42 Questions About Water-Based Pillows Answered

Supportive, firm and cool, water-based pillows are recommended by medical professionals for their special properties.   

What Is A Water-Based Pillow?

Water based pillows

As their name implies, water-based pillows are filled with water. Water pillows have a pouch to hold water. They also come with an underlayer of polyester, memory foam, gel, fiberfill, and other synthetic materials. These layers keep water from leaking through the pillow’s surface.

Who Invented It?

After surviving a car accident, Maurice Bard, the founder of Mediflow invented the concept of water pillows. He was influenced by the warmth of a hot bottle under his regular pillow to construct a pillow that provided the same adaptable neck support.

What Do They Look and Feel Like?

When it comes to physical appearance, a water pillow looks no different from a standard foam pillow. However, after flipping it over, you can find a small rotating cap on the other side that opens to reveal a storage pouch for water. Water pillows are super soft, squishy, and cold to the touch. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Water Pillow?

Made with water-based technology, water pillows are known for the extreme support they offer and their ability to relieve pain.

Here are some more benefits of using a water pillow:

  • Reduce pain intensity
  • Improve the quality of sleep
  • Inexpensive and affordable
  • Continuous sleep cycle
  • Extreme comfort
  • Adequate support
  • Suitable for all kinds of sleepers

What Are Their Pros and cons?

  • Extremely soft
  • Supportive
  • Provide relief from pain
  • Adjustable
  • Offer cooling effect
  • Don’t lump
  • Don’t flatten
  • Not malleable
  • Heavy
  • Can leak
  • Noisy

Are They Cold?

Even though the water-filled pillows do not have a cooling system, the insulation layer keeps the pillow at a lower temperature. The rapid transmission of heat from the body to the water layer helps keep your skin keep cool. This protects the pillow from heating up in the middle of the night.

Are They Comfortable?

Water-based pillows are extremely comfortable due to their malleability. Some clinical researchers have also found that they not only help with neck pain but also improve the quality of your sleep. However, their fabric quality can play a significant role in the level of comfort you receive. 

How Do You Sleep On Them?

Water pillows usually come with a customizable base, which can be adjusted to desired loft and other preferences. Side sleepers can adjust their pillows to be firm to fill the space and support their neck. Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, need minimal loft. However, back sleepers are recommended to adjust the pillow level to a moderate firmness for lumbar support.

Are They Good For Side Sleepers?

Side sleepers will appreciate the firmness of water-based pillows. Since these pillows contour to your head and neck perfectly, you don’t have to worry about going deep into the pillow due to the weight of your head.  

Because water is incompressible, whatever loft you set for your water pillow, stays the same throughout the night, no matter how much pressure you put on it. Hence side sleepers can easily adjust the height of the pillow so that their head is at the perfect level.

Are They Good For Back Sleepers?

Back sleepers frequently use an excessively thick pillow, causing their head to rest higher than their backbone, resulting in morning stiffness and, ultimately, neck problems.

The adaptability of water pillows allows the head to sit lower, avoiding this typical problem among such sleepers. They are likely to find water-filled pillows beneficial because they allow their head to align with their spine.

Are They Good For Stomach Sleepers?

Stomach sleepers should avoid using a high-loft pillow since it can put pressure on their neck, hence using a low-loft water pillow is ideal for them. They can also get rid of back pain by placing a water pillow under their stomach. 

Are They Good For Hot Sleepers?

Water pillows are essential for hot sleepers, however, they don’t provide overnight cooling. Due to the laws of heat transfer, when you’re not using the water pillow, the water inside cools to room temperature and provides a cooling sensation. 

However, the outer layer (polyester/fiberfill) functions as an insulating material between the liquid and your body, preventing the two from coming into contact. The insulating material absorbs all the heat while you’re sweating. As a direct consequence of this, there is no detectable effect of cooling after a while. 

Are They Good For Back Pain?

As opposed to traditional pillow materials such as cotton, water pillows maintain their loft no matter how much pressure is exerted on them, allowing you to sleep with your head raised comfortably.

Water pillows are perfect if you’re suffering from back pain and are concerned about spine alignment. A water pillow, if filled correctly, will continually keep your head lifted at just the appropriate height all night long.

Are They Good For Neck Pain?

If your pillow is excessively thin, your neck is likely curved too far downward, which can be very painful. No matter how you set them up, water pillows are malleable, keeping your neck and head in perfect alignment throughout the night and improving the quality of sleep. 

According to a published article on cervical pain by MD Robert A. Lavin, MD Marco Pappagallo, and Dr. Keith V. Kuhlemeier, to avoid aches and pains in your neck, you need to keep your head, neck, and spine in a stable position while you sleep.

