Make Reusable Teabags and Coffee Filters




About: I am a stay at home mother who loves making cool things to entertain my family and improve our lives. What more is there to say?
If you are looking to decrease your dependence on paper products a great way to cut down (and save money) is to make some reusable  teabags and coffee filters. While those two items may not seem like much, the cost accumulates over time. And with how ridiculously easy they are to make it is certainly a worthwhile project.


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Step 1: Materials

First, you need to be willing to sew a little. Don't worry if you are a novice, this is a great little project to try when you are starting out. I will be using a sewing machine in this instructable but this project can easily be done by hand. So if the task of applying needle and thread to cloth isn't too daunting, gather the following materials -

Tea Bag

1 piece of cotton or muslin (loose weave) 4'' x 3'', larger if desired.
12'' of cotton string
2 charms, buttons, or beads (to act as counter weights to the teabag)

Coffee Filter

2 pieces of 8'' x 6'' loose weave cotton or muslin

And of course needle, thread, and/or sewing machine. Whichever you prefer.


Step 2: Tea Bag, Assemble!

1. Tie the beads onto the ends of the string with a not on each side.

2. Fold top of the cotton (4'' side) over the string.  Sew down, being careful not to sew the string.

3. Fold the cotton in half with the string on the outside of the fold. Sew the bottom and outside edge stopping just short of the strings.

4. Turn the bag inside out and VOILA! You are done.

5. Fill with your favorite tea then steep.

For cleaning just rinse out the bag and let dry inside out on a dish rack or hanging from a hook. If it ever gets grungy I throw mine in the top rack of my dishwasher and in comes out fine.

Step 3: Coffee Filter

1. Cut out a piece of 8'' x 6'' cotton or muslin snipping off the bottom corners to the desired to the desired taper. I like to take off about 3'' Now, that measurement works best for my coffee maker so you may want to increase or decrease according to how large yours is. An easy cheat is to trace one of your old filters just to make sure you cut it to the right size.

2. Sew your the pieces together. Make sure to do a nice tight stitch, you don't want to find a whole bunch of grounds in your coffee. No one likes a cup of coffee that they have to chew.

3. Turn inside out and you are done. Slap it into you maker, fill it with your favorite blend and enjoy.

As for washing I always rinse out the grounds and let it air dry on my dish rack. Every once in a while I will wash it in the top rack of the dishwasher.




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    25 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I'm not sure sewing a tea bag is worth the trouble. They sell small tea infusers made of steel, much more practical.

    Good job! I'm thinking you can also use cheese cloth (or is that too loose a weave?) or a sheer fabric (like organza or chiffon) in order to get a richer brew?

    2 replies

    Cheese cloth is just a little too loose a weave for coffee(and sometimes for cheese curd as I have found out). I haven't tried using anything sheer but I imagine that would work fine, just be careful that the cloth you choose won't melt after prolonged exposure to hot water. Please let me know how it works for you. I like my coffee very dark and I found that after I switched to cloth filters (I use cotton) I don't have to use nearly as much grounds as when I used paper filters to get the desired richness. I don't think I will ever switch back to disposables.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    a really good alternative for cheese cloth is "flour sack towels" (at least that's what I've found them labeled here in the U.S.). they work great for cheese, so I'm sure they would work great for tea bags.


    8 years ago on Step 3

    I love the reusable teabag idea and have tried it with great success except for when it comes to cleaning the bag. The tea just doesn't seem to want to come loose from the bag and I feel like I spend forever just getting them ready for the next batch. Any suggestions?

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    if you make this with french seams, turning it inside out works well, because you don't have to turn it "right-side out". french seams would make it reversable.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    I just turn the bag inside out to rinse away any used tea and if anything sticks I can get it off with a quick swipe of an old cleaning toothbrush. Nothing too labor intensive.


    3 years ago

    I woke this morning with no coffee filters. I only had tulle, no cheese cloth. The tulle worked great and I had no coffee grounds in my cup. So if nothing else, she gave me a great idea for when you run out of coffee filters.... and no trip to the store.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Not sure what you mean about saving money/the cost accumulating over time.

    If you're putting teabags inside the teabags, you're not saving anything.

    If you're putting loose-leaf tea in the teabags, you would normally use them without a teabag, so I'm not sure what you're actually saving.

    I guess if this is an alternative to a tea strainer, it would be cheaper, but that doesn't fit the "accumulation" thing, since you only buy a tea strainer once too.

    I guess it would save money on coffee filters though! Maybe that's what you meant.

    9 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I use mine in a thermos when I don't have time/am feeling lazy on my way out the door - drop in the bag, the hot water, and get moving. If I were to just drop loose leaf in there, I'd be dealing with debris while trying to drink my tea.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I can see how it's more convenient compared to loose tea, but you haven't really answered my question.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I think coffee filters and teabags that require loose what she means. That is what I'm understanding.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    For the cost accumulating over time bit... the idea is that you could use these plus looseleaf tea as an alternative to buying teabags, not as an alternative to buying a tea strainer or infuser. This is essentially a homemade cloth infuser anyway.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I made my own cloth tea bags about an hour ago because my tea ball for loose leaf is to put in a thermos with the lid on. I also wanted a way to store my favorite loose tea in an easily brew-able form in my studio at university, where I spend an obnoxious amount of time.

    I keep a regular teapot with a strainer at home for brewing, but it just isn't practical at school. I've heard that paper filters can give your tea a weird taste, and also I like that I can hang these up to dry and fill them with tea pretty much endlessly.

    As far as it being more convenient compared to just dropping loose tea in a cup, I like to pull out the leaves after 3-5 minutes or my tea tends to get bitter. This way, there's no debris, and my tea tastes like it should.

    unless you use a french press, or a teapot with an infuser, or something similar for your loose leaf tea, it needs to be inside of something so you aren't just drinking a cup full of herbs. :3 There are infusers, metal tea spoons, and many other options.

    Sorry, I live in the UK where pretty much every household has a teapot and tea strainer. When I said "use [loose tea] without a teabag" I meant of course in a strainer in a teapot. Dumping it loose into the teapot didn't even occur to me!

    At the time of writing (3 years ago) I didn't realise that this wasn't the case everywhere, so I was a bit confused about why you would need something like this. I now know there are countries where even a teapot is "specialist" equipment, so I guess if you had to specifically go out and buy an infuser and didn't already have one, you could make something like this instead.

    I still don't really understand the point about the cost accumulating over time though. Like I said already, you only buy the tea infuser once...


    Reply 4 years ago

    I like making my own spiced chi tea. A good chunk of the spices I use are powdered (because they are cheeper). tea strainers are not fine enough for the powders(at least not ones I can afford). And paper tea bags cost adds up. That's why I think this idea is cool

    I have some thin, cotton fabric, but it has a colorful pattern on it okay to use this for a tea bag? I would think so considering white fabric is dyed white but i'm not sure.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I think I just found what to make my brother-in-law and his wife for Christmas! They love loose leaf tea, and this would be an awesome addition to their gift... they love being self-sufficient and having a tiny footprint.


    I've usd pretty much the same thing for years as a re-usable bouquet garni. I pop a bunch of appropriate herbs into the little muslin bag and add it to stews/soups. It's much easier than trying to fish out individual herbs/leaves.