How to Clean A Microwavable Heating Pad

Microwavable heating pads are a favorite muscle pain relief tool for those who suffer from menstrual cramps, arthritis pain, stiffness and more.

However, the more people love using their microwavable heating pad, the more likely they will eventually get dirty.

So how do you clean a microwavable heating pad?

Like all fabric-based products, paying close attention to the materials that make up your microwavable heating pad is key to keeping it clean.

By following manufacturers’ instructions and investing in covers, it is easy to keep a microwavable heating pad clean and usable for many years to come.

But what if you have a homemade microwavable heating pad that didn’t come with instructions?

woman in pink shirt beside washer

Is It Hard to Clean a Microwavable Heating Pad?

Most microwavable heating pads are easy to take care of, if you know how.

Heating pads are simple, yet very effective tools to manage muscle pain.

Made from a simple cloth bag and filled with a reheatable filling material, constructing one isn’t very hard.

However, figuring out how to wash and clean something filled with rice, flax, or beans can be slightly daunting.

If you buy a microwavable heating pad from a trusted online retailer, such as LavaHQ, chances are that they included information on how to clean the product.

However, if your microwavable heating pad did not come with instructions, here are some helpful tips on how to best clean your heating pad.

How Do You Clean a Microwavable Heating Pad

How you clean a microwavable heating pad depends on two factors:

  • The material used to make the bag
  • The filling of the bag

Material and Fabric Used to Make Microwavable Heating Pads

It is very important to be aware of what fabrics are used in making your microwavable heating pad.

Various online sellers and retailers, especially in the hand crafted sector, use a variety of materials to construct the bag of the microwavable heating pad.

Generally, this material is a natural fiber fabric, such as linen (made from flax), cotton, and hemp materials.

However, some may unwittingly use synthetic or polyester material (which is not recommended for construction of microwavable heating pad due to the flammability risk and the heating of chemicals in the material).

Reheatable Fillings Used in Microwavable Heating Bags

The materials used to fill a microwavable heating pad usually include pantry items such as rice, beans, flax, wheat, etc.

Due to the perishable nature of these items, the filling of a microwavable heating pad should NEVER get wet.

If the foodstuffs inside of a microwavable heating pad get wet, then there is an increased risk of rot and mold developing inside of the bag.

Not only is it unhealthy to be reheating rotting foodstuff inside a microwave, but the heating of spoiled food can smell up a house and ruin a microwavable heating pad.

If using nonperishable microwavable heating bag fillers such as lava sand, clay beads, sand, and other mineral based substances, the risk of rot is non-existent.

That means that if a heating pad filled with such items gets wet, there is no chance that anything will spoil inside.

Unfortunately, the fabric case itself is still prone to mildew, so if moisture is trapped inside the filling it can cause the covering to smell.

Despite nonperishable materials not rotting, it is not recommended to wash a microwavable heating pad in a washing machine.

Small particles of sand or pebbles may leak out of the bag and ruin the load of laundry.

Also, it is not recommended to saturate a microwavable heating pad with soapy water since the soap and detergent might become trapped inside the filling material.

Instructions on How to Wash a Microwavable Heating Pad

Most microwavable heating pads can be spot cleaned.

However, if there is a major stain or spill on one it might need a thorough cleaning.

Depending on how a microwavable heating is constructed will determine how it can be washed.

If a Microwavable Heating Pad has a Zipper, Velcro, or Buttons

Here are some steps to take when cleaning a microwavable heating pad:

  1. Open up the bag portion of the microwavable heating pad and place filling into a bowl or other container.
  2. Wash the fabric according to fabric care instructions (usually with cold to warm water using mild detergent).
  3. Air dry or tumble dry microwavable heating bag according to fabric care directions.
  4. Examine filling for any signs of rot or burning and replace spoiled material.
  5. Refill bag with filling and close up the opening.

If a Microwavable Heating Pad is Sewn Shut

If a microwavable heating pad does not have easy access to removing the filling, to wash it use the following instructions:

  1. Using a seam ripper, remove stitching on one side to create an opening large enough to drain out heating pad filling.
  2. Pour out all microwavable heating pad filling until the cloth bag is completely empty.
  3. Wash the fabric according to fabric care instructions )usually with cold to warm water using mild detergent).
  4. Air dry or tumble dry microwavable heating bag according to fabric care instructions.
  5. Examine filling for any signs of rot or burning and replace spoiled material.
  6. Refill the microwavable heating pad.
  7. Using strong cotton thread, sew up the opening in the seam.

hands handwashing fabric in a red bucket

Quick Guide of Washing Natural Fiber Fabric

For those of you unsure on how to wash cotton, linen, or hemp fabric, here is a quick general overview on what is recommended for each material.

How to Wash Cotton Fabric

The most common fabric used to make microwavable heating pads, especially from a home based retailer, is cotton.

Below are the recommended steps on how to care for a cotton fabric microwaveable heating pad:

  • If fabric is stained, pretreat it with a mild detergent or stain remover in cold water.
  • If the stain is set in, pretreat the stain with a mixture of half baking soda and half vinegar.
  • Ring out the fabric and place it in a washing machine with like-fabric and colors.
  • Since cotton is prone to shrinking, wash the bag using the cold water setting on your washing machine.
  • Air dry cotton bag when possible to avoid shrinkage.
  • (LoveYourClothes.Org)

    How to Wash Linen Fabric

    Linen fabric is made from flax fibers, the same flax whose seeds are sometimes used to fill microwavable heating bags.