Water pillows are known to do exactly that and help in reducing pain intensity and increasing pain relief.

Do Chiropractors Recommend Them?

A 2016 study showed that resting on one’s back puts maximum pressure on the cervical spine regions, which is thought to influence sleep quality by disrupting head-neck dynamics. This condition can be alleviated by using water-based pillows.

Chiropractors recommend using water pillows as water circulates within a water pillow, the pillow will adjust to provide optimal head support. The fact that these pillows can be customized in terms of both their height and their level of firmness is another benefit of using them.

Are They Worth It?

Water Pillows are a cost-effective approach to ease your sleeping issues. Many sleeping difficulties are caused by the imbalance of your neck and backbone. A water pillow realigns the head and spine, allowing for longer, more restful sleep.

Water Pillows are also soft and comforting, making your sleeping experience better. Studies have found that they have many advantages over regular pillows such as better pain alleviation, decreased pain severity, and enhanced sleep quality. 

Can They Be Washed?

Water pillows can be washed, but only by hand. There are several safe ways to clean these pillows. Some have covers that can be taken off and washed as per directions on the label. 

Because water pillows can’t be washed in the washing machine, you can remove debris by sweeping both sides of the pillow using the upholstery nozzle.

How to Wash Pillows by Hand and in a Washing Machine: A Complete Guide

How Do You Hand Wash Them?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to washing your water pillows by hand:

  • Take the pillowcase out, and wash it separately. 
  • Fill a tub with warm water.
  • Add a mild detergent.
  • Soak a clean towel in soapy water.
  • Use a soapy wet towel to clean the pillow’s surface. 
  • Let it air dry for a while.

Can You Machine Wash Them?

Since most water pillows are constructed with Down fiber, washing them in the machine would not be ideal. When washing, it’s best to first empty the water pouch. Finally, use hot water while hand washing it to get better results, and then let it air dry.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to air dry your pillows, make sure they’re completely dry before putting them in your bed.

How Do You Spot-Clean Them?

Here’s how to spot-clean your pillows in 8 easy steps:

  • Take a bowl filled with hot water.
  • Mix 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp vinegar.
  • Gently apply this mix to the affected area.
  • Leave it for a few minutes.
  • Use an old toothbrush to clean the stain. 
  • Add a few water drops if it’s too dry.
  • Repeat the same process on all the stains. 
  • Use a hair dryer to dry the spots. 

Can Put Them In The Dryer?

It is not recommended to put water pillows in the dryer as the water pouch might get punctured in the process. Read more about it in our next question. 

How Do You Dry Them?

Here are 3 ways to dry your water pillows at home:

  • Using sunlight: Hang your pillows outside to let them air dry.
  • Using a hair dryer: Use a heat-free hair dryer. 
  • Using a towel: Take a dry towel and use it to absorb excess water.   

Do They Go Lumpy?

Water pillows infused with memory foam or fiberfill can get lumpy over use and the lumps in these pillows can not be fixed. Check out our detailed article to understand how you can avoid lumps in your pillows. 

Do They Go Flat?

Unlike most traditional pillows, water pillows do not flatten quickly. However, they can get ruptured.

Do They Become Yellow?

Water pillows tend to become yellow when they are exposed to humidity and moisture for an extended period. This, however, can be avoided by keeping them dry from the outside. Do not forget to read our article on why pillows turn yellow and how to avoid it. 

Are They Noisy?

Some reviewers have criticized the water pillow’s squeaking noises. Water pillows can have a sloshing sound because of the water present in them. According to some users, if you do not take all the air out while filling your water pillow, it can be a little noisy. 

However, even after all of the air has been squeezed out of it, it will still make a little bit of sound when you keep moving around with it. Moreover, this can be ignored if you seal the valve cap tightly. 

Do They Have An Odor?

Water pillows do not have any specific odor. However, when they are brand new they can have a weird smell because of plastic packaging, which dissipates over time. 

Are They Better Than Gel Pillows?

Considering the affordability of water pillows over gel pillows, they’re an ideal choice for someone with back pain in a pocket-friendly way. Water pillows give you a similar level of ease to gel pillows, however, gel pillows offer greater support.

Gel pillows are relatively softer than water pillows, therefore, people who want a firmer pillow will have to make the transition gradually. Moreover, some people can be allergic to gel-filled pillows, which can have a disagreeable smell and even trigger their symptoms. 

It all boils down to the sleeper’s personal preferences and habits.

Are They Better Than Memory Foam Pillows?

