Why Brita Filters Get Mold – And How To Prevent It

Brita filters are susceptible to mold if they are not cleaned frequently, or if the filter cartridge is not replaced regularly. Using well water or leaving the filtration device open in a dark place can also cause mold to grow. To remove mold, scrub it with a diluted bleach solution. Discard the contaminated cartridge immediately.

Brita filters are a good choice to improve the taste and odor of your drinking water. However, if you find dark patches of mold in your filter, it’s an indication that it has been contaminated.

Your Brita product is not designed to remove mold or other organic matter. If you find mold in your filter, you must take action immediately. In this article, I take you through why Brita filters get mold, and what you can do to remove (and prevent) it.

Why Brita Filters Get Mold

The most common reason for mold growth on a Brita filtration device is a lack of regular cleaning. Not cleaning your Brita filter regularly can allow mold to take hold.

Mold is a fungus that thrives in moist, dark places. Like all fungi, it needs an organic medium to grow. If you do not clean your filter often, it may accumulate organic matter and lead to mold growth.

If your water has a high concentration of organic matter (like in the case of unpurified well water), then your Brita product may be particularly susceptible to mold.

If your Brita filter water is green, Water Purification Guide has more information on how to fix the problem available here.

Leaving your Brita product half-open in a dark, non-ventilated room can provide the perfect conditions for mold growth.

How Brita Filters Get Mold

Tap water is usually purified with chlorine before it enters your water supply. However, the chlorine (which kills bacteria, fungi, and other parasites in water) is removed by your Brita filter. This leaves your water susceptible to future contamination.

When you do not clean your filter and housing frequently, it becomes a dumping site for organic matter. Crevices and tight spots like the filter housing area, the Brita pitcher spout, and the Brita bottle straw nozzle are easy targets for mold. They accumulate dirt and are easily hit by mold contamination.

Unpurified water (like well water) is rich in organic matter that aids fungal growth. Brita filters are not designed to remove these contaminants. This organic matter accumulates in the crevices of your device. Mold spores in the air attach to your filter and grow here.

Why Mold In Your Water Filter Is Dangerous

Mold is a toxic fungus that propagates through spores in the air. These spores can enter your air conditioning system and spread to the entire house. The longer you are exposed to mold, the worse the symptoms.

Both drinking water contaminated with mold, and breathing the spores, are dangerous to health. Infants, children, older people, pregnant women, and people with pre-existing health conditions are more vulnerable to mold allergies.

Mold and spore sensitivity can cause allergy-like reactions like coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, irritation, and headaches. It can also trigger asthma attacks. Immune-compromised individuals are also at risk of lung infections. Upper respiratory tract infections, wheezing, and asthma can be exacerbated by mold exposure.

Molds produce mycotoxins, which are detrimental to health. While there is no conclusive study that inhaling mycotoxins causes harm, ingesting water with mycotoxins can cause mold poisoning. Symptoms include mood swings, memory loss, headaches, and other pains.

The Difference Between Mold, Mildew And algae

Not all contaminants are alike. Depending on your environment, your filter may be susceptible to mold, mildew, or algae. But what is the difference?

Mold and mildew are types of fungi that typically grow in damp and dark places. Mold is usually green or black and can look fuzzy or slimy. It grows in circular patches on organic surfaces (usually on the filter of your cartridge). Mold and its spores are toxic and cause several illnesses.

Mildew is a type of fungus that is light and powdery. It could be white, yellow, or grey. Mildew is more likely to grow on plastic, compared to mold.

Algae are plant-like bacteria. The algae that grow on your filter are mostly green or blue-green. If you use well water, your product may also be susceptible to brown algae. Algae grow where moisture and light are abundant (say, if you leave your Brita pitcher on the counter in open sunlight).

Types Of Mold

Molds can be allergenic (that cause allergies and trigger asthma attacks), pathogenic (that cause illness), or toxigenic (that release dangerous toxins). Based on the color of the mold, you can usually identify what type it is. We recommend getting an expert opinion to correctly identify the type of mold in your home.

Here is a cheat sheet of the types of mold (scroll right to see all of the information).

