Coffee filters are a really interesting household item. If you run out of them, there are endless alternatives, like paper towels and even (clean) underwear, that you can use as an emergency replacement. But what do you do if you decide that you don’t need that old drip coffee maker anymore and have a bulk purchase of 500 filters?
Just as there are lots of alternatives you can use for coffee filters, there are lots of alternative things you can do with coffee filters. We profiled a handful of them, although we’re pretty certain that if you’re creative, you can find a whole lot more.
Coffee filters have one advantage that will show itself over and over again: their porous construction. It allows the filters to briefly hold water as it steeps and carries coffee flavor through, and this also allows it to absorb cleaner and wipe it away without leaving streaks. Coffee filters have replaced newspapers as the number one glass cleaner these days.
Slightly thicker than a normal piece of paper, coffee filters have a circular construction to match that of a normal plate. If you have fine, delicate china that you need to store, a coffee filter is a perfect way to stack pieces on top of each other without causing damage. It won’t prevent chipping from taking place if china is jostled too hard, but it can minimize it.
Most pots have holes in the bottom to allow excess water to escape, but that hole also allows soil to get carried through by the water. Instead of clogging the hole with rocks to allow water to flow but nothing else, slip a coffee filter over that hole instead. It’ll hold the growing medium in place while letting excess water drain out.
If you’ve got a ton of coffee filters, you can use them as inexpensive, disposable snack dishes. It’s based on the fact that Chinese takeout containers, when folded down, are really their own dishes. The same principle works here, except that in the case of a coffee filter you’ve got something you can use to clean the dust off the table you ate from.
Swipe a coffee filter across a dust-covered table or into a cobwebbed corner, and it’ll catch it all. The same porous construction that allows water to seep through coffee filters makes them perfect to clean up dust, hair, and little pieces of dirt.
Let’s say that you need to swap out batteries in your laptop. Where do you put all the little screws? You can use the magnetic pad that comes with your set of electronics microtools, but parts might slip off that. You can also drop them into a coffee filter with its naturally raised walls. It won’t hold them in place like a magnet, but it’ll keep them where you can find them.
The same qualities that allow water and coffee flavor to pass through the permeable layers of a coffee filter make those filters great for steeping herbs and spices. Just drop what you want to use for flavors into a filter, tie it towards the top and drop it in. The tied-off quality means it’ll also be pretty easy to retrieve.
Cut a small hole in the center of a coffee filter and stick it through a popsicle stick to help keep drippings off your child’s hand. This is a good, basic design that is easily transferrable to other delightful snacks that tend to melt in hot weather, like ice cream cones. Some people think there’s real pleasure in licking up the drippings, but if you disagree, these are better than napkins.
Soak a coffee filter in a mixture of cold water and vinegar, and apply it to parts of your face to act as a cold compress. It’ll help reduce a swelling with the cold and tighten up pores, and the vinegar will help clean it up. When removing it, you can also pad up impurities off your face so your skin appears tighter and you look a bit younger.
The trick to owning a cast-iron skillet is knowing how to turn it from raw metal into a fully seasoned cooking pan that allows for largely non-stick cooking. Coffee filters are a great means for spreading oil around a pan so that the entire surface is coated. All you need to do is heat it in the oven to bake that oil in.
When it comes to odor control, the porous nature of a coffee filter comes through. Just drop some odor-absorbing baking soda into the middle of a coffee filter and tie it up at the top. Then drop it into wherever you have nasty odors. The baking soda will draw in those odors, only slightly hindered by the construction of the coffee filter.
Soak a coffee filter in some white vinegar and maybe some essential oils like lavender. Then toss those coffee filters into the dryer when you’re drying your laundry. The vinegar combined with the oil should have your laundry not only dry and soft, but also smelling a bit like warm days.
Dampen a coffee filter and fold it over onto seeds you’re trying to sprout. It’s absorbent enough that it’s just like soaking seeds while trying to sprout them. Keep them warm and in the dark for a bit to give your seeds the optimum conditions to sprout. Once they do, it’s no effort to slip them into a more traditional growing medium.
The same qualities that make a coffee filter perfect for washing windows make it great for drying wet dishes. You can dry off wet dishes without leaving a lot of streaking, because you can absorb the water while wiping it off. You get glasses and dishes that are not only dry, but free of streaks.
Although they are designed for a specific purpose, coffee filters are actually a really versatile purchase for your home. Their specialized construction makes them ideal for use in a whole host of cleaning jobs. They have a few other uses we profiled here. We’re also certain that if you really think about it, you can come up with even more.
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