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How to make reusable rice hand warmers

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DIY rice hand warmers tutorial. This super easy project is all just straight lines. You can make them in less than 5 minutes! I knew nothing about hand warmers until a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon some pictures on Pinterest which instantly drew my attention because it seemed such an easy and fun sewing project. But I had some questions and concerns – what fabrics can go in the microwave? What kind of rice is best for hand warmers, and how long do these stay hot?

How to make reusable hand warmers

I decided to just give it a try and see for myself. The result? I declare these rice hand warmers filled simply magical!

They really do work! Made from 100% cotton fabric and thread and filled with rice/flax seeds/popcorn, they are microwaveable, they heat up and last for about 20 minutes!

My kids were so thrilled to receive their hand warmers, and they kept heating up and playing with them for days.

Related: How to make linen napkins, the easy way

How to make reusable hand warmers

So, what fabrics can go in the microwave?

Natural fibers, like cotton or linen, are microwave safe. You should avoid synthetic fabrics (polyester will melt), and especially anything with any metallic fibers because such fabrics are extremely dangerous to heat in a microwave.

Best filling for reusable hand warmers

You can fill them with uncooked rice, flaxseeds, whole kernel corn, or cherry pits.

Here’s a fun experiment – somebody actually tried out all possible fillings for hand warmers. Check the results.

Sewing supplies

Rice hand warmers – tutorial

Step 1

Cut out your fabric. I cut 4″ squares – I have small hands, but you can cut the fabric into 5” squares to fit bigger hands.

Step 2

Pin two squares of fabric right sides together, then sew around the edges on three sides. Leave a 1-inch wide opening on the fourth side of the square. Don’t forget to backstitch!

How to make reusable hand warmers

Step 3

Turn the square right side out and poke the corners out with a pencil or a chopstick.

Step 4

Fill the bag with rice about ¾ full. You can use a small funnel or, as I have done, a teaspoon. I filled each of my hand-warmers up with exactly 13 teaspoons of rice.

Do not fill the bag 100%. You’ll need some room to sew along the seam so you can close up the opening. 

Step 5

Sew the 1-inch opening closed, either by hand or with a sewing machine, and that’s it!

How to make reusable hand warmers

How to use the rice hand warmers

When you need a quick warm-up, just pop them in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds – but no more than 60 seconds. Shake them up a little to distribute the heat uniformly. 

Reusable rice hand warmers typically stay warm for at least 15-20 minutes. Now, I have to say rice does have a particular smell when heated, but I don’t mind. Still, you can add dried lavender or a few drops of your favorite essential oil to scent them.

Reheat your DIY hand warmers in the microwave to use over and over again.

How to make reusable hand warmers

Important safety precautions

Do not leave rice hand warmers unattended in microwave oven and do not heat longer than the recommended time. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

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10 thoughts on “How to make reusable rice hand warmers”

  1. I love the idea of making a cover for the hand warmers. You could make the rice bags with a plain fabric and make all kinds of covers. Just have to wash the covers, and not have to worry about ripping out a seam, emptying out the rice, washing the bag, refilling with new rice and sewing the bags up. You could make theme bags to fit the winter holidays.

    • Hey Linda,
      Thank you for the lovely comment! I agree with you, making envelope-closure theme bags as gifts would be pretty awesome! Also, making covers for these hand warmers, in general, is definitely not a bad idea! I’d decided against, though, with my rice warmers, since that rice doesn’t have a super long lifespan to begin with – you can only reheat it a certain number of times. The microwave also does his fair share of killing some of the germs, so I was able to reuse them without finding them gross.

    • Hey Sherry,
      No, I didn’t! It’s easy, because prior to taking the rice warmer to the sewing machine and closing the gap, you’ll hold it so that all grains go to the bottom of the bag. That gives some leeway, so don’t worry about this step. All the best!

    • Hi Chloe,
      I haven’t washed mine. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to wash it as-is, the damp rice will get moldy. You can however remove some stitches, empty the old rice, wash and dry the fabric cover, then fill it again with new rice and close the opening. I hope that helps!

    • Hi Lisbeth,
      No, there’s no padding. I used a single layer of fabric. Just try making one from scraps, it’s super easy and quick, and so fun! If you’re worried about the microwave, try heating it first for no more than 5-10 seconds, then let it cool down – then try 20 seconds and so on.


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