When cold weather hits, there’s nothing like snuggling up to a toasty hot water bottle with blankets pulled right up to your chin. It just won’t do to have a “naked” bottle, there needs to be some sort of covering so that the heat is retained longer and our skin is better protected.
I’ve put together a large list of creative ways you can make a cozy for them so they’re even more snuggle-friendly. They’re all free patterns and tutorials with instant access, no emails to submit and no memberships required.
New Collection Update: June, 2022
We do love our DIY rice bags for soothing cramps, easing joint pain and other maladies, and they do act as cozy warmers too, but a good hot water bottle will last longer through the night. Just fill them up and sneak them under the blankets before beginning your bedtime routine and by the time you slide into bed, the toasty warmth will embrace you.
I’ll say it here first: Hot water bottles (aka “Hotties”) are making a comeback. As costs for heating our homes rise, folks are discovering one way to shave the monthly bill over the long winter months is to turn the heat way down at night and bundle up in bed with extra warmers like flannel pajamas, thick socks and more blankets.
What I remember from childhood (about 50 years ago) is having one tucked into bed with me when I was not feeling well or when the night was especially cold. I don’t recall a special case on it but that it was simply wrapped in a towel so that I wouldn’t get burned. That works, I survived, all is well…if one doesn’t move around too much while sleeping. Fitted covers are best for obvious reasons.
There are hotties you can buy that come wrapped in a “sweater” already, oftentimes though they are of poor quality and don’t wash well or are very thin. Homemade is far superior–we’ll get to those right away.
Are Hot Water Bottles Safe?
They may seem harmless if you also grew up with them but they can be dangerous. Here are some guidelines to follow that will help avoid any risk of burns or scalding:
- Do not lay a bare hottie directly on your skin, a covering is needed not only to help retain heat, but to offer some protection to your body.
- Replace every two years as the materials/rubber will break down over time.
- Use water from the kettle that was first brought to a boil then allowed to cool about 5 minutes before filling the bottle.
- After carefully filling with water & twisting the stopper closed, jiggle it around, shake it upside down, look carefully for any leaks, cracking in rubber or weak spots–especially looking at the screw cap area. This is not a job to do when distracted.
- No, you cannot warm it in the microwave. No, you cannot use it alongside an electric blanket.
- Do not overfill! Two-thirds to three-quarters is the max (follow the manufacturer’s advice for the particular product you are using). Squeeze out the air until you see the water coming up the neck then cap tight. If you fill it too full or leave it filled with air, there’s a higher risk of rupture.
- After each use, drain the hottie completely, hang upside down and allow to fully dry before storing away (without the stopper on).
- These are not recommended for toddlers. Extra care should be taken with the elderly, those with diabetes and young children (4+ years) since their skin is more delicate and vulnerable. Allow the water to cool a little longer before using.
- Do not keep heat on the same body part for longer than 20 minutes…move it around.
How To Use A Hot Water Bottle:
If wanting to keep it under the covers with you throughout the night, it’s best to place the bottle between the sheets in the middle of the bed. This will warm it up then once you get in (about 10 to 20 minutes later), move the hottie way down to your feet (either beside or just past your tootsies–don’t rest them on the bottle).
This way there’s no chance for the full weight of your body to roll over it (and maybe bursting weak seams) but you still get the comfort of its warmth.
Note: Some advise against this altogether and recommend removing the bottle from the bed before falling asleep.
Did You Know:
Hot water bottles should have a “Daisy Wheel” somewhere on the outside that shows the manufacturing date. The big number in the middle of the Daisy is the year that the hottie was made. If you don’t see one, avoid using it.
There also may be dots in the 12 “spokes” surrounding the center. The first spoke is January (1 o’clock position), the next is February, all the way around until the last is December. Three dots in the fourth spoke indicates the manufacture date was the third week of April and in this case, the year 2018 (with the number 18 showing in the center).
Why is this important? Because you’ll see at a glance how old it is and when it’s time to toss it.
How To Make Hot Water Bottle Covers & Cozies
First up is an introductory assortment of projects to check out then I’ve organized the rest into three galleries for easy browsing:
- Sewing & Quilting Tutorials
- Knitting Patterns
- Crochet Patterns
Some may seem identical but there’s usually a twist involved so they were included, either a decorative embellishment or a different neck design, maybe a pocket or how it’s seamed.
