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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I Keep Trying to Use Less and Less of Some Things -- This Time Coffee Filters

I was running low on my usual instant decaf coffee and since I had some rewards points to use at Walgreens (plus they were offering free shipping on any amount spent at that time), I decided to order my decaf from them. They were sold out online of instant decaf, so I ordered ground decaf coffee. No problem -- we have our old drip coffee maker I could use. I didn't even think about filters.

After a few days of brewing my decaf, I noticed the stack of coffee filters in the cabinet looked really scrawny. I'm used to buying store brand coffee filters at Walmart or Fred Meyer, or even from Dollar Tree. There have been no store brand coffee filters available for online shopping at any of these stores. And I wasn't about to spend double or triple what I'm used to for coffee filters, at least not yet.

So, I was wondering to myself just how many times you can reuse a coffee filter. I've scooped out used grounds and refilled a couple of times in the past, so this isn't completely new territory for me. My biggest concern is mold growth from reusing a coffee filter over multiple days. To counter that, this is what I've been doing. After I brew my coffee, I scoop/dump out the grounds, give the filter a quick rinse with water, then allow to dry until the next morning. Seems to be working.

one thing that surprised me -- coffee filter paper is relatively durable, much more so than the common college student coffee filter substitute -- paper towels. Paper towels do work in a pinch, though.

I was a bit hesitant to mention my coffee filter reuse here, as this may be a little too extreme for some folks' tastes. Then I found this article that completely backs me up. The article says that coffee filters can be reused at least 4 or 5 times. With that usage, I can make my dwindling supply last a couple of months.


  1. I'm not a coffee drinker, I like the smell but not the taste. To pass some time on Saturday, I downloaded a tutorial to make paper flowers, the instructions indicated to use either coffee filters or tissue paper - I bought coffee filters. Do you think tissue paper would work as a temporary filter in a pinch? Not sure if they have the same strength. Just a thought. In my area (central PA) grocery supplies are a hit and a miss; however, coffee filters are plentiful! If you'd like, I can pick up a few and mail to you. Let me know and I'll contact you via email.
    Have a great day!

  2. You come up with frugalness that my dense mind wouldn't even have considered. Your posts are a never ending source of great ideas. Thanks!

  3. I don't think it's weird to reuse coffee filters at all, but as you know, I use my teabags twice. I wonder if you could leave the filters in the sun or if you could briefly microwave them to kill anything bad??? Just a thought.

  4. You can also use a square of fabric, like part of an old dishtowel or a piece of muslin. Then you can just rinse it out and throw it in the wash. Works fine.

    - Tina

  5. We've been using the filters as wipes for disinfectant. They are really durable and hold up well.

  6. I reuse my son's coffee pod everyday. He likes his coffee strong and I don't. So he makes a large cup first and then I use the same pod for a lighter cup. Then I dump the grounds in my garden. You are frugal and wise. I love reading all of the ways you save money.

  7. Currently I am working my way through a stack of pour over filters in different sizes.
    I tend to accumulate them from rummage sales and estate sales where you pay for a box of assorted items like $5 or $10
    It doesn’t matter to me about their durability I place them within a mesh basket inside the plastic cone.
    Years ago I was visiting another city and in a store I found 100% organic cloth filters.
    I have used those and would easily see myself going back to them when I finish my eclectic collection.
    If you have the time and inclination maybe look through your cloth scraps and try the various porosity of materials you have?
    Do you use any of the trading sites or apps?
    I think you would be amazed what you can trade for without money or put a request out for a needed item, like the mesh basket I mention above. You are supposed to be able to use them in place of the paper filter but I found the water ran through too quickly.
    That’s what the filter makers have determined. Not too quick, not too slow, just the correct amount of drip.

  8. I'm not a coffee drinker, but my husband is and the coffee pot has been getting a workout since we've been home all of the time. I mentioned your reuse of coffee filters in case he wants to try it. We'll see.

  9. Hi Shelby,
    Thank you for the kind offer. That was so nice of you. I'm getting along pretty well with my 10 remaining filters -- almost a week on the first one and it's still in great shape. I've got some white tissue paper, so that might work as well as a paper towel. Good suggestion. Oh, paper flowers. That sounds like fun. I may have to try some myself.
    I hope you're doing okay in PA.

  10. Hi Kris,
    so far the filters seem to be doing pretty well. No off odors or tastes. I could also lay it flat in a pie plate and pour boiling water over it. These filters are surprisingly durable.

    Just a warning, though, for anyone microwaving paper products. If that is all that is in the microwave, the paper should be wet. Paper can ignite in the microwave. There was a story in the news about some people thinking they could microwave their N95 masks to kill germs and reuse the masks. Some people have reported starting kitchen fires by doing this.

  11. Hi Tina,
    I'll try a piece of muslin if/when I run out of paper filters. I've seen fabric coffee filters online, so I assume if the weave is tight enough, this would work well. Thank you for the suggestion.

  12. Good idea, Belinda. They really are quite durable. I'd think they would be good for cleaning mirrors and small windows -- not linty.

  13. Hi Marybeth,
    now that's a great idea for coffee pod users. You both get your coffee how you like it, and your cup is basically free!

  14. Hi Teresa,
    you've found a great way to get coffee filters for very low cost. I'll keep my eyes open at estate sales from now on. And I'll take a look at my muslin scraps to see if any would work as filters. Thanks for your suggestion.

  15. Hi Live and Learn,
    Like a lot of other consumable goods, Americans who are staying home are drinking most of their coffee at home and making it themselves. I am guessing that's why the store-brand filters are sold out at many places. If your husband gives this a try, you can tell him that a filter will dry after rinsing in about 3 hours, and they're really quite durable. The bonus for you, if you like to do paper crafts, coffee-stained filters can be used in craft projects.

  16. Lili, my father used to rinse and re-use coffee filters two or three times as a matter of course. I think you're fine and it's a great solution to keep from buying an expensive pack of filters. I wonder if using a hair-dryer to dry them quickly and with more heat would help eliminate some germs?

    BTW, I never comment here but I'm an avid reader. Your approach to simple living and frugality is so inspiring, and I love the community. Yesterday I was cooking down some mushrooms in butter, and instead of tossing the resulting liquid I saved it to use in a mushroom soup I'm planning to make this week (cream of mushroom with turmeric - mmm.) That was definitely an inspiration from you. Thank you for sharing your talents and knowledge with us. Know that, even beyond those who comment regularly, it is valued and appreciated. Take care! - Katie

  17. Yes, as a crafter I would save used coffee filters. However for now, we don't use coffee filters since we have Keurig. I save used tea bags for crafting, and these are very durable, some almost indestructible. I can sew on them and make crafty things like small pouches.
    My crafting involves turning trash to treasure, so in that sense I'm being frugal with crafting supplies too. Because we always have trash, my resources never run out.
    Even with sewing masks, I save every bit of scrap to use later as page decoration in my junk journal, larger scraps are sewn in a crazy quilt, smaller scraps are slow stitched into decorative patchwork, strips like selveges are twined, and tiny slivers are crocheted into a twine which are then used in art weaving. I made a potholder to see whether to continue saving slivers, and I liked the result because it looked so festive and colorful like confetti. I save literal snips that are too small to twine for a mosaic that I hope to make one day. This is a lot of work, but that's why I like crafting. It captures the time invested, creating value without it necessarily being "art".

    Hope you had a great day,


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