The 4 best bath mats we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A well made bath mat is necessary for staying safe while stepping in and out of the shower.
  • To find the best options, we tested eight bath mats and spoke with a cleaning expert.
  • Our top pick is plush, absorbent, and available in multiple colors and size options.

Bath mats are a bathroom essential, but finding a high-quality mat can be challenging. To start, you’ll want to look for several features including high absorbency, durable construction, and a non-slip design. While a bath mat with efficient construction can be used for several months, a poorly made mat will slip and slide, take longer to dry, and can quickly become dangerous.

We put eight bath mats through extensive comfort, absorbency, and wash and dry tests to find the best options currently available. Our top picks are all easy to clean, stay in place, and range in material from soft cotton to plush, foot conforming memory foam. You can learn more about our extensive testing process in our methodology section.

We also spoke with Jon Gholian who is the founder of NYC-based cleaning company Cleany, to learn more about the best ways to care for your bath mats. Gholian also shared some tips and tricks to help guide you through the process of shopping for a bath mat which can be found in the FAQ section of this guide.

Here are the best bath mats of 2021

The best overall

Best bath mat overall 2021 Brooklinen

The Brooklinen Bath Mat is made of 100 percent cotton for a feel that is incredibly soft and absorbent.

Pros: Absorbent, great value, stylish design, plush feel

Cons: Longer dry time after washing, lighter colors may attract bathroom dust and dirt

The Brooklinen Bath Mat is designed to evoke the relaxing feel of the spa with its thick plush design. The mat is made of 100% Turkish cotton, which makes it surprisingly comfortable despite its towel-like appearance. With its simple design and multi-color availability, the mat can complement a wide variety of bathroom decor styles. 

The mat performed extremely well during our absorbency tests and only felt slightly damp, even when multiple people used it after back-to-back showers. The mat did require more time in the dryer than other mats, but remained in great shape after three runs through the washer and dryer. 

If you share a bathroom with multiple people or are looking to get away with cleaning your bath mat less often, we recommend choosing a darker colored mat, as the white shade we tested easily collected bathroom dust and dirt.

The best budget bath mat

Best budget bath mat 2021 Ikea

The fast drying Ikea TOFTBO Bath Mat is a great inexpensive mat option for those that share a bathroom with multiple people.

Pros: Unique design, fast drying, lightweight, absorbent, durable, great price

Cons: Slipped and slid a bit when stepping on it, design may not match well with more minimal decor styles

The Ikea TOFTBO Bath Mat offers a unique feel due to its fluffy microfiber fabric that provides a great amount of foot support. The mat performed the best in absorbency during testing, and was fully dried after being run through a regular dryer cycle. This absorbency is key for those that share a shower with more than one person, as it helps you avoid the uncomfortable feeling of stepping on a soaked mat.

The mat is also extremely durable despite its unique construction and suffered no damage after three washes. While the mat performed well during absorbency tests, it lacks a non-slip backing and did move a small amount when stepped on. Ikea recommends using the STOPP anti-slip underlay to keep the mat firmly in place.

The best decorative bath mat

Best decorative bath mat Society6

Available in an endless assortment of designs, the Society6 Summer Fern/Simple Modern Watercolor Bath Mat is just one example of the design possibilities available when shopping with the brand.

Pros: Available in multiple designs, skid-proof backing

Cons: Is not the most absorbent mat

While minimal bath mats with simple designs can complement a wide variety of bathroom decor, Society6’s bath bats (we tested the Summer Fern/Simple Modern Watercolor design) will add a fun pop of color to any bathroom. Society6 allows customers to support independent artists by buying home products that feature their designs. 

Regardless of what design you choose, you’ll get the same base bath mat: a plush, microfiber and memory foam mat with curved edges. Its bath mats were one of the few we tested that feature a non-slip backing which kept the mat in place. 

After running three showers in a row during testing, the mat did feel uncomfortably soaked through, which means it may not be the best choice for shared bathrooms. However, even when the mat was extremely wet, the non-slip coating kept it from slipping and sliding. 

The mat washed and dried well but kept its shape better when air dried instead of being placed in the dryer, which caused the mats’ ends to curl up a bit. 

All in all, if you’re looking to add a decorative statement piece to your bathroom, Society6’s bath mats offer good quality and unique designs.

The best memory foam bath mat

Best memory foam bath mat 2021 Target

Target’s Velveteen Memory Foam Bath Rug is made of comfortable memory foam that contours to your feet.

Pros: Extremely soft, non-slip backing, available in multiple sizes, lightweight 

Cons: Not the best option for shared bathrooms

The Velveteen Memory Foam Bath Rug was by far the softest, most comfortable mat we tested. Not only is it made of plush memory foam, it’s also topped with a soft, velvet-like fabric that makes the mat feel even cozier.

The mat worked well at absorbing water, but repeatedly felt soaked and uncomfortable to stand on after being used for three showers in a row, which isn’t great if you share a bathroom with multiple people. The mat has a PVC latex backing that kept it in place even when it was extremely wet. 

