14 Ways to Use Coffee Filters That Don’t Involve Coffee

BY Mary Hunt TIMEJanuary 18, 2022 PRINT

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 filters aren’t expensive, which is probably the reason I didn’t bother returning them to the store. I suppose I should have tried, but I didn’t. Instead, I began finding ways to use those filters for other things than making coffee.

What I discovered is that the basket-style filters are super useful. It took a few years, but I used up the wrong-size stack of filters, and not to filter coffee! They became such a handy item that I bought the same size again, but this time from the dollar store. Most recently, I found 150 filters there for $1.

Here are some of the things I can do with a coffee filter:

Prevent Splatters

Don’t you hate that mess inside the microwave? Prevent it by covering the bowl, plate, or food item with a coffee filter turned upside down to create a little canopy. It works really well because the filter is highly absorbent but doesn’t fly off when the food pops and splatters.

Quick Sparkle

Use a coffee filter instead of paper towels to clean and polish a mirror, window, glass tabletop, or chrome. There’s no lint, and it’s super absorbent.

China Protectant

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.

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.

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 instead of paper towels to drain said items.

Food Wrappers

Coffee filters are convenient to use as wraps for messy foods such as tacos, burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. I love that they’re the right size and they catch stuff that might fall out when the kids dig in.

Applique Backing

Like a dryer sheet, a coffee filter makes a great tear-away backing for embroidery and applique.

Bouquet Garni

I learned this by watching the Food Channel. Place herbs and spices in the center of a coffee filter, and then close it up like a little pouch and tie with a piece of string. Drop this in the soup or stew, and allow it to simmer for hours as needed. Remove the little tied-up pouch before serving, leaving behind the essence and goodness without the twigs, ugly spent leaves, seeds, etc.

Spoon Rest

Lay the spoon, spatula, or other 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.

Cradle Ornaments

Use a coffee filter to individually wrap special Christmas ornaments or other precious decor items. This prevents ornaments from rubbing against one another and makes it easier to nestle them for compact storage.

Blotting Paper

Whether it’s ink, paint, or pressed flowers, when you need to blot, grab a coffee filter. It works perfectly well.


A coffee filter will strain 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. Pour the item to be strained through the filter.

Disposable Snack Bowl

One or two basket-style filters make an easy-to-hold snack dish for popcorn, chips, or nuts.

Seed Sprouter

Want to get seedlings started in time for spring? Grab a filter, and dampen it with water. Lay the seeds to be sprouted on the filter, and fold it over so the seeds are covered. Place it inside a small zip-type baggie, and leave it be until the seeds sprout and are ready for planting.

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Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” COPYRIGHT 2022 CREATORS.COM
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