Homemade Heating Pad and Washable Cover

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Need to make your own homemade heating pad that you can use to cover your shoulders or other sore parts of your body? Here’s how to sew one yourself!

homemade heating pad

Homemade Heating Pad

 Sometime right around the first part of the year, I did something to injure my shoulders. I’d been having issues for a while, and then all of a sudden, I was out of commission from serious back pain for about a week, and then still hurt for another week.

Thanks to several issues that cause inflammation in my body, my chiropractor told me it’s going to be an ongoing issue and something I’ll need to deal with. In addition to some new supplements and treatments, I’ve been using even more ice and heat (I’m supposed to alternate both) on my shoulder area.

Have you ever tried to use a heating pad or an ice pack on your shoulders? It just doesn’t work! It’s an awkward shape and doesn’t fit snugly around the area you need it to. After having great success with making my own Homemade Hand Warmers last month, I decided that a full homemade Heating Pad wouldn’t be that difficult. And it’s not!

This project takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. I even made a nice little cover for mine, so if it gets dirty, I can toss the cover in the wash. Another reason I love this project is because you can use fabric scraps!

Step By Step Instructions for Making a Homemade Heating Pad

cloth to make a homemade heating pad

Start with two pieces of cotton flannel fabric. Make sure you are using cotton and make sure it doesn’t have any metallic in the fabric; otherwise, your microwave will not be happy with you. For the cover, you need a piece of flannel that is 24 long by 18 inches wide. For the heating pad, you will measure a piece of flannel that is 22 inches long by 16 inches wide.

cloth for homemade heating pad

For the heating pad, folding the fabric is half the long way (so now it’s 22 inches by 8 inches folded over) with the wrong sides out. Sew along one short side and one long side, just like you are making a pillowcase. Turn it inside out when you are done.

markings on cloth for homemade heating pad

Make a mark with a fabric pencil every 5 1/2 inches. This will help you sew in a straight line the 4 different sections of the heating pad.

homemade heating pad

Fill the bottom of the heating pad bag with 1 1/2 cups of rice. Sew along the first line you made. Fill the next section with another 1 1/2 cups of rice, sew again, and repeat for the 3rd and 4th sections.

homemade heating pad

Here is the finished heating pad! Set this aside for a moment.

How to Make a Heating Pad Cover

sewing a heating pad

Take your other piece of fabric (for the cover), and on one of the shorter (18-inch) ends, sew a hem.

fabric for homemade heating pad

Then do the exact same for the cover as you did with the heating pad: sew on the wrong side in a pillowcase shape, leaving the hemmed end open.

fabric for homemade heating pad

Once it’s finished, take the heating pad and slip it into the cover (just like you would with a pillow into a pillowcase), and you are done!

a woman wearing a homemade heating pad

It makes a nice long heating pad. Perfect for putting right over your shoulders and neck. Whenever it needs to be washed simply slip the pad out of the cover and wash the cover with your other clothing.

To warm up the homemade heating pad, simply place the entire thing (You can put the cover in, too) into the microwave and warm it for about 1-2 minutes, depending on your microwave settings. Don’t warm up for too long; otherwise, you may scorch the bag and the rice. This pad stays warm up to an hour. You can also place the bag in the freezer for a cool pack. If you don’t have a microwave, you can warm it up by simply laying it on top of a warm stove. Enjoy! 🙂

Make the smaller version of this homemade heating pad perfect for pockets…Homemade Hand Warmers!

Me and Kady

Merissa Alink

Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.

This tutorial for how to make a homemade Heating Pad was originally posted on Little House Living in March 2014. It has been updated as of April 2024.

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  1. LOVE your fabric. If you can find 100% cotton corduroy, it works well too. I’ve made similar bags, and I can tell you from experience, you definitely want those sections in your bag! The rice shifts around too much in the ones I’ve made without them. It’s impossible to form the rice around your shoulders because it all winds up in the ends instead.