The mat washed well and kept its softness and plushness through multiple washes. I tried both air drying it and machine drying it, and it kept its shape with both methods.

What else we tested

Best bath mats in 2021 what else we tested

What else we recommend and why

Boll & Branch Spa Bath Mat: This mat had the feel of a softer towel and performed about average during comfort testing. The mat worked well at absorbing water but did slip and slide a bit when wet and when dry. Overall, the mat remained damage free and soft after going through multiple washes, making it a great option for those who are looking to splurge when shopping for a new bath mat.

Parachute’s Classic Turkish Cotton Tub Mat: This mat felt comfortable and warm when stood on and performed well throughout testing. The mat worked well at absorbing water and didn’t slip or slide much when stepped on after showering. While this cotton mat washed and dried well, it did have a few loose fibers that were pulled out after running the mat through many cleaning tests. This did not have a major impact on the mat’s overall performance and it remained in great condition.

What we don’t recommend and why

Coyuchi Air Weight Organic Bath Mat: This bath mat was not very comfortable or plush feeling and moved around quite a bit when we stood on it after showering. The mat was okay at absorbing water but did get completely soaked through after multiple showers. The mat washed well but lost its softness through the multiple wash and dry tests, leaving it feeling rough and stiff. 

Signature Living Store Bamboo Bath Mat: This bamboo bath mat was surprisingly comfortable despite being made of wood. It also has a non-slip design which worked well when the mat was wet and dry. However, our main issue with this mat is its lack of absorbency. The mat has open slats which led to water falling through the mat onto the floor, which can cause floor damage over time.

Our testing methodology

Best bath mats in 2021 testing methodology

We put all eight bath mats through the same five tests:

Comfort: While using each mat as part of our normal showering routine, we observed how comfortable the material was to stand on.

Absorbency: We also noted how wet each mat felt after showering and if any mats became slippery and started sliding. Each mat was tested in a communal bathroom shared by three people, who regularly took back-to-back showers.

Dry time: Every morning we checked to see if each mat had completely dried overnight, and if any mats were still wet.

Cleaning: We washed and dried every mat three times according to its care instructions and inspected each mat to see how it held up. We cleaned the wood mat three times with a wood safe cleaner and then checked the mat for any signs of damage.

Durability: After regular use and multiple trips through the washing machine, we noted any damage that occurred over the testing period and ranked the mats accordingly.

What we look forward to testing

iDesign Formbu Bamboo Floor Mat: While the slatted bamboo bath mat we tested easily allowed water to spill onto the bathroom floor, we liked the concept of a solid wood bath “mat.” iDesign’s wood bath mat doesn’t have any slatted openings, meaning the shower water will simply evaporate off of the mat. Due to its low maintenance and simplicity, we are looking forward to testing it as a wood option. 

Frontgate Resort Bath Mat: This mat is designed for max comfort and support, and the brand claims it gets softer the more you wash it. The mat is available in several colors including beachy blues and rustic reds and greens.

Gorilla Grip Store Gorilla Grip Original Luxury Chenille Bathroom Rug Mat: We tested two bath mats with a non-slip backing and are looking to test this Gorilla Grip mat; it’s constructed with soft chenille, available in multiple shades, and is equipped with a strong rubber backing.


Best bath mats in 2021 FAQs

What are the best materials for bath mats?

The best bath mat materials are mainly based on preference with a few exceptions. If you share a bathroom with multiple people you’ll want to purchase a mat made of absorbent materials that have a quick drying time. Gholian recommends choosing cotton or bamboo over other materials. “Most people prefer the foam mat nowadays for comfort but this takes longer to dry than cotton or bamboo which easily absorbs water,” said Gholian. He also recommends choosing a mat that has an anti-slip backing, which will help keep the mat in place even if it does get soaked.

What size bath mat should I buy?

The size of your bath mat should be based solely on the size of your bathtub or shower. You’ll want to ensure that your mat covers the entire floor surface that you step on when stepping in or out of the shower. A mat that’s too small will look awkward and will lead to wet floors, while an oversized mat will also reflect poorly on the room’s design. A good rule of thumb is to keep a few inches of space between the bath mat and the wall.

How should you clean your bath mat and how often should you clean your bath mat?

Surprisingly, you should aim to wash your bath mat more frequently than many of us would think. Gholian strongly suggests washing your mat at least every 2-3 weeks, but prefers to wash his bath mats weekly for the most thorough cleaning. 

Of course, machine washing and drying can impact the longevity of your mat. If you’d like to keep your bath mats for longer, you can opt to hand wash them with a gentle detergent and simply hang them to dry. However, using a gentle wash and dry cycle will also work well. 

You’ll also want to pay close attention to each mat’s care instructions (most mats are machine washable) and follow them closely. Many mats discourage the use of strong detergents and cleaning aids such as fabric softener or bleach which can ruin the mat completely.

How often should you replace your bath mat?

When deciding when to replace your bath mat, you’ll want to do so “at least every 6 months if not a little bit sooner at that point,” said Gholian. You may be able to get a little more longevity out of your mats if you have a few you rotate between.

