General Electric (GE) is one of the major brands of refrigerators with water-filtering capabilities. 

When it comes to maintaining the filter in your fridge, GE offers its own officially compatible cartridges, which are great for extending your device’s lifespan.

But, a cursory look online will tell you that GE filters aren’t the only options available. Many refrigerators and water filter appliances will run just fine on lower cost, differently branded, or no-name cartridges—GE included. Just be sure that you’re selecting the right shape and type of filter for your particular device. And importantly, only buy filters with genuine NSF/ANSI certifications.

Here’s our review of the best MWF and equivalent water filters out there on the market:

What’s an NSF/ANSI Standard?

The NSF is the world’s leading organization for certifying water filtering products. They undertake regular inspections of manufacturing facilities and product testing before awarding one or more standards, formulated as particular numbers.

For MWF and other home water filter cartridges, there are two main certification standards to look for:

  • NSF/ANSI 42. Filters with this standard are certified to reduce aesthetic impurities such as chlorine and taste or odors.
  • NSF/ANSI 53. Filters with this standard are certified to reduce one or more contaminants with health effects, as regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada.

NSF follows the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards development process, which means that the two certification boards offer equivalent peace of mind when it comes to your drinking water. Normally, NSF Standard numbers will be used to indicate safety for both the NSF and ANSI.

For more on what the NSF does, here’s our full post on Water Filter Certifications: An Explainer.

Key Points

  • When using an off-brand or no name filter cartridge, make sure to match the filtration mechanism and shape. This will encourage proper contaminant removal, plus reduce leakage.

  • Whatever cartridge you use, look for authentic NSF certification. The exact NSF standard you need depends on the level of filtration required for the water source. Groundwater and private suppliers usually need more intensive filtering.

  • Often, the extra expense of officially compatible filter cartridges is not simply profiteering on behalf of manufacturers. Many spend resources on premium filter components and designs that promote extra filtering efficiency and increased flow rate.

FAQs

“DON’T RISK IT WITH AN IMITATION! Care for your appliance with a genuine GE MWF water filter designed specifically to fit your GE refrigerator,” Says the headline of the GE website, in capital letters.

Most manufacturers will recommend using their own filter cartridges to accompany their products. Beyond marketing and brand loyalty, this is usually for a couple of reasons:

  • Fitting. manufacturers are able to produce cartridges with an officially guaranteed fit for their particular appliance.
  • Build quality. manufacturers are able to extensively test their filter cartridges inside their products to offer the best filtering experience.

Usually, however, there’s nothing to stop another filter cartridge manufacturer from offering an equal, or perhaps superior, product for a competitive price. There may be some instances where a manufacturer explicitly warns against using off-brand or unofficial filter cartridges. The reasons behind these warnings may be related to product safety, or guarantees about removing certain contaminants from a water source. In these cases, we cannot recommend ignoring their advice.

If you do want to try out a different filter in such a product, it’s worth bearing in mind that any ensuing issues may not be covered by an original warranty.

Most types of MWF and equivalent filters use a multi-stage activated carbon filtering process to create purer water. Activated carbon is an adsorbent, which means that it attracts and binds organic compounds to its surface, removing them from the water supply.

The filtration stages in an MWF filter are usually separated into categories of filtering size. An initial stage is intended to remove large contaminants, such as sentiment, dirt, and rust. A second stage will target smaller particles such as salts and microorganisms. Both of these stages will rely on the structure of the filter, as much as adsorption, to catch material.

Stage three of filtration is purely adsorptive, removing the smallest level of organic compounds. These include common chemicals and gases that affect water taste, such as chlorine and hydrogen sulfide.

Official GE MWF water filters claim to remove, at a minimum:

  • Chlorine (to levels of taste and odor)
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Insecticides (Lindane)
  • Herbicides (Atrazine)
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs: industrial byproducts and urban runoff)

Most NSF certified filters will also reduce larger particles such as sediment and waterborne contaminants to some extent, simply as a result of the tightly packed filter structure.

It’s hard to list the exact contaminants that other MWF filters are capable of removing, which is why it’s paramount to confirm individual capability yourself. However, filtering via activated carbon is a trusted, universal method of improving drinking water quality and taking out common organic and chemical pollutants.