Traditional Top Loader wash routine


Top Loaders provide a faster wash using more water than a Front Loader, however they aren’t as effective in comparison. 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 prewash, 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 (for example Cottons or Heavy Duty), extend the cycle if possible (for example Intensive option). Use the quantity of detergent (ideally a mainstream) listed in the Detergent Index, in a minimum of 50°C water, choose a 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 One 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 Traditional Top Loader

The aim in a 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.

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.

To view agitation in the machine while it is operating, the lid sensor may need to be covered to mimic it being shut.

This video shows what a good ‘stew’ consistency looks like and how to test your loading to make sure you have great agitation every time you wash.
Nappy stew (ideal ratio of nappies to water). The machine in the video is ½ full, set to a medium water level.

Fisher & Paykel Top Loader Machines Routine and Additional Information

  1. Double Allergy or Heavy Duty cycles (for pre and main wash).
  2. Ensure Eco option is OFF for appropriate rinse settings
  3. Load machine to 1/2-2/3 full
  4. Add the Soak option if available or create a soak by pausing the wash during the cycle

Use a high quality detergent
Use hot water in Main Wash

Another option is Cycle + Soak + Quick option for your Main Wash (Options button x 5).

The standard rinse is not adequate for this machine, check the manual for directions to include two deep rinses, or use an additional rinse and spin at the end of the main wash cycle. This removes as much soiling as possible.

This video shows the best cycles to use to wash cloth nappies in an Intuitive Eco, and how to set a favourite cycle.
This shows an example of ‘chilli’ a load, with too many nappies and not enough water. The nappies move together in a solid mass and don’t have enough space to rub against each other to get clean. To fix it, either remove some of the laundry, or set a higher water level, and check again.
This shows an example of ‘soup’ a loading with not enough nappies and too much water. The nappies float quite freely around in the water, there isn’t enough friction between the items to get clean. To fix it, add more laundry, or choose a lower water level, and check again.

Detergent quantities and recommended wash temperatures are detailed in our country specific Detergent Indexes.

Australia & NZ detergents UK detergents