  2. These are great! I’ve made one of these before. Next time I will use flannel so it dosen’t slide around as much. I over-filled mine, thinking it would be stay hotter longer, but it just made it more cumbersome.

    One tip. My chiropractor said moist heat penetrates better that dry heat. I squirt my heat pad with the squirt bottle a few times before heating it. Sometimes I even dribble water on it from the faucet of the spray bottle isnt handy. You could moisten it after words instead, but i think it helps before hand more. If you are worried about mold, think how quickly rice grains will dry back out when you have some cooked rice crumbs on your counter. I’ve never had a problem with it.

  3. Thanks for this tutorial, I have misplaced mine and need another one. A friend who worked at a physical therapy office said oatmeal will hold the heat better than rice, haven’t tried it but its worth a shot!!
    Thanks again for all your inspirational posts 🙂

  4. There is an oil that we use for any issue such as your shoulders. I order it from Vitacost. Here is the link-http://www.vitacost.com/christophers-complete-tissue-and-bone-massage-oil-2-fl-oz
    We have told dozens of people about this oil and they always come back and thank us. Not only does it relieve the pain but it heals the tissue and bones.

    I have used the legs of jeans to make rice bags and they hold up very well. We have a drawer full of various sizes and shapes of rice bags. They are great!

  5. I’ve made a “heating sock” like this for my labors. And I loved them! They’re better than anything you can buy.

  6. Hi Merissa, How kind of you to take the time to do this tutorial when you are obviously so very busy trying to get your home completed. I really appreciate that. I will print out your directions and will make some for gifts as well. What a handy and very nice gift to give to friends who have shoulder and neck problems and I guess that is many of us. I think this would be excellent for the small of the back when sitting in a chair if you have back problems. All in all a terrific idea.
    I enjoy your blog so much and love reading what you are doing. I do hope you have a pleasant spring and summer after all the bad weather that has been happening over on your side of the world. Our Autumn had been quite pleasant so far and I hope that we don’t get the extreme winter here in Australia that you had. Our summer was very dry and many of our farmers and graziers are experiencing bad drought conditions.
    Blessings Gail

  7. Oh wow, I could totally use this right now. You’re right, traditional heating pads are not a good fit.

  8. I made a rice bag to fit around the lower back. It is in sections too. I put ties on it so it can be worn while moving around. My housekeeper loved it and it doesn’t show under her uniform! She reheats it at intervals and at other clients homes. It can be tied around the shoulders too. Looks like a chubby apron! Lol!

  9. Thank you for including heating instructions not using a microwave as I don’t use one. I love using a hot water bottle but the quality has decreased so much over the years that I seldom find one that lasts even 1 year. It is so annoying to bring one to bed and the water leaks out. Not only do I not get the heat but I have to soak up all the water!

  10. Have you tried flax seed? I’ve read that it actually works better than rice and holds the heat longer. We use it in socks and it does a very good job.

  11. I want a heating pad that doesn’t need a microwave, since I don’t use one. I like hot water bottles but they are unreliable. The last one I bought didn’t last 6 months before it sprang a leak. Soaked bedding and a cold body do not fit well together.

  12. Thank you for sharing. I just signed up for your weekly newsletter…i love everything I am reading. I will try the hand warmers…a Aunt of ours gave me a sock heatingpad…i love the fact it is mobile…but i love your version of a heating pad which i will try. Love your site…blessings Connie Cool.

  13. I hope to make this soon too. I plan on throwing it in my bed to warm up the sheets before I climb in.

    BTW…fantastic website! I shared with my daughter, and she just signed up too! She’s as excited about your site as I am.

  14. One caution . . .
    Keep your rice out of the way when you sew. Do NOT try to sew over the rice. I broke three needles as I was making some of these for Christmas gifts. Who knew rice was so hard?!

  15. You can throw some dried herbs or spices in with the rice, and it will give off a lovely smell each time you heat it. Cloves? Lavender? Mint? Nutmeg?

