Since they're portable and cord-free, unlike their electric counterparts, the best microwavable heating pads are a great way to ease cramps, sore muscles, and stress whether you're in bed or at the office. Unfortunately, though, it's not as easy as choosing any heating pad and tossing it in the microwave. To ensure safety, comfort, and effectiveness, there are some qualities you should consider before you make any purchases: namely the size, shape, and materials (both inside and out).
Let's start with the shape and size, as these qualities will determine how well your heating pad fulfills its intended purpose. Your first step: Deciding which body part needs the most TLC. While a smaller, rectangular heating pad should work for just about anything — neck, shoulders, limbs, abdomen, or forehead — a larger or contoured heating pad might be better suited for those who are experiencing back and shoulder discomfort. That said, larger options are also harder to travel with and store, so keep that in mind, too.
Next, consider the materials. On the outside, your heating pad should have soft, skin-friendly fabric that simultaneously lets the warmth through without getting too hot. The majority of options use synthetic fabrics, which work well enough for most people, but those with sensitive skin might want to consider an all-natural option like cotton.
The interior should be able to retain heat for a long period of time, stand up to high temperatures without melting or exploding, and have a loose consistency that molds to any body part. Popular materials include grains and clay beads — but note that a lot of companies also throw in scented ingredients (like chamomile, rose petals, essential oils, and lavender sprigs) for added aromatherapy. Most buyers enjoy the relaxing scents, but those who are sensitive to fragrances might want to skip those ingredients.
Regardless of your size, material, and scent preferences, these are the six best microwavable heating pads on the market right now.
1. The Overall Best Microwaveable Heating Pad
My Heating Pad is the top pick for most people because it's sturdy, versatile, and relatively affordable. The interior uses a highly flexible flaxseed and rice blend, while the exterior is reversible with soft fleece on one side and gentle cotton on the other. Thanks to its medium size and flexibility, it can be used for just about any ache or cramp on the body. Last but not least, the pad comes in blue or purple and you can opt for a lavender aromatherapy or an unscented version. Reviewers have called it "by far the best heating pad [they] have ever owned," and it's easy to see why. Note: this is also the only heating pad on this list that comes in an unscented version.
- Interior material: rice and flaxseed
- Exterior material: fleece/cotton
- Size: 11 by 6 inches
- Scent: lavender, unscented
- Available colors: blue, purple
2. The Best Budget Pick
If you're looking for an affordable option that still gets the job done, opt for the Bed Buddy comfort wrap. Despite the fact that all colors cost less than $15, it still has over 1,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.4 stars. Its small, slim size makes it ideal for your shoulders, abdomen, or head, and it's filled with natural grains to retain heat and lavender and rose essential oils for aromatherapy (note that there is no unscented option). While reviewers call it a "good value" that's "worth the price," they also recommend that you watch it in the microwave to ensure safety.
- Interior material: grains
- Exterior material: polyester
- Size: 19 by 5 inches
- Scent: lavender, lavender and mint, lavender and rose
- Available colors: pink, purple, turquoise
3. An All-Natural Option That's Great Hot Or Cold
For those who want to know exactly what's in their heating pad, this one from Sacksy Thyme is the way to go. It works for both hot and cold therapy, has 100% skin-friendly cotton on the outside, and retains heat with a combination of U.S.-grown flaxseeds and cherry pits. It also has certified organic herbs for relaxing aromatherapy, but the materials aren't the only selling point; with five different eye-catching patterns, it also looks great.
- Interior material: flaxseed and cherry pits
- Exterior material: cotton
- Size: 13 by 7.5 inches
- Scent: thyme
- Available colors: black plaid, gray, indigo, organic green, sky blue
4. The Best Heating Pad For Your Neck & Shoulders
The Huggaroo wrap is specifically designed for those who want neck, upper back, and shoulder relief — without having to constantly readjust their heating pad to get full coverage. Its large size and contoured collar shape hug most of your neck and shoulder all at once while staying put, so you can type, watch TV, or drive in comfort. Thanks to its blend of grains and herbs, it can retain heat for up to half an hour and has a "spa-like scent" that makes reviewers feel "so relaxed."
- Interior material: flaxseeds and wheat
- Exterior material: polyester
- Size: 18 by 14 inches with a 3.5-inch collar
- Scent: Blend of lavender with chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, lemongrass, cinnamon, white willow, hops, valerian, rosemary
- Available colors: blue
5. The Best Large Heating Pad
If you want to cover an area like the lower back, entire abdomen, or both legs at once, consider a large, flat heating pad. The Rester's Choice pad fits the bill. The velvety, insulated exterior feels soft against your skin while protecting against burns, and the clay bead interior retains heat for much "longer than expected," according to one reviewer. Most importantly, its 13-by-22-inch size "covers a large area in satisfying warmth," another reviewer wrote.
- Interior material: clay beads
- Exterior material: not listed
- Size: 13 by 22 inches
- Scent: unscented
- Available colors: gray
6. The Cutest Option
Finally, for children or adults who appreciate cute things, there's the Intelex Warmies plush. Even though it looks like a stuffed animal on the outside, it's actually filled with grains and French lavender. As a result, you can put it in the microwave like any other heating pad, and it'll release warmth and soothing aromatherapy. (You can also freeze it for use as an ice compress.) If you're not in love with the sloth, it also comes in nearly 20 other designs including a llama, cat, and purple dinosaur. Reviewers love it so much, they've given it a 4.7-star rating.
- Interior material: grains
- Exterior material: natural/synthetic fabrics
- Size: approximately 14 by 8 by 4 inches
- Scent: lavender
- Available animals: sloth, sloth wrap, zebra, cow, cat, monkey, golden dog, elephant, pink llama, white llama, lobster, manatee, bear, meerkat, moose, polar bear, purple dinosaur, red panda