Cloth diapering wash routines vary widely from family to family. Much depends on the type of diapers, the kind of material, the type of washing machine, and the hardness/softness of household water. Detergent build up on cloth diapers can cause smell issues or ammonia burn on your little one's bum. It's a fine line between using too much detergent and not using enough. The important thing is to use trial and error until you find the routine that works for you. You shouldn't have to strip your cloth diapers often if you're using the right routine.
We have city water here and it's very hard with lots of minerals. We get brown stains on our water fixtures, it's that hard. When we were using microfiber pockets on our twins, I used Arm and Hammer Sensitive, dye free liquid. I thought it was working well, but I was stripping the diapers with vinegar and baking soda about every 6 weeks. I switched to Rockin' Green (Hard) because I had heard so many people rave about it. I immediately didn't like it. Not only did it not get the diapers clean, but it didn't wash out easily. It was a shame too cause I ordered it in bulk! I'm still trying to get rid of it...
When we moved our singleton into fitted diapers with covers and AIOs, I switched to Tide liquid. It worked GREAT... at first. It made the diapers smell nice. It's a cheap detergent that you can get in most stores. I didn't even need to strip the diapers for 6 whole months. Improvement!
Once I did strip the diapers, I've had troubles with them. The fitteds are doing great with the Tide, but the AIOs seems to hold on to the suds a lot more. Even with doing multiple rinse and spin cycles, the AIOs have an issue with stink after my baby's peed in it. It's hard to explain, but it smells like she's got a dirty diaper when it's just pee. I'm willing to put up with it though seeing as how the AIOs with H&L are the only diapers my husband can adequately use.
So at first, I was using just a little splash of Tide Essentials with Baking Soda (Lilac scent). After stripping and the smell problems, I tried using a full clothing load amount. The washing machine was very angry with me and kept giving me the "suds" error message. It took a lot, a lot, a lot of rinses to get all the suds out of the diapers. So now I'm back to using a splash with a little vinegar to help the AIOs not be as stinky.
While I recommend liquid Tide to the customers of my business and I use it myself still, I have heard that Tide powder rinses out a little more easily. Once our supply of the liquid runs out, I will be trying powder. I'll let all you readers know how it goes when I try it.
What's your favorite detergent?