Directions: Click on images to view project pages, a new browser tab will open to save your spot here
Rustic Roses – Crochet
This is better suited for an Intermediate to Advanced crocheter since the pattern instructions are “loose” (ie. general directions). Simple enough to whip up but might be too much for a Beginner. She’s made this for a mini bottle but you can see how to adjust for custom sizing.
Supplies needed: Two complimentary fat quarters (1 for cover, 1 for bias tape border), quilt batting & muslin for the lining. A template is made by tracing the outline so this is suitable for any size you want to make. Also has an opening at the back for easy insert & retrieval.
Red Cross – Knitting
Designed for mini pocket hotties (8″x4.5″) & also large (8″x11″). Worked on circulars or DPNs. The pattern is available via free pdf (there’s a link in bottom right corner that says “Download English”).
Mr. Popper’s Penguin
A fun character the kiddos will surely love, this sweet cover is sized to fit a standard hot water bottle (approximately 8″ wide x 13″ high). This snugly warm buddy is knit with 2 skeins of black yarn, 1 skein of cream & a bit of orange for his beak. Yarn is held doubled throughout the project & then felted when done. There’s a flap on the bottom (at back) for easy insertion, velcro holds it closed.
Repurposed Hand Towel – Sewing
Tutorial shows how to make a template for a custom fit, this does not include the embroidery pattern for the cartoon face but she teaches how to use one (either purchased or one you’ve designed yourself).
A good pattern for Beginner crocheters, this will use up your yarn stash nicely. Notice the sweet little flowers in the top left corner (instructions included) & the scalloped border at the neck. The back has an opening, held closed by three buttons.
Made of thin quilter’s flannel, features a top pocket in the center. Slide an aromatic sachet into the pocket (or try her suggestion of 3 to 4 drops of Chamomile Essential Oil onto a teabag) and as it warms, the soothing scent will fill your bed. Quite clever!
Granny Stripes – Crochet
Another terrific yarn stash buster, rows are crocheted in a rectangle until large enough to cover the body, then seamed up the back center. Bottom can be sewn shut or hooks & eyes attached for easy hottie removal. Neck is custom fit as well.
Chunky Knit with Pom Pom Ties
Worked in the round with chunky yarn, bottom up, in stocking stitch & a cabling pattern repeat. Plaited drawstring with pompoms is threaded through eyelets around the neck. Includes a pattern for matching socks, this is available via pdf download.
Quick & Easy Cover (Sewing)
A pdf template is provided but you can easily make your own. One side is a solid piece, the other is two (to make an insert slot which is bound with contrasting fabric). This is padded & lined for extra warmth.
Granny Square Cozy
Here’s a lovely project to use up your favorite granny squares. To get the free crochet pattern for this project, click the link that says “Print Page”.
Sewing & Quilting Tutorials
Suggested materials that will work well: Fleece, flannel, faux fur, sherpa, quilting cotton, felt, repurposed fabrics from items such as cashmere sweaters (jumpers), flannel pajamas, wool blankets, towels. Notice how lovely wee appliques and decorative trims such as rickrack can be.
Free Knitting Patterns
Whether you’re looking for something simple or a little fancy, there are some really lovely designs in this bunch. Many are Beginner friendly. Quick Tip: If you’re going to block it before using, inserting the bottle first can give great results.
Free Crochet Patterns
I think this collection has grown nicely and I have to admit, I’m partial to the granny square motifs…and pom pom ties are a must. It’s the vintage heart in me I think ;). Add a crochet flower or two, a mini doily or a fabric applique to add a bit of charm.
A Cool Quick Tip
Hot water bottles can also be used to cool down on scorching summer days! Simply fill with cold water (same filling precautions as listed above to protect the integrity of the rubber material), then place in the fridge to keep cool. A thin cotton, linen or muslin cover would work best in this case.
To prevent increased breakdown rate of rubber or plastic materials, I would keep one for hot and another for cold, or keep a single one for both temps and replace annually.
This could also be a way to extend the life of a hottie. Instead of throwing it out after two years, keep it on hand just for cooling purposes. Since there’s no risk of skin being burned, it would be fine to stretch usage…however…keep in mind it’s nearing the end of its life and could leak or burst more readily.