So, I'll tell you what I do.
Let it be known that I use SoftBums. That's it. Just because I found them I loved them, I didn't look any further. So, know, when I discuss this, it only refers to SoftBums and how I do it. I do consult Sarah with issues if I have them but I also tend to "wing it" when needed. If there were fine print here, I'd say, I am not responsible for any damage to diapers.
So we are all on the same page. The basics of cloth diaper laundry are:
1. NEVER USE SOFTENER
2. NEVER USE SOFTENER
3. NEVER USE ANYTHING THAT HAS SOFTENER IN IT
4. Use LOTS of water
5. Use little detergent
6. When in doubt, wash again
P.S. Detergents you might find at the health food stores like, Planet, Ecover, ECOS, Seventh Generation, or Bio-kleen have natural oils in them and will cause buildup in your diapers like a softener over time, especially the fleece topped Dry-Touch diapers.
In my house (these are pics from my house btw), we use Purex Free and Clear, hypoallergenic, you know...that one in the white bottle. It is JUST soap, no softener, no fragrance. I love it, it's cheap, it works, and I can buy it anywhere. Also, I believe that Bleach has a purpose. I use it sparingly in my diapers maybe 1-2 times a year. I have 2 kids, one who is potty trained during the day and naps and sleeps in cloth, and one who is in cloth full time. The diapers in this house get used. Hard. I have a top load washer that I bought at a used appliance place for $100 and it is huge, and great! I have softened water and do not use a sprayer, nor rise, nor dunk and swish.
So that's where I am coming from.
Now, I am not one that does a lot of work before my cloth makes it into the washer. I'm not lazy, I just don't have time to dunk and soak everything, are you kidding me?! If its not poopy into the pail it goes, and it sits there until the bag is full.
If it's poopy, maybe I'll fling the poo right away, maybe it will sit for a couple days. Depends. Truth. Sometimes those really runny poops, if you let them sit for a day or so I've found they will roll right off and you don't have to get as messy trying to fling it. I've never had an issue with it, and have zero staining. Once they are cleaned, they go in the pail too. No rinsing. I think I've rinsed maybe 5 diapers in the nearly 3 years diapering.
I have stripped my diapers 3 times. I know because it is a process to do it yourself. The last time I did it I sent them out to a company in Minneapolis called Do Good Diaper Service. They charged me around $30 to come get the diapers, strip them, and return them. It was a great investment. They will also leave you prefolds to use while they are washing your diapers if you want!
If you're not from Minnesota the RDIA list of Diaper Services may be able to help you. The list isn't 100% complete but it may be a place to start if you're looking for a diaper service.
If the thought of sending your diapers away makes you anxious, don't worry, I had a super hard time handing them off. My daughter started having skin breakdown issues, and I had switched to almost all sposies. After talking to SoftBums about my issues, Sarah said to try stripping them. So I sucked it up made an appointment and I almost cried when I was packing my beloved SoftBums up! Well, I got them back, all of them. I was so excited when I opened the bag and jammed my face into them. But. They still had a little smell to them. Not repulsive, but a smell. I was disappointed, thinking I just wasted $30. But, I had faith and started using them again on my daughter....!!!VIOLA!!! Rash free! Her skin is better and we have no issues with her being in cloth 100% of the time! I am happy to say it worked, great! I will do it again when I need to strip.
Anyways, I know it's time to strip my stash when they smell after the normal washing. Not like...I can smell something if I JAM my face into them, but like a "I'm going to run screaming from the laundry room because I think my kid pooped in the dryer, lit it on fire, and roasted a rotten fish" smell. Yuck. For me it seems like it would happen at once, no real gradual increase to that, but just one day it was repulsive. I never had repelling issues, but if you do, that is a good time to set up a stripping also.
Don't try to strip your whole stash at once if you have a lot of diapers. Maybe 20-25 pods/inserts at a time? And I do my dry touch and bamboo separate--mainly because I will use bleach on my dry touch and not my bamboo--other than that treat them the same. If you don't want to go the bleach route, go the baking soda route and you can put your bamboo and dry touch together.
So, lets assume the inserts are dirty and I am going to start the stripping process.
1. Load washer with dirty diapers, shells, pods, wipes, pail liner (pick out toys my daughter had put in the pail).
2. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with 3/4 the recommended amount of Purex (free)
3. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with NO Detergent
4. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with NO detergent
5. Pull wet diapers from washer, and sniff them. They should smell fresh and clean. (if they still smell a bit fishy, repeat #1 - #3, but only use 1/4 the recommended amount of Detergent.
6. Remove the shells and pail liner
7. Fill washer with Hot and 1 cup of bleach (if you do not want to use bleach, use 1-2 Tablespoons of baking soda), let agitate to mix and then stop for 2-4 hours and let soak
8. Wash on Hot and Large 1-2 times
DO NOT BLEACH YOUR SHELLS NOR YOUR NATURAL FIBER PODS.
Its a personal choice to use bleach, I use it 1-2 times a year and think that it has a purpose and my pods come out so white! Its amazing! If it scares you, use a half cup of it on a small number of pods to see what you think, or go with the baking soda it works great too. If your baby is having sensitivity issues with detergent, try using only baking soda for the next couple weeks when washing your diapers. No detergent.
Note: You can use Dawn original blue dish detergent 1-3 Tablespoons (for a top load washer, 1T for front loader) instead of Detergent to strip. You'd especially want to use Dawn for stripping if you have had issues with repelling due to softeners, too much rash cream, or using the wrong detergent.
If your diapers aren't dirty when you start this process I would still do the same steps, but just put inserts in no covers. I have never stripped my covers, even when I sent my stash to "Do Good" I kept my covers.
If you're washing your diapers correctly with the right detergents, stripping will be a rare occasion. We are pretty ruthless on our cloth around here, and I can't imagine anybody being harder on them than us. I baby the babies, not the diapers.