What Can You Use Instead of a Coffee Filter — 6 Easy Alternatives

Imagine waking up with a craving for coffee only to discover that you’re out of filters. Or that your reusable coffee filter has broken. Getting enough energy to run to a nearby store without your energy drink doesn’t sound too appealing now, does it?

Well, in such situations, you may think you only have the following choices: 

a) make an unfiltered cup of coffee if it doesn’t put your health at risk
b) go to the store to get a new filter
c) don’t have coffee

But you don’t have to skip your daily brew just because you don’t have a filter. Instead, look around the house and put your creativity into action. But if you’re still confused about what to do, here is my list of 6 objects you can use in the place of a coffee filter. Let’s dive in!

Paper Towel

The first solution that comes to mind is to use paper towels. All you have to do is fold it in half twice and form a pouch shape. Place it where you usually put the filter, and you’re good to go. Some people use napkins and even toilet paper to enjoy a cup of coffee.

However, these products are not designed for such use. They are made using different chemicals and glue. So whenever the coffee passes through, it gets contaminated. As they’re also extremely thin, they can break down when hot liquid flows through. 

I don’t recommend this method for regular use, but it can do the job just fine when you don’t have a choice. Also, you may want to consider the type of paper towel you’re buying. The best option would be the brown and unbleached one.


The best alternative for a coffee filter is the cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is not very common, and you are more likely to find a stray coffee filter in your drawer. But if you do happen to have cheesecloth at home, never take it for granted. This extremely versatile fabric prevents even the finest particles from entering your drink. But that’s not all!

Not only is cheesecloth reusable, but it is also super easy to wash and dry. Cut a piece of this cloth, fold a few times as necessary, and use it as a regular filter. With just a quick rinse after each use, it can be a perfect reusable coffee filter. 

Mesh Sieve

If you like cooking or baking, there is a good chance you have a mesh sieve in your kitchen. Well, it’s time to put it to use for another craft. A mesh sieve works more like a reusable coffee filter, and, unlike a paper towel, it doesn’t leave a strange flavor in your drink.

On the other hand, it will not filter the coffee grounds as perfectly. Because a sieve has bigger holes than a coffee filter, it will not catch the finer grounds. As a result, you will have a bit of residue in your drink. Cleaning the mesh filter can be very tiring, too, depending on the sieve size.

Reusable Tea Bags

If you’re also a tea lover and have reusable tea bags at home, you can also use them to filter your coffee. Fill the tea bag with 1 or 2 tablespoons of fine-grind coffee. Next, place the bag in a mug of hot water and let it steep, depending on how strong you want your coffee to be.

Since the tea bags are generally used for a similar purpose, they won’t make a mess. Also, you don’t need to worry about harmful chemicals leaching into your drink. If you have tea infusers at home, you can use these to make your favorite cup of brewed coffee.


This is the method that’s been in use since ancient times. A cotton sock works like a tea bag for coffee. There are two main methods you can use. 

1) Place your coffee grounds in the sock and pour hot water over them.

2) Place your coffee grounds in the sock and steep it in a cup of hot water for some time.

Medium and coarse-grind coffee works best for this method.

Make sure to use a brand new, clean sock instead of one you wear on your feet! Keep a separate cotton sock for coffee that you can wash and reuse. 

If the sock idea doesn’t sit well with you, you can also use a pair of stockings or handkerchiefs. You can also buy a reusable coffee sock specially designed for filtering coffee. These reusable filters are an eco-friendly approach by reducing your waste amount. A great thing you ran out of paper filters!

Instant Coffee

True coffee lovers always run away from the thought of even trying instant coffee. But when your options are either instant coffee and no coffee at all, it’s better to choose the caffeine boost. So, keep a jar of instant coffee in your cupboard for backup!

You can also use instant coffee when you run out of coffee beans. It doesn’t require a filter or a brewing machine, so having some around will always prove useful in a pinch. And finally, it can give you an instant energy boost when you’re running late, or the power is out.


While there are plenty of substitutes for coffee filters, these 6 methods are the most feasible. So the next time you’re out of coffee filters, you don’t have to panic. People have survived for centuries without them. All you have to do is go through my list, pick the most appealing method, and start brewing!