5 unexpected ways to use coffee filters (that have nothing to do with coffee)

It's doubtful that most of us would make it through the morning without the crucial existence of a coffee filter. That little piece of paper powers our days through the simple task of straining coffee grounds, but that's not the only function it's good for. Whether you're trying a DIY recipe or keeping things clean and tidy around the kitchen, coffee filters come in handy in unexpected ways. Here are five new ways to make them even more essential:

Casey Barber / TODAY
Use coffee filters to make sun tea in any flavor you like.

Sip on any flavor of sun tea you want

If you love loose herbal teas like hibiscus and mint, there's no need to only drink them hot. They make great iced or sun teas as well, and you can make as much as you want if you have a coffee filter around. Fill a large pitcher or canning jar with cold water. Pour loose tea into the center of a coffee filter, then twist and tie into a pouch with food-safe string or twine. (Don't use dyed string unless you know it won't leach color into the tea; remember the lessons of Bridget Jones!) Soak the filter in the water for up to eight hours, either at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. Remove the coffee filter and serve.

RELATED: 54 surprising ways to use tea

Casey Barber / TODAY
Thicken up your homemade yogurt using a coffee filter.

Thicken homemade yogurt

Making yogurt (especially in your Instant Pot, which has a yogurt setting) is one of those things that seems like magic, but the finished product can sometimes be a little runnier than the creamy, luscious Greek version you grab in tubs from the supermarket. To thicken your own yogurt to a richer consistency, place a large coffee filter in a colander or strainer. Pour the yogurt into the filter and let drain for four to six hours in the refrigerator, until the liquid whey has separated from the yogurt. Bonus: Use the whey in smoothies or as a vinaigrette ingredient in place of citrus juice! (Note: This trick works on store-bought yogurt you'd like to thicken up too.)

Casey Barber / TODAY
You don't need any special equipment to strain homemade almond milk.

Strain homemade almond milk

Like yogurt, homemade almond milk is easy to prepare if you've got the right tools. A lot of instructions for homemade nut milks suggest straining the blended almonds and water through layers of cheesecloth or nylon-mesh nut bags, but if you don't want to invest in a washable piece such as those, grab your trusty coffee filters! Let the blend strain through the filter into a carafe or pitcher, leaving the coarse almond meal behind.

Related: Make homemade almond milk and other dairy-free milks

Keep your wine glasses shiny

You might know the trick of using newspaper to wash your windows (in theory; let's not talk about how infrequently my windows get washed), and the same time-tested hack applies to coffee filters as well. The absorbent paper works wonders on dishwasher-spotted glassware, and because there's no ink on a coffee filter, you can polish your wine glasses and not have to worry about any residue leaving its mark on the rim you'll be drinking from.

Line your compost bin or trash can

If you compost at home, you probably feel the same way as I do about the act: It's great and virtuous and helps your garden grow, but cleaning out the compost container you keep under the sink is a thankless extra task. Coffee grounds are great for compost, and guess what? The filters are compostable too! Line your indoor compost container with a clean coffee filter and let it soak up the extra liquid from all the produce ends you're throwing in. Cleanup is a breeze. This also works for small trashcans in the bathroom as well.

Your video begins in