How can you find bath mats that are both stylish and functional? Is it necessary to splurge to find a great bath mat?

Choosing a bath mat style that complements your bathroom’s decor is up to your personal preference. Retailers like Society6 offer a wide range of designs and colors if you’re looking for a more colorful bath mat or bathroom rug. Other retailers such as Brooklinen, Target, and Ikea offer neutral colored bath mats with simple designs that will fit well in most bathrooms. 

If you plan on cleaning and replacing your bath mat as frequently as Gholian suggests, you’ll want to focus your shopping efforts on finding a bath mat that is well made, comfortable, and affordable enough to replace at least 1-2 times a year.

Check out more bath guides

best bath Towels 2021 FAQs towel care types of cotton
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11 clean, eco-friendly, and sustainable beauty brands you can find at Target – and what to buy from each

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Target Clean Beauty 4x3

In recent years, Target has made a massive effort to bring on clean, natural, sustainable, or otherwise eco-friendly brands – so you can worry less about buyer’s remorse on your next shopping spree.

From the recycled packaging of Love Beauty and Planet to the botanical-based makeup from W3LL People, the store carries ethically made beauty products at prices we love. Consider it the new “triple threat” – safe ingredients, sustainable packaging, and accessible pricing.

Target currently carries nearly 2,800 beauty products tagged with a Target Clean symbol, so you can make a more informed buying decision quickly and easily. These products meet Target’s own clean standards, so you won’t find formulas with parabens, sulfates, and other ingredients included on the retailer’s “No List.” Read more about this in our clean beauty FAQ, below.

Here are the 11 best clean beauty brands and products you can shop at Target:

Honest Beauty


Why we love it: Founded by Jessica Alba, The Honest Company hits the two main components of clean beauty: transparency and safe ingredients. Each product follows a “no list” which is an evolving list of over 2,500 chemicals the brand chooses not to use. Honest also avoids listing fragrance as an ingredient because it can be used as an umbrella term to hide harmful ingredients. We love the Hydrogel Cream and 2-in-1 Mascara that’s won several beauty awards. 

Products you should try:

Hydrogel Cream with Hyaluronic Acid (small)Extreme Length 2-in-1 Mascara and Lash Primer (small)
Function of Beauty

FOB Target

Why we love it: Function of Beauty has changed the world of beauty forever with its line of customizable haircare. (We love it so much we’ve recommended it several times over) Not only is it effective for different hair types but it contains safer ingredients. The formulas are 92% naturally-derived, sulfate-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free, and 100% vegan. Even the bottles and cartons are made with recycled materials that are 100% recyclable.

Take the Function of Beauty hair quiz here

Products you should try:

Wavy Hair Shampoo Base with Fermented Rice Water (small)Wavy Hair Conditioner Base with Argan Oil (small)Deep Condition #HairGoal Booster Shots with Apple Extract (small)

bliss Bright Idea Moisturizer

Why we love it: Along with being vegan and cruelty-free, Bliss products are thoughtfully formulated to be free from over 1,300 harmful substances you don’t want on your skin. The brand follows the European Union’s standards, considered to be the highest in the world for skincare safety. And, Bliss does your skincare game justice with its products. Powered by clinical-grade vitamin C and peptides, the Bright Idea line boosts brightness and elasticity in the first use.

Products you should try:

Clear Genius Clarifying Toner + Serum (small)Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Collagen Protecting & Brightening Moisturizer (small)

Native Plastic Free Deodorant

Why we love it: Native creates clean bodycare products that are both paraben- and aluminum-free. And, the brand recently launched its fan-favorite deodorant in plastic-free packaging. (We’re big fans of the Coconut & Vanilla scent for its refreshing tropical smell) As a member of 1% for the Planet, Native donates 1% of Plastic Free sales to fight plastic pollution. Switching from the Classic packaging to Native Plastic Free will help reduce plastic waste by about 169 tons each year. 

Read our full review of Native deodorant here

Products you should try:

Coconut & Vanilla Deodorant (small)Coconut & Vanilla Body Wash (small)

Method Men Body Wash

Why we love it: Method makes cleanliness, well, clean. Popular for its gentle yet effective cleaning products, Method lets you clean your home sans the breath-holding side effects. The same can be said for its body washes, deodorants, and haircare, all of which are made without parabens or phthalates. The formulas are packed with plant-based cleansers that can be used by both families and their pets.

Products you should try:

Body Wash Energy Boost (small)Men Aluminum Free Deodorant (small)

Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm

Why we love it: Versed ingredients aren’t all natural, but they are all proven safe for the skin and body. “Not all natural ingredients are good for your skin — like poison ivy —  and not all synthetic ingredients are bad for your skin — like hyaluronic acid — so our ‘no list’ is informed by what the leading regulatory bodies are doing and what’s important to our community,” Melanie Bender, the president of Versed, told Insider.

