The 7 Best Water Testing Kits to Buy in 2018

Keep an eye on household water

Drinking Glasses On Wooden Table
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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Essential Indicators Water Test at Amazon

“Tests for eight different forms of bacteria — adding to the amount of useful information you’ll gather.”

Runner-Up, Best Overall: PurTest Home Water Analysis at Home Depot

“Bacteria, lead, and pesticides...two testing strips for iron, alkalinity, pH, hardness, chlorine, copper, nitrate and nitrite.”

Best for Well Water: Watersafe Well Water Test Kit at Amazon

“Tests for copper, iron, lead, nitrates, nitrites, bacteria and also toxins from fertilizers or pesticides.”

Best Multiple Test Kit: Baldwin Meadows 9-in-1 Kit at Amazon

“100 test strips...including total alkalinity, pH, hardness, iron, lead, copper, nitrite, nitrate, and chlorine.”

Best for Pool Testing: Poolmaster 5-Way Test Kit at Amazon

“Includes testing for chlorine, bromine, pH, acid demand and total alkalinity.”

Best for Bacteria Testing: PurTest Bacteria Water Test Kit at Amazon

“Uses a test strip to indicate the presence or absence of coliform bacteria and E. Coli.”

Best Budget: First Alert Water Test Kit at Amazon

“Kit will give you information on the presence of bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates and nitrites, and chlorine.”

  • 01 of 07

    Best Overall: Essential Indicators Water Test

    Excellent

    If you’re looking for more comprehensive information on the quality of your water, a mail-in test kit sent to a laboratory will give you the information you’re looking for. The Essential Indicators Water Test from Drinking Water Specialists is our top choice for a mail-in test kit thanks to its fairly quick turnaround and expansive testing capabilities.

    Follow the kit’s simple directions to collect a water sample, then mail to the laboratory and receive comprehensive results for over 170 different indicators of water quality. The The company will send results and treatment suggestions via email within about six business days. You’ll need to test for bacteria at home, though, due to the fact that temperature and other conditions cannot be regulated in transit to the laboratory. Unlike many other bacteria tests, the Essential Indicators kit tests for eight different forms of bacteria — adding to the amount of useful information you’ll gather from this kit.

    Users found the directions to be easy to follow and the results proved to be thorough and insightful. Many people expressed that the value of this kit represented a tremendous savings over using similar local water testing facilities.

  • 02 of 07

    Runner-Up, Best Overall: PurTest Home Water Analysis Kit

    PurTest Home Water Analysis Kit
    Courtesy of Home Depot

    If you want an informative and easy-to-use water testing kit for home, our recommendation is the PurTest Home Water Analysis Kit.

    This test strip kit includes one strip each for testing bacteria, lead and pesticides. It includes two testing strips for iron, alkalinity, pH, hardness, chlorine, copper, nitrate and nitrite. The additional test strip included for these contaminants can be useful for testing multiple water sources, or for follow-up testing.

    Users really like that there are no mailing fees or wait time to get results. All testing can easily be done at home. A few people even mentioned that the results were confirmed by more expensive lab testing they had done. One thing to be aware of is the fact that results from this kit are provided within a range. The test doesn’t provide specific values. This was a disappointment to some users, but is on par with the majority of at-home water testing kits. What the kit does provide you is peace of mind or an indication that there is further testing needed to diagnose water quality problems. For a simple and useful water testing kit, choose the PurTest Home Water Analysis Kit.

  • 03 of 07

    Best for Well Water: Watersafe Well Water Test Kit

    If you rely on well water for your family or livestock, you need a dependable test kit to ensure that the water source is free of contaminants. The Watersafe Well Water Test Kit is our pick for reliable information about your well water supply.

    The Watersafe Well Water Test Kit is an at-home kit that will give you information on 10 different containments. It tests for copper, iron, lead, nitrates, nitrites, bacteria and also toxins from fertilizers or pesticides — a common concern for a well.

    This well water testing kit works well, and has easy-to-read strips that provide ranges for each tested contaminant. Users did comment on the fact that since the results are provided within a range only, it is not as specific as laboratory testing. However, those who compared their test results to laboratory results found the values from the Watersafe kit to be in line with the lab’s findings, adding to the reliability of this kit. For a good reference as to whether your well water is free of contamination, test using the Watersafe Well Water Kit for quick, easy-to-read results.

  • 04 of 07

    Best Multiple Test Kit: Baldwin Meadows 9-in-1 Drinking Water Test Kit

    If you are looking for a test kit that will allow you to monitor your water quality on an on-going basis, pick a multi-use testing kit like the Baldwin Meadows 9-in-1 Drinking Water Test Kit.

