Clever Ways to Reuse Empty Coffee Cans

Young Woman in Kitchen Preparing Coffee

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Coffee cans have many uses around the home once the coffee's gone. They can be used for everything from gift giving to storage and more. So, don't throw them out. By finding new uses for your empty coffee cans, you are reducing waste and saving money at the same time!

There are two types of coffee cans: aluminum cans and plastic containers. For the most part, either style can be used for any of these projects, although you do need to remember that the metal cans will rust if exposed to water.

Whichever coffee can style you use, be sure to keep the lid! You will find it comes in handy for almost all of these frugal DIY projects.

  • 01 of 06

    Custom Gift Wrap

    Caramel Corn

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    This is a great option for both edible and non-edible gifts. The hard sides of the can will protect the contents, and the lid seals everything in nice and tight.

    Cover the outside of a coffee can with wrapping paper or a bright coat of spray paint. You can also print out inkjet photos and colorful patterns and create a custom collage.

    Mod Podge is an excellent adhesive and can be used as a top coat to protect your creation.

    Once your can is decorated, drop the gift inside, pop the lid on, and you're done!

  • 02 of 06

    Kitchen Compost Bucket

    Fruit and Vegetable Scraps

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    Composting is essential to gardeners, but it can be a pain to run to the outside compost bin after every meal. An empty coffee container is perfect for collecting all of your food scraps.

    Don't forget to add used coffee grounds to your compost because they're a good source of nitrogen.

    Stick an empty coffee can on your kitchen counter and use it to hold your kitchen scraps in between trips to the compost pile. The lid will help contain odors and prevent fruit fly attacks.

  • 03 of 06

    Toad House

    A Toad Figurine

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    Tired of finding bugs munching on your plants? Toads are excellent pest control. Invite one to your yard by creating a toad house out of an old coffee can. This project is the perfect use for coffee cans that no longer have a lid or have been used for other projects.

  • 04 of 06


    Can of Pencils

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    Coffee cans are great for storing everything from dried beans to Legos. They can be used in the garage for nails and screws or in the craft room for paints and pencils. The possibilities are endless, and these containers are the perfect size for all those small objects that we collect and store. Be sure to label your coffee cans as you fill them. Office address labels or even masking tape will do just fine.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Tin-Can Lanterns

    Can Lanterns

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    Collect a bunch of metal coffee cans and use them to make lanterns for your backyard. They're great for parties but sturdy enough to hold up to daily use. While you're at it, save other metal cans of different sizes and create an entire array of tin-can lanterns.

  • 06 of 06

    Paint or Cleaning Bucket

    Cleansing Agents and Wiper in Kitchen

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    Plastic coffee containers are best for holding liquids because they will not rust or tarnish. This makes them the perfect general household bucket for whatever project you're tackling.

    Cleaning the fridge? Fill the coffee container with soapy water, and you have a compact bucket by your side. Washing the car, spot cleaning laundry, rinsing paintbrushes. The utilitarian uses are endless!

    Painting some trim or furniture? Fill the container with just enough paint to do the job and enjoy the ease of holding your new "paint bucket" by the easy grip handle. It's lighter weight and can be sealed up in between coats. 

    The lids are not tight enough to store paint for a long time. It's best to return unused paint to the original can for long-term storage.