How to Filter Water at Home: Tips, Safety, and Instructions

A good way to ensure you’re drinking clean water is by filtering it.

While you can purchase bottled water that a company has already filtered, you can also filter water yourself. The method you choose to do this — and there are several — will likely depend on your:

  • water quality goals
  • budget
  • desired level of effort

This article focuses on do-it-yourself (DIY) water filtration methods, which you can use whether you’re at home, traveling, or in nature.

Pouring boiled water header
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DIY water filtering methods

The best water filtration method for you will depend on your environment, your budget, and how much effort you want to invest.

You can purchase relatively small home water filters at many hardware and homeware stores. Many of them are canister-style filters that couple directly with your kitchen faucet.

Some offer a variety of filtration cartridges to choose from, depending on your filtering needs.

You can also use a number of DIY methods to filter, disinfect, and purify water yourself. They may come in handy, especially when traditional systems aren’t an option.

Below are some common DIY water filtering methods you can use.


3 Ways to Purify Water – Naturally - One Green Planet

Heating water at a rolling boil for 1 minute makes it safe to drink. Boil it for 3 minutes if you’re at an elevation above 6,500 feet (1,981 meters).

In the event of a local boil water advisory, experts recommend people boil their water to prevent infectious diseases (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source).

Tablets or drops

Some common water purification or disinfecting tablets and drops include:

  • sodium dichloroisocyanurate
  • chlorine dioxide
  • iodine
  • tetraglycine hydroperiodide

To use, follow the instructions on the package and drop the tablets into the water to purify it, letting them sit for a directed period of time.

UV treatment

In this approach, you allow ultraviolet sunlight to shine through the water. This damages the DNA of harmful germs, disinfecting the water by removing bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.

Adding lime juice can help speed up the solar treatment process (3Trusted Source).

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal can take up and store toxic compounds, smells, and germs. It can also reduce fluoride and heavy metals.

However, it doesn’t appear to be very effective at removing bacteria, viruses, or hard water minerals (4Trusted Source56).

To use it, simply put the charcoal in a sock or cloth bag and pour water through.

Travel-size sediment filters

These store-bought filters are designed to remove germs and bacteria from natural water. Companies may design them to use once or multiple times.

They come in the following forms:

  • a hand-pump machine
  • a filtering straw or water bottle
  • squeezable pouch filters
  • a filtering water pitcher

DIY portable sediment filters

You can create your own water filter to remove smell and debris by layering a mix of gravel, play sand, and activated carbon in a bucket drilled with a hole and fit with plumbing to pour water through.

Fruit peel filters

4 Ways to Purify Water - wikiHow

People sometimes use fruit peels, such as apple peels, for water purification in remote villages that rely on contaminated water for everyday needs.

You could potentially adapt this method into a DIY water filtration system. However, this may not be a good idea until scientists have done more research on the safety and effectiveness of this method for DIY use.


When traditional water filtration methods are unavailable, you have plenty of other options, such as boiling, UV treatment, disinfectant tablets, portable sediment filters, and activated charcoal.