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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


  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

    • Elaine

      10/18/2018 at 7:46 am

      I use them on the celery I cut the bottom out and pull them over my celery to blanch them works great. Some times I had to add another on top as the celery grew so tall. Elaine

  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

    • Carolyn Cantrell

      1/13/2016 at 9:37 pm

      I make christmas drums. You hot glue pretty christmas material around the sides and you cut two pieces of black or off white felt about an inch of inch and 1/2 bigger then the lid. Then punch a hole in the felt about 1/2 frim edge, take thin little rope and run through the first hole then angle a bit punch a hole in the bottom felt and do this until go around and tie the rope. Now you have a drum. Then on top hot glue any kind of things, flowers, christmas balls different sizes, you can just go crazy with hot glue.

    • susie L powell

      6/30/2018 at 2:22 pm

      painting them or putting patterened washi tape on them. Going to try the washi tape on mine to see how it works out.

    • Walden Hunter

      9/11/2018 at 4:59 pm


  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.

    • Alicia

      4/17/2018 at 11:41 pm

      Seriously, how I have never thought of this?! Mind blown James!

  7. Lois

    5/4/2014 at 10:36 am

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

    • Amanda

      8/25/2015 at 4:30 pm

      Dawn Dish soap, hot water and vinegar. Fill to half way of the container, put the lid on and shake lightly, let it sit then rinse really well.

    • Martha

      12/26/2015 at 11:28 pm

      I wash the coffee can with Dawn dishwashing liquid. When coffee can is dry, I crumple up newspaper and put lid on can or any glass jar. ReMember to wash before you use . Old tip from friend and I hope it helps.

    • Sharon

      1/29/2019 at 9:18 pm

      Newspaper crumpled up and put inside put lid on and leave for about 3 day no smell left

  8. Arline

    4/22/2015 at 12:14 pm

    Odor, use just a little bleach or other product that has a clean scent. I also use them to catch water in the sink and then pour the water into my planters! Helps with the drought.

  9. Dawn

    10/9/2015 at 9:26 am

    I spray painted mine to match my kitchen colors, and use them for flour, sugar, etc canisters.

    • Melissa

      12/26/2015 at 3:30 pm

      How did you get the spray paint to stick to the plastic Folgers container?

      • Deb

        8/4/2016 at 7:28 am

        Look for paint made for painting plastic at Lowes or Home Depot. They work well.

  10. Christina

    1/4/2016 at 7:21 pm

    I have collected about 15 of them from a previous job. The grandkids used them to stack, play bowling and just mess about. Love all the ideas you have!

  11. Maddy

    1/4/2016 at 8:43 pm

    Put Xmas ornaments,little ones, or tinsel and garlands , for storage.

  12. Sheila

    1/25/2016 at 5:38 pm

    If you use rustoleum spray paint it adheres very well!

  13. Cindy

    3/3/2016 at 4:18 pm

    I used them for preschoolers. I cut several slices across lid. This allows kids to easily reach in without being hurt.
    I made cards with pictures of small items that were inside the can.
    The kids picked a card, then put their hand in and tried to find the item by feeling, not looking. This has great skill building, and lots of fun.

    contact paper, paint, duct tape, are just a few ways to decorate these.

  14. Alice

    4/26/2016 at 12:09 pm

    We have a large farmers field behind our house with plenty of mice during the winter, so we cut a small hole at the bottom of the container and place a mouse trap or bar bait / pellet poison inside and use a weight on top such as a brick to keep the lid in place and holds down the container, it contains the rodent and keeps it from running off with the trap, the lids keeps the pets away from the trap and the rodent when caught, have also used bar bait in the containers that are placed in enclosed buildings where the pets are unable to get into and keeps the bar bait out of reach of the pets if they follow you out in to the buildings, but please be careful with the bar bait and your pets because it has a drug in it that causes the thinning of the blood and will cause damage to the pet’s blood vessels if they eat it because there is a attractant placed in the bar / pellet bait to draw the rodents to eat the bait and so will your pet’s, our Kasey Mae (dog) was crunching on the pellets before we started using the containers to conceal the bait, we rushed her to the vet in time to have her throw up the pellets before to much had started to dissolve in her stomach and placed on Vitamin K therapy to thicken her blood back up, we were so lucky that we heard her crunching on the pellets because of the poison in it and get quick action to save her

  15. Janice Rich

    4/28/2016 at 5:46 pm

    They work great to wash the mud off of your dogs feet, fill with water and just ‘swish’ each paw to clean! The large handle makes it easy to hold on to.

