Frugal Living: 25 Frugal Uses for the Humble Coffee Filter


A little Fabric Softener + Coffee Filter = Instant Dryer Sheet

In my quest to keep the cost of laundry detergent and fabric softener to a minimum, I have researched infinite homemade recipes and thrifty tricks.

Most recently, I came across a little tip about making your own fabric softener sheets using coffee filters. By pouring just a scant teaspoon of your favorite commercial softener (which of course you got on sale and used a coupon!) into a coffee filter to let it absorb the liquid, you’ve created a fabric softener sheet which is economical and environmentally friendly!

You can make an entire batch of these fabric softener-soaked coffee filters and store them in a sealed container. I thought it was a pretty neat idea and plan on giving it a try.

Then I stumbled upon a seemingly endless list of super ideas for saving money by using coffee filters. After reading the lists, I gave myself a whack on the head and said, “Well, duh! Why didn’t I think of that!?”

Coffee filters are cheap, biodegradable, sturdy, and extremely useful, a perfect item for a frugal household to stock up on! You can bet I’ll be heading to the dollar store and buying a supply of these. (Although, I did see a package of 200 for $1.59 at Missoula’s K-Mart last Thursday.)

Here is a minimized list of different uses which I came across, but believe me, there are many, many more ideas for using coffee filters!

  1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers.
  2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome… Coffee filters are lint-free so they’ll leave windows sparkling.
  3. Protect fine china by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.
  4. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter. (I’m guilty of doing this often, so now I have a way to correct it!)
  5. Protect a cast-iron skillet. Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.
  6. Apply shoe polish. Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.
  7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
  8. Use a little baking soda in a coffee filter as way deodorizing smelly sneakers.

    Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.

  9. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods. (This would be perfect for a summer fiesta party…a stack of coffee filters and the makings for my favorite “Street Vendor style Tacos!”
  10. Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.
  11. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping everywhere. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter. (Love this one! It would work on an ice cream cone, too!)
  12. Use strips of coffee filters to wax your eyebrows. (Isn’t that an interesting one?!)
  13. Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them. It soaks out all the grease. (Cheaper than using papertowels!)
  14. Keep in the bathroom. They make great “razor nick fixers.”
  15. As a sewing backing. Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliquéing soft fabrics.
  16. Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors. (I have 3 boys with stinky shoes…this may be a lifesaver!)
  17. Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.
  18. Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.
  19. Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills.
  20. Can use to hold dry ingredients when baking or when cutting a piece of fruit or veggies. Saves on having extra bowls to wash.
  21. Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.
  22. Use them to remove fingernail polish when out of cotton balls.
  23. Use them to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a zip-lock plastic bag until they sprout. (An awesome idea!)
  24. Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers. Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in phone book.
  25. Use as a disposable “snack bowl” for popcorn, chips, etc. (So handy for kiddos!)

Oh, and I suppose they work well in your coffee maker, too!

I love discovering new frugal, simple ideas. Now, it will be fun to experiment and discover my own uses for coffee filters! I’m already thinking of crafts with the kids…remember those wonderful tissue paper flowers we made as kids? Why not try it with coffee filters and some paint? See how fun this is going to be??

Do you use coffee filters for clever things around the house? Tell us how you use coffee filter or other household items to save money!