Why I Always Use a Shower Filter

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Five reasons to use a shower filter
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Most of us know the importance of drinking enough water and filtering it to avoid harmful chemicals or contaminants, but did you know that shower water can be just as harmful (if not more so) than drinking water?

Here’s why:

What’s in Shower Water?

Unfiltered shower water can contain an array of chemicals like chlorine (which we try to avoid whenever possible) as well as bacteria and fungus from the shower head.

The skin is much more than just a covering for the body. It is the largest organ and is responsible for important functions like vitamin d creation and synthesis. It also has the ability to absorb much of what it comes in contact with and we are learning that it has its own unique and important microbiome!

This is why topical magnesium oil works so well and why sunlight is so important.

It is also why a shower filter is so vital:

Chlorine is effective at killing pathogens in the water, but the properties that make it able to do this may affect the skin microbiome and the delicate balance of bacteria on the skin.

These are some of the biggest risks associated with the chemicals in shower water (and the reasons I use a shower filter):

1. We May Absorb More Chlorine Through Showering than Through Drinking Water

It may seem counterintuitive, but showering in chlorinated water can lead to more chlorine absorption than drinking chlorinated water. This is because we typically shower at warm temperatures, which makes absorption easier and because this water is coming in contact with such a large area of the body. In fact, research shows that the chlorine in shower (or bath) water can easily enter the bloodstream as it has a low molecular weight and can easily pass into the body.

Chlorine can also interact with other matter in the water to form harmful byproducts like trihalomethanes (THMs). One of these trihalomethanes is chloroform, which I’m familiar with from my childhood days of reading Nancy Drew mysteries, as it was often used by criminals to cause victims to pass out. Thankfully, it isn’t found in high enough amounts in shower water to cause that severe of a problem, but it certainly isn’t good to come into contact with regularly.

Warm air and water also open lungs, making inhalation of these chemicals easier as well. In fact, a study found a higher than normal concentration of chloroform in the lungs of study participants after a warm shower.

Chemicals absorbed through the skin can enter the blood stream quickly and have a tremendous impact on the body. This is great when it comes to things like topical magnesium that we want to enter the body quickly and in large enough amounts, but not so good when it comes to harmful disinfectant byproducts. This study even showed a greater lifetime risk of cancer and other problems from bathing or showering in chlorinated water than from drinking it.

2. Shower Water Releases Chemicals into the Air in the Home

There are some obvious offenders of indoor air-pollution:

Scented candles release harmful fragrances and paraffin into the air and are a major source of indoor air pollution. Air fresheners and cleaning chemicals are also major offenders, but many of us don’t realize that shower water is also high-up on this list!

The heat of shower water can cause chemicals to vaporize and be released into the air at higher amounts than they are even present in the water itself. The EPA found significant and detectable levels of THMs and other byproducts in indoor air as a result of bath and shower water.

3. Chemicals in Shower Water may Cause Harm to the Skin Microbiome & Irritate Skin

As I already mentioned, the microbiome isn’t limited to the gut. While the importance of beneficial bacteria in the gut is becoming much more well known, there are lesser known “biomes” on the body, including the mouth and skin.

Logically, showering in a disinfecting agent like chlorine that is chemically tested to reduce bacteria in the water  may have a tremendous impact on the skin biome. Many of the effects to the beneficial bacteria are not visible and many people don’t seem to have any noticeable affects, though some experience dry skin, eczema or irritation.

4. Chemicals Present in Shower Water are Linked to Cancer & other Health Problems

As a follow up to the first point, some of the chemicals present in the water supply have been linked to various types of cancers. These chemicals can be problematic enough when consumed in water but are even more harmful when inhaled or absorbed through skin. Chris Kresser explains:

Research conducted on the health effects of chlorinated drinking water have demonstrated a variety of toxicity issues. Several studies have found that communities using chlorinated or chloraminated drinking water have an increased risk of bladder, kidney, and rectal cancers. (456) THMs from chemically treated water have been associated with a variety of poor birth outcomes, such as spontaneous abortion, birth defects, and low birth weight. (7) Chlorine and chloramine vapors are associated with greater risk of asthma, and may damage the mucosal lining of the respiratory tract. (8) Free radicals in chlorinated water have been linked to liver malfunction, weakening of the immune system and pre-arteriosclerotic changes in arteries. (9)

and Food Renegade points out a more specific link between chlorine and breast cancer:

Breast cancer, which now effects one in every eight women in North America, has recently been linked to the accumulation of chlorine compounds in the breast tissue. A study carried out in Hartford Connecticut, the first of it’s kind in North America, found that, “women with breast cancer have 50% to 60% higher levels of organochlorines (chlorination byproducts) in their breast tissue than women without breast cancer.”

