We have two diaper pails. One for wet diapers and one for soiled diapers. We use the dry pail method (we don't soak) and line the pails with waterproof nylon laundry bags (bought at Target in the laundry section).
When we change a wet diaper, it just goes directly into the "wet" pail. When we change a soiled diaper, we shake off any solid poop into the toilet. Anything that doesn't shake off goes with the diaper into the "soiled" pail. The washing machine can take care of it!
When the pails get smelly, we wash them out and let them air outside, weather permitting. The liners protect the pail enough from the dirty diapers that it isn't necessary to wash them out every time we wash the diapers.
Consider how long you want to go between washes, how many children you have in diapers, and how many diapers you have, to decide what type of pail to get. We have two in diapers and use the huge pails that the diaper services use. A person with fewer diapers to wash may find a regular trash can with a lid works fine!
We wash diapers about every other day, sometimes every third day. (With two in diapers, the pails fill up fast!) In general, diaper laundry should be done twice a week to avoid mildew. (and smell!) First the soiled diapers and the liner go into the wash. They get washed with Arm and Hammer Perfume and Dye Free powdered laundry detergent, plus 1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda on cold. The cold water helps get the poops out without setting stains. I like the A&H Free detergent because: it works, it's inexpensive, and I can tell by smelling the diapers if they're clean. No perfumes to cover up dirty diaper smells. The washing soda acts as a laundry booster, and it helps whiten, and neutralize odors.
When the soiled diapers are done, I leave them in the washer and add the wet diapers and the pail liner from the wet pail. They get washed all together in hot with more A&H detergent and Washing Soda. ***Plus, I put in about 1/2-3/4 cup cheap white vinegar in a Downy Ball.*** The vinegar gets released in the rinse cycle, and helps to eliminate odors, counteract ammonia in the diapers, and help rinse out detergent residue. If you don't have a Downy Ball, just add the vinegar to the rinse cycle, or add it to an extra rinse.
Thats all it takes to get our diapers clean!
When the weather (and time) permits, we dry the diapers outside in the sunlight. This takes care of any stains we might have, and helps to disinfect the diapers further. It also helps them last longer. When I can't line dry, I pop them all into the dryer. Check any laundering instructions that come with your diapers for recommended heat levels. Here's a tip: to shorten drying time in the dryer, throw in a thick towel to help draw moisture.
If you want your pail liners to stay waterproof, it's best to line dry them. (I found that out too late, mine all leak!)
One of the best things about cloth diapers is taking them out of the dryer, all soft and clean, and not having to fold them. We just put ours in pretty baskets where they stay until we need to use them!
Most diaper covers need more gentle treatment than the diapers themselves do. We wash ours seperately with the regular baby clothes wash on warm. Some people prefer to hand wash theirs. Still others have no problem washing covers along with the diapers. A lot depends on what covers you use. (There are so many varieties out there- check the tag and follow the recommended washing instructions. Some covers are sturdier than others.) Covers will last longer if they're air dried. Washing instructions for wool soakers can be found on the Covers page under "wool soakers".
Links To Other Sites With Laundry Info
StorkNet- Cloth Diaper Laundry Techniques
Wee Bees (washing instructions on left scrollbar under 'More Info')