20 Surprisingly Clever Ways to Use Coffee Filters

brown paper coffee filter
credit: Utkucavuskizil/iStock/GettyImages

Whether you're a Keurig convert, high-tech home-brewer or don't drink coffee at all, a $2 pack of coffee filters is still worth every penny. Coffee filters come in handy for a lot more than just a caffeine fix — here are our favorite clever uses for this affordable household essential:

1. Make spice bundles. Fill a coffee filter with your favorite herbs and spices, twist and tie with kitchen twine, and then drop it into a pot of soup to infuse it with tons of flavor.

2. Make custom teabags. Enjoy your own special tea blend by filling a coffee filter with your favorite ingredients, cinching the top with twine and steeping in hot water, either at home or on the go.

3. Wrap messy, handheld food. The right way to eat hot dogs, burgers, tacos, and burritos is with your hands, but let's face it, that can get pretty messy. Don't resign yourself to picking up a fork and knife. Instead, use a coffee filter as a wrapper to catch anything that falls out as you dig in.

4. Contain microwave splatter. Flatten an overturned basket coffee filter and use it to cover bowls and plates during microwaving — the material is heavy enough to stay put and contain any food splatter.

5. Prevent sticky hands. Speaking of handheld foods, popsicles are a go-to summer treat, but they melt fast and leave hands sticky. Well, not anymore! Push the popsicle stick through the center of a coffee filter and grasp it from below — the filter will catch all the drips before they reach your fingers.

6. Absorb excess oil. A sturdy coffee filter is a great way to sop up extra, unnecessary grease on pizza, bacon, french fries, and other fried foods.

7. Remove corn silk. After peeling away the outer husk, rub the ear of corn with a damp coffee filter and watch the many silk threads come off with ease.

8. Heat tortillas. Dampen two coffee filters, stack corn or flour tortillas in between and nuke for 10 seconds — the moisture from the filters will ensure the tortillas come out soft and warm, not dry and tough.

9. Keep fruits and veggies crisp. Wrap produce in coffee filters before putting them in storage bags or containers and refrigerating. The filters will absorb excess moisture so fruits and vegetables stay fresh and don't go limp.

10. Filter wine. Broken cork got you down? Nestle a coffee filter into your empty wine glass before pouring and every sip will be cork- and sediment-free.

11. Stop soil spillage. Place a basket coffee filter at the bottom of a flower pot to prevent the soil from spilling out of the drain hole.

12. Clean surfaces. Out of paper towels? Who needs 'em! Coffee filters are sturdy and just as absorbent, plus they're lint-free. Use them to clean everything from counters, to windows, to electronic screens.

13. Grease a pan. Coffee filters are ideal for lubing up your pots and pans with oil or butter because they won't leave any pesky fibers behind.

14. Make photos glow. Nighttime photo ops often require using your camera's flash, but the results can be way harsh and not at all flattering. Put a coffee filter in front of the flash before you press the shutter button, and your pics will be well-lit but with a softer glow.

15. Remove glitter polish. Sparkly manicures are fun and festive, but they sure love to stick around. Glitter nail polish is notoriously stubborn to remove, and soft, fluffy cotton balls aren't abrasive enough to do the job. Instead, use a coffee filter that's been soaked in remover to scrub your nails clean.

16. Soothe puffy eyes. Soak two coffee filters in camomile tea, stick 'em in the fridge to chill for a bit, then fold into approximately 2-inch squares. Put on some relaxing music, maybe light a candle or two, and lay down with one coffee filter compress over each eye.

17. DIY dryer sheets. Oops, did you use up all your dryer sheets performing other household chores? No worries: Dampen a coffee filter with a bit of white vinegar (it should be moist, not soaked!), add a few drops of essential oil, like lavender or bergamot, and toss in the dryer. Your clothes will come out smelling sweet and be static-free.

18. Get crafty. Not only are they an economical alternative to embroidery backing, and sturdy enough to withstand crayons, markers, and paint, but the internet is full of clever coffee filter craft tutorials for kids and adults alike.

19. Shine shoes. Use a coffee filter to apply polish and buff your shoes to a high shine.

20. Prevent rust. Keep a cast iron pan in tip-top shape by placing a coffee filter inside the skillet when it's not in use — the filter will soak up moisture and prevent rust.


Amelia McDonell-Parry

Amelia McDonell-Parry

I'm a freelance writer and reporter for outlets like Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, BUST, Nylon, Woolly, and the Appeal, a podcast host for Undisclosed, and once upon a time, I was the founding editor of The Frisky.