There comes a time when everyone can benefit from heat and cold therapy, and reusable hot/cold packs are perfect for pain relief on the go. I usually use a heating pad when I need pain relief, but they can be very bulky and not very pliable when you need them for smaller areas like your neck, or behind your knees.
Homemade Reusable Hot & Cold Packs
I used to have just an ice pack and a heating pad that I could alternate between depending on my needs, but I really wanted something that I could take with me and heat up whenever I needed.
While you can certainly purchase a pre-made heat pack from the store, I like to make my own at home because I can customize the size and fabric to fit my needs.
You can easily make these large enough to cover bigger surface areas like your back, or short and slender to wrap around your neck and shoulders, or even small squares made with fleece to be used as hand warmers when it gets cold outside.
The best part about these reusable packs is that you can use them hot by heating them up in the microwave, or cold by keeping them in the freezer. I make two separate packs just for this reason, so one stays in the freezer, and the other is for heating.
What You’ll Need
- 12″ square of fabric – (I use fleece or flannel for my hot pack, and a nice soft fabric for my cold pack)
- 1 lb bag of rice, any kind will do
- Sewing machine or needle & thread
What To Do
- Take your square of fabric and fold it in half, making sure that the “good” sides of the fabric are facing together. For instance, if you have a polka dot pattern, the polka dots will be on the inside of the fold when you fold the fabric in half.
- You will now have a 12″ long piece of fabric with 6″ sides. Sew one 6″ side, and the 12″ side, leaving the other 6″ side open.
- Turn inside out. The “good” sides of the fabric should now be on the outside.
- Fill your pouch with rice until you get the desired shape. Don’t overfill, otherwise it will be too stiff. Leave a little room for the rice to move around.
- Once you’ve filled the pouch, sew the 6″ opening closed. You can fold the edges inside before you sew to make it cleaner looking.
To Use As A Heat Pack: Put the pack in the microwave for 60 seconds, or until warm. Don’t over heat.
To Use As An Ice Pack: Keep your rice pack in the freezer until you’re ready to use.
I wouldn’t use your cold pack as a heat pack because the rice can absorb moisture from the freezer and heating it can cook the rice, which will render it ineffective and likely to go bad. I just make two separate rice packs so I can have a cold one, and a hot one.
You can also make small little squares out of fleece or flannel to create individual hand warmers.
- Use an old sock, or knee-high sock – Take an old sock and fill it with rice, then simply tie off the open end, or sew it closed.
- Cut a long sleeve off an old shirt or sweater – Get an old shirt or sweater and cut the sleeve off. Sew the large end closed, and fill the sleeve with rice through the small end, then sew closed the opening.
- Use an old pillow case – Cut the closed end of the pillow case off so you have a pre-made pouch. Turn inside out and sew the open end up until you have about 2″ of opening left. Turn right-side in, fill with rice, then sew closed the opening.
If you happen to be a lot better at sewing than I am, here’s a great tutorial for making these rice packs look really cute. Once you get the hang of making these, your friends and family will be begging you to make some for them. The do make great little gifts, especially the hand warmers, and you can easily customize the fabric to your taste and style.
Have you ever made your own hot & cold packs before? What materials do you use?