you can expect to change the cartridge about every six months.

How long do shower head water filters last?

As with any bathroom fixture, longevity depends on durable construction and materials. If you select a shower head filter made by a reputable brand using metal instead of plastic, you can expect the filter to last for years—making this a truly economical and worthwhile investment. 

Get Your Own Shower Head Filter Now

At The Shower Head Store, we are passionate about sharing our knowledge so you have the power to purchase confidently. Join the hundreds of thousands of people taking control of their shower experience and protecting their health—healing starts here.

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