We have been cloth diapering now for about 10 months or so now. I started with Melody when she was about 16 months old knowing I would use them with our next baby as well. We started out with a mix of mostly pocket diapers but I have transitioned to prefolds and covers. They just work better for us.
Being born and raised in Las Vegas, all I know is hard water. Maybe it's just my side of town, but our water has always been extremely hard. A water softener is on our "to do" list. Hopefully sometime in the next couple years.
This has made our cloth diapering journey pretty difficult, but I think I have finally found a wash routine that works for our extremely hard water.
In the beginning I made a homemade cloth diaper detergent and was using that. It worked for a while but then my diapers started getting the infamous ammonia smell that I couldn't get rid of. I did everything I could to get rid of the smell but in the end I had to strip them twice.
I heard that using a water softener could help the detergent to clean the diapers better. It did work a little. I did some more research and found this website comparing a huge number of detergents for use with cloth diapers.
Planet detergent (I found mine at Whole Foods) didn't have any enzymes, fabric softeners, brighteners, scents or dies and the liquid was a good choice for hard water.
So here is my current wash routine:
*Warm wash (plus extra rinse) with 1-2Tbs homemade cloth diaper detergent
*Hot wash with half cap full of Calgon water softener and Planet detergent filled to line 2 in cap. plus extra rinse
*3rd rinse or every other time another hot wash
*Dry on medium heat (hang stained prefolds outside on line to sun bleach)
*Every 4-6 weeks I will strip the diapers (just the prefolds not the covers) -hot wash with 1 Tbs original blue Dawn dish detergent (1tsp for HE machines) then wash with just water until there are no more suds, for us it's usually 3-4 washes.
This routine is for top loading machines. If you have an HE machine, Planet makes a 2x Ultra Laundry Detergent that is safe for HE machines. In the research I have done, I have not found anywhere that has tested Calgon water softener for safe use in HE machines.