Similar to Bliss, Versed formulates to EU standards, avoiding over 1,300 chemicals in their products. In addition to clean, safe formulations, Versed offers sustainable packaging. About 60% of the brand’s bottles, tubes, and boxes are recyclable.

Products you should try:

Dew Point Moisturizing Gel-Cream (small)Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm (small)
Love Beauty and Planet

Love Beauty and Planet Soothe and Nourish Hemp Seed Shampoo

Why we love it: Personal-care company Love Beauty and Planet is all about the little things, making small tweaks to the sourcing, formulating, and design processes for its products (which include haircare, deodorant, and even dish soap), to cut down on waste in more ways than one.

For starters, every bottle is made from 100% recycled materials and can be recycled (by you) once they’re empty. The ingredients are ethically sourced and organic; and while that’s great for your skin and hair, it’s also great for the fair-wage workers that harvest said ingredients. Love Beauty and Planet’s haircare products feature something they call “fast-rinse technology,” which means you can take shorter showers and save water. 

Products you should try:

Tea Tree Oil & Vetiver Radical Refresher Conditioner (small)Tea Tree Oil & Vetiver Radical Refresher Conditioner (small)

hello Activated Charcoal Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

Why we love it: Toothpaste may be an afterthought for some, but many traditional formulas feature less-than-natural ingredients and potentially harmful chemicals, like parabens and peroxide. That’s where oral-care brand Hello comes in. “Our products are free of artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, dyes, SLS/sulfates, parabens, microbeads, triclosan, and peroxide,” Craig Dubitsky, the founder of Hello, told Insider. 

Its Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste (our top choice) is a must since it leaves your mouth feeling fresh and is sourced from sustainable bamboo. “Our products are vegan and cruelty-free, and our pastes and rinses are made in the US,” Dubitsky added. 

Products you should try:

Activated Charcoal Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste (small)Sensitivity Relief Fluoride Toothpaste (small, Preferred: Target)
W3LL People

W3LL People Expressionist Pro Mascara

Why we love it: All of W3LL People’s formulas — from foundation and highlighter to mascara and lipstick — are formulated with hydrating, plant-based ingredients and contain no toxic chemicals, fillers, or preservatives. Basically, the brand is all about the power of botanicals. Its favorite is aloe vera, which was known as “the plant of immortality” by the ancient Egyptians, and can be found in almost every product W3LL People makes. Plus, one of the founders is a professional makeup artist, so you know the formulas hold up.

Products you should try:

Expressionist Pro Mascara (small)Bio Tint Multi-Action Moisturizer with SPF 30 (small)

Saalt Soft Menstrual Cup   Regular

Why we love it: “In the US alone, 20 billion menstrual products are disposed of annually,” Cherie Hoeger and Amber Fawson, the founders of menstrual cup company Saalt, told Insider. Traditional pads and tampons are among the most polluting products on the planet, turning women toward alternatives like the Saalt Cup.

Saalt’s medical-grade silicone menstrual cups are inserted like a tampon to collect menstrual fluid. They can be reused for up to 10 years, making menstrual cups “one of the simplest ways to divert massive amounts of waste,” said the founders. It’s a safe, hassle-free period experience, too. It’s pretty comfortable (I promise), can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, and it also translates to over thousands in savings, since you no longer have to buy tampons or pads every month.

Products to try:

Soft Menstrual Cups (small)Citrus Menstrual Cup Wash (small)


Why we love it: These feminine products use a natural pulp core and non-toxic adhesive, making Rael’s products as clean and eco-friendly as possible, said Yanghee Paik, a co-founder of organic, feminine-care company Rael

“The traditional pads I’d been using contained not only chlorine, fragrance, and pesticides, but also carcinogens and irritants such as styrene (used in car tires), chloromethane (used in petroleum refining), and acetone (nail polish remover), which can often cause cramps, allergic reactions, and skin irritations,” Paik said.  

The brand’s organic cotton pads are now available at Target, making them “easily accessible to all women around the country,” as Paik says. They’re also priced in line with non-organic options ($4.99-$6.99).

Products you should try:

Organic Cotton Regular Menstrual Pads (small)Organic Cotton Regular & Super Tampons (small)

Reviews Style and Beauty FAQ Banner

What does Target Clean mean?

Target Clean is a new, easy way to identify products formulated without harmful ingredients. Look for the Target Clean symbol in store and online to find over 4,000 products that meet their clean standard.

All beauty products certified as Target Clean are formulated without the following: propyl-parabens, butyl-parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-donors, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), Oxybenzone, SLES, retinyl palmitate, hydroquinone, triclosan, triclocarban, BHA & BHT.

  • Deodorant: Additionally formulated without aluminum.
  • Oral care: Additionally formulated without artificial sweeteners.

What is considered clean beauty?

Clean beauty follows two simple standards: transparency and safe ingredients. You should know exactly what you’re getting with a glance at the label. As for safe ingredients, the Good Face Index ranks every cosmetic ingredient based on safety and toxicity. But some general ones to avoid are parabens, sulfates, oxybenzone, and formaldehyde.