    It is a sturdy and very versatile material.

    Once again, follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to care for the fabric. 

    However, if none are available try following these steps:

    1. Separate the load of laundry into like colors.
    2. Wash in lukewarm water (under 104 degrees F.)
    3. Wash using the gentle cycle on your washing machine.
    4. Use a gentle detergent made for delicate fabrics.
    5. For stains, try using dish soap, gentle detergent, or vinegar as a pretreatment option.
    6. Never use bleach!
    7. To dry, tumble dry on low heat.


    How to Wash Hemp Fabric

    Hemp fabric is the most durable of the three commonly used fabrics that are used to make microwavable heating pads.

    Because of their durability, they can be easily laundered similarly to linen.

    Here is a quick overview on how to wash hemp material:

    1. Wash with like colors.
    2. Use a gentle detergent that doesn’t contain bleach.
    3. Wash using a washing machine's gentle cycle.
    4. Tumble dry on low heat.

    Spot Cleaning Microwavable Heating Pads

    If a microwavable heating pad gets a little dirty there is no need to go through the hassle of emptying out its contents to throw the bag into the washing machine.

    Microwavable heating pads can be easily spot cleaned using a little bit of dish soap, vinegar, or gentle laundry detergent.

    However, when you are spot cleaning the bag of the microwavable heating pad, you have to be careful not to saturate the fabric.

    If any liquid or moisture penetrates into the filling of a microwavable heating pad, especially one filled with rice, beans, or other perishable materials, then rot can set in.

    When spot cleaning a microwavable heating pad, make sure that the cloth you are using is wet but not dripping with water.

    Gently rub the spot that is dirty, making sure as to not rub it so much that damage occurs on the fabric.

    Keeping A Microwavable Heating Pad Clean

    The best way to keep a microwavable heating pad clean is by investing in a cover for your heating pad.

    Just like buying pillowcases for pillows, it is recommended that you get a cover for your microwavable heating pad.

    Covers come in all sorts of fun patterns and colors and can be used not only to protect your microwavable heating pad from daily dust and grime, but to give it a personal touch and style.

    You can even create your own covers, using natural fiber fabric of you own choice.

    If you decide to make your own covers, make sure you check the labels of the fabric you are buying to ensure that the material doesn’t contain any synthetic chemicals.

    Microwavable Heating Pad Care Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Can You Throw A Microwavable Heating Pad Into a Washing Machine?

    It is ill advised to throw a microwavable heating pad into a washing machine without emptying the filling contents first.

    If a microwavable heating pad is filled with food items such as rice, wheat, flax, etc., the foodstuffs will absorb the water in the wash along with some of the laundry detergent.

    If placed in a dryer, such foodstuffs have the potential to catch on fire if subjected to intense heat.

    If a microwavable heating pad is washed in a washing machine and then left to air dry, rot and spoilage can set in to the filling, causing a strong and unpleasant odor to arise when it is heated in the microwave.

    Microwavable heating pads with nonperishable fillers should also not be placed into a washing machine without the contents emptied.

    Although there is no risk of rot, the granular nature of the filler may leak out of the fabric and could destroy the washing machine.

    Can You Use Bleach to Clean the Fabric of a Microwavable Heating Pad?

    It is always advised to follow the care instructions of the fabric or microwavable heating pad for instructions on how to best clean it.

    However, because of the natural characteristics of the fabric generally used to make a microwavable heating pad, it is strongly recommended NOT to use bleach.

    Bleach not only can alter the coloring of the fabric if applied, but can weaken and even break the fibers which make up the material.

    Instead, gentle detergents or a paste made from half baking soda and half vinegar is recommended to help get rid of stains.

    How to Clean My Rice Sock

    If your microwavable heating pad happens to be a sock filled with rice knotted at the end, then washing it is very simple.

    Unknot the sock and pour out the rice.

    Inspect the rice to find any signs of burning, rot, or bugs.

    If the rice shows signs of any of the above, dispose of rice.

    Once the sock is empty, launder it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    Once the sock has been cleaned, replace the rice or add new rice and knot up the end of the sock again.

    Should I Toss Out My Dirty Microwavable Heating Pad?

    Depending on the amount of effort it takes to clean a microwavable heating pad, it may be easier to throw it out and invest in a new one, especially if its contents have been saturated with liquid.

    If your microwavable heating pad is a cheap piece of fabric that is sewn all about and contains food such as rice, wheat berries, corn, flax, etc, it may be in your best interest to dispose of it and make a new one.

    Another sign that a microwavable heating pad should be discarded is if a strange odor is emitted while being heated in a microwave.

    This odor can be a sign of burning or rot that is occurring inside the heating pad.

    For heating pads with nonperishable fillers, such as lava sand and clay beads, the fabric casing can be discarded and the filler reused in a new microwavable heating pad. 

    Take Care of Your Microwavable Heating Pad

    With simple precautionary steps, heating pads, especially those constructed of durable and reusable materials, can last for many years to come.

    Invest in a few cute covers for your heating pad to make cleaning it a breeze, and if the time comes that you need to wash it, make sure to follow the steps mentioned above.

    But most of all…

    Enjoy your heating pad!