10 Coffee Filter Substitutes: How to Make Coffee Without a Filter

Although we may not always need a coffee filter substitute, we can’t know for sure when we will need it. There are some things that we need when we prepare our coffee such as coffee filter, coffee, and maybe milk. However, If you like to drink lots of coffee every day like us, you may run out of some materials like a coffee filter. Asides from running out of coffee filters, you may forget to buy some coffee filters when you go on a vacation or a trip, when this happens, there are some tips for you in this article. So what should you do when these happen? Give up preparing coffee? Of course not. Nothing can take your daily coffee need from you.

After reading this article, you will not need to be worried about running out of coffee filters because you will know what can you use instead of a coffee filter and how can you find other alternatives besides the substitutes from this list.

What Can You Use As a Coffee Filter?

Firstly, when you run out of coffee papers, don’t panic! You will drink your coffee safely after learning what can be used as a coffee filter paper.

If you keep asking yourself “What can I use instead of coffee filter?” The answer is simple. Anything similar to the coffee filter, such as cloth or a paper towel, can be used as an alternative to the coffee filter. Furthermore, It is really important to choose materials that can filter or strain the coffee as perfectly as the coffee filters.

Paper Towel

One of the best alternatives to coffee filters is a paper towel. It is not only a cheap option but also it can be found almost anywhere.

To use a paper towel as a substitute for a coffee filter, simply fold it in a half and you are ready! After you fold the paper towel, you may form a small porch to store your beans during the filtering process.

Although it has some advantages, there are some factors that you should consider when using a paper towel. Firstly, you should be careful about chemicals, and you should buy paper towels that you trust because you wouldn’t want chemicals to poison your coffee. Another thing that you need to pay attention to is the thickness of your paper towel. If you use thin paper towels, it will probably break down and you wouldn’t want this.

It is really cheap.Can break down if it is thin.
Can filter the coffee very well.Can contain some chemicals that are harmful to your health.
It can be found almost everywhere.


Another alternative that you can use instead of a coffee filter paper is cheesecloth and it is as perfect as a coffee filter because it is already being used in the cheese-making process as a filter.

You can cut a piece from your cheesecloth as you want and you can use it in your coffee preparing process. When you filter your coffee, it is advised that you fold your cheesecloth several times to ensure that it filters the coffee well. However, you will probably have to wash it after you finish preparing your coffee because you wouldn’t want some coffee stains in your cheesecloth.

Doesn’t contain any chemical.Requires washing.
More durable than other substitutes.You have to cut and fold it.
Great for filtering the coffee.

Dish Towel or Cloth Napkin

Although there are many coffee filter alternatives, dish towels and cloth napkins are one step forward from others. However, there are some things that you should pay attention to when you use them as well. First, you should use something that wouldn’t make you sad when stained and you should use something clean.

When you use a dish towel or cloth napkin, the process is simple. You can use a rubber band to set your cloth to a dripping basket and pour your water. Congratulations! You have just made yourself a cloth coffee filter.

Easy to access.Stains the cloth.
Very durable and sustainable.According to the cleaning material you use, it can pass down some chemicals to your coffee.
Can be cleaned by hand.

Reusable Tea Bags

If you love coffee like us, you will probably love tea too. At least we assume that you don’t hate it. If there are any reusable tea bags in your house, you can use them instead of coffee papers when you run out of your coffee filters.

To use them, simply put your coffee grounds inside it and dip it into your mug. After waiting for a couple of minutes, you are ready! You can now enjoy your coffee!

You don’t have to clean anything.You may not have reusable tea bags as it is not that common.
Doesn’t contain any chemical.
A good alternative to a coffee filter.

Fine Mesh Sieve

Another thing that you can use instead of the coffee filter is a mesh coffee filter. When you use it, firstly measure your coffee with a glass measuring cup and pour your water over the grounds. After that, pour your coffee into your sieve and filter it.

If you want to make use of this technique more, you can use cheesecloth with your sieve to make your filtering better. By combining coffee filter alternatives like this, you can create your coffee filter types.

