If you are new to cloth nappies, it can be very confusing about how to wash, when to wash and just generally getting into a cloth nappy wash routine. I fear that the online community has done much to make this worse, with all sorts of silly rules & regulations which confuse everyone!
The quick answer to the above question, can you throw your washable nappies in with clothes is… yes, as long as you take a few sensible precautions. If you are in full time cloth nappy usage, to be honest, you will have a full wash every 1.5-2 days so probably won’t need to wash with other clothes.
Often when you are starting using reusable nappies, you often just have a few trail nappy packs to get started, so it makes sense to include them with your other clothes. However, if your reusable nappies are soiled, it’s best to rinse them out before putting straight into the wash with other clothing. All soil should be flushed down the toilet as best as you can, we know this isn’t always easy. Once you have flushed the solids away, try and rinse any remaining solids as best you can (this can be done by holding the nappy over the toilet and flushing the toilet, but hold tight!). Then, I always put my reusable nappies on a cold pre wash or pre rinse to help flush away any remaining residue.
If the reusable nappies are just wet and not soiled, and you want to fill a wash load, then go ahead and throw them in with the clothes. However, ensure that the clothes wash is done in accordance with how you wash your reusable nappies, so ensure that there is no fabric conditioner or other substances which may stop your nappies working effectively. This would be the same as you would wash your bath towels, you need to avoid anything which stops them becoming less absorbent and unfortunately fabric conditioner coats materials and does this!
The other time you might need to consider washing your nappies with your clothes is when you start potty training or just when your child gets older and uses less nappies. With a potty training toddler you will get accidents and any soiled clothes will be the same as nappies. Rinse off what you can down the toilet, then pre wash, then wash.
Towards the end of my family’s cloth nappy journey, I just got used to washing my nappies with towels, and that was a load on it’s own. If I waited until I had a full load of just cloth nappies, it would have been 3-4 days and leaving dirty nappies sitting in nappy bags or buckets for 3-4 days is NOT a good idea! It’s much better to wash them after just 1-2 days, before stains or smells set in.