13 Ways To Repurpose Empty Coffee Cans

For coffee addicts, there's nothing sadder than an empty coffee can. But for frugal fans, an empty coffee can in the trash is the saddest thing of all.


Old coffee cans have so many uses it's almost criminal to just toss them in the trash. At the very least, they should be lovingly placed in the recycle bin. Before doing so, however, consider putting them to any of these most excellent uses.

1. Grease Receptacle
You don't want to clog the kitchen drain with used cooking oil or grease and cities frown on dumping it in the trash. Many recycling centers now accept oil, so use coffee cans to store liquid leftovers until you can make it to the landfill. Remember to store the cans in the fridge so the fat won't get rancid and stink up the kitchen.

2. Kitchen Organizer
We all have junk drawers but junk pantries and cupboards may be pushing it a bit too far. Coffee cans make great organizers for cookie cutters; half-used bags of rice or pasta; and pouches filled with powdered drinks, soup or gravy.

You can also turn old cans into sugar and flour canisters by covering coffee-commercial exteriors with wrapping paper, old maps, pages from encyclopedias, portions of old posters, etc. You also might cover old cans with fabric scraps using Joann free shipping coupons.

Antique coffee cans scrounged from second-hand stores don't need any spiffing up to serve as canisters, although you might need to sand off any rust.

Under the sink, plastic coffee containers are particularly useful for organizing steel wool, sponges, soap ends and all that flotsam and jetsam that ends up hidden under there.

3. Plant Protector
Cut off the bottom, remove the lid and slide the can over plant starts as a sleeve protector against small critters. Next cold snap simply replace the lids until the temperature climbs back to normal. The can will serve as a mini greenhouse in the meantime.

For small trees and larger plants, slice cans into halves then reconstruct them, buried one-third down around the base of plants as protection against rototillers and weed spray.

4. Jack-O-Lantern
Try and smash this jack-o-lantern, bullies! Use tin snips to cut a crooked face and insert a candle. Painting the exterior orange or black is optional, but it'll look better. Just make sure you remove the plastic lid.

Plastic coffee cans can serve as treat buckets. Paint the exterior a solid color then add a jack-o-lantern face. Poke a hole on each side and thread a string or rope through, knotting on the inside of the can.

5. Crayon Corral
Empty coffee cans have held the remnants of markers and crayons seemingly since coffee was invented. Once these coloring implements have lost their original "newness" and the original boxes have been lost, toss them into a centralized container where they'll be out from underfoot. (BTW: Did you know there was an entire store dedicated to crayons? You can replenish your supply at cheaper prices using Crayola Store free shipping codes.)

6. Bathroom Organizer
Fill coffee cans with sample and travel-size personal-care products. Decorate or paint the cans exterior to hold cosmetics, hair accessories, an extra toilet-paper roll or tub toys.

7. Baby-Wipes Dispenser
Begin by making the baby wipes: Pull on a pair of gloves and combine 2-cups boiled water, 2-tablespoons baby oil and 2-tablespoons baby shampoo. Cut a roll of thick paper towels in half and place in the canister. Pour the mix over the towels and let soak for 10 minutes. Flip the whole mess over and soak for another 10 minutes. Cut an "X" in the plastic lid then put it back on the coffee can. Feed the first towel through and you've got cut-rate baby wipes.

8. Car Organizer
My vehicle is mobile evidence you don't need kids to have a messy car. For non-child-saturated cars, store emergency supplies, coiled rope and dirt or other de-icer agent in empty coffee cans. 

Corral kiddie toys and snacks out of children's way with a plastic, screw-top coffee can. (You might fill another plastic can with water for emergency, engine over-heats.)

9. Bird Feeder
Cut a three-sided square at the bottom of the can and pull the lip down. Poke two holes on either side of the can's top and string through with wire or rope. Fill with bird seed and hang from the nearest (or farthest) tree.

10. All-Purpose Garage Tools
Garages make the perfect landing point for coffee containers of all sizes and makes. Use them to store smaller tools, nuts and bolts, supplies and pets. The plastic containers with handles make excellent scoops for grass seed, pet food or ice melt. You can also wrangle all those irritatingly tiny kids outdoor toys into them, like jump ropes, bubble bottles and sidewalk chalk.

11. Scrapbooking Scrapholders
Whether you have a dedicated space for scrapbooking or not, you'll always have lots of bits and pieces floating around. Listen to the age-old advice and find a place for everything and put everything in its place. Tape or glue a scrap of the contents to the top or side of each can for ready identification.

You can spiff things up by decorating the exterior of each can, but that's just another step keeping you from actually doing any scrapbooking, isn't it?

12. Piggy Banks
Add a touch of pink paint, a cardboard snout, pipe-cleaner ears and tail with a slice up top and you've got a pretty nifty piggy bank.

Don't want to deal with all that work? Slice a hole in the plastic lid and slip in your pocket change each night. When the can is full, transfer the change into bills and spend it on a luxury item.

13. Shooting Target
Empty coffee cans make prime shooting targets in my home region (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.) Just before hunting season each year, foolhardy backwoods hikers can hear metal cans making the supreme sacrifice with loud "pings" and "thunks."

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3 Comments

Toss it in the back of the car for those long trips and when you have to go #2 your not hunting down the gas stations with the clean toilets any more.....:)
Posted by Guest
I like how you have added using the coffee can for a bird feeder. I would add to your instructions to file down any sharp edges and create a couple of drainage holes in the bottom of the can to allow any rain water to drain from where it may seep in from the top attachment holes. We do a lot of gardening so I also like the use of a coffee can for a plant protector. Will definitely giv.e it a try.
Posted by Sonia the DIY Bird Feeder Builder
I like how you have added using the coffee can for a bird feeder. I would add to your instructions to file down any sharp edges and create a couple of drainage holes in the bottom of the can to allow any rain water to drain from where it may seep in from the top attachment holes. We do a lot of gardening so I also like the use of a coffee can for a plant protector. Will definitely giv.e it a try.
Posted by Sonia