25 Alternate Uses for Coffee Filters

By Michelle Venus

Melitta Bentz made the first paper coffee filter in 1908 when the German housewife used her son’s blotting paper and a brass pot punched full of holes to keep the bitter grounds out of her cup. Today, Bentz's ingenious solution can be purchased in just about every grocery store.

But coffee filters have many more uses than just making a pot of joe. For about $2, you get 50 basket filters that make life a little easier by solving lots of household problems. Here are money saving tips detailing 25 uses for coffee filters that don't involve coffee.

Straining yogurt with coffee filter

1. Homemade Greek Yogurt
I found Greek yogurt at a little shop in New York that closed about 20 years ago when the family patriarch died. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find anything that matched that smooth, creamy wonderfulness. So I started making my own. It was simple; put a coffee filter into a sieve over a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the yogurt drain for up to three hours in the refrigerator. For a lot less money, I have a batch of Greek yogurt. My kids love it on top of their oatmeal. I like it as a topper on fresh berries or with fresh dill and crumbled feta for a yummy and low-fat dip.

2. Lint-free Window Cleaner...
...or mirrors, or chrome, or anything else that needs a bright shine. Use just a little spritz of water and white vinegar, then buff with the coffee filter. It won’t leave little particles on the surface or ink on your hands, like  newspapers will. I’ve been able to use filters more than once; in a pinch, I’ve used them to clean my eyeglasses, CD’s and DVD’s.

3. Flowerpot Liner
Keep the potting soil from leaking out of the pot. I place a coffee filter in the bottom of a flowerpot, add some gravel or broken terracotta shards for drainage, then fill with potting soil.. This way, I don’t have dirt sifting out when I water my plants.

4. Shoe Polisher
For reals! I just ball up the coffee filter and use it as an applicator when polishing my shoes. I store the filters in a zip-lock bag for future use and, yes, I really do polish my shoes.

Microwave with sign

5. Microwave Cleaner
Keep the microwave clean by covering food with coffee filters. It’s safer than using plastic wrap and keeps the splatters to a minimum. Just put a wet filter in a working microwave for 15 seconds and wipe the softened crap off with the filter. Wait until the filter cools off a bit, first.

6. Cork Strainer
We’ve all been there: You open a nice bottle of wine but the cork breaks, leaving little corklets floating in your nice bottle of wine. Now what? Put a filter over a pitcher and decant the wine into it. Corklets stay in the filter and wine goes in the glass. Salud.

7. Scent Your Dainties
I grow lavender in my garden and love to make sachets after I’ve harvested and dried the purple blossoms. Just add some fragrant flowers to the middle of a coffee filter and tie with a pretty ribbon to give dainties a delicate and long-lasting fragrance.

8. De-stink Your Shoes
My teen-aged son has big, stinky shoes. I fill a coffee filter with baking soda, tie it with some twine and stuff them in his sneakers.

9. Popsicle Drip Catcher
When my kids were little, eating popsicles was a sticky and messy affair. Instead of having them eat their summertime treats naked (to avoid extra laundry), I poked a hole in the bottom of a coffee filter, inserted the popsicle and let them have at it.

Child eating ice cream cone

10. Ice Cream Cone Wrapper
Follow the directions above but, instead of poking a hole in the coffee filter, put the cone in the center and wrap the filter around it.

11. Blotting Paper
Instead of buying expensive facial blotting paper, I just pat a piece of coffee filter on my oily T-zone. Filters also make good work-out wipes and are easily tucked into a pocket when hiking.

12. Bouquet Garni
Bundle herbs and spices into a coffee filter, tie with a piece of butcher’s twine and you'll have a neat, tidy way of seasoning soups, mulled cider or wine and sauces.

13. Dryer Sheets
I’m not a big dryer sheet fan, but on the occasion that I want to use one, I’ll grab a coffee filter and put a few drops of fabric softener on it. Sometimes I’ll add a few drops of a favorite essential oil for a lovely scented load of laundry.