Just because a product is organic, natural, or green, doesn’t mean it’s non-toxic. Manmade ingredients are clean as long as they’re safe and non-toxic. This also means that clean beauty doesn’t have to be all-natural, preservative-free, etc.

In Europe, over 1,300 potentially harmful chemicals are banned from cosmetics. In the United States, that number is just 11. Unfortunately, clean beauty products are not regulated by the FDA, so it’s up to the brand’s discretion. 

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The 5 best shower heads we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The best shower head should provide a relaxing and satisfying shower experience.
  • I tested 12 shower heads and determined that the Kohler Flipside was the best.
  • It has a convenient rotating head, a large variety of spray settings, and an accessible price.

If you think that all shower heads are the same, you might have a second opinion once yours starts sputtering. Even though it’s something you use every day without a second thought, it’s important to choose one that provides the look, flow rate, and stream settings you need.

After testing 12 shower heads and consulting two experts – CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors Nick Yahoodain and remodeling expert Monica Higgins – the Kohler Flipside is our pick for the best shower head.

You can read our full testing methodology here, and if you want to learn about the different types of shower heads, you can skip to the end of the guide. But if you’re just here for the best shower heads, keep reading.

Here are the best shower heads in 2021

Best overall

Best shower heads 2021 kohler flipside 4x3

The Kohler Flipside produces an impressive 1.81 GPM flow rate and has a unique rotating head to change through its flow streams.

Pros: No fragile levers or switches, chrome finish, soft rubber nozzles

Cons: Flow rate can be too high for some states

After testing 12 models with high flow rates, impressive stream settings, and practical designs, the Kohler Flipside was the perfect combination of them all. That’s why it beat out everything we tested, including our previous top pick of the Waterpik High Pressure Powerpulse 9-Spray.

The Flipside impressed me as soon as I opened the box — its heft, chrome finish, and sturdy design gave it a high-end look. The circular wheel that supports the shower head was easy to install and twist into place; you could turn it like a steering wheel. It fit snugly on my existing half-inch shower arm.

I really liked how the Flipside switches streams by flipping the head around the axis, as opposed to using a lever, switch, or handle. I worry about the durability of small parts like these since they’re usually made of plastic. The design gives me a lot of confidence that there aren’t any moving parts to break or snap. The tension of the rotational force of the head is perfectly balanced — not so soft that it doesn’t stay in place, but not so tight that it won’t turn easily. 

I assumed the Flipside’s swiveling operation would negatively affect its performance, but testing revealed a 1.81 GPM flow rate, coming close to its 2.5 GPM limit. 

There are four stream settings on the spray head. My favorite stream was the dense and soft spray, which produced a thick, drenching stream of water. The narrow sides of the spray head produced thinner, focused streams, which were perfect for rinsing shampoo and conditioner out of my hair. I was surprised at how effective this flat stream was, compared to the circular spray patterns of most showerheads. It was easy to rotate on its axis even when my hands were soapy and slippery. 

The rubber spray nozzles on the main spray head face were nice and soft, which made me appreciate the quality of the Flipside even more. During my time testing kitchen faucets, I found that the softer and more flexible the rubber nozzles, the easier they are to clean and remove any mineral buildup inside. 

Best high-pressure

Best shower heads 2021 WASSA High Pressure Shower Head 4x3

Despite its low price tag, the WASSA High Pressure Shower Head generates an impressive amount of power at 1.9 GPM, providing a better shower experience than other models priced much higher. 

Pros: Affordable, high flow rate, flexible rubber nozzles

Cons: No options for water flow

Installation was a breeze and WASSA even included a roll of Teflon plumber’s tape in the box, which is always helpful in sealing pipes.  

Even though it’s made of plastic, the WASSA had a solid feel to it. I was never concerned with it cracking or snapping as I was twisting it into place, and I was surprised with how modern it looked. The plastic construction doesn’t look cheap, and the rounded head gives it a clean, modern look. I got the feeling that the company made some effort in this department, instead of just manufacturing the cheapest shape they could. The rubber nozzles are nice and flexible, which are essential for dislodging mineral deposits. 

What distinguished the WASSA from other competitors was just how satisfying the shower felt. Its 1.9 GPM flow rate was the highest I tested, and that power was definitely noticeable when rinsing out shampoo and conditioner. I especially noticed how effectively it rinsed my lower body since the stream maintained its strength all the way down to my legs and feet. 

The WASSA doesn’t have any special features or other stream modes to choose from, but its ball joint is nice and sturdy, making it easy to swivel around and angle the stream where you’d like. 

Though this high flow rate may be ideal for some, those with more sensitive skin could find it too powerful, so keep that in mind.

Best rainfall

Best shower heads 2021 Moen S6320 Velocity Two Function Rainshower 4x3

The elegant design, sturdy metal construction, and wide coverage area justify the high price tag of the Moen S6320 Velocity Two-Function Rainshower

Pros: High flow rate, elegant style, quiet adjustment lever

Cons: Only two settings, somewhat difficult to install

If you have the budget, the Moen S6320 Velocity Two-Function Rainshower has a high-quality construction and practicality that make it worth the price. The Delta In2ition 5-Spray and Delta HydroRain Two-in-One 5-Spray are within the same price range, but their clunky designs and inconvenient operation left them off our list.

