Wash Routine Basics

1. Detergent choice

2. Remove and rinse soiling 

3. Pre wash cycle

4. Main wash cycle 

5. Dry

See the Detergent Index for recommended products and suggested quantities.

For more specific information see the Front Loader Wash Routine, Traditional Top Loader Wash  Routine or High-Efficiency Top Loader Wash Routine pages.



Why is a separate prewash cycle needed?

A separate prewash cycle removes excess soiling from nappies, so that the main wash is done in clean water which produces best results. Loading does not matter for the pre wash cycle, only for the main wash cycle.

Most ‘prewash’ functions on the washing machine don’t do a rinse and spin following the agitation part of the cycle, or remove the dirty water before the main wash.  If the  machine has a separate detergent compartment for prewash, agitates, removes the prewash water, rinses and spins, then try this function in addition to the main wash cycle, instead of a separate prewash cycle. If smells, stains or other issues occur, revert to a separate pre wash cycle.

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.

Prewash & Main Wash water from top loader using Omo Ultimate detergent

Daily Prewash

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.
This option is particularly useful for:

  • Night nappies (either in addition to a separate night nappy hand rinse, or can be put straight into a pre wash cycle in the morning, see Washing Night Nappies for more info)
  • Nappies used for older children who have concentrated urine
  • Anyone that is sensitive to smells in general, or where the laundry is near living areas
  • For larger machines
  • Hot or humid climates
  • If using eco/plant based/sensitive detergents
    Choose a short cycle, approximately 30-45mins that agitates, rinses and spins, include detergent (see the Detergent Index for quantities) and dry pail as normal.
    Repeat on subsequent days and complete a main wash when there is enough nappies/laundry to fill a main load. Each nappies only needs to be pre washed once.

Washing Only A Few Nappies

When the number of soiled nappies reduces (eg. during toilet training) follow the instructions for Washing Night Nappies as a prewash, then send through with another load of family laundry for main wash.