One of the things that cloth diapering parents commit to when they switch to reusables is more laundry. It isn't necessarily an overwhelming amount of laundry, and it can easily be sandwiched into most family routines, but it should be no less than three loads per week of which means that you need to be washing them every other day or so. There are two, very good reasons for washing diapers this often and they have everything to do with their life expectancy and functionality.
- It isn't healthy for your diapers to sit for too long in the filth that they contain. The longer they sit without being washed, the more difficult it can be to remove stains and ammonia residue--especially from microfiber diapers.
- Washing machines, especially high efficiency washing machines, will clean your diapers better if the load is small. The larger the load, the more urine and poop will be swishing through the water and the less it will be able to be rinsed from the diapers. This means that your will have to run the dipes through more rinses and it will prolong the amount of time that your washing machine is in use. Over time, washing too many diapers together can cause your diapers to slowly build up residue that can actually repel rather than absorb moisture. Of course, diapers with residue aren't a hopeless case. You can easily strip this residue from your diapers making them as good (and as effective) as new.
In order to be able to wash your diapers so often without causing them too much wear and tear, you should try to have a larger stash. If your baby goes through 12 diapers in two days, I'd try to have at least 20 diapers to make sure that each diaper isn't getting washed too often. Remember, like any other article of clothing, the more you wash a cloth diaper, the more quickly it will wear out, though granted cloth diapers are much sturdier than your average sweater or skirt. If you can't afford a large stash, then don't feel like you have to stick to the more expensive diapers. Supplement your pockets or AIOs with inexpensive prefolds or flat diapers which run about $2-$3 a diaper. The latter are easier to wash anyway, and only get softer and more absorbent with each wash.
Also, remember that harsh detergents and excessive machine drying can also wear your diapers out. In addition, though sunning is a very efficient way to remove stains and freshen diapers, too much of it can also cause wear and tear. So, in addition to frequent washes and a large stash, use a cloth diaper safe detergent when you wash, and always hang your diapers to dry when possible, and not always outside in the sun. Following these simple steps will really help you get as much life out of them as possible.