Coffee filter

22 Weird but Wonderful Ways to Use Coffee Filters

It was a dumb mistake. I grabbed the biggest package of coffee filters—a pack of 1,000—only to discover much later that I’d picked up the wrong size for my coffeemaker.

Coffee filter

Coffee filters are not expensive, which is probably the reason I didn’t bother returning them to the store. I suppose I should have tried, but I’m glad didn’t. I began finding all kinds of ways to use those filters for other things than making coffee.

What I discovered is that the basket-style filters are super useful around the house and the garage, too for so many things that have absolutely nothing to do with coffee!

It took a few years, but I managed to use up the wrong-size stack of filters and not to filter coffee. They became such a handy item, I bought the same size again, but this time from the dollar store.

Most recently, I found basket-style coffee filters—300 filters $1.

1. Prevent splatters

Don’t you hate that mess inside the microwave? Prevent it by covering the bowl, plate, or food item with a coffee filter turned upside down to create a little canopy. Works really well because the filter is highly absorbent, but doesn’t fly off when the food pops and splatters.

2. Quick sparkle

Use a coffee filter instead of paper towels to clean and polish a mirror, window, glass tabletop, or chrome. No lint and super absorbent.

3. China protector

Be kind to your fine dinnerware or other types of dishes by placing a filter between each plate and bowl to prevent the pieces from sliding around and causing damage.

4. Protect cast iron

Once I clean, dry and re-oil my cast iron skillet, I put a flattened out filter in the bottom to prevent rust by absorbing any moisture that might remain.

MORE: My Hate-Love Relationship with a Cast Iron Skillet

5. Absorb grease

When frying bacon, French fries, or any other thing that gets fried in oil, I place a couple of filters on a plate to drain said items, instead of paper towels.

6. Food wrappers

Coffee filters are convenient to use as wraps for messy foods like tacos, burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. I love that they’re the right size and catch stuff that might fall out when the kids, especially, dig in.

7. Appliqué

A coffee filter like a dryer sheet makes a great tear-away backing for embroidery and appliqué.

RELATED: Other Uses for Ordinary Dryer Sheets 

8. Bouquet garni

I learned this by watching the Food Channel: Place herbs and spices in the center of a coffee filter then close it up like a little pouch and tie with a piece of string. Now drop this in the soup, stew or what have you, allow it to simmer for hours as needed. Remove little tied-up pouch before serving—leaving behind the essence and goodness without the twigs, ugly spent leaves, seeds, etc.

9. Spoon rest

Lay the spoon, spatula, or another implement you’re cooking with on a coffee filter. It will soak up the drips, but not leave bits of paper on the item when you pick it up later, as paper towels often do.

10. Cradle ornaments

Use a coffee filter to individually wrap special Christmas ornaments or other precious decor items. This prevents ornaments from rubbing against each other and also makes it easier to pack them for compact storage.

11. Blotting paper

Whether it’s ink, paint, or pressed flowers—when you need to blot, grab a coffee filter. Works perfectly well.

12. Strainer

A coffee filter, made to strain coffee grounds from coffee, will do the same job with soup, wine which has bits of cork in it, tea or any other liquid you wish to become clear. Place the filter over a receptacle and secure it with a rubber band. Now pour item to be strained through the filter. Recently, I needed to remove the liquid from pumpkin puree that I had just defrosted to make pumpkin bread. Worked perfectly.

13. Disposable snack bowl

One or two basket-style filters make an easy-to-hold snack dish to hold popcorn, chips, or nuts.

14. DIY tea bag

A small basket-style coffee filter makes for a perfect bag for loose tea. Simply place the amount of tea you desire in the middle of the filter, then gather all the sides and twist it well, until it stays in place. Or tie with a piece of string or twine to make a cute tea pouch.

15. Taco holder

Tacos can be messy and drippy, but not if you wrap them in a coffee filter. Also works great for burritos. Now you can have your Mexican food on the go with less mess. Works  great for sandwiches, bagels, and hot dogs, too.

16. Sprout seeds

Want to get seedlings started in time for Spring? Grab a coffee filter and dampen with water. Lay seeds to be sprouted on the filter and fold it over so seeds are covered. Place inside a small zip-type baggie and leave it be until the seeds sprout and are ready for planting.

17. Weighing messy stuff

Before weighing chopped vegetables or other sticky or messy items, place a coffee filter on the kitchen scale. Once weighed, toss the filter and enjoy a clean scale.

18. Line a pot

Before adding the soil to a plant pot, drop one or two coffee filters in the bottom. Now the soil is trapped inside, but the drain remains functional to allow excess water to escape and oxygen to nourish the plant’s roots.   

19. Get crafty

Oh, the things you can make with coffee filters. This wreath, these flower balls, and roses are just the tip of the iceberg. As craft supplies go, coffee filters are dirt cheap. No one will ever guess what you used to make these gorgeous items. Check out this tutorial from Pretty Petals.

20. Clean electronics

Coffee filters together with a spritz of rubbing alcohol are perfect for wiping screens and monitors clean. Just make sure you spray the filter, not the screen itself.

21. Quick clean-up

Dampen coffee filters and put into a sandwich baggie as a quick clean up wipe, strong and no lint. Great for picnics and car trips!

22. Freshen the air

Make your own air freshener! Just tie some baking soda into a pouch made from a coffee filter to store in your shoes, your glove box, near a litter box, or in your fridge. Then breathe deep!


QUESTION: What alternative uses have you discovered for coffee filters? Please share it in the comments below!


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12 replies
  1. Hans Emlay says:

    In this awesome pattern of things you’ll receive an A for effort. Exactly where you actually misplaced us was in your particulars. You know, people say, the devil is in the details… And that could not be much more accurate in this article. Having said that, permit me tell you what did work. Your writing is quite engaging and that is most likely why I am making the effort in order to opine. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. Next, although I can certainly see a leaps in reason you come up with, I am not necessarily confident of exactly how you appear to unite the details which in turn produce the actual final result. For right now I will yield to your position however wish in the near future you connect your dots better.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Ever cleaned your floors but found it a bit cloudy? Coffee filters used dry, will not only bring back the shine but will also remove residue left behind from mopping! You’d be surprised all the dirt and yuck left on your floors, that the filter shows!

  3. Maggie Morgan says:

    I use a coffee filter – with or without grounds – to line the bottom of our sink-side compost container. And on a related note, one of the best kitchen compost containers I’ve found is an old ice bucket. These are almost always on offer at thrift stores. The lids fit tight, stuff doesn’t stick much to the inside, and they look OK by the sink.

    • Lija Wills says:

      Getting an old ice bucket at a thrift store for a compost is a brilliant idea, thanks! I’ve added it to my list.

  4. Cathy down on the farm... says:

    I think I read somewhere that they are also good for washing windows but have never tried it? Very cool ideas here! Thanks, Mary…

  5. Kathy Klick says:

    I am a baker and use a coffee filter to line the bottom of a round cake pan. Lightly spray the sides of the pan with a non-stick cooking spray, put in a coffee liner (upside down works best for me), then add the cake batter. It’s a quick and efficient way to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan. Once the cake is baked and cooled, just flip it over and peel off the coffee filter. I’ve never had one stick or crack since using this method.

  6. Jan says:

    Most of the time you can put coffee filters in the compost pile instead of the trash. Just make there are no toxic chemicals like bleach.

  7. Vicky Williamson says:

    These are fantastic! I thought I was so smart using about 3-4 of these ideas but I’ll be buying a lot more coffee filters now!


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