Firstly - let's not over complicate this! There is A LOT of information on the best way to wash nappies, and many manufacturers and retailers have their own guidance.
Below is a basic, simple guide to how to wash your nappies - it's a starting place, and you may find you tweak this based on your own needs.
At the bottom of the page is also links to the manufacturers washing guidelines - it is important that you check these as certain products and temperatures of washing can invalidate warranties.
1) Remove poo - (pre-weaning you can skip this step!). You can use a disposable or fleece liner to make things a little easier. but all post weaning poo needs to go down the toilet not binned. Also disposable liners are not flushable.
2) Store - Store all dirty nappies in either a bin or bag (top tip - line it with a mesh bag so you don't need to rehandle the nappies again). At this point you can remove the inserts from pocket nappies (they don't always manage to wiggle out in the wash otherwise), and fasten up the laundry tabs on your velcro nappies. We would recommend that you don't store them any longer than 3 days before being washed.
3) The first wash - this is a 30-60 minute cycle to get the worst of the soiling off the nappies. Some people do this as a cold wash with no detergent, others put it on at 40D and use a half dose of detergent - we like to do the latter.
* Ensure you check the dosage guidelines on your detergent to make sure you use the correct amount for your drum size, water hardness and for heavy soiling! Regarding which detergent to use, powder generally performs best for nappy washing and for most brands of nappy whichever detergent you already use will suffice - but check individual manufactures guidelines below to make sure, otherwise you can invalidate the warranty.
4) The main wash - this is a 2-2.5hr cycle (usually a cotton cycle) that will thoroughly clean your nappies.
Make sure your drum is the equivalent of being full when dry/three quarters full when wet (if you don't have enough nappies for this, add in baby clothes or anything of a similar size - nothing bigger than a tea towel). It's important the machine is filled to this level to ensure that there is enough in there to rub against each other properly and therefore clean off the poo!
Use a FULL DOSE of detergent (nappies are the dirtiest thing you are likely to wash, so a full dose is needed. If you feel like they come out overly perfumed, or find there are A LOT of suds near the end of the cycle, then you could do an extra rinse at the end)
40D is generally sufficient for this, but until baby is over 3m or after vaccinations 60D is better (again, check individual manufacturers guidelines to be sure if your nappies can be washed at 60D!)
Avoid fabric softener
5) Time to dry - where possible it is best to line dry nappies outside, but this is Britain so it's not always possible. Just try to get them in a place with good airflow but not in direct contact with a radiator (near a radiator is fine). Some nappies can be tumble dried on low but this should be avoided if you can.
- It can be beneficial to hand rinse night nappies the morning after use if you are not washing your nappies that day. They have been on the bum for a considerable amount of time, and as such contain a lot of wee, that's best to rinse out if you get chance.
Click on the below manufacturer to check their washing guidelines