Baby, it’s cold outside! Keep the chill at bay AND get your craft on by making these handy DIY hand warmers! Your kiddos will stay warm and toasty each day as they head to school or to play outside, and you’ll save a bunch on the disposable store-bought variety.
As the weather turns chilly, we all start packing on the layers, adding hats, and wearing gloves to stay warm outside. Instead of using like a million of those single-use, disposable hand warmers, why not whip up some DIY hand warmers that will keep you toasty time and time again?
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These easy hand warmers make great gifts and will be the hit of the neighborhood when the air turns cold. But you don't have to be a kid to enjoy them. They’re perfect for adults too!
Best of all, they are so easy peasy to make that you can complete a set in less than 30 minutes! We even have some clever ways to use them outside of your pockets! Dare we say they're handy warmers?
HOW DO HAND WARMERS WORK?
Disposable hand warmers you buy are magical — like an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy! The single-use packets are actually made from several ingredients that create rust, and heat is generated as a byproduct. Mind blown. Science is cool, right?!
On the other hand, there’s no exothermic reaction necessary for our handy little DIY homemade warmers. You simply pop the little bags in the microwave to heat the uncooked rice inside, and it provides a soothing, comfortable heat that will keep you warm for about an hour.
ARE THEY SAFE?
Disposable hand warmers you buy ARE pretty safe and non-toxic when they are used as directed, but they do contain ingredients you should handle with care. One of the ingredients — iron — can be dangerous if ingested by a child or pet. When you’ve got kiddos and fur babies running around, you don’t need to be worrying about someone eating the hand warmer. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
That’s just one more reason why you’ll love having these DIY homemade life-savers around for cold, blustery days. Hand warmers you make yourself don’t contain any potentially harmful ingredients — they’re just rice (or beans) and fabric. Pretty basic, right?
That said, while you don’t need to worry about questionable ingredients in these humble homemade warmers, protect against burns! Supervise your kiddos when they microwave their hand warmers to make sure they don’t overdo it! Then, check the heated bag after to make sure it's not too hot for use. They are just SOOO warm and soothing.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN
With just a few supplies, you’ll be off and crafting in no time. Use holiday-themed prints, mix and match prints, or kid-friendly patterns, and go nuts! You can’t go wrong with whatever you have on hand. Follow these basic instructions to get you on your way!
EASY DIY HAND WARMERS
- Sewing Machine
- 4 pieces 3″x3″ Cotton Fabric (no blends)
- Uncooked Rice
- A Few Drops of Your Favorite Essential Oil, optional
- First, pin two pieces of fabric together, wrong side out.
- Use a sewing machine to sew around the edges, leaving at least an inch opening.
- Turn the square right side out. It helps to use something long and thin like a pen to push the fabric through the hole and to square the corners.
- Fill the squares 3/4 of the way with rice using a spoon or small funnel.
- Either hand sew or machine stitch the inch opening closed.
Pro Tip: If your sewing skills aren’t up to snuff, you’re not out of luck! You can still whip up some handy dandy hand warmers using this no-sew pattern tutorial from Kin Community.
OTHER DIY HAND WARMER IDEAS
Ideally, you have some extra scraps of fabric in your sewing stash that you can use to cut two small squares. If not, here’s a few other things you can use for your DIY hand warmers:
- Worn Pillowcase – Repurpose old bedding into DIY hand warmers just like these reimagined pillowcases from The Wellness Mama.
- Dish Towel – Turn that well-loved holiday towel into holiday hand warmers like this dish towel version from My Golden Thimble.
- Old Tube Sock – Looking for another no-sew option? Use peel and stick tape to turn an old tube sock into a heating pack/pad as shown in this Hallmark Channel tutorial.
- Worn Flannel Shirt – Have you outgrown that cozy plaid flannel button-up? Then use the fabric to whip up some warmers just like Sadie Seasongoods.
- Stale Bag of Beans – If your supply of uncooked rice has run dry, that’s ok! You can still make your DIY hand warmers with dried beans like Ducks ‘n A Row.
- Alternate Fillers – Don’t have rice or beans on hand? You can also use flaxseed, coffee beans, dried lentils, or quinoa as fillers.
Are you sensing a theme here? If you have “any old something” laying around the house that is nearing the end of its usefulness, then cut it up and use the squares to make your DIY warmers. Voila! You’re being resourceful and staying warm at the same time.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR HAND WARMERS
While you can’t fully “wash” your completed hand warmer, there are a few things you can do to keep it clean and make it last.
- Use A Clean Microwave – Always place your hand warmer on a clean surface in the microwave to avoid transferring any oil, grease, or food left behind in your microwave.
- Do Not Submerge – Keep your hand warmer from being submerged in water. If the fabric gets soiled, spot clean it, and allow it to dry completely prior to use.
Take just a little extra care when you use your hand warmers, and you’ll be able to use them year after year to keep your hands warm and cozy. You could just be passing these on down to your grandkids one day. You never know!
WHAT ELSE CAN HAND WARMERS BE USED FOR?
These little babies aren’t just for keeping hands and feet warm! You can put them to good use in a TON of ways that you may never have considered before. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Heating Pad – Use a couple of them at once to soothe aches and pains.
- Cold Pack – Put one in the freezer for an hour and then use it as a cold pack!
- Warm Your Bed – Out camping? Warm one, then place inside your sleeping bag to help keep you toasty and snug.
- Keep Hot Lunches Hot – Heat one in the microwave, then add it to an insulated lunch tote to help keep your hot lunch hot.
- Aromatherapy – Add a few drops of your fave essential oil such as lavender to the uncooked rice. Each time you heat it, you will get the soothing smell of essential oils.
There are seriously so many handy things you can do with these little warmers. We can’t wait to hear all the unique things that you come up with for yours!
HOMEMADE HAND WARMERS YOU CAN BUY
If you’re not the crafty type (or if you need to buy your hand warmers in bulk), you CAN bypass the DIY option. We won’t judge. Let someone else do the crafting, and you can enjoy their hard work. Check out these adorable homemade hand warmers you can buy!
- Gift Ready – Get some homemade hand warmers that are ready to gift from SimplyAdoredJess.
- Heart In Your Hands – These heart-shaped fleece warmers from CandysHandmadeGifts are the perfect option for someone you love.
- Flaxseed Option – Try out a non-rice option with these flaxseed filled bags from GardenMemoriesGifts.
There are DOZENS of options available on Etsy that you can buy. We're always in favor of supporting other makers, so hop online and give them a look!
We hope that you’re inspired to craft up a few of these bad boys for yourself and your family. Give the kids something cozy and homemade before sending them out the door. It’s like sending them with a warm hug. Just like Olaf, we love warm hugs.
Leave a comment and tell us about your favorite hand warmers!
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- Get things squeaky clean with these handy homemade cleaners.
- Never run out of baby wipes again when you make your own with this tutorial.