By Lori Bongiorno
I was surprised to come across several articles with long lists of alternative uses for coffee filters. I'd never really considered them for anything more than making coffee, and even then I know that choosing a reusable filter or making coffee in a French press is one way to stop throwing money away and cut back on waste.
I have to admit, though, that there are some very good reasons to keep a box of coffee filters on hand. They can come in handy in a number of situations and ultimately save you money since coffee filters are less expensive than other options.
Here are some of the most interesting and practical uses for coffee filters that I've come across.
1. Clean windows and mirrors. Coffee filters are lint-free so they don't leave behind any residue.
2. Save a bottle of wine. Broke the cork? No problem. Just place a filter over a pitcher and carefully pour the wine into it.
3. Line flower pots. Place a filter at the bottom of the pot to prevent soil from leaking out of the drainage hole.
4. Protect china and non-stick cookware. Place a coffee filter between dishes or pans when storing or packing.
5. Wipe off smudges. In a pinch, you can use to clean eyeglasses, camera lenses, televisions, and computer monitors.
6. Keep your microwave clean. Prevent splatters by covering dishes or bowls in the microwave with coffee filters. Using another plate is your best bet, but filters are a good alternative to plastic wrap. And you can easily reuse them a few times.
7. Make a bouquet garni. Tie up bay leaves, parsley, or other herbs in a coffee filter. Drop it in your stew or soup pot, and easily remove it when you're done cooking. Recipes often suggest cheesecloth for this process, but a coffee filter is an easy-to-find alternative.
8. Diffuse the flash on your camera. Place a coffee filter over your flash to soften the brightness. You can also try putting coffee filters over lights or lamps to lessen the harshness of direct light when taking indoor photos.
9. Make sachets. Tie lavender or other dried flowers and herbs in a coffee filter to make great-smelling bundles you can store in drawers and closets.
10. Use for sewing projects. Coffee filters make a great backing for embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.
11. Make tea bags. Wrap loose tea in a filter and tie with a string.
12. Use for storage. Wrap Christmas ornaments and other rarely used fragile items before packing away.
Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Amazon.com.