BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Kitchen

Everything you need to know about LifeStraw filters

Clean drinking water is a necessity, and LifeStraw has introduced dozens of ways to help make clean water accessible to anyone, anywhere. Along with the original LifeStraw, the brand’s filtration products include gravity-fed filters, water bottles and even pitchers and carafes for home use. Whether you’re planning a remote camping trip, updating your emergency preparedness kit or looking for a way to improve your tap water, there’s a LifeStraw product that can help.

How LifeStraw filters work

LifeStraw technology

LifeStraw filters utilize a hollow-membrane filtration system with pores that measure just 0.2 microns. The filter resembles a cluster of tiny straws with holes too small for many contaminants to pass through. The filter in the classic LifeStraw lasts for up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons) before it needs to be replaced. LifeStraw filters can be used during boil-water advisories as well as for traveling or backpacking.

What does a LifeStraw filter out?

LifeStraw filters can remove more than 30 contaminants. The original LifeStraw can filter out a minimum of 99.999% of waterborne bacteria and parasites as well as microplastics. Most LifeStraw products can also reduce or even remove sand, silt and sediment along with chemicals like chlorine, PFAS and pesticides.

LifeStraw filter types

Some LifeStraw products, such as the Flex and the Go, have a two-stage filtration system that incorporates an activated carbon filter along with the brand’s hollow-membrane filter. The charcoal filter allows the LifeStraw to filter out additional contaminants, such as lead, heavy metals and pesticides. It can also help improve the taste of the water you’re drinking.

Note that the carbon filters have much shorter lifespans than the hollow-membrane filters, so they’ll need to be replaced more frequently.

Ways to use a LifeStraw

Camping and backpacking

LifeStraws take some of the worry out of long outdoor adventures by guaranteeing access to drinkable water. LifeStraw products are lightweight and easily portable, and they range from individual filter straws to gravity-fed filtration systems that can supply a large group.

International travel

If you’re traveling somewhere with uncertain water quality, using a LifeStraw can protect your health as well as your peace of mind. Pick a LifeStraw model that comes with a water bottle so you’ll always be able to refill and enjoy clean water.

Emergency preparedness

LifeStraws are popular picks for emergency go bags because of their relative affordability and good filtration quality. If properly stored, unused LifeStraws have a shelf life of up to five years. After that, the filter can start to break down, making it less effective. For emergency home use, look for a LifeStraw that can filter out waterborne viruses as well as bacteria and parasites.


Q. Does a LifeStraw need to be cleaned?

A. Cleaning and maintaining your LifeStraw product helps it last longer. Every LifeStraw product is different, so check your user manual to properly clean and care for it. You can help prevent your LifeStraw from clogging by occasionally blowing water back through the straw to remove any accumulating debris.

Q. What doesn’t a LifeStraw filter out?

A. While LifeStraw provides excellent filtration at an affordable price, it isn’t a perfect system, and different LifeStraws are capable of filtering different contaminants. The classic LifeStraw can’t filter out salt, viruses or certain chemical contaminants, such as chlorine, heavy metals and minerals. It’s also unable to improve the taste of what you’re drinking. For example, don’t use it to drink pool water or ocean water because unsafe levels of chlorine and salt will still be present. If you're worried about filtering out germs and viruses, you may want to get water purification tablets in addition to your LifeStraw.

What you need to buy for LifeStraw filtration

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

You can use this straw to filter waterborne parasites, bacteria, microplastics and more from water. It weighs only 2 ounces and comes with a lanyard to keep it easily accessible.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

LifeStraw Go 2-Stage Filtration Water Bottle

If you don’t love the idea of sticking a straw into mysterious water, consider this filtered water bottle option. Its two-stage filter uses hollow-membrane filtration and activated carbon to reduce chlorine, odor and chemicals as well as bacteria and parasites. It comes with a durable 1-liter bottle that is BPA-free.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon

LifeStraw Flex

The Flex has the same two-stage filter as the Go, so it reduces levels of lead, chlorine and heavy metals and also improves the taste of your water. However, the Flex can be used with the included collapsible squeeze bottle, in gravity-fed filtration systems, with a hydration pack or plastic water bottle or alone.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

LifeStraw Peak Series Straw

The filtration system in this LifeStraw helps reduce clogging for better water flow. The Peak filter can be screwed onto multiple types of water bottles or used alone, and its unlimited shelf life makes it a good choice for long-term emergency preparedness.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon

LifeStraw Mission High-Volume Gravity-Fed Water Purifier

If you need clean water for a large group, consider this filtration system that is available with 5-liter or 12-liter reservoirs and a lifetime filtration capacity of 18,000 liters (4,755 gallons). It can’t filter chlorine or heavy metals, but it is capable of removing viruses, thanks to its tiny 0.02-micron filter pore size.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

LifeStraw Peak Series 3-Liter Compact Gravity Water Filter System

This compact gravity-fed filter can also be used as individual components: The straw can be used on its own or with a water bottle, and the reservoir can double as a roomy, collapsible water bottle. Its 0.2-micron filter lasts 2,000 liters (500 gallons).

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry and Amazon

LifeStraw Home Water Filter 7-Cup Pitcher

LifeStraw technology can make tap water safer with this elegant glass water filter pitcher. It’s equipped with an advanced two-stage filter that can remove bacteria and parasites, lead, chemicals, microplastics and more.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews. 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals. 

Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

Share this post: