The faucet aerator is something every DIY plumber should know about. Let’s take a look at what aerators are, why you may want them in your home, and what kind would be best for you should you decide to buy one.

What Are Aerators and What Do They Do?

Aerators are small parts placed on the end of faucets. Typically they are small mesh screens that break up the flow of water into multiple small streams, adding air in between.

By diluting the water stream with air, aerators significantly reduce the volume of water flowing from your faucet. They do this while maintaining the feeling of a high-pressure flow. Aerators also reduce splashing in sinks.

Why Would I Get One?

People buy and use aerators in their homes for two main reasons: to save water and to save money.

First and foremost, aerators are master water-savers! They are one of the most environmentally friendly plumbing parts on the market. In fact, according to the EPA, installing faucet aerators is the single most effective water-saving plumbing change you can make!

Of course, saving water is not only great for the environment – it’s great for your wallet too! By reducing your monthly water usage, aerators can easily and consistently lower your utility bills.

What Aerator Should I Choose?

Not all aerators are the same, so keep the following factors in mind when searching for your faucet aerator.

Male/Female Threads: Aerators come in “male” and “female” varieties. Which one you need depends on your faucet. If your faucet has threads on the outside, then it is “male”, and you should use a “female” aerator. If your faucet has threads on the inside, it is “female”, and you should use a “male” aerator.

Size: Aerators typically come in one of two sizes: regular (usually 15/16” Male or 55/64” Female) and junior (usually 13/16” M or 3/4” F). You can measure your faucet, or use a simple shortcut using coins. If your faucet is roughly the size of a nickel, it needs a regular-size aerator. If your faucet is roughly the size of a dime, it will use a junior-size aerator.

Use: Different aerators restrict water flow to differing levels, typically 2.2 gallons-per-minute (gpm) for a “standard” aerator. Certain aerators will be more/less appropriate depending on what task you’ll be using the faucet for. Lower-volume aerators (e.g. 0.5-1.0 gpm) are perfect for washing hands/dishes, while higher-volume (e.g. 2.2 gpm, or no aerator at all) are better for tasks like filling large pots.

Style: There are three main aerator styles: aerated (standard spray of air mixed with water), spray (miniature shower spray), and laminar (non-splashing solid stream). Again, what style you want depends on the main use of your faucet.

Goals: Depending on how much water want to save, you have many aerator options to choose from. Check out our whole line of ecofriendly aerator options at Danco.com, from the extreme water-saving 0.25 GPM aerator to the Microban-protected 1.5 GPM option.

Aerator Maintenance

Make sure to regularly replace or clean your faucet aerators, as they can become clogged with silt and other debris over time. A simple brush and rinse will usually do the trick, though sometimes a multiple-hour soak in a vinegar-water mixture will be necessary.

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For more help deciding which aerator is right for your home, head to our Find Parts section today! Once you’ve selected an aerator, make sure to check out our helpful how-to guide: Installing a Sink Faucet Adapter and Aerator.