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Does paying more get you a better hot water bottle?

We tested hot water bottles to find out which stays toasty the longest and if there's any difference between an expensive and cheap hot water bottle

Does paying more get you a better hot water bottle?

Hot water bottles are brilliant for keeping you warm on chilly autumn nights, especially if you’re trying to help the planet and your bank balance by turning down the central heating. But will spending more on a hot water bottle keep you warmer for longer?

To find out, we bought nine of the UK’s bestselling hot water bottles from Superdrug, John Lewis, Wilko and more, ranging in price from £5 up to £30, and put them to the test.

We filled all of them up to two-thirds of their capacity with hot water and tracked how quickly they cooled down over several hours with the covers on and with the covers off.

Read on to find out if we think it’s worth spending extra money on a pricier hot water bottle, our verdict on the current trend for long hot water bottles, and how comfortable and easy it was to fill all of the hot water bottles we tested.

Plus we reveal our top tips for caring and cleaning your water bottle to help extend its life.


For tips on cutting down the cost of heating, see our 10 ways to save on energy bills.


long hot water bottles, hot water bottle covers and eco hot water bottles

What our tests found

So is it worth spending extra money on a more expensive hot water bottle? In short – no, it isn’t.

As we recorded the temperature drops over several hours, we found that all of the hot water bottles were within 2°C of each other on average when we ran our tests with the covers off.

If you held a hot water bottle in each hand and one was 2°C hotter than the other, we’re not sure you’d be able to say which one was warmer.

Not all of the hot water bottles we tested came with covers, but we repeated the tests with the covers on for those that did to see if it led to much bigger differences. It didn’t.

After three hours all of the hot water bottles we tested, with covers on and without, dropped to around body temperature (37°C) or less.

So our advice would be to buy yourself a cheap hot water bottle and put the additional cash towards a thick, high quality cover for it.

That way you’re spending less on the part that doesn’t make much of a difference (the bottle), and more on the bit where comfort, insulation and appearance come into it (the cover).

Our tests didn’t just focus on how warm the hot water bottles stayed, though. We also judged them on comfort, how easy they are to fill and how straightforward they are to look after. See our findings below.

Best hot water bottles

Superdrug Hot Water Bottle 1.7L

Editor’s Choice: Superdrug Hot Water Bottle 1.7L

Cheapest price: £6.99, available at Superdrug

Capacity: 1.7L

Cover included?: No

Our verdict: This natural rubber hot water bottle from Superdrug doesn’t come with a cover, so it’s only as comfy as you make it. But we couldn’t find anything wrong with it in our tests and it’s available at a great price.

There are two colours available, but there’s no option to choose when you order from Superdrug online. You’ll find out which colour you’ve got when it gets delivered.

You also get one hot water bottle per purchase, not two, despite the product pictures showing two bottles.

The cup around the lid is wide, making the bottle extra easy to fill and reducing the chances of any stray hot water landing on you or the floor.

We had no trouble pushing the excess air out before sealing it and couldn’t spot any rough edges, smells or weaknesses.

Overall it’s a simple, cheap hot water bottle that does the job you need with no unwelcome surprises. Go grab yourself one of these and buy a cover for it that suits your tastes.

John Lewis & Partners Patterned Hot Water Bottle, Multi

Editor’s Choice: John Lewis & Partners Patterned Hot Water Bottle, Multi

Cheapest price: £25, blue patterned version available at John Lewis

Capacity: 1.5L

Cover included?: Yes

Our verdict: If you want a hot water bottle and cover combo and aren’t interested in shopping separately for a thick and comfy cover, this John Lewis hot water bottle is the one we’d direct you to.

Sadly at the time of writing the multi-colour one is already out of stock, but you can sign up to be notified by John Lewis when it’s back in stock on the product page. The blue version of the same hot water is still available, though.

It’s much more expensive than the Superdrug hot water bottle, but we thought the included cover was the most stylish of those we tested, and by far the softest.

It was also by a small margin the only hot water bottle to still be above body temperature three hours after we filled it, so the cover was the best we tested for keeping the bottle warm.

