DIY Repurposing

20 Uses for Coffee Filters You Have to See to Believe

Coffee filters are surprisingly useful when cleaning, organizing, and even gardening. Learn a few good reasons to keep a stash of these inexpensive household helpers on hand.
Donna Boyle Schwartz Avatar
a stack of unused white coffee filters on a light green table.


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We rely on coffee filters to deliver our daily cup (or cups!) of joe, but straining coffee grounds from your morning brew is hardly their only function. These inexpensive rounds or cones of paper are cheap, absorbent, lint-free, and non-scratching, which makes them beneficial for all kinds of tasks around the house. Here’s why it pays to keep keep a stash of coffee filters on hand.

1. Strain Liquids

Using coffee filter to strain liquid from mason jar.

Coffee filters make great strainers. Use one over a bowl to catch the seeds when squeezing lemons, limes, or oranges. You can even strain out bits of broken cork from a bottle of wine by placing a coffee filter over the top of the wine bottle and securing it with a rubber band. Likewise, consider using coffee filters as a substitute for cheesecloth when straining stocks or broths.

2. Prevent Iron Cookware From Rusting

Variety of cast iron pans.

Place a layer of coffee filters in the bottom of a cast-iron pan to absorb excess moisture and prevent rust. These super-absorbent paper cones can also be used in the workshop to help sort stray screws, nails, nuts, and bolts. You can keep these small parts organized and rust-free by wrapping them in the filters and storing in a box or plastic container.

3. Protect Stacked Dishes

Stacking plates with coffee filters in the middle.

Who knew that coffee filters could safeguard your heirlooms? Placing coffee filters in between stacked china plates and bowls adds a protective layer and prevents scratches and nicks. You also can use crumpled coffee filters as a packing material when boxing up dishes for storage or shipment.

4. Stop Drips and Spills

Person in blue shirt holding vanilla ice cream cone wrapped in paper.

Love popsicles and ice cream cones, but hate the drippy mess? Poke a hole in a coffee filter and push the popsicle stick through it. This way, you can enjoy a frozen treat without worrying that it’ll end up on your clothes.

5. Shine Shoes

Person shining black shoes.

Use coffee filters as disposable applicators to shine leather shoes, pocketbooks, and even furniture. Simply dab a bit of the correct color of polish on the filter, and then polish in a circular motion until all of the product is absorbed.

6. Make DIY Tea Bags

Tea bags in a clear bowl next to cup of tea.

Even tea drinkers can make good use of coffee filters as DIY tea bags. Put loose-leaf tea, herbs, or dried fruit into a coffee filter, fold and staple it closed, and then steep in hot water. Or, place wrapped tea leaves in a large jar, cover, and let it sit in the sun for a few hours to brew homemade sun tea.

7. Flavor Your Meals

Soup spices in brown coffee filter.

Create your own powerful punch of flavor for soups, stews, or sauces by using a coffee filter to contain a bouquet garni of aromatic herbs. Combine whatever herbs and spices you like (the classic French combo is parsley, thyme, and bay leaves), secure the pouch with some baker’s twine, and let the mixture simmer along with the dish. When it comes time to serve, simply throw the pouch away—no fuss, no muss.

8. Press Flowers

Dried flowers and leaves on book.

Use coffee filters to preserve and press special flowers or lovely leaves. Place the cut foliage in between two layers of filters and put inside the pages of a dictionary or similarly weighty tome for a week, or until they’re completely dry. The filters will absorb the flowers’ moisture, leaving you with a perfectly pressed memento.

9. Keep Soil in Plant Pots

Coffee filter in bottom of plant pot.

Most plant pots have drainage holes in the bottom to prevent root rot; sometimes soil seeps through these holes, too, making a mess of your patio or windowsill. Placing a coffee filter or two over the hole in the pot solves the problem—it keeps the soil in while letting the water seep out. Coffee filters are also handy for lining the bottom of your kitchen compost pail to prevent a gooey mess. When it’s time to empty the pail, the filter can go right into the compost pile with the rest of the kitchen scraps.

10. Clean Windows

Man cleaning window with paper.

Coffee filters are made of lint-free paper, which makes them great cleaning helpers for windows, mirrors, eyeglasses, and car windows. Use them in place of paper towels and you’ll leave behind nothing but shine.

11. Soak Up Oil

Coffee filter used to soak up oil from breakfast foods.

Use coffee filters on a plate or baking sheet to soak up oil from fried foods. Because coffee filters trap grease and oil, they can stop grimy kitchen messes before they happen.

12. Shuck Corn

Person shucking corn.

Corn on the cob is delicious (particularly when it’s home grown!), but no one likes winding up with a mouthful of silk. Use a clean coffee filter to de-silk the ear of corn before cooking. Dampen the filter and then wipe the shucked ear of corn in one long stroke from top to bottom.

13. Make Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt in jar with spoon.

Make your own Greek-style yogurt by lining a colander with a coffee filter, placing the colander over a bowl, and filling it with regular yogurt. Let stand in the fridge overnight, and in the morning, the excess liquid will have drained into the bowl, leaving you with a thick, tangy treat.

14. Deodorize Shoes

Wrapped coffee filter in show next to baking soda.

Here’s a quick fix for smelly shoes: Add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to a few paper coffee filters, secure each one with a rubber band, and place inside shoes to absorb nasty odors and keep them smelling fresh. You can also hang these DIY sachets inside closets or place them in drawers. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to enhance the mixture.

15. Prevent Microwave Splatters

Person with plastic bowl of soup in microwave.

Warming up food in the microwave is quick and convenient, but cleaning grease inside it is not. Catch spatters and keep your microwave clean by covering food with a coffee filter before microwaving it.

16. Clean Up Puppy Messes

Small puppy next to accident on floor.

Coffee filters are super absorbent, which makes them ideal for blotting up pet accidents. Layer two coffee filters over the urine, let them absorb the liquid, and then wipe it up.

17. Make DIY Dryer Sheets

Coffee filter used as dryer sheet.

If you run out of dryer sheets, coffee filters can be simple and inexpensive alternatives. Dab a few drops of the essential oil of your choice onto a coffee filter, and then toss it in the dryer along with your laundry. The result? Freshly scented laundry without the added chemicals found in commercial dryer sheets.

18. Save Seeds From Your Garden

Person holding seeds next to pots.

This simple hack can help you save seeds from your garden using coffee filters: Harvest the seeds from your fruits and vegetables, strain out excess pulp (if necessary), pour the seeds into a coffee filter, and label the filter with the type of seed and date for easy identification. Let the seeds dry until all of the moisture is removed. (Depending on the type of seeds and the amount of moisture they contain, this could take weeks.) When the seeds have dried, fold the coffee filter around the seeds and store them until they’re ready to use.

19. Dry Herbs

Different colorful herbs laid on pieces of paper.

Coffee filters make excellent herb-drying pouches. Make sure the herbs are thoroughly washed before placing them on the filter. Fold the filter tightly around the herbs and secure with a piece of string. Place them outside in the sun to dry.

20. Make Crafts

Person making crafts with coffee filter paper.

Encourage kids’ creativity by letting them loose with some coffee filters and markers. Before getting started, lay down a bit of newspaper to protect your tabletops. Flatten out the coffee filters and let the kids color them with markers. Finish up by having the kiddos paint them using a brush dipped in a bit of water to create a tie-dye effect. Let the filters dry and then hang them in the playroom as DIY decor.