Membrane technology, especially nanofiltration (NF) has great attention to provide an imperative solution for water issues. The membrane is considered to be the heart in the separation plant. Understanding the membrane characteristics could allow predicting and optimizing the membrane performance namely flux, rejection and reduced fouling. The membrane development using biomaterials and nanomaterials provides a remarkable opportunity in the water application. This review focuses on the membrane characteristics of biomaterials and nanomaterials based nanofiltration. In this review, recent researches based on biomaterials and nanomaterials loaded membrane for salt rejection have been analyzed. Membrane fouling depends on the membrane characteristics and this review defined fouling as a ubiquitous bottleneck challenge that hampers the NF blooming applications. Fouling mitigation strategies via membrane modification using biomaterial (chitosan, curcumin and vanillin) and various other nanomaterials are critically reviewed. This review also highlights the membrane cleaning and focuses on concentrates disposal methods with zero liquid discharge system for resource recovery. Finally, the conclusion and future prospects of membrane technology are discussed. From this current review, it is apparent that the biomaterial and various other nanomaterials acquire exclusive properties that facilitate membrane advancement with improved capability for water treatment. Regardless of membrane material developments, still exist considerable difficulties in membrane commercialization. Thus, additional studies related to this field are needed to produce membranes with better performance for large‒scale applications.