Installing the Moen wasn’t as straightforward as other models I tested due to the short connection that attaches to the shower arm. This wasn’t a huge deal, but it did take a few extra minutes to get the threads to catch. This may have been due to my shower arm though, and having a longer one would probably cut down on installation time. 

Once installed, the Moen looked great. Its extra-wide 8-inch face gives it a classic rainshower look, and 100 nozzles let you know it takes functionality seriously. I think it’d look even nicer with a longer shower arm so it could be angled completely downwards, like a real rain-shower head.

What put the Moen on top of other high-end models I tested was the overall feel of the water, which was surprisingly strong. Its 1.85 GPM was one of the second-highest I tested, and the high flow rate was definitely needed for a wider shower head like this one to work effectively.

Without taking apart the shower head to see how the water flowed, I can’t attest to the brand’s “self-pressurizing ” technology, which claims to force water around the shower head in a circular pattern so that it’s three times more powerful. But based on my objective testing, the Moen still had the second-highest GPM. 

One of my favorite characteristics of the Moen was the movement of the adjustment lever. Unlike other models that have loud mechanical clicks when you switch from one setting to another, there’s a lever that smoothly and quietly transitions from a full-coverage mode to focused rinsing. The entire unit swivels on a ball joint connected to the water supply arm and provides a decent amount of rotation, though its wide shape restricts it more than slimmer models.

Though Moen only offers those two spray modes, I found myself appreciating the simplicity of not having a dozen to choose from. 

Best for water conservation

Best shower heads 2021 High Sierra High Efficiency 4x3

The high-pressure water dispersion and solid metal construction of the High Sierra High Efficiency make it ideal for anyone looking to conserve water, abide by their state’s low-flow regulations, or just lower their monthly utility bill. 

Pros: High flow rate, durable construction, less likely to clog 

Cons: Only one spray mode, 1.5 GPM may be too low for some

Installing the High Sierra was simple, and its small size made it possible to screw in one-handed, unlike larger bulkier models that required two hands. The small cylindrical shape and lack of adjustment lever also mean that you don’t have to deal with straightening it out after installation. 

The sturdy construction gives the feeling that you could grip it nice and tight during installation, unlike plastic models that might crack at the connection. Its compact size also makes it easy to reach around and use a wrench to tighten or loosen it, if necessary. The chrome finish is easy to wipe clean and adds a sleek, modern feel to your bathroom. Some people may find it too small though, especially in a spacious shower, and would want a larger option with a little more character. 

The overall feel of the High Sierra delivered a dense, pressurized spray, which surprised me coming from such a small shower head. In my testing, I measured a 1.37 GPM flow rate, which was impressive considering the High Sierra maxes out at 1.5 GPM. This efficiency means it’s great for those who want a shower head that will produce the strongest stream, while still conserving water. If your main priority is a high flow rate though, and you live in a state that allows 2.5 GPM products, you should probably choose a different model.

In a 2020 Wirecutter review, High Sierra founder David Malcolm explained that the single opening design helps prevent mineral deposits and buildup, something that can occur in the tiny holes of typical low-flow models. However, this also means that the High Sierra doesn’t have any other settings to choose from, so it wouldn’t be great for anyone who wants more spray variety.

Best with a handheld component

Best shower heads 2021 American Standard Spectra+Duo 4x3

The American Standard Spectra+ Duo has a 9.5-inch rectangular face and strong magnetic dock so you can switch from the main shower head to the handheld one quickly and safely.

Pros: Powerful magnetic dock, easy to install, wide spray coverage 

Cons: Plastic components may not be durable, maybe too complicated for a shower head

Unlike most options that have a single spray head, dual showerheads are more functional and versatile. The American Standard Spectra+ Duo allows you to detach the smaller shower head to use as a handheld wand, making it convenient to target certain areas while still having the overhead spray of a fixed unit. 

Despite its bulky size, I didn’t have issues installing the American Standard. The main head twisted right onto my existing shower arm, and the hose and wand were easy to attach. The packaging included plumbers tape in a flat kite-string spool, instead of the more convenient round spools that you can roll around the pipe fitting.

The American Standard features a unique rectangular head and a large, center-set handheld wand. The construction and finish had a nice solid look, and even the gray plastic components felt intentional and durable. I got a slight “medical” vibe, probably from the gray color of the components, but it didn’t bother me much. 

The American Standard provided a nice wide spray coverage, and the water droplets were direct and had a dense, soaking feel to them. Unlike most dual shower heads, it didn’t lose pressure when I used the main head and the handheld wand simultaneously. This was surprising considering the relatively low 1.4 GPM during testing. The American Standard has a massage function similar to the Waterpik, but it lacked strength.

