Water filter pitchers are a popular solution for improving tap water quality. But they’re vulnerable to mold and mineral buildup, so they need regular cleaning.
Since the Brita pitcher is the nation’s best seller and a product most people are familiar with, we’ll use it as a standard for comparison. In this guide, we’ll discuss the importance of maintenance and show you how to clean a water filter pitcher. Trust us — it’s time well spent.
If it’s time for a new — see our top rated filter pitchers.
Are Brita Pitchers Dishwasher Safe?
Brita pitchers are not dishwasher safe. Some brands are, and others claim to be, but handwashing in warm water is always the safest bet.
The scalding hot water from your dishwasher can warp plastic parts enough to keep them from fitting together properly. A cover that doesn’t seal a warped carafe is an easy way for dust, mold and bacteria to get into your drinking water.
How Often Should I Clean Water Filter Pitchers?
Brita recommends cleaning your pitcher every few weeks and when you’re putting in a new filter because adding or removing a cartridge can introduce contaminants into the mix. You want your filtered water to be as pure as possible.
Other manufacturers have similar recommendations, but because the materials pitchers are made from vary, don’t take it for granted. Always follow your pitcher model’s instructions.
Why Should I Clean a Brita Pitcher?
Sanitation is critical in the kitchen, and your Brita pitcher is no exception. What’s the point of drinking filtered water if it’s not clean?
Cleaning Brita filters is a must to:
Prevent Mold Growth
Mold can grow anywhere if the conditions are favorable. Like bacteria, it prefers warm, dark and moist conditions. Since Brita filters hold cold water and are usually refrigerated, mold is rarely a problem unless the refrigerator is unsanitary, or the pitcher gets too warm.
If it sits on the kitchen table during meals or outdoors in the sun when you barbecue, there’s always a risk of mold forming in the lid opening. Regular cleaning is the best way to prevent mold growth.
Remove Mineral Build-up
Filter pitchers are made of hard, food-safe plastic. Non-toxic, they won’t leach chemicals as long as they’re used only for cold water.
But unlike the flexible, semi-opaque plastics used in cheap water pitchers, the hard plastic used in water filter pitchers is vulnerable to etching. Abrasive substances, including the hard water minerals that may be in your water supply, tend to scratch and cling to the surface, making it cloudy like an old automotive headlight.
This build-up isn’t hazardous, but it affects the look of your pitcher and eventually, the taste of filtered water.
How to Clean a Brita Filter Pitcher
Most water filter pitchers are similar in design, so you can use these instructions regardless of brand. Let’s roll up our sleeves.
#1 Gather Supplies
Preparation is a time-saver, so have the following supplies handy to wash your filter pitcher:
#3 Non-abrasive Sponge
Scrubbing pitchers with an abrasive sponge made for stainless steel pots can permanently scratch the delicate plastic. Non-abrasive sponges labeled for glass stovetops are a better choice.
#4 Mild Dish Soap
Manufacturers recommend mild dish detergent for cleaning filter pitchers. Harsh chemicals can damage some plastics and leave an unpleasant tasting residue. Stick with basic dishwashing detergent with no additives like hand moisturizers.
#5 White Vinegar
If you need something stronger than dish soap to remove mold or mineral build-up from your Brita pitcher, mix one teaspoon white vinegar per cup of water in a spray bottle. Non-toxic, it kills mold and restores a shine to clear plastics.
#6 Soft Toothbrush
Brita pitchers have nooks and crannies in the water reservoir and carafe that can be difficult to access with a sponge. Instead, use a soft toothbrush.
#7 Paper Towels
We don’t like creating waste, but dish towels can scratch pitchers. We recommend using paper towels to dry the carafe. They’re absorbent and maintain the finish.
Installing a New Filter Cartridge
A standard filter only lasts a few months, so you should replace it every 3-6 cleanings. It’s an easy way to remember the maintenance schedule.
If it’s time to replace your filter cartridge, have one ready before you start cleaning. But don’t prime it yet. Once wet, a Brita pitcher filter should remain moist, so don’t rinse it until after your pitcher has dried.
#1 Disassemble the Pitcher
Take the pitcher apart and discard the water. Toss the old filter cartridge if it’s time for a replacement. If not, set it aside. You can rinse it and reuse it after. Just put it in a plastic bag to keep it moist if you expect the cleaning process to take more than half an hour.
#2 Wash the Pitcher
Hand wash the carafe, water reservoir and pitcher cap in warm soapy water, examining each part for signs of mold or mildew. Use the toothbrush to access hard-to-reach areas.
Filter pitchers with a chrome lid require special care. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, for example, the Brita Pitcher’s chrome lid should be wiped cleaned with a paper towel or soft cloth.
#3 Rinse and Repeat?
Rinse your water pitcher thoroughly with warm water, especially in the crevices where soap residue can hide. If you’re not satisfied with the results, repeat the process. It’s better to deep clean it twice than to go overboard with scrubbing once.
#4 Dry the Pitcher
The best way to completely dry your pitcher is to let the carafe and water reservoir air dry upside down in your drying rack. Putting the pitcher upside down helps it drain and dry faster.
It’s also easier to air dry the lid than to do it with a dish towel. It removes more moisture and discourages mold growth.
#5 Prime the New Filter
Brita makes a diverse line of filter pitchers with different cartridges and slightly priming instructions. The same is true with most major players in the industry.
In general, the process requires flushing the filter with cold water before it’s installed to activate the carbon and get rid of carbon dust. Hot water can damage some filter cartridges, so using only cold water is essential.
Some manufacturers recommend you pre-soak the filter for the best results. But newer Brita models, such as the Brita Stream filter, save you that step. As always, refer to the new filter instructions.
#6 Install the Filter Cartridge and Reassemble the Pitcher
Your pitcher’s filtration power depends on a properly seated filter. It should sit firmly in the water reservoir to prevent unfiltered water with contaminants from leaking past the assembly.
Once the new filter is installed, fill your pitcher to the fill line with cold tap water. As part of the priming process, some makers suggest discarding the first batch.
Finally, gently wipe the outside of your filter pitcher with a soft cloth or paper towel, transfer it to the refrigerator to cool, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Brita water filter pitchers are engineered to provide years of reliable service without extensive maintenance. Just remember one rule — a cleaner pitcher means better-tasting water.