Similar to the Superdrug hot water bottle, this one has a wide cup at the top to catch any drips and it couldn’t be easier to fill.

The only downside to it is that the cover is wipe-clean only, so you’ll need to take care to avoid spilling your hot chocolate all over it.

How the rest fared

Here’s what we thought of the rest of the hot water bottles we tested, listed in alphabetical order.

Cassandra Hot Water Bottle HW0101

Cassandra Hot Water Bottle HW0101

Cheapest price: £5.99, available at Amazon

Capacity: 1.8L

Cover included?: No

Our verdict: Although similar in appearance, size and price to the Superdrug hot water bottle, we were put off recommending this Cassandra hot water bottle as it was greasy to touch.

As with the Superdrug hot water bottle, you get one hot water bottle per purchase and it can be one of the three colours pictured above. There’s no option to pick and choose the colour you want.

It’s made from natural rubber as with several other hot water bottles we tested, but this was the only one that felt slimy and unpleasant in our hands.

Besides that we had no problems with it. We found it easy to fill and despite the greasiness we didn’t find any odd smells or stains left over from manufacturing.

Cassandra Long Cable Knit Hot Water Bottle

Cassandra Long Cable Knit Hot Water Bottle

Cheapest price: £19, available at Argos

Capacity: 1.75L

Cover included?: Yes

Our verdict: It may look snuggly, but we thought Cassandra’s Long Cable Knit Hot Water Bottle wasn’t especially comfortable, and we found it very difficult to fill.

Although the cover was soft to touch, we thought the sides of the bottle were tough and hard, making it less comfortable to hug, and the bottle also had an unpleasant, rubbery smell.

Because of its length, the water you pour in congregates at the bottom. You can’t let go of the top as it risks flopping over, so to squeeze out the remaining air we had to hug it and squeeze it with our legs at the same time.

The cover is also hand wash-only, so you won’t be able to bung it in the washing machine when it needs cleaning.

Woman hugging the The Body Hot Water Bottle By YUYU

The Body Hot Water Bottle By YUYU

Cheapest price: £24.99, available at Argos

Capacity: 1.75L

Cover included?: Yes

Our verdict: As was the case with Cassandra’s long hot water bottle, we found this one difficult to fill due to its shape, and it’s less comfortable than it appears.

The cover is however very soft to touch, and there’s a strap you can loop together so you can wear the hot water bottle around your waist or shoulders.

We would question the usefulness of this, though, as although you’ll be wrapped up, you won’t be able to sit back or lie down as you’ll put your body weight on the hot water bottle.

The YUYU hot water bottle was another that we found had an unpleasant smell left over from manufacturing, and when we pulled the hot water bottle out of the cover we also saw the bottle was stained.

The cover can however be washed at 30°C in the washing machine, so it is at least easy to keep it clean.

George Home Grey Teddy Hot Water Bottle

George Home Grey Teddy Hot Water Bottle

Cheapest price: £5, available at Asda

Capacity: 1.5L

Cover included?: Yes

Our verdict: We had no trouble filling up this cheap hot water bottle, and we’d be happy to recommend it if it wasn’t for its unpleasant, rubbery smell and underwhelming cover.

At £5 you won’t expect to get the world’s softest cover, but this one felt cheap and matted to our testers.

The cover is also hand wash-only, and it’s recommended that you put it through a short spin cycle after washing to help it dry.

Hot Water Bottle Shop 2 Litre Eco Hot Water Bottle with Orange Zip Cover (rubberless)

The Hot Water Bottle Shop 2 Litre Eco Hot Water Bottle with Orange Zip Cover (rubberless)

Cheapest price: £27.99, available at The Hot Water Bottle Shop

Capacity: 2L

Cover included?: Yes

Our verdict: We had high hopes for this hot water bottle, not only because of its price, but also its sustainable credentials. Sadly, we thought it was one of the least comfortable hot water bottles we tested and we didn’t find it easy to fill.

The Hot Water Bottle Shop says this bottle is made of recyclable plastic that is 90% ‘biobased’, 9% ‘fossil carbon’, and PVC and phthalate-free. You can recycle it with your household plastic recycling, so it’s easy to dispose of it responsibly.