Of course, correlation does not equal causation, but in this case, the evidence is strong enough to at least warrant caution and further study. At the very least, I find it worth taking precautions against easy-to-eliminate sources of chlorine exposure by using things like drinking water filters and shower filters.

5. Chloramines May be Even more Harmful than Chlorine

Another chemical often used in the water supply is chloramine, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia. As you may imagine, it has its risks as well and may be even more irritating to the skin and lungs that just chlorine.

Unfortunately, many filters that remove chlorine do not easily remove chloramines, so it is important to research options and address both chemicals when considering shower filters.

As I explained in this post, certain types of Vitamin C can remove chloramines and can be added to a bath to remove chlorine and chloramines in the water, though this is certainly more difficult to add to a shower.

Types of Shower Filters

There are various types of shower filters that are effective against chlorine and chloramines and I’ve personally tried several over the years. Filters may use charcoal/carbon, Vitamin C or KDF (kinetic degradation fluxion). There are pros and cons to each type of filter, including (from least effective to most effective):

  • Carbon filters:  Simple carbon filters like the popular Sprite filters are effective at removing chlorine (though not as effective against chloramines) and with a caveat: They don’t work very well at warm temperatures. In fact, they become less effective the warmer the water gets, making them more effective for drinking water filtration (usually filtered cool) and less effective for shower filters. They are a budget friendly option that can be helpful, especially for those who don’t take really hot showers.
  • Three-in-one Filter – I started using the Canopy Filtered Showerhead in 2024 and have really liked it. It has 3 types of filtering media: granular activated carbon, KDF-55, and calcium sulfite. The showerhead has a filter inside that I replace about every few months and was easy enough for me to install.
  • KDF filters: Another relatively budget friendly option, a KDF filter is very effective at removing chlorine, but not as effective at removing chloramines. These may be a good option in places where chloramines are not used in the water supply.
  • Vitamin C Filters: My favorite option for removing both chlorine and chloramines. Vitamin C creates a chemical reaction that completely changes chlorine and chloramines, rendering them harmless. These types of filters remove both chlorine and chloramines almost completely and can also benefit the skin. In fact, many people report skin and hair improvements after using these filters. I’ve tried this vitamin C filter with great results.

Unfortunately, I’ve never found a shower filter that completely removes chlorine and chloramines (though some, like the Vitamin C filters, remove 90+%). The only filter I’ve found that seems to completely remove chloramines, chlorine (as well as most fluoride and other contaminants in shower water is a completely whole house filter (like this one).

How to Filter Bath Water

For a long time, I filled my children’s bath from the shower head so that the water would run through the filter to remove the chlorine before finding a better way. There is a bath dechlorinator that removes chlorine (and some of the chloramine) in bath water in just a couple of minutes. This is the one I’ve used.

Shower Filters: Bottom Line

Filtering shower water is one simple and relatively inexpensive step that can make a big difference in reducing chlorine and other chemical exposure in the home. Some people (like me) seem to be much more sensitive to chlorine and notice the effects more readily, but these chemicals affect all of us on a cellular level.

Using a simple shower filter or bath dechlorinator is an easy way to remove chlorine and other harmful chemicals in bath and shower water.

Do you use a shower filter? If so, can you tell a difference in your health? 

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


142 responses to “Why I Always Use a Shower Filter”

  1. Jennifer Avatar

    Hi Katie! I just read this article and am wondering if you still use the same Vitamin C filter? I would like to buy one but can’t seem to find one with great reviews on Amazon. Also, does this make your water softer, as well? We live in AZ and have very hard water. Thank you!

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      We have a whole house filter now so don’t need a shower specific one, but I’d still recommend it if you don’t have the whole house option available to you…

  2. Salma Zindah Avatar
    Salma Zindah

    Hi Katie,

    I know that you recommended the New Century Shower Filter from Radiant Life in a different post. I thought you also recommended the Berkey Shower Filter but can’t seem to find it now so not sure. Here you recommend a Vitamin C Shower Filter. Pls let me know which you think is the best option? My skin gets really irritated, itchy, and eczematic the more days I shower consecutively and I’m looking up buy a filter as soon as possible in the hopes that it will help. Thanks!

