Relieving aches, soothing cramps, warming kittens : These are just a few of the many reported uses for a heating pad. It warms up quickly and has twice as many heat settings as other p, its backlit controller is easier to grasp and operate, and testers preferred the overall experience of using this pad to that of all others we tested.
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A comfortable, top-rated pad with six heating levels to choose from. A quality electric heating pad is safety-certified, quickly reaches and maintains desired temperatures, and is equipped with an auto-shutoff function as well as a machine-washable cover.
The PureRelief ticks every box plus offers added comfort and conveniences such as a plush—but not excessively sweat-inducing—cover, six heat settings, a grip-friendly controller with a backlit display, and a storage bag. It has the same feel and features as our pick but is a bit pricier. Like our pick, this pad offers six levels of heat, a comfortable cover that can be machine-washed, and a backlit controller.
We consulted the following experts for this guide: sports medicine specialist Michael S. Kevin Purdy began testing and writing about home goods for Wirecutter in He has researched seemingly inscrutable products such as paper towelsdehumidifiersand steam mops and has used heating p in dealing with the lingering pain from two knee surgeries and a lower-back injury. Nancy Redd is Wirecutter's staff writer for health. She often focuses on helping people find more comfort at home, including in guides to bath bombs and light therapy lamps.
People use electric heating p to relieve muscle pain associated with menstrual cramps, arthritis, injuries, and other ailments. Heat increases blood flow where applied, helping to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation.
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The increased blood flow to a treated area can help soothe muscular cramping, spasms, aches, and soreness. Be aware, though, that putting a heating pad on a new injury generally within 72 hours can worsen pain-causing inflammation. If in doubt, consult a doctor before treating yourself with cold or heat. After interviewing experts, reading hundreds of reviews, and talking to people who regularly use heating p, we determined our criteria for picking out electric heating p worth testing. These criteria left us testing seven models.
We assessed each heating pad by doing the following:. In response to reader and tester complaints of our electric heating pad picks not feeling hot enough, we spoke with the manufacturers; both encouraged us to return any lukewarm-feeling p for replacements. Because of confidentiality policies, UL is unable to share temperature readings on the p it has tested.
The larger version of this heating pad, the XXL Extra Widefeatures the same heating levels and is just as plush, but is nearly double the size. The PureRelief cord stays firmly plugged into the pad and will not come loose, unlike the cord on some p we tested. Its cover dried faster than most p after washing, it comes with the minor convenience of a storage bag, and it is warrantied for five years. One tester thought the PureRelief made louder crinkling noises when bent than other p, but others found it quieter.
The cleaning instructions for the PureRelief are admittedly a bit fussier than those for other p wash in cold water on a delicate cycle, dry on low heat or on a linebut it dried out more fully on a line than other p within a couple of hours. While its plug stays firmly connected to the base of the pad, its locking tabs could be tough to disengage for people with large hands or pain in their fingers.
One of our long-term testers found that the PureRelief can have problems maintaining temperatures for long periods of time. In their experience, after about 30 minutes of use, the PureRelief tends to cool down, requiring them to increase the in order to start the heat again. The PureRelief has maintained an overall rating of above four out of five stars after more than 24, reviews by verified purchasers since September After noticing an uptick in negative reviews, specifically citing nonfunctioning units, during early fallwe contacted the company.
It is nearly the same pad: The Xpress Heat has six heating settings, a very similar texture on both sides, a controller with a backlit LCD screen, and an identical button layout to PureRelief, plus the same warranty. Four Wirecutter staffers have Homech heating pad troubleshooting the Sunbeam King Size XpressHeat for backaches, menstrual cramps, and occasional cat appeasement, two of them for at least two years.
None have had any problems with its function. It can be used as either an ice pack or a heating pad, and its physical flexibility in either frozen or hot form makes it easy to wrap around various body parts. Although at 14 inches by 11 inches the gel pack is smaller than our top pick, this size is more than adequate for most body placements, and it ensures the gel pack will safely fit in even a compact microwave. People looking for more coverage could consider buying this set of two. Unlike some of the gel packs we tested, the gel within the Ohuhu pack is segmented into compartments, which makes it easier for even heat distribution when conforming to body parts.
The gel packs we tested and looked at tended to be around the same size and for some reason the same color bluebut what truly set the Ohuhu apart from the competition is its unique and useful pouch, which comes with attached Velcro straps that enable the Ohuhu to be wrapped around targeted body parts and used hands-free. Like most gel packs, the Ohuhu can be heated up in either the microwave or a pot of boiling water.
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Use instructions are conveniently, if garishly, printed directly on the gel pack, and while the company suggests the Ohuhu will stay either cold or hot for 20 to 30 minutes, in our testing we found that it retained its heat for about 20 minutes but that its cooling ability lasted for over an hour. The Ohuhu comes with a one-year replacement or refund warranty that includes free return shipping.
All of the electric heating p we tested are certified by UL, an independent organization that evaluates the safety of myriad materials and consumer products. UL extensively tests the temperature regulation of each pad it certifies, along with the fail-safes built into the p that cause them to stop working rather than overheat or allow the inside of a heating pad to become exposed UL simulates overheating by covering the p with heavy felt. Heat is an elemental, intimidating force, and you should always be aware of what your heated pad is on or near. Both of our electric picks have a maximum two-hour automatic-shutoff function, which is enabled by default when you turn on the pad.
You can turn it off on all of our picks, but an expert we spoke with advised that you do not nor should you fall asleep with a pad on you. Sports medicine specialist Michael S. Beyond immediate injury, journalist Cathryn Jakobson Ramin noted that lying or sitting for extended periods of time with a pad on can run counter to the best practices for healing injuries. If you have any doubts about using a heating pad with any condition, check with a doctor.
The Sunbeam 4-in-1 Heating Padalso sold as the Select-a-Cycle, has three temperature-cycling modes—Rapid, Interval, and Wave—that none of the experts we consulted could imagine a practical use for. You have to click past the three modes to get to the three heat settings, which is annoying.
The cover texture catches on rough skin. And Homech heating pad troubleshooting Sunbeam King Size cover cannot be machine-washed. It has a long run of good reviews but costs almost twice as much as our pick. The Cureve Gel Pad comes with a cover, but one without Velcro straps, canceling out the possibility of hands-free use.
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Furthermore, because its gel is not segmented into compartments like the Ohuhu, it heats up unevenly and is difficult to place on the body. Due to their fabric coverings, both p took on faint food smells after being microwaved despite the microwave being cleanwhich the Ohuhu did not.
Neither can be heated by boiling, either, nor do they freeze well. The Cleveland Clinic has a helpful infographic for choosing between heat and ice for treating pain.
Joel Hawk, principal engineer manager at UL, small appliances divisionphone interview, July 19, Michael S. Freitas, M. Nancy Redd is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter covering everything from Santa hats to bath bombs. Her latest picture book, The Real Santafollows a determined little Black boy's journey to discover what the jolly icon truly looks like. Our pick. Sunbeam King Size XpressHeat A well-rated model from a known brand It has the same feel and features as our pick but is a bit pricier. Also great. Everything we recommend.
Why you should trust us. Who this is for. How we picked and tested. Photo: Rozette Rago.
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Flaws but not dealbreakers. Much like the controller on our pick, the King Size XpressHeat has a backlit LCD with large s, four control buttons, and a two-hour auto-off timer. How to safely use a heating pad. The competition.
Electric heating p. Jump back. About your guides. Kevin Purdy. Nancy Redd.