DIY Washable Rice Heating/Cooling Pad

This holiday season (and cold Minnesota winter), I got to making some rice heating pads that you just throw into the microwave to heat up. They are great, cheap gifts! These packs are wonderful for a sore neck, to relax after a long day, or just to warm up in the cold. You can also throw them in the freezer for a cool-down in the summer, to help out sore muscles, or to help falling asleep. And guess what? They’re super easy to make if you have some basic sewing skills! 


·      Flannel fabric
·      Cotton fabric
·      Jasmine rice
·      Thread
·      Fabric pins
·      Sewing machine (or needle)
·      Fabric scissors or rotary cutter
·      Ruler
·      An iron
·      Funnel
·      Soup spoon (optional)
·      Fabric chalk (optional)
·      Lavender essential oil (optional)
·      Iron-on Velcro (optional)


There are two fabric pieces for this kind of heating pad; the cotton holds the rice and is sealed shut, and the other is the washable fleece sleeve that goes over it. For the fleece, it is fun to choose fabrics that go with the person who will be using it! The cover is also interchangeable if you want to make multiple!

Disclaimer: I used a sewing machine for this tutorial. You can sew it by hand, it will just take longer! Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches to lock in your thread!


Sewing the Fleece Sleeve

1.     Cut the fleece to 27 inches by 18 inches.

2.     Fold the fleece hot dog style and pin the long edge.

3.     Sew 5/8” in from the edge. I used a zig-zag stitch then did a straight stitch down the middle, but just a straight stitch would work too. If sewing by hand, use a backstitch.

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4.     Open up the sewed sleeve and fold it open so the seam is now in the middle (see image).

5.     Iron the seam flat to one side.

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6.     Pin one of the short ends and sew 5/8” in from the edge.

7.     For the other end, fold the edge over 1 inch. Iron flat. Then fold it over one more time. Iron flat again.

8.     Pin so the inside of the sleeve is still open. Sew 5/8” in from the edge.

9.     Turn inside out and use a pencil to poke out the corners.

10.  (Optional) Cut iron-on Velcro to desired length and follow instructions to iron them onto both sides of the sleeve opening.


Preparing the Rice

1.     Since I made a lot, I filled a large metal bowl with the jasmine rice.

2.     (Optional) For extra relaxing aromatherapy, I added lavender essential oil to the rice. For every 6 cups, you want to use about 10-20 drops.

3.     Mix this around and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes so the rice absorbs the smell.


Sewing the Rice Pack

1.     Cut the cotton to 25 inches by 18 inches. Since I made a lot as gifts, I got a cheap cotton sheet and cut it up. If you have an old sheet, that would work great! Or just buy cotton fabric from the store.

2.     Fold the fabric in half hot dog style.

3.     Pin the long edge and one of the short edges.

4.     For extra security, I did two sets of stitches:

a)     Starting with the short edge on the folded side, sew 5/8” in, going toward the pinned, long side. When you get to 3/8” from the long edge, stop with the needle in the fabric and lift the foot. Rotate the whole fabric piece and continue the stitch down to the end of the long edge.

b)    Repeat step 4(a), but start at 3/8” on the short edge, and rotate at 5/8” for the long edge.

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5.     Iron the long edge flat to one side.

6.     Fold over the remaining open edge an inch. Pin. Sew the edge 5/8” in from the edge, but don’t sew the opening closed.

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7.     Turn the whole sleeve inside-out. Use a pencil to poke the corners out.

8.     Using fabric chalk, or a pencil, draw a line down the middle of the sleeve, going the long way. Then, draw a line down the middle of the two halves. So, there should be three lines.

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9.     Sew down each of the lines. Stop at the stitch that is at the open end.

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10.  Use a funnel and stick it into the openings. Scoop the prepared rice (see above) into the funnel. I used a soup spoon to make it easier to get a lot of rice inside. Fill the rice up to a little over half way full. Repeat for the other three openings.

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11.  Once filled, fold over the open edge and test out the rice bag on your neck. Make sure it isn’t too stiff, or too floppy (it is best to test before you sew it up, in case it doesn’t feel right).

12.  Once it feels right, fold over the open edge and sew it closed.

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13.  Slip the rice pack into the fleece sleeve!


Heating and Cooling

1.     For heating, place the rice pack (with the fleece sleeve on) into the microwave. Try 30 seconds and keep adding 30 seconds until you reach the desired heat. Then it is ready to use!

Important! Every few uses in the microwave, heat it with a small glass of water. This prevents the rice from burning!

2.     For cooling, place the rice pack (with the fleece sleeve on) into the freezer. Use it when it feels cold enough.

Hint: Add a few drops of the lavender essential oil when the smell begins to wear off.


All done! I hope this rice pad will be a great addition to your home, or a unique, homemade gift to a loved one!

I had a lot of fun learning new sewing skills with this project! I’m open to any feedback or suggestions, so please leave a comment if you have one!


Here’s to warm, cozy winters and cool, fun summers!