Submitted by Mama Kalila. Thank you! =-)
"Quick question... If you don't recommend Dawn [in the washing machine] (and your explanation makes a lot of sense) then how do you strip your diapers when needed?"
For general repelling (when the diapers just don't seem to be absorbing very well, or moisture is leaking off instead of being absorbed) the cause is usually detergent buildup. You can also tell if this is the likely culprit if you notice that there are suds or scum in the final rinse when you do your normal wash routine. To help with detergent buildup, wash your diapers in hot with 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent. Then follow that with hot washes with NO detergent. Run hot washes with no detergent as many times as needed until there are no suds or scum in the rinse cycle. You can see why Dawn would be counter-productive in this case since you are trying to remove all suds from your diapers.
If someone (hubby, mother-in-law... never you, of course!) has done the unthinkable and put a cloth-unfriendly diaper cream on without a liner, the cream will stick to that diaper like there's no tomorrow. This will cause repelling (and likely staining) in the area where the diaper cream came into contact with the diaper. To remedy this, I do recommend Dawn, but in the kitchen sink... not the washing machine. Using hot water, a squirt of plain Dawn, and a super-soft bristle toothbrush (think baby toothbrush) you can gently rub out the diaper cream. Just squirt a little Dawn right on the affected area of the fleece or suedecloth, and very softly rub with the toothbrush. After you've scrubbed one side of the fleece or suedecloth, flip the diaper inside out (if possible) and scrub the opposite side as well. This will not be a two-minute fix, but it will save your diaper. It just takes some diligence and a lot of patience. After you're done, rinse the diaper as well as you can in the sink, then wash in the washing machine as usual. Just be sure that there are no suds left in the rinse. You may need to do extra rinses.
And of course I recommend prevention above all! To avoid buildup in the first place, be sure to use a cloth-friendly detergent, use only 1/2 the recommended amount, and do an extra rinse after every wash cycle. Avoid diaper creams when possible. When necessary or prescribed by your doctor, use as directed but use a fleece or flushable liner as a barrier between the cream and your dipes!