Can I Use a Towel as a Neck Pillow?


Towels can be a surprisingly effective and readily available way to provide neck support and improve sleep quality. 

This guide from PainFreeAussies explores the benefits, DIY techniques, and tips for maximizing comfort when using a towel as a neck pillow.

What is a Neck Pillow?

A cervical neck pillow is a specially designed pillow that supports your neck and head, helping to maintain proper alignment and reduce strain or discomfort. They're commonly used for:

  • Travel: Neck pillows provide support and comfort during long flights, car rides, or other travel situations, helping to alleviate neck tension and promote relaxation.

  • Rest and Sleep: Neck pillows can also be used on the bed while resting or sleeping, offering support and comfort, particularly for individuals with neck Discomfort or who simply prefer a more comfortable sleep position.

  • Benefits of Using a Towel as a Neck Pillow

    Using a towel as a neck pillow offers several advantages:

    1. Support and Comfort:

    Proper Alignment: Folded towels support the neck, maintaining proper alignment and reducing strain. 
    Customizable Comfort: Different folding techniques like rolling or U-shape allow for adjusting the thickness and shape for personalized comfort.

    2. Adjustability:

    Adaptable Shape and Thickness: Unlike fixed neck pillows, towels can be adjusted for individual needs. Tight folding increases firmness, while loose folding creates a softer pillow.

    3. Availability and Cost:

    • Easy Access: Most households have towels, making them readily available for neck support on the go.
    • Cost-Effective: Saves money compared to purchasing specialized neck pillows 

    4. Additional Benefits:

    • Portable: Easy to carry and use anywhere.
    • Washable: Can be easily cleaned for hygiene.

    Read Also - Cervical Pillow vs Regular Pillow 

    How to Make a DIY Towel Neck Pillow

    Now that we know the benefits of using a towel as a neck pillow let's look at some DIY techniques to make one:

    1. Folding Techniques:

  • Roll Technique: Lay the towel flat and roll it tightly from one end to the other. This creates a cylindrical shape for neck support.

  • U-Shape Technique: Fold the towel in half lengthwise, then fold it in half again to form a U-shape. This supports both the back and sides of your neck.

  • Knot Technique: Fold the towel in half lengthwise and tie a knot at one end. Flip it inside out to create a pocket. This lets you adjust the tightness for desired support.

  • 2. Adding Stuffing (Optional):

    For extra padding, add stuff like felt, fleece, small cushions, or rolled-up clothing. Remember, the towel itself can provide enough support.

    3. Securing the Shape:

    To ensure the pillow keeps its shape, use safety pins or sew it together with a needle and thread. Sewing may limit future adjustability.

    Tips for Getting the Most out of a Towel Neck Pillow

    1. Choose a towel with the right thickness and softness. Look for medium thickness and a soft texture.
    2. Position the towel around your neck, aligning it with your spine's natural curve. Adjust the tightness for comfort without strain.
    3. Maintain the pillow's shape by reshaping and fluffing it regularly. This will ensure continued comfort and support.

    Potential Downsides to Using a Towel

    1. Less support: Towels may offer a different level of support than specialized neck pillows. If you have specific neck issues or chronic discomfort, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional for guidance on the best neck support options.

    2. Loss of shape:  Frequent use of towels may cause them to lose shape over time, resulting in a less supportive neck pillow. Regular maintenance and reshaping can help mitigate this issue.

    3. Less portability:  Towels take up more space than compact travel neck pillows. If portability is important to you, consider alternatives like inflatable neck pillows or memory foam travel pillows, designed to be compact and provide excellent support while traveling.

    Read Also - Cervical Pillow vs. Memory Foam Pillow 


    1. Can I wash my towel neck pillow?
      Yes, you can wash your towel neck pillow like any other towel. Follow the care instructions on the towel's label to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance.
    2. How long will my towel neck pillow last?
      The lifespan of your towel neck pillow will depend on factors such as the quality of the towel, frequency of use, and proper maintenance. With regular reshaping and care, your towel neck pillow can last considerably.
    3. Can I customize the size and shape of my towel neck pillow?
      Absolutely! That's one of the advantages of using a towel as a neck pillow. You can adapt the size and shape to your liking by adjusting the folding technique and tightness.
    4. Can I use a towel instead of a regular pillow?
      While using a towel as a neck pillow can be beneficial, it's not ideal for replacing your regular pillow. A standard pillow provides support for your head and neck, which is important for maintaining proper spinal alignment.
    5. What are some alternatives to a towel neck pillow?
      There are several alternatives to a towel neck pillow, including:
    • Travel pillow: Travel pillows are designed to be compact and portable, making them a good option for travel.
    • Cervical pillow: Cervical pillows are designed to support the natural curve of your neck.
    • Memory foam pillow: Memory foam pillows conform to your head and neck, providing personalized comfort.


    In conclusion, using a towel as a neck pillow can provide support, comfort, and adjustability while resting or traveling. The benefits of using a towel as a neck pillow include its supportiveness, adjustability, availability, and cost-effectiveness. By following the DIY techniques outlined in this guide, you can create your own personalized towel neck pillow for a comfortable and relaxing experience.
    However, it's important to acknowledge the potential downsides and limitations of using a towel as a neck pillow, especially for individuals with specific neck issues. If in doubt, always consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.