MoldTypeClassificationWhat does it look like?Where does it grow?How is it harmful?
AlternariaGreenAllergenicVelvetShowers, sinks, tubsAsthma-like symptoms
AspergillusGreenAllergenicLight-green/yellow mold in circular patchesThroughout the houseLung infections, asthma attacks
CladosporiumGreenAllergenicOlive green, feels like suedeFabric, upholstery, inside cupboardsEye and skin allergies
PenicillinGreenAllergenicBlue-green, velvet textureWallpaper, carpetsPulmonary infection, sinusitis
AureobasidiumBlackAllergenicBlack patchesWallpaper, wooden surfacesSkin irritation
ChaetomiumBlackAllergenicBlack, fluffy like cotton candyWater-damaged structures and pipesNail and skin infections
+ toxigenic
Black, slimyWood, cardboard, damp areasBurning eyes, depression, body ache
UlocladiumBlackAllergenicBlack stripsKitchen and water-damaged areasHay fever, skin infections
Serratia marcescens (bacteria)PinkAllergenic + pathogenic (causes disease)Pink film coating water and sides of the container Water-logged areas like bathtubs, sink, toilet bowlPneumonia, respiratory infections, bloodstream infections

You will see that what people think is pink mold is actually a type of bacteria.  S. marcescens is a dangerous bacteria that finds its way into your filter from untreated well water or the environment. It can be removed by washing your product with a strong disinfectant.

How To Remove Mold From Brita Filters

It is important to eliminate mold as soon as you see it develop. The longer you are exposed to mold, the more at risk you are, and the worse it is to remove.

Here, you’ll find instructions on how to remove mold from each type of Brita product.

Remember to not touch mold with bare hands. Wear gloves and a mask so that you don’t inhale any spores.

Brita Filter Pitcher

  1. Remove the old Brita filter cartridge from the housing.
  2. Wash the pitcher, lid, and spout with liquid detergent and warm water.
  3. If the mold does not go away, use a mixture of white vinegar and water. If this does not work, opt for a diluted bleach solution.
  4. Use a brush to scrub every corner and crevice, especially near the spout and the housing.
  5. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Make sure any bleach is completely removed.
  6. Attach the new sealed filter cartridge into the housing, and screw it in.
  7. Fill the pitcher with water and discard the first pitcher of water, repeat until any black specks disappear.

Brita water bottle

  1. While Brita hard plastic bottles are dishwasher safe, we recommend washing mold-infested bottles by hand.
  2. Remove the filter, and disassemble the bottle and lid.
  3. Use a liquid detergent and brush to scrub the mold away, especially around the straw area, housing, and lid.
  4. If this does not do the trick, use a bleach solution to remove the mold.
  5. Rinse, dry, and make sure all traces of the bleach solution are gone.
  6. Attach the new filter to the straw and align it to the bottom of the lid. Twist it into place.

Brita Faucet Filter

  1. Remove the Brita filter cartridge from the housing.
  2. Wipe down the faucet filter with a cloth soaked in a diluted bleach solution. Wear gloves while you do this.
  3. Scrub the housing with a diluted bleach solution, using a brush to reach into small spaces.
  4. Rinse the product and wipe it clean.
  5. Attach the new cartridge and flush it for 5 minutes.

Tips To Prevent Mold Growth In Your Brita Product

If you find mold inside the filter or around it, discard it immediately. We recommend replacing the filter immediately and carefully monitoring the new filter and housing for mold. Before you insert the new filter, clean your housing carefully to remove all traces of mold.

Remember, the Brita Standard filter should be replaced every 2 months, the EliteTM every 6 months, and the faucet filter every 4 months.

Discard the old filter with care. You can opt for the Brita filter recycling service. Before you do so, seal the old filter in a plastic bag so that the spores do not escape.

  • Make sure you replace the filter on time. The Brita Standard filter must be replaced every 2 months, the EliteTM every 6 months, and the faucet filter every 4 months. If your model comes with a filter change indicator, monitor it carefully.
  • Leave your pitcher and bottle in the refrigerator, and not in a dark place on the counter.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the filter. Do not touch the spout or straw often, as it can contaminate the device.
  • Clean your Brita product frequently, at least once a month.
  • Keep the spout of the pitcher, the straw of the bottle, and the faucet end clean. Scrub the nooks and crannies carefully.
  • Do not drink directly out of the pitcher.
  • Make sure the spout is sealed completely after use.
  • Keep the unopened filter cartridges sealed in a cool, dry place.
  • Do not use well water in your Brita product.
  • If your Brita product has mold, it may be indicative of a larger mold problem in your living space. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service to disinfect your home.

Russell Singleton

Russell has a Bachelor of Science (Environmental and Marine Geoscience) with Class I Honors. He is currently completing his doctorate in science and is passionate about all earth processes, especially isotope geochemistry and paleohydrology.

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