We have been cloth diapering here for about a year. There really is a learning curve, as there is for most new things. But the outcome of a clean, rash-fee, padded tush is well worth is. We've had some stink issues and some ammonia smell and rashes recently and i thought I'd fill you'll in on what I have learned. And give you some resources.
Detergent Build up VS other things building up (ew!)
1) Dawn - 1 T Dawn in the washer and rinse until 0 suds
(#15 on http://www.bumgenius.com/help.php)
There are just the simple stinky issues that typically are build up of detergent. We stripped with dawn and the diapers seemed better but never 100% stink free. I could put the clean diaper right up to my nose and take a whiff and still smell something. This was supposed to get any residue out of the diapers.
2) Calgon - 1/2 c and soak overnight and then wash as normal
Then we tried Calgon. We soaked all the diapers all night and then washed them as we normally would. This was to strip and hard water deposits out of the diaper. Then we were still getting amonia burns 2 weeks after the Calgon. So, I got more help.
3) Vinegar - Soak all the inserts in venegar over night and rinse in warm (no detergent)
The owner of this page did a lot for me. She looked up water tests, etc to help with my specific issue, machine, water, routine, diapers...etc The end result was an overnight vinegar soak of the inserts, warm rinse cycle the next day, layed them out to dry, stuffed and wore them. 2 nights with no burns yet. No smell at all either.
The rest is from The Diaper Therapist - On a pH scale, ammonia is a basic. Vinegar is a mild acid. What you want to do is pour the vinegar right on your clean, wet diapers. The vinegar will help chemically neutralize the ammonia. Wring the vinegar through the fabric really well, let them sit overnight, and then just rinse them. ammonia comes from leftover organic (waste) trapped in the fibers. I see this a LOT with HE machines. Limiting the amount of water to a diaper wash reduces the amount the urine and soil are diluted. A long hot wash will only go so far if there's a small amount of water pushed through the fibers.
Redwood City - There's a couple things to look for when you're reading the water quality assessment. The first is 'Hardness', but also check the 'Total Dissolved Solids'.
Hardness (as CaCO3) ppm N/A 8 - 104 53
Total Dissolved Solids ppm 1000 N/A 27 - 174 95
So in this case, your 'hardness' which comes from calcium is only 53PPM. That's pretty low. But the bigger picture is clearer when you look at Total Dissolved Solids- which is 95PPM. So it's not just Calcium, Limescale, but also minerals, salts, and metals. Overall 95 isn't very high. Looking at the bigger picture I would say that the HE Washer is almost certainly the big culprit in the stink problem.