Memory foam and water pillows, both are supportive and alleviate pain. However, memory pillows due to their thick structure and heat-trapping properties don’t make a good case for stomach sleepers, whereas water pillows are ideal for all types of sleepers. 

Due to regular use, memory foam pillows get flat over time making it difficult to sleep for people who need a high loft. Water pillows, on the other hand, can be filled as per your personal needs. 

The lifespan of water pillows outperforms memory pillows. They are also much cheaper than memory pillows. However, it is not fair to tell which is better since they both have their own merits. 

Are They Better Than Microfiber Pillows?

Microfiber pillows outperform water pillows in terms of weight and low maintenance. Water pillows, on the other hand, outperform them in terms of durability and budget.

Microfiber pillows are known for their fine fibers and super breathability whereas water pillows are famous for their cooling sensation. It is unfair to compare one to the other because both have their pros and cons. 

Are They Better Than Buckwheat Pillows?

Water pillows and buckwheat pillows are the exact opposite in terms of their filling since the latter is organic whereas water pillows are synthetic.

However, they both are known to provide support. Water pillows are more squishy whereas buckwheat pillows are quite heavy. 

Moreover, buckwheat’s hypoallergenic nature can help people who are prone to allergies. They are also more durable than water pillows.

Keeping their cost price and breathability in mind, they make a decent case for a natural firm pillow. They both have their pros and cons, therefore, no one is superior to the other. 

Are They Better Than Down Pillows?

Water pillows, due to their malleability, are excellent for people suffering from back or neck pain. Down pillows, on the other side, are soft and not ideal for those who suffer from neck or back pain. Since it slowly crumbles during the night, resulting in erratic assistance.

Down pillows can also cause allergies in some people, however, true feather allergy is not that common. Moreover, both the pillows are high-maintenance.

If you’re looking for a cruelty-free cheap alternative, water pillows make an excellent choice. People who are looking for a soft and naturally breathable pillow will be satisfied with Down. 

Taking all the advantages and disadvantages of both the pillows into account, they both are good. However, choosing which one is better would be decided by your personal preferences. 

Do You Need To Change The Water In A Water Pillow?

You must change the water in a water-based pillow, although not immediately, but eventually. However, you do not have to worry about changing it for a substantial period since it is recommended to replace the water once every year.

Should You Put Them In A Pillowcase?

Yes, putting your pillows is highly recommended for the following reasons:

  • Safety from dust-mite
  • Protection from allergens
  • Less dead cells accumulation
  • Leakage protection 

You can clean their removable case by tossing them into the washing machine. Drying your pillowcase at low heat for 10 to 15 minutes is suggested for better results.

How Do You Fill Them?

Follow these 9 steps to fill your water pillow:

  1. Start with loosening the valve cap. 
  2. Insert the valve and use it as a funnel. 
  3. Hold your pillow tightly.
  4. Fill in the desired amount of water. 
  5. Gently push the water down.
  6. Flatten the remaining portion of the water pouch. 
  7. Use your fingers to remove air bubbles. 
  8. Continue to apply light pressure. 
  9. Replace the cap and tighten it completely. 

How Much Water Do You Put In Them?

The amount of water you use to fill your water-based pillow depends on the desired loft. The more water you add, the firmer it will be. We suggest taking 64 oz for a low loft, three for a medium loft, and four or five for a stronger surface.

The base layer of a water pillow is adjustable, so you can make the pillow fit your sleeping style and how much support you need. More water makes it firmer, whereas less water softens it. 

How Do You Empty A Water Pillow?

Here’s how to empty your water pillow in 3 easy steps:

  • Flip the pillow over.
  • Grab the bottom tightly with both hands. 
  • Loosen the cap gently. 
  • Let the water drain out of the water pouch. 

Pro tip: The water should be completely drained from the pillow before being tipped back up on its side.

What Is The Problem With Using Them?

There is a possibility that your mattress could become ruined if you use water pillows because of the possibility of leakage. In addition, water pillows are somewhat hefty. It will be a hassle to rearrange your water pillow while you sleep, however, it doesn’t shift as much.

How Long Do They Last?

Water pillows can last 5 years or more unless they’re leaking. You can increase their longevity by maintaining good hygiene, cleaning them regularly, using a pillowcase, and more.

How Much Do They Cost?

The price of a normal water pillow could range anywhere from $7 to $180 based on the brand, size, quality, material of the pillowcase, thread count, and several other factors.

What Are The Best Water Pillows?

Keeping material quality, affordability, and thermal properties in mind, Mediflow Fiber Water Pillow and Mediflow Water Pillow with Memory Foam are the best water pillows available online.

Where Can You Buy Them?

You can buy the best water pillows online on the following sites: