11 Great Uses for Coffee Filters That Have Nothing to Do With Coffee

By: Melanie Radzicki McManus  | 
coffee filters
Coffee filters are really nothing more than circles of tightly woven paper, making them useful for many things around the home besides filtering coffee. Ian Dikhtiar/Shutterstock

Coffee consumption around the globe is spiking. As of spring 2022, 66 percent of Americans drink coffee daily, more than any other beverage — even water. And while single-cup systems like Keurig are popular, 41 percent of Americans still use drip coffee makers. That likely means there are a lot of paper coffee filters out there, too.

Paper coffee filters are very absorbent and feature a tight weave. This means they're easily able to filter out most of the microgrounds and oils present in ground coffee. This tight weave and absorbency also make them great for uses other than filtering coffee.


Here are 11 different ways you can put your paper coffee filters to use:

1. Line a Food Container

Place several fully open coffee filters at the bottom of your cookie tins or plastic food storage containers. They will help to corral any crumbs, plus absorb excess oils, making cleanup a breeze.


2. Use as a Spoon Rest

After stirring a pot of spaghetti sauce or chili, you don't want to put that messy spoon on your counter or stovetop until the next stirring. It will not only dirty the surface, but it could pick up crumbs, dust, dirt and other debris. Instead, set a coffee filter on your stove or countertop and let the spoon rest there.


3. Pre-filter Water While Hiking or Backpacking

When you're planning a hiking or backpacking trip where you'll need to filter water from a stream or pond, tuck some coffee filters into your pack. If the water you need to filter is murky, pour it first through a coffee filter to catch the larger debris that could clog your professional filter and render it useless. This, of course, will not render the water safe to drink, but will make the final filtering more effective.


4. Filter Broken Cork Bits

It happens to everyone at some point. You're opening a bottle of wine and the cork breaks, sending cork chunks and smaller bits tumbling into the bottle. It's easy to pull large pieces of cork from your glass of wine, but the fine cork bits remain, ruining the wine's taste and texture. The next time a cork breaks, pour the wine into your glass through a coffee filter, which will easy trap those fine cork bits.


5. Use For a Children's Craft Project

Looking for an easy craft to do with preschoolers? Take some white paper coffee filters and use them to create a "bouncing" basketball. Here's how it works:

  • Flatten out coffee filters with your hands.
  • Have the children color them orange.
  • Help the children draw black basketball lines on the "ball" (a cross and two semicircles is all you need).
  • Have the children glue the ball on a piece of construction paper with a glue stick, placing the ball on either the right or left side of the paper.
  • Help the children draw a black check mark on the other side of the ball to indicate its bounce.


6. Clean Your Vehicle's Dashboard

Many people swear by using coffee filters to clean certain surfaces. One that pairs well with coffee filters is your vehicle's dashboard. Dashboards get quite dusty, but you can clean them easily using a coffee filter spritzed with a little bit of olive oil. The oil on the filter helps nab the dust, reduces static and leaves the dashboard with a pleasing shine.


7. Use as Regular Paper

Need to scribble a note or jot down an idea but can't find any scrap paper? Use a coffee filter instead.


8. Absorb Excess Oil

Instead of draining bacon grease by placing cooked bacon on a paper towel, use a coffee filter. Coffee filters are created to absorb oils, so they'll be a little tidier than paper towels or other materials. You can even use coffee filters to blot oil from your face.


9. Use as Toilet Paper

You go into your restroom, only to discover to your dismay that you're out of toilet paper. If you have some coffee filters on hand, you're in luck. You can use those as a substitute until you can make it to the store to resupply. Just a note, though — you should never flush anything except toilet paper, so just as you shouldn't flush paper towels, you also shouldn't flush a coffee filter down your commode.


10. Start a Fire

Can't find any good tinder to start your campfire? If you've packed a few coffee filters, they'll work great. Even better if you can get some oil or grease on the filter first.

11. Cover Dishes in the Microwave

People often cover microwaved foods with plastic wrap or wax paper. But that's not ideal. Plastic wrap contains chemical additives that can leach into foods during the microwave process. And while wax paper is healthier than plastic wrap, it's coated with paraffin wax, which can melt in higher heat. Paper coffee filters, in contrast, are microwave safe, so use these instead.