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What are Bath Pillows?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 23, 2024
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Bath pillows provide head and neck support for bathers using standard bathtubs or therapeutic whirlpools. These bath pillows may be inflatable models fashioned from welded plastic and terry cloth, or massaging units constructed from molded plastic or rubber. Suction cups usually secure bath pillows to the tub itself. Some bath pillows are ventilated to prevent heat buildup, while others can be filled with hot or cold water to act as compresses.

Standard bathtub models seem to share one major design flaw for bathers- they are not ergonomically designed to accommodate the head and neck region. Those seeking a relaxing bathing experience often discover that porcelain or steel rims are cold and unwieldy. Bath pillows were developed to address this issue of comfort and relaxation. By putting a soft cushion between the hard form of the tub and the sensitive head and neck area of the bather, bath pillows encourage longer and more soothing visits.

The addition of massage units and compresses to standard bath pillows has also proven successful in spas and day salons. Some spa treatments combine the comfort of massage bath pillows with aromatherapy for an even more luxurious bathing experience. Inflatable models marketed for home use can also be used in conjunction with aromatherapies or special bath water treatments.

Bath pillows can usually be purchased at specialty stores such as Bed, Bath and Beyond or in larger department stores such as Target. Basic models for home use are made from welded vinyl, with a thin layer of terry cloth around the head and neck area. Suction cups hold the pillow to the side of the tub, which can prove to be a handy feature when dealing with an inflatable product. Unsecured bath pillows inflated with air tend to shift positions as the water level changes, so consumers should make sure to look for a strong support system. Although promoted as inflatable cushions, bath pillows can also be filled with hot or cold water to provide additional relief for sore muscles or headaches.

Bath pillows should be kept dry and clean between uses. Many of the same techniques for keeping vinyl shower curtains mildew-free can be used on bath pillows, but they should always be thoroughly rinsed and dried before the next use.

PillowGuide is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to PillowGuide, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By w00dchuck41 — On Jul 23, 2011

@zeak4hands - I use the blow up clam kind. I don't like the foam ones -- they're too hard. At least with the blow up ones, you can choose how much support you want. Plus, a lot of the foam ones have bad shapes. They are small and square.

I use bath oils and put mint tea in my baths, so my bath pillows have to be cleaned really well. I usually just use dish soap and then pat it dry with a dish towel. Easy cleaning is pretty much the only reason I've ever considered using a foam one again.

By Calvin77 — On Jul 23, 2011

@zeak4hands - I used the foam kind of bath pillows for years now, but I always hated how I stuck to it when I was in the bath. The foam type of bath pillows are just foam -- so when you lean against them in a hot bath, you stick to them. If you have to shift while in the bath -- they squeak too. Not very relaxing.

So I switched back to using the blow up clam bath pillows. They have a cloth cover so that they don't squeak when you move. They don't have the best neck support ever, but it's good enough for me.

By zeak4hands — On Jul 23, 2011

@minthybear19 - My bath pillows wear out really fast. They usually get popped or lose a suction cup. But out of all the bath pillows for sale, I still prefer the classic little clam kind -- mostly because they're cheap.

I recently tried a foam bath pillow. It is very comfortable, but not nearly as cheap as the blow up kind. The bath pillow has memory foam in it so it conforms to my back while I relax. It's very soothing.

The foam kind definitely supports your neck better than the blow up pillows, which is why I had to try them out. It's hard to relax when your neck isn't being held up right.

By minthybear19 — On Jul 22, 2011

@anon123594 - You should try the classic clam shell style bath pillows. The neck pillow should be big enough to cover most of your back when you lean against it. A pillow that's too small can be annoying, but it also can fail to support your neck. Bigger is better than too small.

You might also try getting a bath pillow with suction cups on it -- that way, you can just stick it to the bathtub and not have to worry about it staying in place while you relax in your bath. Most bath pillows have them built in, so it shouldn't be hard to find one.

By anon123594 — On Nov 02, 2010

i cannot seem to find a comfortable bath pillow! they are either to soft and not strong enough to support my neck and head while bathing. any suggestions out there?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to PillowGuide, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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