14. Seed Sprouter
I love the crunch of sprouts in salads and sandwiches. But I find when I buy a container of them at the store, it’s usually way too much for me to consume before they all go bad. Instead, I’ll sprout just what I need by pouring seeds into a dampened filter and placing in a baggie before hiding in a dark spot until they sprout a few days later. You'll then want to move them into the light so chlorophyll develops.

Fine china tea cup and saucer

15. Chip-Proof China
Place a coffee filter between fine china plates as a spacer to protect them from scratching and chipping when stacked.

16. Bacon Grease Buster
I bake my bacon instead of frying it, but there's still a lot of grease by-product. I drain the slices on coffee filters as they fit the plate perfectly and are very absorbent. Filter the hot grease through a coffee filter to remove little bits and pieces before storing in the fridge.

17. Styptic Paper
I keep a few coffee filters in the bathroom. If I happen to nick myself shaving, a small piece torn off stems the bleeding, and it doesn’t sting like using a styptic pencil.

18. Flash Filter
Soften the harsh glare of the camera flash by covering it with a bit of coffee filter. Use a brown-paper filter for a more diffused glow.

19. A Very Fine Funnel

I cut the tip off a cone-style coffee filter and make a disposable funnel when I put oil in my car. It helps to keep the spills at bay and, once I’m through, I toss it in the trash. Easy peasy.

Paper butterflies

20. Beautiful Butterflies
This was a great rainy day activity when my children were in their crafty phase. We dyed coffee filters with food coloring and, once they were dry, we made beautiful butterflies simply by pleating the filter and then sliding it onto a peg type clothespin. Fluff out the filter to make wings and draw a sweet little face on the top. When I felt ambitious, we’d glue artificial flower stamens onto the butterflies’ heads to make antennae.

21. Tea Bags
Getting all those little, wet leaves out of a tea ball is a pain. Instead, wrap loose tea in a coffee filter, twist tie it together and dunk. Remember to compost the filter and tea leaves when you're done.

22. Fabric Backing
Coffee filters make a great fabric stabilizer for such sewing projects as embroidering or appliqueing onto delicate and soft materials.

23. Store Delicate Items
Wrapping breakable Christmas ornaments in coffee filters comes to mind, but they can also protect candles and other delicate items.

24. Potty Liner
Changing diapers was bad enough, but toilet training kids on a potty is equally messy. Line the potty with a coffee filter so you can just lift out the number two and deposit in the toilet.

Dried flowers

25. Drying Flowers
Use a filter as a blotting medium for pressed flowers before placing them in books to flatten out and dry.

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8 Comments

we use coffee filters in place of popcorn bowls works great
Posted by lorey
I love my tomato, mayo and white bread sandwiches in the summer. To keep them dripping I eat them using a coffee filter as a wrap. Works great.
Posted by Chuck Ellis
Ummm Melanie, it is the fabric softener that eliminates the static cling, not the "sheet" itself. Therefore, yes, coffee filters with a few drops of fabric softener as the instructions above state, DOES work wonders and is far cheaper.
Posted by Lea4h
1. Homemade Greek Yogurt Yogurt is Bulgarian Invention and is not greek and must contains Lactobacillus Bulgaricus... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactobacillus_bulgaricus
Posted by Angry Bird
#1 and #13 are bogus. Greek yogurt is not simply strained regular yogurt. Removing some of the moisture may make it creamier but it doesn't make it "greek." Dryer sheets are used not only to add scent to clothing, but also to eliminate static cling and soften the clothes. I doubt a coffee filter will do either of these.
Posted by Melanie
I find it interesting that you make sure to compost tea leaves but throw out motor oil. May I suggest properly disposing of an oil laden coffee filter?
Posted by Eddie
I'm sure the brand is "Homemade".
Posted by Vic
Regarding point number 1: It was simple; put a coffee filter into a sieve over a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the yogurt drain for up to three hours in the refrigerator. What kind of yogurt do you start with? What brand? What flavor?
Posted by Dana Carrier