I woke up this morning to no filters for our coffee maker. We use standard sized basket type filters:

enter image description here

Any thoughts on what could be used to replace the filter? I could resort to seeping the loose grounds in the hot water, but this undesired gritty coffee is not what I am looking for. As I use cream/sugar I tend to stir while enjoying the full cup so grounds within the water/coffee will become agitated, making it less than desirable to drink. I prefer to use the automatic maker with the drip of water through the basket.

  • 5
    While this may not help with your immediate need, for the future, you may be able to find a reusable metal mesh filter to replace the paper filters, then you'll never run out of filters. I didn't notice much difference when I replaced my filter with a metal one, but some people say it alters the taste of the coffee.
    – Johnny
    Feb 25, 2015 at 19:30
  • 1
    Use a sieve, and add a paper towel on top. Works for me! Aug 2, 2017 at 2:24
  • 1
    The grounds settle to the bottom if you wait. It's actually an Arabic tradition to brew them without filtering.
    – user22124
    Sep 13, 2017 at 8:46
  • If you happen to have any cone filters left over, I've found that the #4 Cone filters work inside the 4 cup basket coffee maker just fine. Just mash it down a bit. Sep 14, 2020 at 15:25

10 Answers 10


I tried to create a similar filter device with a paper towel and it worked perfectly.

Here is what I did:

  • First, make sure you have paper towels... seems foolish to mention, but hey... its true!
  • Approximate the size of your basket with your hand and tear a circle out of the paper towel bout an inch (+/- 2cm) wider than the basket size.
  • Place the paper into the basket and push the center down to touch the bottom.
  • the "buckled" edged should then be folded into an accordion (similar to the shape of a normal filter) -- this will help to maintain a "wall" for the water and grounds so they do not overflow into the drink.
  • Place the coffee grounds into the basket in a normal fashion and brew.

No further work is needed. The strength of the coffee may vary a bit from what you are used to due to the thickness of the paper towel, but some coffee at 6am is better than NO coffee!

  • 6
    Do not use brown paper towels! Only use white. If not the coffee will taste like a paper towel. Feb 25, 2015 at 17:54
  • 5
    I would not use paper towels. They are made for hand use and may contain any chemical beginning with a-z. Bleach springs to mind or Cl if you prefer. I don't know what extra chemicals are in the non bleached towels but I would guess it is less than in the bleached ones. Albeit possibly more fungicides or whatnot to replace the Cl. (I don't know for sure, I am just thinking out loud here.)
    – LosManos
    Feb 25, 2015 at 20:45
  • @LosManos that's a good point, you don't know that could be in there. The best case scenario you will drink some wood particles...
    – OutFall
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:30
  • Forgot to add - cloth should be good. Well used, well washed cloth. Cotton is full of chemicals when new and I do not know how much remains after wash though. Also; the cloth has to be rinsed thoroughly (due to the same idea - that washing powder is not made for digestion)
    – LosManos
    Feb 26, 2015 at 6:45

As well as paper towels as Phlume has mentioned, there are also a couple of other materials that can be used in place of a coffee filter:

You can use a clean handkerchief or cut a square of cloth from a clean tea-towel and push down into your filter basket - cut away any excess and place the grounds into the 'filter' and continue as you were.

Sock or similar
If cloth or paper isn't to your liking then you can use a clean sock, stocking or pair of tights. Just cut down to around the ankle and push into the filter basket as mentioned before. Once again, place grounds in and continue as normal.
(Be careful with nylon tights / stockings as the hot water from the machine may cause them to melt which would be less than ideal!)

  • 6
    yes... please... CLEAN sock :-)
    – Phlume
    Feb 25, 2015 at 17:23
  • 3
    @Phlume you could use a dirty sock - depends what your tastes are ;)
    – MrPhooky
    Feb 25, 2015 at 17:28
  • 4
    Dirty? Or specially flavored! "It has that certain taste you just can't put a toe on..."
    – corsiKa
    Feb 25, 2015 at 19:42
  • (Clean) underwear should work too, but if this is an emergency measure when a date comes in for a late night coffee, a certain amount of discretion might be called for. Aug 5, 2015 at 14:49

Not much help if you've discarded the previously used ones, but you can actually rinse out paper coffee filters, dry and re-use them. Some coffee presses (eg. Aeropress) put the filter under some stress compared to a drip coffee maker yet they seem to survive fine for a few shots.

