10 Substitutes for Coffee Filters to Save Your Day!

Imagine waking up in the morning, dragging yourself to the kitchen, start setting up your coffee machine, only to find you ran out of coffee filters! Yea, not a very happy scenario, and on busy days, it's the last thing you need!

The good news is you can still get your coffee fix without running to the store, and we're going to show you how.

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Awesome Coffee Filter Substitutes

Luckily, there are substitutes for coffee filters in case you become a victim of an empty filter box.

Here are 10 coffee filter alternatives so you can have your daily dose of coffee no matter what!

Paper Towels as a Coffee Filter Substitute

Can you use paper towels as a coffee filter substitute?  Of course you can!  If you don't have any coffee filters left around, then simply grab a paper towel and pop it in your coffee machine! Both effective and easy to work with, paper towels make a great and cheap alternative to coffee filters.

This is probably one of the easiest coffee filter replacement methods because we usually have paper towels around the house.

All you need to do is fold three or four pieces of paper towel to fit in place of the coffee filter, allowing the liquid coffee to travel through its material and into your cup, just like when there's a filter!

Can I use toilet paper as an alternative for coffee filters?

It depends on the toilet paper.  You can use toilet paper with the same technique to substitute for coffee filters, as long as it does not disintegrate in water.  To test this, pour some hot water over your toilet paper placed in a mesh strainer, and look at the water that comes out.  As long as it is completely clean and does not have bits of toilet paper in it, you can use it as a coffee filter.

Tea Bags

When you're out of coffee filters, then it's time for tea! No, I don't mean ditching your usual cup of coffee and drinking tea instead, I'm talking about the tea bags themselves.

STGA Tea Filter Bags, Disposable Drawstring Seal Filter Tea Bags, Set of 100 (3.9 ×3.1 inch)

This is a very simple yet practical way to enjoy your favorite coffee. You just need to grind your favorite blend of coffee beans on the finest setting, then pour the resulting powder into tea bags, seal them shut, and voila! You got yourself coffee bags!

This method is also a fantastic option when you're in a hurry or traveling and don't want to pack paper filters.


Another popular alternative when coffee filters aren't available is cheesecloth. So if you have one laying around, take it out and fold it over itself a couple of times, then cut it to fit into your filter basket like a paper towel or a toilet paper.

Cheesecloth, Grade 90, 36 Sq Feet, Reusable, 100% Unbleached Cotton Fabric, Ultra Fine Cheese Cloth for Cooking - Nut Milk Bag, Strainer, Filter (Grade 90-4Yards)

After that, proceed with the brewing process as normal.


Yes, you read that correctly ladies and gentlemen, socks can serve as a legit replacement for coffee filters. In fact, one of the oldest and most common ways to make coffee involves using a thick cotton sock or a piece of muslin fabric.

So how does this work? Well, you need new and clean socks for this method (otherwise, it'd be downright gross!). From here, you have two options to make coffee:

You can put the coffee grounds inside the sock, place the sock over your mug, and then pour hot water over the coffee grounds. Or, you can put the sock inside a pot, pour in some hot water, and let it steep for a few minutes.

To achieve the best results, use medium or coarse ground coffee. You can also apply the same technique to stocking if you can't find new socks.

One especially neat thing about the sock method is that it's more environmentally friendly than coffee filters since socks are reusable once you wash them.

Dish Towels or Any Cotton Cloth

In the same vein of cheesecloth and socks, you can also use a clean dish towel, cotton cloths, cloth napkins, or even a wash cloth as a coffee filter replacement.  Any cloth will do, even an old piece of clothing.

Be sure to start with a clean cloth, no matter what you are doing.  Layer the cloth into your coffee filter basket, and you are good to go.  Be sure to use medium or course ground coffee for the best results.

One layer of cotton cloth should do the job, so depending on your coffee machine, you may need to cut one to fit in best.

Butter Muslin

You can also use butter muslin or fine cloth as an alternative to coffee filters. The concept is very similar to using cheesecloth, where you fold it over itself and cut it to fit in the filter basket. Just make sure you're using a clean or new butter muslin.

Reusable Filters

Reusable metal or wire filters make an excellent substitute for paper coffee filters. Not only do they save you money being permanent, but they're also more environmentally friendly since you'll be cutting down on using paper.

Reusable filters are also hassle-free when it comes to application.

GOLDTONE Reusable 8-12 Cup Basket Coffee Filter fits Mr. Coffee Makers and Brewers, Replaces your Paper Coffee Filters, BPA Free

You just place it at the top of your mug, add a couple of teaspoons of medium or coarse coffee grounds, and pour hot water over the ground coffee. Your coffee should be ready in a few seconds!

You can even purchase reusable filters made out of organic cotton for just about any coffee machine or coffee setup around.

Making Coffee Without a Filter

Still need more ideas?  Here are some interesting ways you can make coffee without a filter.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is a magical solution for all sorts of coffee emergencies such as running out of coffee beans or, like in today's case, coffee filters.

Using instant coffee is one of the fastest ways to prepare a cup of coffee. Simply pour some hot water over the instant coffee and you're good to go!

Mud Coffee

Mud coffee, also known as Kopi Tubruk, is a popular brewing technique that'll make you a delicious cup of coffee without the need for a coffee filter.

To prepare mud coffee, just add one or two teaspoons of coffee grounds (or enough to make it as heavy as you prefer) in your coffee mug, then pour some boiling water and stir for a bit. Leave the grounds to steep and wait until they settle fully to the bottom of the cup.

Now, you can enjoy a tasty cup of coffee, but be careful not to drink the actual mud at the bottom! Also, if you like to have milk in your coffee, be sure to add it after the grounds begin to settle.

Mud coffee is best prepared using medium or finely ground coffee.

French Press

The French press is another brewing method that requires no. Using a French Press coffee machine, you'll only need coffee grounds and hot water as ingredients to make a delicious cup of coffee.

Bodum 34oz Chambord French Press Coffee Maker, High-Heat Borosilicate Glass, Polished Stainless Steel – Made in Portugal

This method is pretty easy to figure out, and you'll get coffee loaded with flavorful oils that are usually eliminated when you use coffee filters.

Cowboy Coffee

If you've never tried making cowboy coffee, then you should definitely give it a shot the next time you run out of coffee filters (or just want to avoid using them).

Besides brewing a delightful cup of coffee, preparing cowboy coffee is also extremely easy.

All you need is a pot or a kettle, coffee grounds, and some water. Simply place the ground coffee with the water in the kettle and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, pour it directly to a cup and enjoy!

The Perfect Substitute for Coffee Filters

There you have it, 10 substitutes for coffee filters so you may never miss a day of delicious coffee!  Each of these items is a fantastic replacement, and easy to implement.  Some of these brewing methods don't even need coffee filters, and you may find yourself with a new favorite morning drink.

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