  16. Nancyj

    6/20/2016 at 4:16 am

    I will cut the bottom out and put around most every plant in my garden. The red color is good for plants and also I can save water.

  17. Sharon

    7/27/2016 at 2:41 am

    I would not store food in the plastic canisters.Leach fluorocarbons.. But great painted and for other stuff.

  18. Darlene

    8/6/2016 at 6:46 pm

    My mom used to cut bottom out of cans & put into ground to put around the flower bulbs so the gophers couldn’t get to the bulbs to eat them.

  19. Mike P

    9/13/2016 at 10:07 am

    I like to joke and tell people the story of a complete matching kitchen canister set I had that looked strikingly similar to the full-size, red, plastic Folgers coffee cans. They looked similar because that’s what they were, I just covered over the Folgers label with index cards that read, rice, flour, sugar, pancake mix, etc… Lol, it worked for me. I also use those cans for my toilet scrub brush. Well, off to get another cup of coffee.

  20. Ruthylina

    7/16/2017 at 5:42 pm

    I used them to store my paint brushes. Just pop a hole into the lid and insert the brush upside down. I also use them to store my husband’s screw drivers.It is an organized way to store them.

  21. Melody Thompson

    4/7/2018 at 10:29 am

    I use a Maxwell House container for my toilet bowl brush. I cut an x in the lid and put the lid down the handle of the brush. This keeps anything from splashing on my hands.

  22. Carolyn Lewis

    4/27/2018 at 9:54 pm

    Turn the can upside down an dry your baseball caps on them. I use them for hubby’s Military caps he wears since he retired. Shapes them perfectly every time.

  23. Charlene

    6/20/2018 at 10:39 am

    Excellent for used personal hygiene products, wet wipes, etc between garbage collection days. The lid prevents odour escape and you can sprinkle soda and vinegar then rinse the emptied can on garbage day.

  24. Tom Fletcher

    7/2/2018 at 8:25 pm

    I use them in my workshop to store all kinds of stuff. Adjust shelves for the right height. Just label them with a Sharpie.

  25. Paula

    8/7/2018 at 3:00 pm

    I use them for knitting needles. They stand up well and I can easily see the needles size that I want to use.

  26. Lisa

    9/14/2018 at 4:39 pm

    As a recycling project for my son’s school we used a coffee contain as the base for a fish tank. We used an empty orange juice bottle for the tank itself and he put his beta fish in it! He got so many compliments on that project from the teachers and staff who loved the idea. Plus he had his pet at school!

  27. Christine Harding

    12/14/2018 at 3:47 pm

    I use the one with the handle the Blue one to scoop out from galvanized garbage can Chicken Feed to fill the Feeder.

  28. Cathy Hinnant

    3/7/2019 at 12:08 am

    I store gravel in them, make 2 stacks vertically, and cover horizontally with leftover laminate flooring to make narrow shelves outside. The bottom shelves hold garden supplies while the top two hold flower pots and watering can.

  29. Charli

    3/10/2019 at 2:33 am

    Going to make some bird houses with mine!

    • Cindy

      4/8/2019 at 2:35 pm

      Regarding NOT storing food in coffee containers: Coffee is used with water for p6to drink! Why couldn’t you store any other food in them?!
      And, I took acetone to remove the print on my Folgers containers, because I have red accents in my kitchen. Then I used printer labels for the items stored in them! (Sugar, flour, macaroni, etc.)

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