Filtration of aqueous liquids has wide implications, for example for provision of clean drinking water. Nevertheless, many people still lack access to safe water and suffer from preventable water-borne microbial diseases. This study reports a new ultrafiltration-range separation technology using a gelatinous layer of aluminium hydroxide polyhydrate as a secondary membrane on a retaining fabric that enables simple and cost-effective production of filtered water. Properties include at least 4-fold higher flux rates than currently available membranes, pressure-resistance, impenetrability to filtered particles, easy cleaning by backwashing and simple, cost-effective replacement by gel injection. Depending on the substrate, filtration is achieved through a packed bed of 1-2 nm hydrate gel globules, partly by mechanical straining with a size exclusion of approx. 10 nm and partly by physical adsorption. As a result, filtration of water (e.g. turbid river water) contaminated with colloids and microorganisms, including viruses, yields clear water that is free of measurable particles or detectable microorganisms. However, small water-soluble molecules (salts, sugars, proteins) remain in the filtrate. The findings demonstrate the potential for wide applicability of hydrate gels in high-flux and low-cost water purification devices.