Now I've mentioned before how I wash my cloth diapers/prefolds are first to wash in cold water with about a tablespoon of soap on the largest capacity setting. Then I wash in hot water with a half cup of white vinegar. Then onto to drying. As I put the put the diapers into the dryer, I sniff them. If they smell clean they go into the dryer, if they smell bad then I look for the culprit and get rid of it and wash in hot again with a touch of soap. Weird I may be, but I can usually smell right when I lift the lid if I didn't scrap very well. This method has worked for me from Skinny onto Rockbiter. And I haven't needed to strip diapers.
That is to say that if you didn't want to go through two washings, you don't have too. Wash once on hot water with a small amount of detergent/soap and make sure to put in the extra rinse. You will most likely have to strip your diapers every so often, but this method generally does get the cleaning done sufficiently.
I must say that apparently stripping diapers has changed since I last looked it up. So I'm just going to let you know what I learned from before. Wash your diapers in cold water with a small amount of soap/detergent. Then when the cycle has finished, take them out and put them into your largest stock pot and add water to nearly the top. Boil. This will help kill the bacteria living off the buildup of detergent. Carefully dump back into the washing machine (You can just dump the water into the sink as well and transfer the diapers into the washing machine. After all, if you have an HE machine, dumping the whole thing into the machine will only make a mess.) Wash in hot water without any detergent/soap and 1 cup of white vinegar. If you notice any bubbles at all after, repeat with warm water until there is no bubbles at all. Dry as usual.
If, after stripping, your diapers are still stinky, then you will have to do the following. Wash diapers on cold with the maximum amount of detergent recommended by the detergent company plus 1 drop of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent. Then wash and rinse until no bubbles are evident. After which you will have to adjust your detergent/soap to your normal loads since you haven't used enough to get them clean. Adjust by a teaspoon or two at the most. See if this helps, if not, add a bit more.
When should you strip your diapers? When the diapers get stinky right after your little one wets, trust me, you will know. When you notice your little one is always getting diaper rashes for no apparent reason. And when the diapers are stiff and hard.
I'm gonna put a set of links to other places that have instructions for stripping diapers. You might find their ways a little more easy to bear or work better. I must say that I am kinda sad with their "uneducated" treatment of soap vs. detergent. I use my own homemade Laundry Powder which I make using some of my own handmade soap. Granted, soaps like Dove Moisturizing have added oils and such to make their soap especially skin loving aren't very good for making laundry soap, but not all soap used for laundry soap has added oils and most commercial soaps do remove the glycerin from the soap to sell separately. I specially make my cleaning soaps without any extra free floating oils. Yes, they will strip the oils from your skin like that, but they were formulating for cleaning the house, not for taking a bath in. Also, while I do know that hard water and soap don't play nice with each other, that is why I add the washing soda and borax. Those are water softeners and I believe borax will bind with the minerals in hard water to make the soap more efficient. Sorry just a little rant about soap. Actually, since the move, I hadn't had time to make laundry soap until recently. I am so glad to start using it again. My diapers are so much more softer now and that ugly ring around my washing machine is going away. LOVE my laundry soap!
Here are some links: Zany Zebra Designs; Cloth Diapers made Easy; Lite Green Living; My Baby First and The Diaper Jungle.
A few caveats:
- Stay away from bleaching your diapers. Bleach will break down the fibers of your diaper faster than you think and it needs to be rinsed out thoroughly. If you really can't stand the stains, try line drying diapers. The sun is great about bleaching without harsh chemicals. Sun and grass do wonders I hear, but don't take my word on it. Drying your diapers in the sun on grass is something I've come across, but I can't do that here, too humid. LOL
- You may be tempted to use the smallest setting for washing your cloth diapers, DON'T. Always use the largest capacity and do not overload your washer with diapers. I only wash about 15 or so diapers plus all the fleece liners, cloth wipes and doublers that go a long with them. Water is the true cleaner. Soap and Detergents' job is to make the water more able to penetrate by breaking the surface tension. If you have an extra rinse cycle, use it.
- NEVER use a fabric softener on your cloth diapers. It makes them water repellent and that of course defeats the purpose of a cloth dipe. Same with the dryer sheets. If you must use something, use white vinegar.