Do you feel guilty about throwing away your paper coffee filters after each use? It seems wasteful and maybe unnecessary. Have you questioned whether you can reuse them?
Many coffee filters can be reused multiple times before they stop doing their job. Simply dump old coffee grounds, rinse the filter, and let air dry. This easy trick will save you money and eliminate excess waste in our environment. But does it change the taste of your cup of coffee?
Let’s dig a little deeper into this question and see how you can make the most of the coffee brewing process.
Reusable Coffee Filters
Before we focus on reusing paper filters, let’s quickly look at some of the other available options that are specifically designed to be used over and over again.
First, there are your metal coffee filters. These filters are generally used in pour-overs and are made of a stainless steel mesh. They are eco-friendly and can be used up to 100 times before needing to be replaced.
The downside of using a metal filter is that they usually allow some sediment to drip into your cup, which many people do not appreciate.
The next option is cloth coffee filters. These are less common in America but offer long-term use. Cloth filters are typically made from organic cotton and will filter out all the coffee sediment while leaving much of the flavorful oils.
The downside of using cloth filters is that why are time-consuming to clean and more expensive than paper filters.
For a closer look at all the types of coffee filters available, check out our other article, “Coffee Filter Differences with Pros and Cons.” You’ll find multiple tables comparing each to help you decide which is best for you.
Disposable Coffee Filters
Most paper coffee filters advertise themselves as being single-use items, as many people like the idea of not having to wash their filters after each cup or pot of coffee. But for those of us who would rather get the most use out of each filter as possible, there are ways to do so.
Even though metal or cloth filters cost more upfront, because paper filters are typically only used once, you will no doubt spend more money in the long run on the paper ones. So, if you’re not looking to switch to metal or cloth filters, how can you reuse paper filters to keep your coffee’s flavor the same?
How to Reuse Paper Coffee Filters
Luckily, it takes little effort and time to reuse a filter. After brewing your coffee, dump the old grounds in the trash or store them to use in your compost later. (Learn how to compost used coffee grounds here!)
Next, do a quick and thorough rinse of the filter with warm water only and let air dry. Once you feel the filter is completely dry, carefully brush off any remaining dried coffee grounds. Now, you can use it once again to brew your next cup of coffee.
TIP: It’s essential to let it dry entirely. This will allow the filter to be used multiple times without tearing and affecting the flavor and mouthfeel of your drink.
I would only reuse it up to three times, but I’ve heard of people doing it more. Once you notice your coffee tasting more bitter or burnt or discover sediment in your cup, you know you’ve used it one too many times, and it’s time to toss and start new.
Composting Coffee Filters
Remember, coffee filters can be composted as well. If you plan on adding filters to your compost bin, purchase the unbleached ones to avoid the added chemicals used in the bleaching process. These chemicals could have an adverse affect on your soil, plants, and garden.
Adding coffee filters to your compost will contribute carbon to balance out the nitrogen level in the pile. Furthermore, filters are an excellent way of controlling the odor in your compost bin, which is always a big plus in my book.
Also, no need to dispose of the used coffee grounds. Simply throw in the bin with the filter for some added nitrogen. Again, for more information of how to compost used coffee grounds and filters, check out our other article here.
Can You Recycle Coffee Filters?
Unfortunately, coffee filters are not recyclable even though they are made of paper. The reason for this is the oils left from the coffee. Since we cannot recycle them, using them in your compost or at least reusing them multiple times before disposing of them is always a great idea.
Alternatives to Reusing Coffee Filters
Let’s say you’re not fond of the idea of reusing your coffee filters to make multiple cups or pots of coffee but still want to get the most use out of them. What else can you do with used filters?
There are a handful of other creative ideas on how to reuse coffee filters since we can not recycle them. Draw your attention to the list below, and experiment with some of the ideas. Have fun with it!
- It’s a fairly common truth that used coffee grounds can be great for your skin. So, why not take the filter with some used grounds and apply it to your face for a little face mask? You can cut sections from the filter to place them on various areas of your face. Then, sit back and let the grounds and filter do the work.
- What’s cool about coffee filters is that they are lint-free. Take advantage of this. Rinse and let air dry, then use for various cleaning and dusting projects around the house. It won’t scratch your surfaces.
- Used coffee filters are great at polishing those brown boots or dress shoes you have in your closet.
- Another option is to rinse and let dry and then give them to your kids to make some fun crafts and art projects. There are a ton of YouTube videos with all kinds of craft ideas.
- Our last alternative use for used filters is to make your very own scented sachets. Once you’ve rinsed and let air dry, fill the filter with your favorite spices or herbs, like cinnamon, lemongrass, cedar chips, lavender, or mint. Pull the sides of the filter together and tie it with a rope or ribbon. Set in areas around your house and enjoy the scented bliss.
Reusing items in your home, such as coffee filters, will not only help you save money but is also great for our environment. The process is relatively easy and only adds a few minutes to your morning or afternoon coffee routine.
Reuse and enjoy that next cup of coffee!