The 4 Best Coffee Filter Alternatives (That You Have at Home)


Under certain circumstances, we need to put our inventive powers to work.

If you’re out of coffee filters, I can assure you that you can still have a delicious cup of Joe by using some of the filter alternatives I’ve listed. Most of these homemade substitutes are easily accessible and can be found in virtually any household. Therefore you would definitely be able to take advantage of at least one of these replacements, all of which can be used in place of a coffee filter.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.

The Best coffee filter alternatives

Even though filtering papers are essential for making a good cup of Joe, there are some fantastic coffee filter substitutes will do the job just fine.

It’s worth noting that I’ve only included items that I’ve tested.

With that being said, here are the best coffee filter alternatives:

1. A Sock

If you have no coffee filters, you can use a cotton sock instead.

It’s perfect for trapping the coffee grounds and keeping them away from your cup when no other alternatives are available.

As long as you use a clean sock, you’ll get to have a pretty good cup of coffee.

It’s also quite important not to use a sock that has been washed with a strongly fragrant detergent or a scented fabric softener. Nevertheless, even if you use a brand new sock, it’s good to rinse it with hot water before use, as this will lower the chances of unpleasant taste further.

There are many ways to brew with this improvised filter replacement. The easiest one is by placing the ground beans in the sock, holding it over a cup and pouring hot water on the grounds.

With that being said, a sock is definitely one of the most accessible alternatives to a coffee filter. Feel free to use this unusual method – you won’t be disappointed.

2. Cheesecloth


A piece of cheesecloth is the best out of all coffee filter alternatives you could find at home. It does a fantastic job of keeping even the tiniest coffee bits away from your coffee.

At the same time, it’s extremely easy to clean and most importantly – easy to dry.

Some thicker filter replacements, such as socks or dish towels, take longer to dry out and are more prone to acquiring unpleasant odor after the first use which might ruin the coffee’s flavor.

Cheesecloth is made of light and thin fabric that can be rinsed and quickly dried after each use, which makes it a perfect reusable coffee filter.

It’s also worth mentioning that it’s pretty affordable, especially considering the fact that it can be used multiple times and also has many applications.

For reference, I am really happy with this large piece of cheesecloth by Olicity – you can click the link to check out its price on Amazon.

It’s an excellent solution if you’re in search of a way to make a reusable homemade coffee filter.

A piece of double-layered cheesecloth is my go-to when I’m out of paper filters.

When it comes to cold brew – I always use a piece of cheesecloth as a filtering unit.

Overall, based on my experience, I think it’s safe to say that cheesecloth is likely the best coffee filter substitute possible.

3. Paper towel

If you have a drip coffee maker, but you’re out of filters, you can use a paper towel.

You should fold a piece to size and place it in your coffee maker like so:

You should then pour some ground beans in the improvised coffee filter and your machine will be ready to operate as usual.

Many have been taking advantage of this filter replacement hack and paper towels have been successfully used in place of coffee filters plenty of times.

Some people have even managed to employ toilet paper as an emergency filtering unit.

Paper napkins are also good substitutes that you can easily use in the early mornings when you’ve realized you have no coffee filters left.

It’s worth noting that when using these filter alternatives, you won’t damage the coffee maker, but your drink wouldn’t taste as good.

Nevertheless, they’re perfect as a backup for a while until you get to restock on some decent coffee filters.

4. Kitchen Dish Towel or Cotton Table Napkins


A cotton dish towel is the second-best in my list of coffee filter alternatives, right after the cheesecloth.

As long as you have a similar towel you won’t even need a coffee maker to make a tasty cup of coffee.

Just mix hot water and ground coffee in a bowl, and let it sit for a while. After that, place the towel on top of a cup and slowly pour the coffee in.

Anyway, the kitchen towels and cotton table napkins will trap coffee grounds and you will get to have a delicious cup of Joe.

The only downside I see to using such a replacement instead of using cheesecloth is that it takes longer to dry out. If you don’t rinse it and hang it somewhere airy right after use, the towel might get this stagnant water smell, which would ruin your next coffee’s taste.

It’s also worth noting that by using this substitute, you might find a bit of sediment at the bottom of your cup as you can see on the following photo:

Nevertheless, the amount is negligible and won’t affect the flavor of your coffee.

That being said, the kitchen dish towels and cotton table napkins are great coffee filter replacements, when you’ve run out of the original papers.

What are some ways to make coffee without an actual coffee filter?

There are, in fact, many ways to make coffee without the use of branded coffee filters. You can both use substitutes or simply change the brewing method. I’ve got an illustrated guide that describes ways to brew coffee without an actual filter or by using the alternatives I listed above. Visit the link to get inspired by some of the methods I’ve tested.

Final Words

Of course, if you don’t have any of the aforementioned coffee filter alternatives, feel free to improvise. For example, you can also use a piece of cotton clothing that you don’t plan on wearing any longer as a substitute. If you come up with your own filter replacement hack, drop me a comment below. I’d also love to know whether you’ve tried some of my recommendations.

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