There are a lot of household tasks for which coffee filters are awesome. You can buy them really cheap (and unless you’re using them for coffee making, cheap will do just fine) at places like Smart N Final or Cosco. You can also buy environmentally friendly (unbleached) ones for a little more expense.
The beauty with coffee filters is they can generally be reused more times than, say, a paper towel and they leave no lint at all. I try not to use paper when cloth will do, but there are some jobs where a cloth just won’t work. Also, in office environments, companies rarely trust individuals to follow kitchen procedures, so rather than risk someone, say, blowing their nose into a dishrag and leaving it there (true story, y’all; some people, I really just don’t get), they provide all disposable stuff.
So while you should always use non-disposable cloths when it makes sense, coffee filters can be a better disposable solution than others, when disposable is called for. For all of the uses I list below, you can re-use coffee filters at least a few times – sometimes many times over. For many of these tasks, you can re-use a coffee filter you’ve actually used to make coffee.
Alternate uses (and re-uses) for coffee filters
- I put them over food when I’m heating stuff in the microwave. For me it comes out to be cheaper than napkins or paper towels, but do your own math – it all depends what’s available in your area. Just rinse and re-use them for the same purpose again.
- Line cosmetic bags with them. Every once in a while, you can remove all the cosmetics, wad up the coffee filter with all the dirt and debris in it, use the flip side of it to wipe out the plastic bag, rinse it out and reuse it. Coffee filters let go of dirt and debris better than paper towels, so you can reuse the same coffee filter as a liner quite a few times.
- Line planters with them. Coffee filters keep the soil inside the pots while letting the water drain out like it’s supposed to.
- Flatten them and line candy dishes with them. This can actually look very cute – sort of like a simple doily.
- Put them between plates, cookware or old records – anything you want to stack without scratching.
- When you don’t have bowls or cups available (on the road or in an office), coffee filters may be your most eco-friendly choice for makeshift snack bowls. Unlike disposable paper cups, the coffee filters can always be rinsed thoroughly and used again.
- Great for cleaning glass because they leave no lint behind. Keep them in the car for cleaning the inside of the windows.
- Make a sachet. Put some potpourri in a coffee filter, fit the edges with a ribbon, and you’ve got a sachet.
- Serve greasy, messy food items in coffee filters to keep the grease contained and hands a little bit cleaner.
- If your wine cork breaks off in your wine, wrap a coffee filter over the neck of the bottle and tie it with ribbon. Now you can pour through the coffee filter, and it will catch any debris from the cork.
- Strain frying oil or bacon drippings. The coffee filter will catch the crap, and what’s left is the good stuff.
- Muzz photographs. Put a coffee filter over a flash to soften the light or over the lens to muzz the whole photograph.
- Use (and re-use) them as mixing bowls. Put your pre-measured dry ingredients into coffee filters, which are really easy to pour from.
- Make dryer sheets out of them Put a couple of drops of fabric softener on the coffee filter, rub it around to spread the softener, and use it as a dryer sheet. If you use eco-friendly filters (and re-use them as many times as you possibly can, which is quite a few), this method is cheaper than any eco-friendly dryer sheets – and just as eco-friendly.