Is It Safe to Drink Water from Refrigerator Filter?

Is It Safe To Drink Water From Refrigerator Filter

Are you concerned about the quality of the water you drink at home? Everybody wants to keep themselves and their families safe.  Clean, safe drinking water is non-negotiable. If you are using a fridge filter to purify your water, you might be wondering if it is safe to drink.

The safety of drinking water from a refrigerator filter depends on the quality of your original water source and the filtration system the fridge uses.  As a rule, if your water source is safe, the water from a fridge filter will be safe, as long as you maintain the filter correctly. Refrigerator filters are effective at removing chlorine, taste, and odor from your water. They are not suitable for removing contaminants like lead, arsenic, or VOCs.

In this article we will discuss water quality and refrigerator water filters in more detail to make sure you have all the resources available to make an informed decision around your drinking water.

Read my ultimate guide on refrigerator filters.

What Filters Are Commonly Used in Fridges?

Most refrigerator filters include a particle filter with an integral activated carbon filter.

The particle filter removes suspended particles and debris to protect the refrigerator components from fouling. This filter also improves the color and clarity of your water by removing turbidity.

Carbon filters work through a process of absorption.  The water passes over the carbon and contaminants are absorbed by the carbon and stick to the filter.

However not all water filters are made equal so their effectiveness will vary and there is no legal requirement for water filters to be certified.

Generally speaking, fridge water filters are effective at removing chlorine, dirt, rust and some volatile organic compounds.

Fridge filters are great at improving the taste and odor of the water if that is something you wish to address in your household.  Generally, a fridge filter will also have a particle filter that removes things like dirt, rust, or larger sediments which has the added benefit of protecting your fridge from becoming clogged.

What Are Fridge Filters Not Effective at Removing?

A carbon fridge filter will not remove all contaminants and impurities from your water so you should not rely on your fridge filter to make your water safe if it was not previously.

Carbon filters are not effective against bacteria and viruses, hard water minerals, copper, arsenic, dissolved inorganic substances, micro plastics, and PFAS.

Generally, a carbon filter used in a fridge will not remove all heavy metals. All though some carbon filters are more effective than others.

Can My Fridge Filter Remove Lead?

Some fridge filters will be able to remove the majority of lead from your water however others will not, so you need to check your fridge filters individual specifications.

A Carbon activated block filter which has a 1-micron rating should remove most lead from contaminated water.

If you are looking to remove lead from your water, you should check to see if your filter has a NSF mark of 53 for lead removal.

NSF Water Filter Certification

The NSF water certification mark provides a guideline to rate the effectiveness of water filters.

This certification is recognized globally and can help you determine the effectiveness of your fridge water filter.

Standing for National Sanitation Foundation, this independent and global organization certifies food, water, health sciences, and consumer goods industries.  It operates in 180 countries and is committed to protecting health and safety standards in these types of products.

To ensure you are getting the best possible product you should look to use a fridge filter with NSF Certifications.

Read my article on the value of using a filter with NSF certification.

NSF Certifications That Your Fridge Filter May Hold

You should check your fridge filter to see what certification marks it may hold.

In the table below you will find the NSF Certification marks that generally may be found on fridge water filters or on refrigeration water systems.

NSF/ANSI 42 Filters are certified to reduce aesthetic impurities such as chlorine and to improve the taste and smell of water.
NSF/ANSI 53 Certified to reduce a contaminant with a health effect. Standards 42 and 53 cover absorption filtration.
NSF/ANSI 44 Water softeners use a cation exchange resin that is regenerated with sodium or potassium chloride. The softener reduces hardness caused by calcium and magnesium ions and replaces them with sodium or potassium ions
NSF/ANSI 55 Ultraviolet treatment systems use ultraviolet light to inactivate or kill bacteria, viruses and cysts in contaminated water (Class A systems) or to reduce the amount of non-disease causing bacteria in disinfected drinking water (Class B).
NSF/ANSI 401 Treatment systems for emerging contaminants include both point-of-use and point-of-entry systems that have been verified to reduce one or more of 15 emerging contaminants from drinking water.


However be aware just because your water filter holds these certification marks that does not mean it will remove all possible contaminants.

The Source of Your Water

The first step to ensuring safe water for your family is to get familiar with the source of your household’s water. 

If your water comes from a mains water supply in general, there should be information available to you regarding the safety and quality of your water.

If your water is coming from a private source you should get your water tested so you are aware of any possible contaminants in your water.

Knowing the quality of your water is the key to ensuring a safe supply.

Maintaining Your Water Filter

If you are using a water filter it is imperative that you maintain it properly as not doing so could actually contaminate your water further.

As carbon water filters absorb contaminants they must be changed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and disposed of safely.  It’s a good idea to wear gloves when changing your water filter. 

Most water filters require changing every six months.


In conclusion the safety of drinking water from your fridge filter will depend on the quality of the water source you are using.  You should check if your filter has any NSF certification marks and what it is able to remove.  If you are dealing with heavily contaminated water your fridge filter will not be able to remove all the contaminants from the water.

Chief Guru

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. You can also follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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