  3. Mary Avatar

    This post was exactly what I was looking for – thank you! I’ve been trying to find more information on what you said about carbon filters not working for hot water and haven’t been successful. I’m just confused because several sites selling carbon shower filters claim they remove up to 90% of chlorine, such as Aquasana. Is it possible this is just a marketing scam?

    I’ve been following your blog for many years, by the way, and you have been instrumental in the transformation I’ve made in my life. Thank you for what you do 🙂

  4. Jon Jones Avatar

    So how long is always exactly? Because I have only now just heard about shower filters.

  5. Keith Avatar

    Shower filters are also an essential part of a bathroom where there is lots of hardness in home water supply. While a water softeners is the perfect answer to hard water problems, having a shower filter is also an effective solution that removes water hardness and chlorine from water providing great showering experience.

  6. Alex Avatar

    Well this explains why taking a hot bath always causes me to wheeze like crazy.

  7. Mary Avatar

    Hello. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into your blog – sooo much helpful information. I do have a question about the shower filters. I really want to purchase one. Can you recommend a water test to know when to change the filter or just to make sure its not defective? Or maybe it will just be obvious because of a lack of chlorine smell and that is maybe the best test? How will I know its working? Thanks in advance.

  8. Jun Avatar

    Thank you for very important health information. I am looking the best water filter (shower and sink, whole house) and spend many ptoduct with best review and recommendation, but all product didn’t work with real tester. If you can provide the test result with your recommended product, I can buy . But most of posting like you don’t provide the test result, only best effect inform. If you have chance to post similar issue, please provide real using test result .

  9. Rachel Avatar

    Can either the Sonaki or Rainshowr vit. C filters be attached to the Berkey one? The Berkey doesn’t filter chloramines, so I’m looking for some kind of combination that will filter everything.

  10. Sara Long Avatar
    Sara Long

    The shower filter concept is very new to me. Do you recommend having your water tested first to see how many chemicals are present? Or automatically buying a filter?

      1. Lisa Avatar

        Katie, the Aqua Earth 15 Shower filter that you recommend has “Included Items” listed that come with the kit and one of those items is “Additional TEFLON Tape!” I found this blog after watching “The Devil We All Know” just now and a water filter WITH Teflon sounds awfully questionable.

  11. Mariah Avatar

    Hi Katie! I was hoping you could help. I’m looking at the series 2 or 4 whole house filter. My cities water isn’t fluoridated but the report shows naturally occurring fluoride in the amount of .21 mcl. If it’s naturally occurring should I be concerned enough to get the 4? Or is this amount too high and still warrant the series 4? The 4 is significantly more money and will take me longer to save up for. We currently use shower filters and vitamin c powder for baths. I just want to make the right decision to ensure all of our water is filtered. Please help and thank you for all you do!

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      I had this same question before ordering ours, so I called and spoke directly with them about it. They said that if your county does not fluoridate the water, then the series 2 is fine to use, as the 4 would be over-kill. But if you’re concerned about it, give them a call to ask 🙂

  12. A MacKay Avatar

    HI Katie,
    We recently had PEX pipes installed in our house to replace our corroded copper pipes. Cost was the main driving factor for choosing PEX but now I am concerned about chemicals and by products being leeched into the water. Do you have any knowledge you can share in regards to this? 🙂 much appreciated!!

  13. Lisset Avatar

    Hi there! I’ve been noticing that ever since i moved into a new apartment complex, I’ve had really dry scalp. I’m looking into buying a shower filter because I can’t really afford to buy any of the expensive options. Which filters would you recommend? I was thinking about the sprite one, but you mentioned it’s only good for cool temperatures. But I only take hot showers. I’d appreciate the help!

    1. Devin Lisko Avatar
      Devin Lisko

      Hi Katie. Is there a shower filter you recommend

      Also, I am unfamiliar with whole house, the system on the radiant life ( the 4 or 6 stage) do you have to buy other pieces with it and how do you install it? I am trying to figure out overall cost

      1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

        There are several shower filters linked to in the article, but none of them work as well as a whole house system. If you contact Radiant Life they should be able to give you all of the details on installing their product.

  14. Kathleen Avatar

    We have well we’re. WhatvI would like to know is a filter still beneficial with well water. We don’t have chlorine. Our water comes from a very deep groundwater aquifer under an ancient sandy inland sea bed. Does it help with filtering any minerals and which ones?

  15. Joni sorrells Avatar
    Joni sorrells

    I’m curious if the vit C shower filter you recommended also filters Flouride and other chemicals or just chlorine and chloramides? I’m needing a good filter so bad. Thank you ?

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