I find cloth diapers fascinating. I don't own any and I don't intend to buy any (reasons here), but I enjoy reading about them. Its kind of like how I read most articles on Faith & Family Live! (I got sucked in by Arwen) even though I'm not Catholic. In fact, being an Evangelical, I'm pretty far from Catholicism, but most of the articles are about family and general Christianity anyway and I find Catholicism interesting. Likewise, most articles about cloth diapers are basically about laundry and I have unfortunately done a lot of reading about laundry ever since Meg started eating solid foods (and spilling them).
I found out detergent often (always?) leaves residue on your clothes and you could probably toss your clothes in the washer without adding detergent and there'd be enough to get them clean. And if you use too much detergent it might just leave a film over a stain and trap it instead of removing it. I started using Charlie's Soap powder (which is not detergent) and was blown away by how much better it has worked for me.
I've also read articles about stripping cloth diapers - you do it when the diapers start to lose absorbancy or retain smells because of too much soap/detergent buildup. I never thought I'd use that knowledge. But yesterday I did.
Some clothes we got at a garage sale smelled AWFUL. You know that perfumed scent smokers often use to try and cover the smoke? The one so strong it can knock you back 10 feet? It was like that but without the undertone of stale cigarettes. Someone washed these clothes in very smelly detergent. I'm allergic to perfume. I've bought clothes washed in scented detergent (basically anything except Free & Clear) before and usually all it takes is one spin through the washing machine (with my detergent) to remove the smell. I tried that this time and it didn't make a dent. So I washed them with the Charlie's. Didn't help. Then I remembered the detergent-build-up theory and washed them twice in hot water with no added detergent. I checked the clothes during the cycle and, sure enough, there were lots of suds - meaning the clothes had enough detergent residue to create those suds. Still, the smell wasn't dissipating.
I was about ready to just get rid of them, which was frustrating me because there were a lot of good boy clothes and I don't have many boy clothes. Then I wondered if I could apply cloth diaper stripping methods to regular clothes. I don't see why not, right? I already kind of was by running multiple hot loads without detergent. I remembered something about adding a few drops of Dawn to a load to remove oily buildup. Since I assume most scents are in oils - if you make your own laundry soap you add essential oil or fragrance oil (yes, I've read about that, too) - that sounded like a good idea. You guys. It worked SO WELL. The smell is gone. Who knew diaper stripping tips would be so helpful for someone who doesn't own any cloth diapers?