Using the American Standard took more effort than others, but it’s intuitive once you get the hang of it. In addition to the adjustment clicker on the handheld wand, there’s a separate paddle on the main shower head that controls the amount of water used by each one. Even though this paddle felt sturdy enough, it’s made of plastic so I would be concerned about its long-term durability. 

I was impressed with how well the magnetic docking system worked — there was a really solid feeling when the wand locked into place, giving you a satisfying “clunk” sound. You need to give the fixed shower head some support as you remove the wand otherwise, it can move around a little. That said, I would rather deal with that issue than a weak magnet that could cause the handheld wand to fall on me during my shower.

I also appreciated the plastic connection panel on the fixed shower, which prevented any scratching to the shiny chrome when docking the wand.

What else we tested

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We tested 12 shower heads for this guide after researching more than a dozen models.

What else we recommend and why:

They didn’t crack our top five, but these shower heads tested well and are still quality options to consider. 

Kohler Moxie, $162.20: The integrated Bluetooth speaker of the Kohler Moxie was easy to set up, fun to use, and sounded great — I even removed it from the cradle and used it as a standalone speaker in my office for a while. Unfortunately, the thin stream and relatively weak flow rate made this shower head more of a novelty than a legitimate contender. That said, if you prefer a thin, light water stream, you may want to consider it.

Kohler Forte, $29.98: While it looked sleek and stylish, I wasn’t impressed with the 1.26 GPM flow rate of the Kohler Forte and thought that the mist setting wasn’t very functional. I enjoyed the satisfying click of the control lever though, and the sophisticated design. If the flow rate is on the bottom of your priority list though, and you aren’t concerned with having a wide variety of spray settings, this could be a good choice.

Waterpik High Pressure Powerpulse 9-Spray, $39.98: Though this was our previous top pick because of its variety of streams and impressive flow rate, the Kohler Flipside was superior in both categories. It produced a 1.5 GPM compared to the Flipside’s 1.81, and while it had more spray options, it wasn’t as intuitive to use — the Flipside’s swiveling design was much easier. 

The Waterpik’s long-term durability was also a factor because it’s made of plastic and had more small parts than the Flipside, whose metal components and fewer moving parts make it less likely to crack or split over time. I haven’t tested either model long enough to experience any kind of damage, but I’ll continue to use both and report back.

The Waterpik is still a great option for those who looking for a hand-held model at a reasonable price. Its powerful massage setting could also be useful for sore muscles. 

What we don’t recommend and why:

HOPOPRO 5-Setting Upgraded Bathroom Showerhead, $19.99: Though it was even cheaper than our budget pick and offered some nice flow settings, the HOPOPRO was just a little too flimsy to beat out the WASSA.

Delta In2ition 5-Spray, $343.95: A shower head should be flawless but the Delta In2ition just didn’t have the pressure to be used effectively, and its magnetic cradle was far too weak. 

Delta HydroRain Two-in-One 5-Spray, $99.98: Even though the Delta HydroRain had good pressure and its rain-can head was positioned at exactly 90 degrees, its high price tag and bulky size made it too inconvenient to edge out our high-end pick, the Moen S6320.

Waterpik High Pressure Powerpulse XRO-763, $39.99: The cheap and plastick-y Waterpik High Pressure Powerpulse was flimsy to use, and its hose was stiff and very unattractive. It did not give me a good shower and ranked dead last in my testing. 

What we’re testing next

Best shower heads 2021 High Sierra High Efficiency 4x3

Moen Attract with Magnetix 6-spray 6.75 in. Dual Shower Head and Adjustable Handheld, $99.98The Moen Attract provides a full-sized fixed shower head, as well as a handheld component. This might make for a bulky layout, but I’m interested to see how it stacks up against our current dual shower head, the American Standard Spectra+ Duo.

Moen Attract with Magnetix 6-Spray 3.75 in. Wall Mount Handheld Adjustable Shower Head, $44.98: This is a smaller version of the Moen Attract and has one head that works as the main shower head and a handheld unit. It looks like this combination model will avoid the functionality issues I have with most 2-in-1 options. 

Delta Hydrorain Two-in-One Dual Wall Mount, $99.98: Although it’s similar to the Delta Hydrorain model that I tested previously, I’d like to see if this version produces a different result. This model has the same rain can head, but with the added benefit of a handheld showerhead as well. 

Our testing methodology

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I researched more than 20 shower heads based on reviews from shoppers and other consumer review sites, and tested 12. I also leaned on my experience as a residential carpenter for four years and consulted two experts — Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors in Los Angeles, CA, and Monica Higgins, a remodeling expert based in Southern California. 

I installed each shower head and used it at least three times during the day. I would go through my usual cleansing routine with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, and made sure to stagger my showers to reduce the chances of other appliances or household plumbing factors affecting my testing. Showering while running dishwashers or washing machines, or even at the same time as someone else, will increase the demand for your water supply and can sometimes result in a lower flow rate than usual. 

After whittling down to my top five, I showered several more times — sometimes consecutively — to get a better idea of how specific features like massage or “power spray” settings felt. 

