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Coffee filter substitute: 9 great ideas for a quick fix

Coffee filter substitute: 9 great ideas for a quick fix

I’m sure you’ve had coffee before. It’s the lifeblood of many people’s day, but can sometimes be hard to come by, if you don’t have a filter or coffee filter substitute.

The coffee filter is an essential piece of coffee-making equipment that needs to be replaced now and then if you want your coffee tasting fresh.

If for some reason your coffee filters are all used up or broken, don’t fret!

There are plenty of other ways to make a cup of coffee without using a traditional coffee filter! We cover 9 alternatives for you!

Read on for more information about each one.

What coffee filters are and what they do

Coffee filters are very important coffee-making equipment that coffee is brewed through.

These coffee filters are made out of porous paper, which traps the coffee grounds and sediment to provide that smooth coffee goodness with no coffee grounds or sediment in your cup.

Having a good filter is key when you don’t want to have sediments or grounds in your cup because they can change the coffee taste dramatically.

When coffee filter substitutes are needed

Coffee filters are important coffee-making equipment, but what do you do if you’re out of coffee filters or even worse when your coffee filters have run their course and it’s time for a new one?

There are, luckily, plenty of coffee filter substitutes that you can use instead of classic coffee filters.

These coffee filter substitutes may not produce coffee that tastes quite as smooth and delicious, but they will get you through your daily need for coffee and caffeine!

List of 9 coffee filter substitutes

If you’re out of coffee filters and desperately want to brew with a filter, you can try the following alternatives as a coffee filter substitute:

1. Used coffee filters

You may be wondering what to do with your used paper filter? Many people like using them, and for good reason! Just make sure that the first time you use it is after cleaning out any clumps of dirt or bugs from inside.

Give it a thorough rinse then leave open on dry before proceeding; if this isn’t possible because either there was too much buildup or simply can not wait an hour. You can also find other alternative uses to get rid of your coffee grounds.

2. Coffee sock

We all wear socks and have these in abundance in our homes. Coffee socks can easily function as coffee filters.

You can make a coffee sock out of any fabric and allow brewed coffee to flow through it easily.

Please note the state of the socks and if they’ve been washed, make sure it’s done naturally because you don’t want this to sip through in your cup. A coffee sock filter is a great environmental-friendly alternative. You can easily give your worn socks a second life as a coffee filter.

3. Coffee bags

The coffee bags can be made of paper or fabric like coffee filters, but the material is much thicker than regular fabric. This way, it can hold the grounds much better and leans for finer grounds.

4. Coffee dripper

Coffee drippers aren’t the same thing as coffee filters but can be very similar to them. They come in a conical shape, allowing the coffee to be brewed in coffee drippers. Be aware though of the grind size of your coffee beans.

5. Coffee brewer with mesh infuser

These mesh infusers often come with coffee brewers and are a lot like coffee filters. They’re convenient but again, the finer the grind size, the more risk of sediments or grounds to sip through.

This can result in a more bitter and sour taste of your brew and ruin your coffee experience.

6. Coffee press

Brewing methods like the French Press can be a great fix for filter needs. When you have a french press, you don’t need a coffee filter and thus they function as a coffee filter substitute. The same goes for other brewing methods like the Aeropress.

7. Used T-shirts

Here in the last category we bundle a few alternatives together like paper towels, paper bags, used T-shirts, and so on. Think about the clothes you can give a 2nd life to and don’t need anymore because you’re kids have outgrown them.

Note that a downside is that you can taste the detergent used to wash the towel.

8. Paper Towels

There’s (almost) no household without paper towels and they can also function as coffee filter substitutes.

But to get great results, you need to use at least 2 sheets of paper towel or start with one and try 2 the next batch you’re brewing.

You’ll have to take into account that the coffee can taste a bit of the paper towel. Paper towels are mostly processed with chemical substances so be aware that this can influence your taste.

9. Clean dish towel

You can also use a clean dish towel as an alternative. You can brew the way you’re used to but just replace them. The major downside is that they can have an aftertaste because of the used detergent to wash the towel.

We’d say to use this as a real last resort.


What can you use if you don’t have a coffee filter?

You can try one of our 9 suggested alternatives: used coffee filters, coffee socks, coffee bags, coffee dripper, a coffee brewer with a mesh infuser, coffee press, used t-shirt, paper towel, and a clean dishtowel! The best and most convenient might be the no filter at all or just use used filters.

Is it OK to use paper towels as coffee filters?

Yes of course. Depending on the kind of paper towel you’re using, you’ll get more like a paper taste. Almost every household has paper towels: an ideal fix for getting you your daily coffee! For some coffees, you’ll need a double layer (depending on the grind size and type of towel you have).

How do you make coffee without a filter at home?

You can use some brewing methods for this like the French Press or Aeropress, you just have to put your grounds into the water. This way, you can prepare your coffee and you won’t need your paper filter, and still, have a great cup of coffee at your disposal!


We hope you found some ideas to help you start your day with a coffee fix! These tips will ensure you won’t compromise (a lot) on flavor or quality and still have a great cup of coffee. It might even be a fun thing to try, brewing your coffee with our 9 coffee filter substitutes and see for yourself!

Enjoy your coffee!