Abstract • Various low-cost adsorbents are studied for capturing urban stormwater pollutants. • Adsorbents are selected based on both pollutant adsorption and unexpected leaching. • Application modes of adsorbents influence their utilization efficacy in practice. Stormwater represents a major non-point pollution source at an urban environment. To improve the treatment efficacy of stormwater infrastructure, low-cost adsorbents have increasingly gained attention over the past decades. This article aims to briefly discuss several key aspects and principles for utilization of low-cost adsorbents for urban stormwater treatment. To determine whether a low-cost adsorbent is suitable for stormwater treatment, two aspects should be carefully assessed, including: 1) its adsorption mechanisms and behaviors that can influence the binding stre.g.,h, adsorption kinetics, and treatment capacity; and 2) unwanted chemical leaching patterns that can affect the extent of water quality degradation. Furthermore, the application mode of an adsorbent in the system design influences the utilization efficiency. Adsorbents, after dosed to soil media in infrastructure, would eventually become ineffective after oversaturation. In contrast, standalone filters or innovative composite adsorbents (e.g., adsorbent-coated mulch chips) can enable a long-lasting adsorption due to periodic replacement with fresh adsorbents. The aforementioned principles play a key role in the success of urban stormwater treatment with low-cost adsorbents.