    This at-home test kit stands out for its affordability and almost instant results. The kit includes 100 test strips, and it provides results for nine contaminants including: total alkalinity, pH, hardness, iron, lead, copper, nitrite, nitrate, and chlorine.

    Note that this kit doesn’t include bacteria testing, but this can be tested for separately if needed. What the Baldwin Meadows kit does provide is an easy way to keep tabs on the level of the nine most common indicators of water quality. Users love how simple and convenient this water testing kit is, and many reported it was more than sufficient at providing the information they were seeking about their water quality.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Best for Pool Testing: Poolmaster 5-Way Test Kit

    For reliably and accurately testing the water quality of your pool, pick the Poolmaster 5-Way Test Kit.

    This reasonably-priced kit comes in a convenient case and is relied on by professional pool cleaners and home pool keepers alike. The kit includes testing for chlorine, bromine, pH, acid demand and total alkalinity. This solution-based kit comes with five different indicator solutions and a clear-view test block with integrated color charts to easily read results.

    Users find the solution-testing method to be superior and more accurate to testing pool water quality using test strips. Many also mentioned that this kit is simple to use, and the results are easy to interpret. So before you make a splash in the pool, pick up the Poolmaster 5-Way Test Kit for reliable information about your water quality.

  • 06 of 07

    Best for Bacteria Testing: PurTest Bacteria Water Test Kit

    If you’re only concerned with testing for the presence of bacteria, a simple screening test like this one from PurTest will give you a clear answer.

    The PurTest Bacteria Water Test Kit uses a test strip to indicate the presence or absence of coliform bacteria and E. Coli. It also includes two bonus test strips to evaluate the presence of nitrites and nitrates.

    Some users were disappointed that the test doesn’t specify the amounts or type of bacteria present, but this is the standard for most at-home bacteria testing kits. Many homeowners rely on these test kits as a screening method to determine if further, more expensive testing is needed. So if this is your purpose, then you may find peace of mind and financial savings by first testing your water for bacteria with the affordable PurTest Bacteria Water Test Kit.

  • 07 of 07

    Best Budget: First Alert Drinking Water Test Kit

    For a water testing kit that is more basic, the First Alert Drinking Water Test Kit provides essential information in a budget-priced kit.

    This at-home water testing kit will give you information on the presence of bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates and nitrites, and chlorine. While this is a more limited number of tested contaminants than many other at-home or mail-in kits, it covers the basic information that many homeowners are concerned about.

    The First Alert Drinking Water Test Kit was found to have clear instructions, and accurate results when users followed the directions. For the small price tag, it is a good baseline test to ensure basic water quality.

Products Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent two hours trying a top-rated water testing kit. They collected samples of drinking water in their own homes, mailed them to the kit’s corresponding laboratory, and checked their results. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this water testing kit, from its ease of use to the thoroughness of its results. We've outlined the key points here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Water Testing Kit

Water source First, you’ll want to figure out what type of water you’re testing — is it from a well or public water supply, or is from your pool or faucet at home? Water tests are often formulated specifically for various water sources, testing for the most common contaminants found in that type of water.

Testing procedure You’ll also want to consider the testing procedure when purchasing a water testing kit. If time isn’t a concern, consider a kit that you send out to a testing facility, as those options are often more comprehensive. However, if you want the results quickly, an at-home kit will give you answers immediately.

Contaminants Some water testing kits can detect a wide variety of common contaminants, such as lead, chlorine, copper, iron, and more. Others just test for one or two contaminants and are usually less expensive. If you know what substance you’re testing for, you may want to go with the latter option, but if you want to know generally what’s in your water, a broader kit is probably the way to go.

Test Results: Essential Indicators Water Test (Best Overall)

Excellent

What We Like

  • Clear instructions

  • Easy to use

  • Detailed results

What We Don't Like

  • Shipping cost of sending water back not covered

Essential Indicators Water Test
Essential Water Test
Water Test

If someone thought they had a water issue, I think this would be a solid product,” reported one of our testers. Our reviewers loved that it was very easy to use and that the results were comprehensive: “The results really go into detail about all the stuff in your drinking water,” one said, “including the number of essential elements and heavy metals, inorganic compounds, and volatile inorganic compounds.” One thing that disappointed our testers, though, was that users have to pay to ship their samples to the laboratory. “They provide a return label, but it's just a sticker,” said one reviewer. “You actually have to go to the post office to pay for shipping. I didn't like that I had to ship the water back on my own dime.”