Coffee filter

24 Clever Non-Coffee 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.

What I discovered is that the basket-style filters are made of absorbent paper that leaves no lint behind. That makes them 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 where 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 wet coffee filter turned upside down to create a little canopy. Dampen it first with water so it sticks to the bowl. Works really well because the filter is highly absorbent, but “glued” to the bowl this way, 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. Dinnerware 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.

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.

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 it 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 that 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 the item to be strained through the filter. Recently, I needed to remove the liquid from the 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. 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.

23. Clean stainless steel

Because coffee filters won’t leave any lint or residue behind, they make a good cleaning cloth. Use them to clean or polish your stainless steel along with your favorite stainless steel cleaner, for a perfect streak-free finish.

24. Polish shoes

If you can’t find the applicator your polish came with, use a filter. Dab some polish on the filter and wipe in circular motions. Use a clean second filter to buff them out to a perfect shine.

So, how did I do? Did I manage to come up with every possible way to use a clean, lint-free, disposable coffee filter? Feel free to share anything I missed, in the comments below!

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  1. Connie says:

    I make quilts and quilt them on a longarm. I use coffee filters to put threads in to save trips to the trash can. I have one on the quilt while it is on the frame, one on the ironing board and one by my regular sewing machine.
    I love all these other uses!

  2. Cynthia says:

    I use coffee filters for many of the same things! One other use I have for them: I fold a filter twice into a quarter-pie shape, snip the pointed tip & partially open; I use that as a funnel to pour Splenda from a large money-saving bag into a smaller plastic container.

  3. Jeanne Brann says:

    I clean my eyeglasses! Wet with a little a water , add a drop of dawn, dont forget that greasy nosepad, rinse, then dry with the filter. You’ll sparkle all day long. 🙂

  4. Linda says:

    All great ideas and I use them for many of the things you mentioned. I used one for a small bouquet garni in a pot of oxtail. I cut it down to size and tied it up with kitchen twine. I forgot to remove it and my husband ended up with it in his mouth! The look on his face as he tried to figure out what he was eating was hysterical! Even I didn’t recognize what it was at first. He said “I don’t think that is a potato!” as he pulled it out by the string. I couldn’t respond because I was laughing so hard!

  5. Marsha Stanton says:

    Thanks for the coffee filters usages hints, Mary. Even though I don’t make coffee and seldom drink it, I may just buy a package of them for household usages! Love your column and posts! Have a blessed day.
    , Marsha

  6. Bonnie says:

    For any food/drink related use I only buy unbleached filters. Some of these hints I already use but there are more I never heard of. Thank you!

  7. Tricia says:

    Coffee filters are great for catching popsicle drips. I fold
    in half and cut a small slit in the middle, open it and slide up the stick. I also use filters to blot lipstick and to clean
    eyeglass lenses.

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