Although we’re pleased that this hot water bottle is recyclable, we found the plastic bottle tough and hard, and the thin cover did little to soften it. Fans of squishy, cushioned bottles may find this one disappointing.

The opening at the top of the bottle is wide so it’s easy to pour water in, but there’s no cup to catch any wayward water so there’s a higher chance of you burning yourself if you miss.

This also means that when squeezing out the excess air the water comes very close to coming out of the top, so there’s very little room for error when filling this bottle up.

The cover is machine-washable at 40°C, so if it gets stained or dirty it’s a low-effort job to get it clean again.

Samply Transparents 1.8L Hot Water Bottle

Samply Transparents 1.8L Hot Water Bottle

Cheapest price: £9.99, available at Amazon

Capacity: 1.8L

Cover included?: Yes

Our verdict: This is yet another cheap hot water bottle that we feel lets itself down with strange smells. Both the cover and the bottle inside smelled like chemicals when we took them out of their packaging.

The cup at the top of the hot water bottle is large, but it pinches inwards in the middle, making the opening smaller for pouring in your water.

We think the cover is soft, but no instructions are given as to how to care for or clean it so you’ll have to take your best guess and hope it doesn’t get ruined.

Wilko Hot Water Bottle with Cover

Wilko Hot Water Bottle with Cover

Cheapest price: £6, available at Wilko

Capacity: 1.5L

Cover included?: Yes

Our verdict: We were happy with Wilko’s hot water bottle, but the cover didn’t inspire us so you may end up buying an additional cover separately.

These natural rubber hot water bottles come in a variety of colours, but when buying online there’s no option to choose which colour you’d like, so you get what you’re given.

Although there are three options shown above, you’ll get one hot water bottle per purchase.

We found it easy to fill and didn’t notice any odd smells or stains, but we thought the cover was thin and not overly comfortable.

It’s also hand wash-only, so it’s not the easiest hot water bottle to look after.

Long hot water bottles: are they a fad?

A long hot water bottle sounds like a great idea – who wouldn’t want to be cosy and warm from head to toe?

But the two long hot water bottles we tested left us thinking more about the cons than the pros.

  • They’re difficult to fill – both long hot water bottles we tested proved tricky to fill up as the water fell to the bottom of the bottle and sat at around knee height. Filling up a hot water bottle to full is not recommended, so we had to use our knees to squeeze the bottle as well as hug them to get the excess air out. It felt precarious and was much more effort than filling up a normal hot water bottle.
  • The hard edges are much more noticeable – most rubber hot water bottles have hard seams around the sides of the squishy pouch that holds the water. As long hot water bottles are much thinner, these seams are more noticeable when you’re holding a long hot water bottle and it doesn’t feel very comfortable pressed against you.

Cosy up and get ready for the festive season with our picks of chocolate advent calendars, gin advent calendars, and kids’ toys advent calendars.


Opening a hot water bottle cap

How to care for and clean your hot water bottle

  • Don’t use boiling water – this is a tip some people take more seriously than others, but it is a simple case of waiting a minute or two after the kettle has boiled before filling the hot water bottle up. Boiling water will degrade the seams of the bottle and make punctures more likely.
  • Don’t fill them more than two thirds of their capacity – filling them right up to full puts strain on the seams and the cap, and if you accidentally lean on them there’s a much higher chance the bottle will burst. Some manufacturers will say no more than three quarters, but for our tests we filled all the hot water bottles up to two thirds and squeezed out the remaining air before sealing them.
  • Empty and dry them after each use – leaving water inside the hot water bottle for long periods is certain to lead to mould growing inside, so make sure to empty the bottle out and hang it upside down so it can drain and dry out fully.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaning chemicals – hot water bottle covers can be machine-washable, hand wash-only or not suitable for cleaning at all, but generally the hot water bottle itself should be wiped down with a damp cloth. Strong cleaning products should be avoided, as with repeated use they can also degrade the material of the hot water bottle and increase the chances of a puncture.

Need the best cleaning products money can buy? Check out our recommended fabric stain removers.


 

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