I’ve mentioned in the past that we don’t use microwaves, but I do make one exception. We make homemade reusable DIY heating pads that are easily heated in the microwave. Most of my microwave concerns (mainly that they make food taste terrible) don’t matter for something we are not eating. So I don’t mind using one for a homemade heating pad.
DIY Heating Pads
Before I had kids, I used an electric heating blanket. Once I conceived my first child, I noticed the warning label cautioned against use while pregnant. There were also warnings of the potential for burns, electric shock, and fires. Electric heating pads carry many of the same warnings.
I wanted to find a natural alternative. In college, I often used this hot/cold pack that could be heated in a microwave or put in the freezer. That one finally bit the dust after college, but thankfully, my mom figured out a homemade version that we’ve been using ever since.
Her homemade rice heat pack is super simple to make and works wonderfully. Just a couple of minutes in the microwave, and they stay warm for some much-needed heat therapy.
How We Use These
I now have a couple of these, and all of my children have one that they made with my mom. We use them all the time, but some of my favorite uses have been:
- In labor: I had terrible back labor with my last birth because she decided to arrive breech. The only thing that got me through the back pain and excruciating positions needed to get her out safely was these heat packs on my back. They were amazing.
- Cold nights: Once upon a time, not that long ago, we lived in a poorly insulated apartment with three kids, including a preemie. It got really cold at night, and no amount of running the heater (despite the $400 electric bills) got it warm in that apartment. We would heat the rice heating pad up each night and place them in our children’s beds under the sheets (but below their feet) to keep them warm while they fell asleep.
- Cold and Flu: In the unfortunate event of a cold or flu, these are wonderful for keeping warm and easing sore muscles. These are the other things we do if illness strikes to speed recovery.
- Great sleep: Years ago, I started sleeping with an ice pack on my head. Weird but true. I found that it improved my sleep quality. A DIY rice pack can also double as an ice pack for better sleep. Now my husband and I regulate our body temp at night with the Chilipad.
- Reusable Hand Warmers: In the past, I’ve made little miniature heat pads with felt and fleece. These are great to use as hand warmers (if we ever get cold enough to need them this year!).
- Sore Muscles: Heat helps increase blood flow to achy muscles for soothing relief after a long day. If you need to alternate cold and heat on a muscle injury, you can put one rice bag in the freezer and one in the microwave, rotating as needed.
- Pain relief: DIY heating pads are great for other types of pain relief. They can also help with migraines and menstrual cramps. Add a little lavender essential oil for some calming aromatherapy.
How to Make a DIY Heating Pad With Rice
You’re going to need rice (of course), cotton fabric, and something to sew with. I use cheap white rice as a filler since we are not eating it. If you don’t have a sewing machine, these can be hand sewn, though it won’t be quite as quick. DIY projects like this also make great gifts for friends and family at Christmas.
You can make your homemade rice heating pad any size or shape you want, but I make mine into a 12×6 inch rectangle.
DIY Heat Pad With Rice
- Sewing needle
- 12 inch square piece of cotton fabric or whatever shape/size you prefer
- 5 pound bag white rice (might not all be used)
- Fold the material in half with right sides together. Start at one of the short sides and sew the long side and part of the opposite short side, leaving a gap of several inches on the last short side. This is where you're going to put the uncooked rice in.
- Turn the fabric tube inside out so that the rough ends are hidden.
- Fill the tube with rice until it is about 2/3 full. You can also add some lavender buds or a few drops of essential oils for a relaxing experience.
- Fold the remaining side in so that the rough ends are hidden and sew closed.
Simple DIY Rice Heating Pad Variations
There are some great tutorials online for making a really nice looking rice heat pack. This is one of my favorites. I make nicer ones like that for gifts, but for regular home use, these are easier:
- Use an old tube sock – Fill the old sock with rice and sew or tie the end to make an easy rice sock. A cotton sock is the best option.
- Use an old pillowcase – Just cut the pillowcase in half. Use the side with the bottom seam and fill with a couple of cups of rice. Sew a line all the way across to create a sealed tube, then repeat with another couple of cups of rice. Repeat until the entire thing is full and seam the end to create a finished rice pack with several tubes full of rice.
- Create a simple sleeve with a piece of square material – Fold in half and sew up two of the sides, leaving a thinner end open. Fill with rice and sew the remaining side to seal.
Ever made your own heating pad before? Leave us a comment and be sure to share this post with a friend!