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Reuse coffee cans

By on July 7, 2010

Coffee cans are great storage containers. They have a tight-fitting lid, come in different sizes, are portable, and some even have a wide-grip handle. Their durability makes them a smarter choice than glass jars for many storage solutions.
How have you reused them? Here are a few ideas.



Organize your pantry. Store kitchen supplies such as cookie cutters, drink pouches, cookies, sugar, rice, etc. Use one on the kitchen counter for food scraps that you want to compost. The lid keeps odors to a minimum. Or pour your used cooking oil or grease into the can. Under the kitchen sink, you can use one to store pet treats, steel wool pads, sponges, scrub brushes or plastic grocery bags.


Use to store garden gloves, small tools, car-wash supplies, pet food or birdseed. Or use one to help scoop grass seed or ice melt. They can hold small outdoor toys such as squirt toys, jump ropes, small bottles of bubbles or sidewalk chalk. One reader, Mary from Texas, shares: “A neighbor has a bunch of small shrubs and trees. He cuts the bottom out of the plastic coffee container, slits them open down the side and wraps them around the bases of the trees/shrubs. That way he doesn’t damage them with the weed eater.”


Store scarves, hats and mitten sets, small ice scrapers or a sewing kit.


Store travel size or samples of shampoo, toothpaste or bars of soap. Or to hold hair accessories, cosmetics, small tub toys, a roll of toilet paper or washcloths.


Pack travel activities for kids, snacks or emergency supplies. Another reader, Laurie from Florida, shares: “We use them in our trucks. One carries two pairs of study work gloves. We use a large can to carry a load of kitty litter (useful in snow and when there is a greasy mess). Another can carries a homemade first aid kit. Another large can carries a coil of rope. The cans have all come in handy to carry water when overheated, to dig dirt with when the truck was stuck or to gather the suddenly found berry patch.”


Use coffee canisters to store odd socks, detergent samples, homemade powdered laundry soap, clothespins or stain sticks.


There always seems to be a smoker in a group. If you don’t have ashtrays, you can fill a coffee can with kitty litter and let your guest(s) use that to dispose of cigarette butts. On a more pleasant note, kids can make coffee-can ice cream. Visit for directions.


Can use coffee cans to hold markers, crayons, fabric scraps, pom poms, foam shapes, pipe cleaners, etc. Or cut a small hole in the lid and insert a rubber grommet or duct tape the opening (so yarn doesn’t get caught) and use as a yarn holder. It’s big enough to hold your crochet hooks and a printed pattern, too.


Decorate and use as gift containers. Visit for printable canister design templates to decorate Folgers canisters. Simply print, cut and adhere.


Ask schools if they can use any. They can make a cute holiday container to hold Halloween treats or Valentine’s Day cards, or for crafts or supplies.

photo by gesika22
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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns GenXZ, Follow me on Twitter


  1. Berky Lener

    7/29/2010 at 6:12 am

    Great for used sharps, needles, etc.
    Cut a small hole in plastic top to drop them in
    cover with heavy tape when full

  2. lucretia schroeder

    10/16/2010 at 5:04 pm

    we used a folgers coffee can for a bank. cut a slit in the top. painted it gold and called it adam’s pot of gold. he decorated it with some leftover stickers.. he took it to school and got a 100 for best recycling of something. it is a nice bank you can get into if you need some change..

  3. katy

    10/19/2010 at 9:37 pm

    We use them at work for outdoor cigarette disposals. Fill them half full of water and cut a little round hole in the top. Easy way to dispose of lit cigarettes . You can just throw them away when they get full.

  4. Jaci44

    2/3/2013 at 2:33 pm

    I use as a scoop for planting soil out of the bag. Also for scooping pellets for my pellet stove.

  5. Abase

    2/24/2013 at 8:34 pm

    I agree, they are great for a many different things but they are so ugly. Any suggestions on making them pretty?

    • Carol

      1/10/2014 at 4:25 pm

      Paint them with the outdoor paint for the kids plastic outside toys. That way you will have a great color selection and it will stay on the container and not peel off. You could also use wrapping paper, scrapbook paper. I have some that I did for a friends little girl with lace for all of her little jewelry things, hair pieces etc. have fun just get creative. good luck

  6. James

    3/4/2014 at 6:42 pm

    I use them for painting,pour some paint in dip paint brush in and go to town;break time put the lid on till time to get back to it.and the blue ones have a nice handle to hold.

  7. Lois

    5/4/2014 at 10:36 am

    How can I get the odor of coffee out of the plastic canister?

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