You can discard the grounds down the drain, and that's a perfect opportunity to rinse the filter under cold water (rub it a bit to make it less coffee colored) then hang to dry.

  • You can just throw new coffee in on top of the old coffee in the same filter. Probably will only work a couple of times, though. Feb 25, 2015 at 23:33
  • @subjectivist Somewhat outside the scope of this question (and this site), but leaving/reusing old coffee grounds mixed with fresh will significantly deteriorate the quality of the brew. Jul 28, 2015 at 15:44
  • Not true. The site is for alternatives. Throwing fresh coffee on top of old coffee in the same filter is an alternative. I've done it myself several times and it tastes exactly the same. Aug 5, 2015 at 14:44

Make Polish style coffee ("Mud Coffee" according to Wikipedia). Put one cup's worth of coffee grounds in the bottom of a coffee cup. Pour in boiling water. Stir the coffee grounds a bit and let them settle. Once the grounds settle, after a minute or two, the coffee should be drinkable without being gritty until you get to the bottom of the cup. If you drink milk in your coffee, it should be added after the grounds start to settle.

EDIT: This is a solution for a lack of a filter, but it is not a solution for the OP. This coffee should not be stirred after the grounds have settled (aside from adding milk/sugar) as that will make it gritty.

  • -1 My original post states explicitly I know I could do this but opt not to..that I am not looking for gritty coffee. I drink cream/sugar so i stir often to agitate non-melted sugar at the bottom.
    – Phlume
    Feb 26, 2015 at 13:33
  • @phlume You didn't mention stirring often in the question. That's the only thing that makes this coffee gritty.
    – Eric
    Feb 26, 2015 at 13:50
  • Understandable... edit was made to address this.
    – Phlume
    Feb 26, 2015 at 16:00
  • 1
    @Phlume if you happen to have a small, fine strainer (like this one) you could pour the coffee+grounds through that to seperate the grounds from the liquid coffee after steeping.
    – Trish Ling
    Mar 15, 2015 at 15:14
  • @TrishLing unfortunately that type of strainer would still allow a considerable amount of grounds to run through. We would need a much finer mesh count to consider it a better option.
    – Phlume
    Mar 15, 2015 at 17:21

Take off your sock and stretch it over the bin like a filter, fill with coffee, enjoy. Might sound gross, but I challenge anyone here to a blind taste test between sock coffee and Folgers.


I have in the past used a Muslin cloth with a paper cup. First cut the bottom off the cup, then line the inside of the cup with muslin and away you go. Not by any means a perfect solution but ok in a fix


I just used cheap baking cups and it came out with surprisingly little grit.


Tea Bags

If you happen to have any tea bags left over, you can sacrifice one to make a great cup of coffee. Unlike paper towels, this option is guaranteed to be food safe.

  1. Cut the bag open with scissors and dump the contents
  2. Use a spoon to fill the tea bag with coffee grounds.
  3. Fold over the top and staple it shut again.
  4. Toss the bag in a cup of water and microwave for 2 minutes. Let cool.

I tried this myself and it worked great. No grounds escaped the bag at all.

A tea bag from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Teabag_with_green_tag.jpg


Cupcake cups.

I typed this into google and I'm out of paper towels and found some cupcake cups in two different styles: plain white and Disney's Frozen Elsa styled cups. I chose to use the plain white, of course. I don't need all that extra dye, since I'm not a coffee drinker, but I make a sheet cake that calls for it.


You could try cutting an old sock that has a loose weave (the type your grandmother gives you that never fits anyway). Tie it off with a rubber band or hair scunci, then push it down and shape it in the coffee tray. Essentially it would make a large tea bag. This has worked great for me.

  • 1
    Welcome to Lifehacks SE! We appreciate that you are taking your time to answer one of our questions, but your answer comes across as somewhat messy. We encourage answers to contain one solution which is not already mentioned in other answers. Your answer here is somewhat of a comment, and somewhat repetition of other answers. Please do read the tour and help sections on how to provide good answers.
    – holroy
    Jul 18, 2015 at 19:21

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