High-Efficiency Top Loader Wash Routine


These modern Top Loaders use less water and have longer wash cycles compared to traditional Top Loaders. They can have short agitators, no agitators and the option of the water being automatically added by the machine to match the amount of laundry. However, they aren’t as effective in cleaning, in comparison to Front Loaders.

As a result advice for Top Loaders is different to Front Loaders. Getting the right ratio of water to laundry is fundamental for optimal cleaning.

General wash routine


Rinse soiling, night nappies and dry pail.

Pre Wash

Choose a short cycle with agitation (not just rinse and spin). Use the quantity of detergent (ideally a mainstream) listed in the Detergent Index, in a minimum of 40°C water, highest spin speed and deep rinse setting.

No need to dry nappies between pre wash, before main, just dry pail damp. If mould is or becomes an issue, hang over the side of the dry pail to dry out, then pail.

A daily prewash cycle with detergent is an option that is beneficial as it reduces the likelihood of ammonia development and reduces smells in the laundry significantly. See Wash Routine Basics for more information.

Main Wash 

Choose the longest cycle the machine has (eg. Cottons or Heavy Duty), extend the cycle if possible (eg. Intensive option).  Use the quantity of detergent (ideally a mainstream) listed in the Detergent Index, in a minimum of 50°C water, choose spin speed and deep rinse setting. See Hot vs Cold Water on why hot water works better.


On the line, clothes airer, clothes dryer or a combination. If drying shells or All In Ones nappies allow them to cool in the dryer before stretching the elastics. When line drying avoid putting shells in direct sunlight, UV damages PUL.

How To Properly Load Your High-Efficiency Top Loader

The aim in a HE Top Loader is to achieve a ‘stew’ consistency, where the nappies can agitate against each other and are being pulled down periodically. Too little laundry/too much water results in inadequate friction. Too much laundry/too little water results in inadequate friction where the items move as a block.

The difference between Traditional Top Loaders and HE Top Loaders, is that water is automatically added by the machine to match the amount of laundry. Some machines are very good at detecting the amount of water needed, most when the machine is at least half full of laundry, but some are not. If auto water is an option, test the function to see if the machine achieves a ‘stew’ consistency. To view agitation in the machine while it is operating, the lid sensor may need to be covered to mimic it being shut.

A ‘stew’ can technically be achieved with any level of laundry, as long as the items are being pulled down periodically. Although it has been found that 1/2- 2/3 full works best for most machines, some work well at 3/4 full.

To increase the quantity in the machine, small items that are ideally light in colour to prevent colour run, can be added to the main wash cycle. Large items such as towels will wrap around the nappies preventing them from being washed.

How to Properly Load Your Top Loader Without an Agitator