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How Many Cups in a Pitcher? Everything You Should Know!

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

how many cups in a pitcher

Water filter pitchers have proven to be one of the most convenient ways to have clean drinking water for your home. Their sleek and easy-to-use designs make them reliable and presentable – so you can bring them out and serve your guests with high-quality filtered water.

Finding the right pitcher water filter for your household may be tricky. It has to be the right size so that everyone gets their fill. Luckily, they come in different sizes. So how many cups in a pitcher? Let’s find out.

Table of Contents

How Does a Pitcher Water Filter Work?


Essentially, a water filter pitcher works by letting you fill tap water from the top. As the water trickles down, it passes through a system of filters. Once finished, you can easily pour out your filtered water onto a glass. Simple as that.

Although different water filter pitcher brands are built with varying media types, the basis follows two principles; physical filtration and chemical filtration. These are commonly achieved through a sedimentary filter and an activated carbon filter.

A sedimentary filter removes the large dissolved solids in the water, while an activated carbon filter chemically removes metals, chlorine, and any off-putting odors. Certain water filter pitchers have additional filters aside from these, which adds to their effectiveness against foul-tasting tap water.

Municipal water suppliers have already treated the water supply with chlorine to eliminate any harmful bacteria. Hence, most filter pitcher manufacturers focus only on improving the taste and odor of water. However, there are a few notable filter pitcher brands that have stepped up their filter game.

Brita pitcher filters are installed with a coconut-based carbon filter that removes chlorine and zinc, copper, and mercury. ZeroWater filter pitchers are well-known for their five-stage filter system – consisting of three different kinds of sediment filters, an ion exchange resin bed, and a semipermeable membrane.

How Long Does a Pitcher Filter Take to Filter Water?

Depending on how many different filters there are in the pitcher, filtering will take as long as it has to. ZeroWater’s rigorous five-stage filter system takes longer than most filters, but it’s still among the most efficient pitcher filters out there.

Despite similarities in size and capacity, different pitcher filters’ flow rates will vary based on several factors. These factors include the installed filter system and the quality of the tap water. Some pitcher models can filter about a liter of water in one minute, while others will take more than ten minutes.

Certain municipalities have more minerals in the water supply than others, so check on your water source and test your tap water if you can. While not necessarily a health hazard, these hard minerals could slow down your pitcher’s filter action.

Having a pitcher filter with a slow flow rate isn’t something to worry about if you live in a small household. You can fill up the pitcher and just put it in the fridge for later. For busier homes, this could prove a problem – especially if you avail a filter with an intense filter system like ZeroWater’s.

How Many Cups Can I Fill With One Pitcher Filter?


A typical pitcher filter should be able to fill up enough cups for your home – but it’s difficult to tell from an ounce or liter reading alone. A pitcher filter advertisement could say that a particular model can hold up to 80 oz of water – but not necessarily how many cups that’s worth.

Thankfully, manufacturers now specify their pitcher filters’ cup count, so you won’t have to do the math. An 80 oz pitcher filter is now also labeled as a 10-cup pitcher. This gives you a clearer picture of how this pitcher will do in your home. For a family of four, a 10-cup pitcher filter could last a day.

If you live alone or have a small refrigerator, a pitcher filter with a smaller capacity should do you just fine. A 48 oz pitcher filter will be able to yield around 5 cups of water. If the need arises for you to refill it within the day, a smaller filter won’t take long to filter another batch for you.

Meanwhile, larger households could opt for a 5-liter pitcher filter, which can fill up around 23 cups. A filter of this capacity won’t be as portable as its smaller counterparts. It will require its own area in your kitchen.

Conveniently enough, some of these large pitchers come with a TDS meter attached – which is a device that tests the Total Dissolved Solids of your water. A TDS reading of under 200 mg/L is good, while a TDS reading of 100 mg/L is even better. The lower the TDS reading, the safer the water.

The number of cups you can fill with your pitcher filter will depend on its size and capacity. Once you’re familiar with how much water your household consumes, it’ll be easy to determine which pitcher filter to get.

How Long Will My Pitcher Water Filter Last?

If you maintain it well and flush it regularly, the cartridge of your pitcher water filter will last about six months. However, this could end up being shorter, depending on the quality of your tap water.

One of the warning signs to watch out for is a sudden shift in the quality of your filtered water. The moment you notice any off-putting tastes or odors, take this as a sign to immediately replace the cartridge – as provided by your pitcher filter manufacturer.

ZeroWater pitcher filters claim to filter 25-40 gallons of water before needing to be replaced. While these filters are specially designed to eliminate bacteria accumulation, they will give off an acidic taste if left unchanged. If you have a ZeroWater filter, be sure to replace its cartridge after six months of use.

If you’re using a standard Brita filter, it’s ideal that this is replaced after filtering 40 gallons – or after two months. The larger-sized Brita models can filter more gallons and, proportionately, will be able to last for more months.

These estimates are based on the standard household water consumption, which is about ten water glasses a day. If you happen to have a family whose drinking water consumption is more than average, you may have to keep a close eye on your filters.

The rule of thumb for most carbon-based filters is to keep an eye on them every month and make sure to have them replaced after the sixth month. You should not keep your water filter for more than a year.

Pitcher Perfect

How many cups in a pitcher? With the many brands and types and sizes you can choose from, there’s bound to be a water filter pitcher that’s made just for you. Take note that the size of your household isn’t the only thing dictating your daily water consumption – it’s your daily habits as well.

For all you know, your family of five could go through 30 cups of water in a day – which, if you do the math, is three 80 oz pitcher filters. If this is the case, you might need a backup like a countertop filter or gravity water filter on standby. Nevertheless, pitcher water filters stand by their edge in portability and convenience.

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