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How to Dye Coffee Filters With Food Coloring: Kid-Friendly DIY

butterflies made from coffee filter

If you have a lot of extra coffee filters lying around and are looking for something to do with them—besides make more coffee, of course—consider creating some colorful crafts. Coffee filters are great for arts and crafts because they’re thin and absorbent, making them great for folding into all kinds of shapes and dyeing.

In this article, we’ll show you how to dye coffee filters so you can start flexing your creative muscles. Coffee filter crafts make excellent unique gifts for weddings and showers and are the perfect activity for kids on a rainy day. Let’s learn how to make some.

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What to Use as Dye?

In the spirit of keeping these crafts easily accessible, we suggest using food coloring as a dye. Food coloring is readily available to most people, easy to work with, and inexpensive, making it perfect for budget homemade art projects like dyeing coffee filters. It also comes in all the basic colors and mixes easily. It does stain—hence why it is useful as a dye—so be careful using it, especially if you’re working with children. We recommend changing into your “art clothes” before starting any projects.

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butterflies made from coffee filter
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How to Dye Coffee Filters

If you have a lot of extra coffee filters lying around and are looking for something to do with them—besides make more coffee, of course—consider creating some colorful crafts. 
Keyword: coffee filters, crafts
Cost: $5


  • A baking sheet
  • Bowls (glass preferred, one for each color)
  • A cooling rack


  • Coffee filters (white preferred)
  • Food coloring
  • Paper towels
  • Parchment paper


  • Separate the coffee filters into groups based on what color you want to dye them.
  • Gather your bowls (one for each color dye) and put between 10 and 20 drops of food coloring in each bowl. Use glass bowls if you have them to avoid staining.
  • Add 2 cups of water to each bowl and stir until the food coloring is well-mixed with the water.
  • Put the filters in the bowls one at a time. You can add multiple filters to each color bowl, but make sure all filters are submerged. We find that 10 filters per bowl is about the limit.
  • Let the filters soak for 30 minutes. The longer you let the filters soak, the darker the color will be.
  • While the filters are soaking, line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  • Remove the filters from the bowls and place them flat on the baking pan on top of the paper towel. When you run out of space, put down another layer of paper towels and start placing filters on top. Keep placing filters in layers separated by paper towels until you have all the filters on the baking pan.
  • Important! Make sure the filters are flat. If any filters are wrinkled, they won't dry, and the color will run.
  • Once you have all the filters on the baking pan between paper towel layers, pat the filters to squeeze out the water. Take your time and be thorough. The goal is to remove as much water as possible during this step.
  • Now you have to dry the filters. You can either separate the filter layers from step 7 and let them dry, or you can place the filters on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put them in the oven. If you have time, we recommend letting the filters dry overnight. If you are pressed for time, preheat the oven to 250°F and bake the filters for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch the filters carefully while they're in the oven, so they don't burn.


What to Do With Your Dyed Filters: Fun DIY Crafts

Once you have a collection of dyed filters, you can make many fun crafts with them. Flowers are the most popular dyed coffee filter project and are always a hit with the kids. You’ll need some pipe cleaners if you want to make roses and other stemmed flowers, but otherwise, no extra equipment or supplies. Combining many flowers into a bouquet makes for creative wedding decorations, and stand-alone flowers are great for attaching to gifts to add a personal touch.

You can also use the dyed coffee filters as part of a more involved project. Kids love to use dyed coffee filters as parts of animals in larger crafts. Dyed coffee filters work well as peacock feathers, a lion’s mane, or the body of an owl; the only limit is creativity. It can be fun to turn loose a room full of kids with dyed coffee filters and see what they come up with. Since coffee filters are thin and easy to mold, they are great all-purpose decorations and make an excellent base for other crafts.

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Dyeing coffee filters is a fun rainy-day project that’s relatively easy, not that messy, and can fuel creative craft sessions. Using food coloring as the dye gives you access to all the fundamental colors and saves money compared to using specialty dyes from an arts and crafts shop. Next time you’re looking for a creative project, consider dyeing some coffee filters and seeing what you can come up with!

Featured Image Credit: Malgorzata WI, Shutterstock


Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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