  16. You did a beautiful job with these…just a heads up…you can make a much less pretty version much quicker by using an old tube sock and tying the sock tightly after dumping in rice. Tie it tightly since the sock will expand a little. Can also add essential oils (e.g. lavender) to the rice for even more relaxation. 😉

  17. Sounds so great. I have a DEAR Father whose shoulders are soooo sore from torn rotator cuffs. SO, I am going to give this a whirl — does it work better for a man a bit larger? He HATES HEATING PADS! Hope this helps him — we all love him so much!

    1. This is quite large on me but I’m a pretty small person so you may want to make it a little bigger for a man so he will be able to drape it over his shoulders. I think he will love this…the heat is so much nicer than a regular heating pad!

  18. I came over from Creating my Way to Success link. I had never seen a tutorial on doing a heating pad this way. Your tutorial is very clear and concise. Thank you for sharing it and let’s hear it for easing aches and pains away with a homemade heating pad!

  19. This is an excellent tutorial! Thanks so much for taking the time to share exactly how to do it! I also love the idea by one of the commenters on using a pair of old jeans!

  20. This is so pretty! My heating pad would look so much nicer with one of these. Thanks for sharing at What’d You Do This Weekend? 🙂

  21. Such a great idea, wish I had seen this before purchasing hubby the $15 one at Walgreens! #TurnitupTuesday

  22. ive made mine many years ago. I added ties to the short ends so I can tie it on diagonally over my shoulder or around the small of my back etc. and I can move around with it on. Given a number of friends the tie on version being in that age group!

  23. My daughter is making the handwarmers, and now this (thank you thank you) as a home school project. Do you find that the rice smells or needs replaced often? She’s considering using some velcro to be able to change out the rice.

  24. Wonderful tutorial! I made two of these today, thank you gifts my sons pre-school teachers.. I am also considering making some of the other goodies you make for the wellness gifts , thanks so much

  25. Love the idea. I make a lot of heating pads but never this design. Try flax seeds, Merissa, they hold heat better. 1 minute in microwave, shake pillow and put in for another minute.Thanks! Mary Pat

  26. I can’t believe I am the only one who doesn’t have (or want) a microwave. Surely there is a way to make heating pads in the oven. Can you help?

  27. I have a question about a different kind of heating pad. About ten years ago, at a yard sale, I picked up a heavy round (long continuous) spiral covered with Christmas fabric. It is about 4″ in diameter and 3/4″ thick. I thought it was a trivet so I paid $1 for it. My husband grabbed it to use under his hot tea mug on his desk. I think it is filled with sand. It weighs 1 lb. and looks as though the spiral is glued together; the spirals are about as big around as my 75 y/o thumb. I’ve never nuked it and if I did – would sand heat up and damage the fabric? I guess I could just make a long skinny rice bag and stitch it together but it wouldn’t look like this one. I’ve looked at craft shows, etc and never seen another. I did question several vendors and gave them the particulars for future projects.

    It may just be a large coaster but I think if it was made larger – and then heated – it could keep your bowl of queso warm on your picnic table!

    Have you ever seen anything like this?

    A norther just blew in here in South Texas and it’s supposed to get down to 53 tonight. But we only have about a 36-hour respite from the horrific heat. I cannot imagine your weeks and weeks of blinding mind-numbing cold, snow and ice.

    I’ve just spent over 3 hours on your site and barely tapped the surface. I love it! Thank you for all your hard work. You are a genuine angel.

    God Bless You. Be safe.

    “Betty” Gerringer

    1. I *think* I know what you are referring to but I’m not sure it would do well if heated in the microwave. I suppose it would depend on what it’s made of and how it’s being held together.

  28. Please tell me more about how to warm it on a stove, you smart woman, Merissa!
    I don’t want a microwave but I sure would like this warmer!
    Also could be used over the body, as a weighted blanket. On a smaller scale, but no doubt still beneficial.
    Thank you Merissa!

  29. Love these type of heating pads. I made 1 the size of a wrist support for my computer. It really helps if you do a lot of typing or computer work. If I want it cold I put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. I made them for all my co workers.