5 Reasons Why Brita Filters Get Algae – And How To Prevent It

Brita offers a range of filter pitchers, bottles, and faucet filters to keep your water safe and clean. However, if you find that your filter water has turned green, blue-green or reddish-brown, it is an indication of algal contamination.

Brita filters can get algae if they are not maintained properly, left in direct sunlight, are used for filtering untreated well water, infrequently washed, or the filter is not replaced early. To clean algae from Brita filters, scrub the filter housing area with white vinegar and water. Do not drink the water and discard the contaminated cartridge immediately.

Finding algae in your Brita device may be concerning, but it is easy to fix. Let’s look at why algae grow in your filter, and what you can do to resolve it.

Why Do Algae Grow In My Brita Filter?

Algae thrive in your Brita filter from two sources – the environment, and the water itself.

Algal spores are found in every environment. They are harmless until they find a medium to attach to and grow. If you leave your Brita filter open in direct sunlight, the spores may attach themselves to the moist, damp filter and grow there. This turns your water green and causes a musty smell.

If your home receives tap water from the state, then it comes pre-treated with chlorine. Chlorine, a disinfectant, kills algae. Your Brita filter (be it a pitcher, bottle, or faucet) drastically reduces the taste and odor of chlorine in the water. While this is great for taste, it means that your water is again at risk of algal contamination.

Leaving the spout half-open allows algal spores to enter your filtration system and contaminate the water.  

Algae may also grow in your filter if you don’t clean it often. Brita recommends replacing the Standard filter every 2 months, and the Longlast every 6 months. Not following this routine may lead to algal growth. 

Brita filters are not meant to purify well water. EPA does not regulate the quality of private well water. If your well water has algae, using it in your Brita product may cause algal growth. This is because it is not treated with any disinfectant before use, leaving your filter vulnerable to algal blooms.

To sum up, here’s a quick list of probable causes:

  1. Not washing the filter often
  2. Not replacing the filter cartridge according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  3. Leaving the spout/bottle open when not in use
  4. Exposing the Brita filter to direct sunlight
  5. Using untreated well water

What types of algae can grow in my Brita filter?

Algae are plant-like bacteria that grow in moist, bright places like ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. They may be tiny or large. When exposed to high moisture and sunlight, they may grow into massive blooms.

While there are thousands of algal species in the world, only four major types affect water in your home.

The green algae in your filter may be of two types – Chlorophyta (green algae) or cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). This alga is found both in well water and the environment. Green algae are found in Brita filters mostly due to excessive sun exposure.

If you own a private well, you might also find brown algae or red algae blooming in it. When you use this water in your Brita filter, the algae thrive in your pitcher or dispenser.

If you find your Brita filter water is black, then this is most likely not algae – you can read more about why your Brita filter water is black in this detailed post.

How to get rid of algae from Brita filter

Removing algae from the filter housing is easy, but cleaning your cartridge is not. Examine your Brita product carefully. If there is a slimy green film on the sides and base, it can be scrubbed clean.

Have the algae entered the filter cartridge? Your cartridge cannot be cleaned with bleach or vinegar. It must be discarded immediately.

Thankfully, Brita filters are easy and cheap to replace – Simply click on your filter type below to grab one from Amazon.

Brita Standard Filter

Brita Longlast Filter

Brita Stream Filter

Brita Bottle Filter

Brita Faucet Filter

To get rid of algae from the filter housing, you must scrub it clean with a disinfectant mixture. You will find cleaning instructions for each type of Brita filter below.

How to clean each type of Brita filter

Brita Pitcher:

  • Remove the filter cartridge from the housing.
  • Wash the pitcher and lid with liquid detergent and water.
  • Scrub the pitcher and lid with a mixture of white vinegar and water. You might want to use a brush to reach every nook and crevice.
  • Soak the pitcher and lid in lukewarm water to remove any chemicals. Rinse thoroughly under running water.
  • Do not use any disinfectant chemicals on the cartridge. Rinse it under running water.
  • Dry the pitcher and lid thoroughly. Use a paper towel or cloth to make sure it is perfectly dry.
  • Reattach the cartridge into the housing. Screw it in, and fill the pitcher with water.
  • Discard the first pitcherful of water until the black carbon specks disappear. You can use this to water your plants.

Brita Bottle:

  • Brita’s hard plastic water bottles are dishwasher safe (top rack only), while the stainless steel bottle must be washed by hand.
  • Remove the filter and wash the bottle and lit with mild dish soap.
  • Use a brush to clean around the straw and lid. Rinse the straw under running water.
  • Use a mixture of white vinegar and water to scrub away any green slime on the sides, bottom, or lid.
  • Rinse and dry the bottle and lid to remove any traces of the soap.
  • Rinse the new filter under running water for 15-20 seconds.
  • Attach the new filter to the top of the straw, align it to the bottom of the lid, and twist it into place.
  • Discard the first bottleful of water until the specks disappear.

Brita faucet filter:

  • Monitor the filter change indicator to determine when you should replace the cartridge.
  • Remove the cartridge, and wipe down the filter with a cloth dunked in a white vinegar+water mixture.
  • Scrub the filter with a brush to remove any green slime. Use mild soap, and the vinegar-water mixture until all algal remains have been cleaned.
  • Wipe it clean with a paper towel.
  • Attach the new cartridge and flush it out for 5 minutes.
  • Note that you must let the water run for 5 seconds every time you use the faucet filter. If you haven’t used the faucet filter in a while, run it for 30 seconds.

How to prevent algae in your Brita filter

Keeping your Brita filter algae-free is easy. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before handling your filter.
  2. Clean the pitcher/faucet often, at least once a month.
  3. Do not leave the pitcher/bottle in direct sunlight. Store it on a cool counter away from direct sunlight. In fact, the Brita pitcher/bottle is best stored in the refrigerator.
  4. Make sure that the spout of the pitcher and the neck of the bottle are clean. Take special care to scrub the open ends.
  5. Keep the spout tightly sealed after use.
  6. Do not drink directly out of the pitcher. Transfer the water to a glass.
  7. Rinse the mouth of your Brita bottle often, at least once a week.
  8. Replace the filter according to manufacturer instructions. The Standard filter must be changed every 2 months, while the Longlast lasts 6 months. The faucet filter cartridge must be replaced every 4 months.
  9. Make sure the unopened Brita cartridges are sealed and stored in a cool, dry place.
  10. Flush the new faucet filter cartridge for 5 minutes before use.
  11. Avoid using well water in your Brita product.
  12. If an algal problem persists, consider investing in an air purifier to remove algal spores from the environment.

Is it safe to drink water with algae in it?

Since algae are plants, you might ask yourself, “Are the algae in my Brita filter really dangerous?” Unfortunately, it is.

Algae-contaminated water is not safe for consumption. This is because algae release toxins that can cause nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, and rashes. Skin irritation, fever, and other gastric problems can also be contracted by drinking contaminated water. Algae-contaminated water will smell musty or rotten, and taste moldy or bitter.

Although ingesting small amounts of algae may not cause harm, it is not recommended for consumption.

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