Coffee filter

24 Weird but Awesome 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 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 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 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 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. Susan Brannon says:

    I use a small 4-cup Mr. Coffee every day, but filters for that size are sometimes hard to find. When that happens, I buy the next larger size and cut them down. Just cut all the way around the top edge until they are short enough to go in the filter basket. I also stack my cooking pots, and to keep the non-stick finish from getting scratched, I use one or two coffee filters between the pots. I love the snowflake idea…I’m going to try it!

  2. Nicola says:

    I’ve recently moved from a large house with acres of garden to a small rental house with 10 feet of land around the house. I brought over 100 plants with me that fill our small living room.

    Having no outdoor space designates to repot plants has been challenging – especially when it comes to washing and disinfecting pots. I do it in the kitchen sink and bathtub, and was horrified at the amount of soil left in the sink.

    A coffee filter placed over the drain stopped the dirt from going down the drain. One day I scooped up 1 1/2 cups of soil out of the bathtub after washing some dirty bins.

    Very handy.

    Thank you Mary, for all your great tips and suggestions! Yours is the only newsletter I always read.

  3. Theresa M. says:

    One more use for coffee filters. I use them to fix my nails that are split. I put a drop of super glue on the split, apply a tiny piece of coffee filter, let dry, lightly file, and then apply my gel polish as normal. Works like a charm until the split nail can grow out, and my nails look great.

  4. Elizabeth Sheehy says:

    Favorite activity at Vacation Bible School was always coffee filter art. Draw on them with water soluble markers, hang up outside, and squirt with a water spray bottle. The really great ones came out looking like stained glass!

  5. Lorraine says:

    Mary, Great ideas!
    My granddaughters like to make snowflakes out of coffee filters. Fold them as you would traditional paper snowflakes, cut, and unfold! It’s fun activity that they enjoy! Pretty too!

  6. Nancy Gerew says:

    You used to have the tip on coffee filters to cover microwave food but dry. This helps to get the food heated to the proper temperature such as those croissant sandwiches that never seem to heat in the time that the instructions tell you it will. With the filter on top instead of wrapping in a paper towel which tends to be messy and just never works right. Wetting it though will works better on a bowl or measuring cup such as when melting butter that pops all over the microwave if not covered, so like that tip too. Love, love, love your newsletter!!!

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