Here’s how we compare shower heads:

Installation and fit: I installed each shower head to the existing shower arm in my shower, timing how long the process took with a stopwatch, and noting any issues that came up. I’ll caveat this by saying I’ve got four years of experience as a general contractor so my installation time will most likely be quicker than yours. Nonetheless, I made sure to note if the installation was easy or not.

Appearance: I took the overall style, design, finish, material, and size into account when comparing the appearance of each shower head, keeping in mind that people may have vastly different bathroom styles, and some options may match better with certain aesthetics. 

Overall feel of water: This factor was based on how the water physically felt throughout the shower. I noted the size of the water coverage coming out of the shower head, how focused or dispersed the water droplets and streams were, and how strong and pressurized the water felt overall.

Operation and special features: Along with noting how easy or difficult the unit is to operate and switch between modes, I also made sure to pay attention to any special features, like the number and variety of settings, or interesting operational functions. 

Flow rate: I calculated the actual flow rate of each shower head and compared it to the max it could handle. I would fill a 5-gallon bucket for 60 seconds, weigh it, subtract the weight of the bucket, and divide that number by 8.3 (the weight of a gallon of water). This gave me the gallons per minute (GPM) of each shower head. 

These flow rates can’t be compared exactly across all the products because they all have different flow rate restrictions. But by looking at the max flow rate of the product along with the tested rates I calculated from my shower (which has an average pressure of 64 parts per square inch, or PSI), you get a general idea of how each shower head performs under the PSI of an average household. 

Regardless of the style or design, a shower head boils down to whether or not it provides an effective and satisfying shower. This is purely subjective and everyone will have different preferences and priorities, so I made sure to keep consistent and objective notes as I collected my findings.

What to look for in a shower head

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We go into more detail below, but here are the main factors to consider when shopping for a shower head: 

  • Type: Consider whether you want a fixed, handheld, or dual (a combination of fixed and handheld) shower head.
  • Mount: Determine whether you’ll mount your shower head on the wall or ceiling. 
  • Spray pattern: Decide if you want one or many spray options. Some shower heads come with multiple spray patterns, such as rain, full, jet, and massage. 
  • Flow rate: Consider the amount of water that comes out of your shower head. A low flow shower head can help save water, but many people find shower heads with a high flow rate more pleasant. 

Types of shower heads

There are several shower head types to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. It’s important to take all these factors into account when shopping for a new shower head.

Fixed: These models are attached directly to the shower arm — the existing water pipe coming out of your shower wall — and usually have a ball joint that allows you to pivot and adjust the angle of their spray. These can be basic models that have just one spray option, as well as multi-functional options that have a range of functions and spray settings. 

Handheld: These shower heads sit in a cradle, and can be used like a fixed shower head if you like, but also have a long, flexible hose that allows you to use them as a handheld unit. These are great for rinsing off body wash or shaving cream, bathing your pets, or for cleaning the shower itself.

Dual shower heads: These are a combination of fixed and handheld models, and usually use some type of cradle built into a fixed shower head face. This allows the fixed shower head to be used at the same time as the handheld wand, though this diverts water and can result in decreased pressure. Yahoodain recommends these types of shower heads and designed his own bathroom to have both fixed and handheld options. “Since they’re useful for different things, I can choose which one I want. If I want a regular pressure head for cleaning, or handheld for rinsing, or relaxing rain shower, I have the option to choose.”

Types of mounts

Wall mounted shower heads: The majority of homes and apartments have wall-mounted shower arms, which is why I limited my testing options to products compatible with those fittings. These are your traditional shower heads that are attached to a wall — naturally.

Ceiling mounted shower heads: Ceiling-mounted shower heads allow for larger, rain-style shower heads, but since they’re so high up, they usually aren’t accessible enough to have different stream settings. 

What is flow rate?

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The flow rate indicates how much water can flow out of your shower head, and is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Since 1992, federal regulations have mandated that no shower head can have a flow rate higher than 2.5 GPM, and in some states like California, that limit is even lower at 1.8 GPM. These regulations have been put in place to help conserve water — a 10-minute shower at 2.5 GPM uses 25 gallons of water.

However, when you see a 2.5 GPM shower head model, it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get that flow rate. Your home’s water pressure is the ultimate factor that dictates your flow rate, and is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). A high PSI of 80 will probably get you 2.5 GPM, but most US homes hover around 60 PSI, so your flow rate will be lower. 

Higgins told Insider, “If the low water pressure is an issue, consult with a plumber to boost the water flow by adjusting or replacing the pressure regulator.”

While a shower head itself can’t increase the flow rate of your home, effective “low-flow” models can limit the amount of pressure lost during operation. Flow rate preferences can differ from person to person where some prioritize high GPM over all else and others prefer a lower flow. Make sure to check with your household so you can effectively take flow rate into account when choosing a shower head. 

If you’re interested in conserving water, look for shower heads with a “WaterSense” label. This indicates that they meet EPA criteria and max out at 2.0 GPM.

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