As a brand owner, we get so many emails about washing nappies. There is a lot of anxiety about doing it the right way, an overwhelming number of rules and a fear of judgement. Washing nappies shouldn't be hard. Establish a good routine and look out for signs it may not be working so you can be able to adjust as needed.
The following might help get you on track.
Nappies are pretty heavily soiled washing. They need heavy duty laundering to ensure they are clean.
Use a good quality detergent from the get go. While many parents want to use 'eco' style detergents, they can be less effective at cleaning and make washing much harder when you are left to rectify their inefficiencies.
Nappies should look clean and smell fresh once laundered. Further, they shouldn't smell once soiled except for what they've been soiled with! An odd smell from a dirty/wet nappy may be a sign that the fibres are harbouring some funky bits and you need to look into why.
How do I establish a good wash routine?
Ensure you prewash nappies each day and aim to wash on full every second day. This will help minimise ammonia and keep nappies in top shape.
Pick a good detergent.
Use a laundry booster like Vanish or similar.
Choose the longest, most intensive cycle to ensure nappies are well washed and rinsed.
Ensure your machine is not over or under full. There should be good agitation. In a front loading machine, the machine does not have an agitator and relies on the clothes to rub together to create the friction needed. Therefore too much or too little does not allow this to occur.
Wash on 40-60 degrees. Warm water works better to clean your nappies. Much like trying to wash your dishes in cold water, the warm water gives a better clean and removes unwanted grime from the fabrics.
So lets put it in simple terms:
Remove solids and prewash nappies daily. A short (60 minute) cycle with detergent is optimal.
Full wash every 48 hours with good detergent and laundry booster. Use the full dose. If you find there is no suds in your machine or nappies are not clean increase the dosage.
Dry nappies in the shade or in a cool dryer.
Have realistic expectations! As a brand we see parents start to panic at the first sign of wear on nappies. Like any textile they will overtime show signs of use. This might be pilling, thinning or stretching of elastics. Nappies are heavily used, heavily washed and expected to last a long time. A nappy should last one child from birth to toilet training. Depending on how they are treated, the quality, intensity of use etc they may last longer. Inserts may be great for another baby while covers need to be replaced or vice versa. Always check in with your nappy brand for assistance if you are unsure.