1) Dry pail the used garment; this can be in a lidded bucket or zipped wetbag. There's no need to soak; modern washing machines are super efficient and omit the need to plunge your hands in yucky water.
If you do soak, PLEASE don't use Napisan or other chemical/bleaching agents; this can break down the fibres and elastics within the nappy.
2) Cold rinse in your washing machine. This is not always necessary but can help remove solids and loosen stains. Hot washing straight away can 'cook' nasties into the fabric.
3) Add a normal dose of your usual detergent. Okay so this is an oft debated subject within nappy circles. We use supermarket own brand non bio powder. Powder has been shown to cleanse more thoroughly than liquids or tabs and leaves less residue in your machine. As for the non bio v bio debate- I've always found bio irriates my skin so I stick with what I know. What works best for you may depend on your washer and water type.
4) DON'T USE FABRIC SOFTENER. I can't stress this enough! Softener smells lovely, but coats the fibres of your nappies and reduces absorption.
5) Wash at 40 or 60 on a normal intensive wash programme. Use a full wash rather than an eco or quick wash. This will ensure your nappies will be agitated enough to be cleaned thoroughly.
(Occasionally your machine may still be soapy after the programme has finished. Set it on another quick rinse to make sure those bubbles have gone.
6) Hang your nappies out to dry. Air drying will prolong the longevity of your nappies but they can also be gentle tumble dryed if you're in a rush. Please be aware regular tumbling may cause PUL and fasteners to degrade more quickly. If you're lucky enough to have some sunshine (or even daylight!) this can really help get rid of any lingering stains.
7) GIVE YOUR FRESHLY WASHED NAPPY A HUG! Okay, not strictly necessary, but there's something very satisfying about a bundle of freshly washed nappies!
So that's it. Once you get into a routine, you won't think twice. They won't 'pollute' your machine, you'll have less waste to send to landfill and your skin will thank you for it!