If you’re an avid coffee drinker and like to brew it the old-fashioned way, then you know how annoying it is when you realize your last coffee filter was used and are now full of coffee grounds.
Today, the cost of paper filters is higher than it used to be and they generate more waste than a permanent or mesh filter would.
This leaves people to wonder if they can reuse paper filters to save money and waste.
Yes, you can reuse paper filters three to four times by carefully discarding the old coffee grounds, and rinsing and drying the filter. Once that’s done, you can put it back in the coffee machine after 24-hours.
Not only can you reuse coffee filters for coffee, but you can use them for arts & crafts, seed germination, odor remover, planter liners, and more.
We’ve created this detailed article to show you how you can reuse coffee filters to avoid damaging the earth and save some pennies.
Can You Reuse Old Coffee Filters?
Paper filters will work three to four times before they stop being effective. The key to keeping them useful for longer is to dry them out for 24-hours before using them again.
After you brew a batch of coffee, wait until the grounds are cooled down and dump them in the trash or compost pile, removing as much of it as possible without tearing the filter.
Lay the filter down as flat as possible on a paper towel and let it dry. Once it’s dry, wipe the rest of the coffee grounds off and put it back in the coffee machine.
Honestly, you can reuse a coffee filter as many times are you want, but you may notice the taste will be different each time you use it.
Here are some of the most popular types of coffee filters and how long each one lasts.
The AeroPress filters lasted for two brews before things began to change. On the third brew, the filter took on more coffee fines and started to appear a little darker.
On the fourth brew, there were more floating filter pieces on top of the brewed coffee, meaning the filter is now falling apart.
On the fifth brew, there was a lot of coffee slush in the cup, which left an unpleasant taste and it was harder to clean the filter.
Chemex filters didn’t hold up as well as the AeroPress filters did. The Chemex filter only lasted one time before the taste of the coffee began to change.
The second brew with the same filter wasn’t as good as the first. The brewing time increased by about a minute and there was significant coffee slush at the bottom of the cup.
This was a good indicator that Chemex filters aren’t meant to be used more than once.
The first brew tasted amazing, but the second wasn’t as great. The filter catches more grease than others, resulting in a blocked filter the second time around.
Since it took longer to brew, the coffee was a tad bitter and there were coffee grounds in the cup.
Since the filter clogged after just the second time, these aren’t suggested for use with coffee after one brew.
Generic Paper Filters
Generic paper filters can be reused as long as you take care of them.
You can get at least three brews out of them before they begin to fall apart and make your coffee taste bitter.
We found that rinsing the coffee with warm water helped the coffee remove itself from the filter easier.
Never use soap to clean the filter as the taste will ruin your coffee.
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Can You Reuse Coffee Grounds?
We’ve noted that you can reuse coffee filters multiple times, but does the same go for coffee grounds?
We’ve been in a pinch before where we ran out of coffee and really wanted some more.
You can reuse coffee grounds, but not more than twice. The second brew will make your coffee taste a little weak and maybe even bitter, but it will work if you really need it to.
Unfortunately, coffee grounds are a breeding ground for bacteria. Since used coffee grounds gain exposure to the air and are moist, they’re a great breeding ground for bacteria.
If you plan to reuse your coffee grounds, do so once they’re cool, and don’t let them sit around all day. They won’t taste as fresh and flavorful, but it works.
Metal vs Paper Filter
So rather than wasting money on paper filters, even if you are reusing them, why can’t you just use a metal filter to save money?
It’s true that metal filters can save you money in the long run and last upwards of 7-years, but they’re harder to clean whereas paper filters are essentially mess-free.
Additionally, metal filters will give a more robust and darker cup of coffee that contains oil and even small amounts of sediment.
Paper filters, on the other hand, produce a brighter, sweeter cup of coffee with essentially no oil or sediments, which helps cut out the bad cholesterol found in coffee.
Overall, paper filters are much better to work with than metal ones. They’re easier to clean, can be reused for other purposes, and are essentially mess-free.
How to Tell It’s Time To Chuck The Filter
You can only reuse a coffee filter so many times before it begins to make your coffee taste different.
Some signs that your filter is a bitter, burnt tasting coffee and more sediment in your cup than normal.
If you’re still not ready to give up the coffee filter, there are other uses for them.
Other Uses for Coffee Filters
After you’ve used your filter three or four times, the coffee isn’t going to taste right and it may take longer for the coffee to go through the filter.
This means it’s time to throw it out. Ir is it? Here are some other uses we found for used coffee filters.
Arts & Crafts
Coffee filters have been a favorite supply for thrifty artists because they used to be so cheap and are ideal for painting and dying.
There are a ton of uses for coffee filters in arts & crafts such as sun catchers, ghost lollipops, butterflies, parachute guys, and more.
They’re exceptionally easy to work with, especially with paint and markers.
Straining grease from burgers, bacon, and other meats can make a mess, especially with the wrong strainer being used.
Used coffee filters actually make a great grease strainer. All you have to do is put the filter over a jar and secure it with a rubber band.
Slowly pour the grease into the filter and it will remove unwanted components that even the finest mesh strainers can’t catch.
Planters tend to leak and it can be a nuisance for indoor plants. Used coffee filters are generally still absorbent enough to stem the water flow without completely saturating the soil.
It will keep mold from growing as well. Coffee filters do just as well of a job as expensive products meant for the same purpose.
If you sew, you can reuse coffee filters for paper backings if you embroider things that require paper backing.
Just make sure the filter is well-rinsed and dried so you don’t accidentally stain your fabric.
Do you have an issue with food splattering in the microwave? The fix for this is a coffee filter.
Cover whatever food you’re microwaving with a used coffee filter to avoid splattering inside the microwave.
We like to wash, dry, and then keep a stack of them by the microwave for easy access.
In order for seeds to germinate, they need to be in a dark environment in order for their roots to take hold in the soil.
Used coffee filters are the ideal size and have the proper absorbency to help with healthy seed growth.
Not only that but used coffee grounds and filters help create a nitrogen-rich environment that helps the seeds grow.
Used coffee filters are perfect for removing odors from gym bags, shoes, or any other confined space that tends to hold an odor.
You could use baking soda since it’s a potent odor remover, but you can’t put it loosely in your gym bag because it makes a mess.
Rather, put the baking soda in the coffee filter and roll it up, making a pouch. Stick it wherever you have an odor and it’ll soak it all up.
Don’t’ throw away your coffee filters without thinking about how you can reuse them.
Paper filters may be marketed as single-use items, but you can certainly get three to four uses out of them for brewing coffee before the coffee quality begins to degrade.
Once the coffee filter becomes ineffective, reuse it for arts & crafts, plants, seed germination, and more.
There are tons of uses for them, you just need to think outside of the box.
We are a team of passionate moms and homemakers. Among us are certified nutritionists, chefs, certified food handlers, accountants, financial gurus, and other professionals. Our joint goal is to educate homemakers. Check out the about us page for more information about our team’s credentials.