You don’t need to throw it away after using it.You might not have a fine-mesh sieve.
Very durable and sustainable.It doesn’t catch the finest coffee grounds.
You can control how long you want to filter your coffee.


Yes, you have seen it right. You can use socks as a coffee filter. However, you don’t have to use the socks that you wear, you can use a cloth that looks like a sock to use as a coffee filter paper substitute.

One of the advantages of using the sock is, it is environmentally-friendly and cloth is a great substitute for a coffee filter substitute. When it comes to using a sock, you can just simply put the sock inside the pot and wait after pouring water. We recommend you to use some medium or coarse ground coffee when using this method.

Environmental friendly.You have to wash it.
Easy to wash.You have to sacrifice one of your socks.
Can be used several times.

An Old T-shirt

If you are looking for what to use instead of coffee filter, a t-shirt is one of the best choices that you can make. As with other cloth-based materials, you can use some of your old t-shirts as a substitute for a coffee filter as well. In order to use it as a coffee filter, just simply cut your old t-shirt and fold it several times to filter your coffee well.

When you use a cloth coffee strainer, another thing that you should be paying attention to is cleaning the t-shirt. You can’t use a dirty t-shirt because you wouldn’t want your coffee dirty. When you wash your t-shirt, you should be careful about the chemicals you use. There can be some chemicals that can spoil your coffee.

Easy to find.Needs washing.
Can be used several times.You should be careful about chemicals.

Mud Coffee

Another option for you when you run out of coffee filters is simple. Don’t use any coffee filter! If you keep asking yourself what can I use for a coffee filter, this may sound a little bit strange, but you can make your coffee without a coffee filter and this method is called mud coffee.

When it comes to preparing your coffee without a coffee filter, simply add boiling water to your fine grounds in a cup and stir. After waiting for several minutes, the grounds will be at the bottom of the cup. You can enjoy your unfiltered coffee now!

You don’t need any filter or substitute.It doesn’t filter the coffee actually.
It is simple.You can encounter some grounds when you are close to finishing your coffee.

Cowboy Coffee

This is a great option that you can consider when you run out of coffee filters. This method, like mud coffee, doesn’t contain any coffee filter alternative as well and it is easy to make a cowboy coffee. By using this method, you don’t need to know exactly how to filter coffee, it is so simple.

When you prepare your coffee with a cowboy method, you don’t have to own anything other than coffee, water, and a cup. Just pour your water into a pot with a ground coffee and start boiling. After boiling your coffee, you are ready to drink your coffee!

You don’t need any special gadgets.It doesn’t filter any coffee actually.
Easy to make.Your coffee may taste bitter and strong.

French Press, Moka Pot, or Other Brewing Methods

If you don’t have any coffee filters or coffee filter bags, in your house but have any brewing gadgets like a French Press or Stovetop (Moka Pot), you can make use of them as well. However, there are some things that you may want to keep in mind. Firstly, they are designed to be used without a coffee filter which makes it hard to use a coffee filter.

When you use French Press as a substitute for a coffee filter, place your coffee grounds into the cup of your French Press and pour some hot but not boiling water. After waiting for several minutes, slowly move the plunger to the top. Finally, when the plunger reaches the bottom of the French Press, you are ready!

When you love coffee, you probably have a Moka Pot in your house whether it is old or new, it is clearly useful in situations like this. In order to use your Moka Pot to prepare filtered coffee, the process is simple. Just use it as you always use it, it will not give you the best results but it will give you the coffee you need.

If you love coffee, you probably have them.If you don’t drink coffee often, you may not have one of them.
They can give you some delicious results.They don’t use any filter.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, when you don’t have a coffee filter or even a substitute for it, don’t panic! As you have learned in this article, there are a lot of things that you can use as a coffee filter. Although there are some advantages of them, there are some disadvantages too, like washing them. However, you should make use of these methods as much as you can.

10 Coffee Filter Substitutes: How to Make Coffee Without a Filter

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