I was kind of intimidated by the laundry aspect of cloth diapers before we got started. It wasn't that I minded the idea of an extra load of laundry every day, it was just that there are rules regarding diaper laundry. It's really not so bad though, and once you figure it out, you always do it the same way, so you form a routine and it becomes second nature.
My routine goes something like this.
1. Take Wet bag with dirty diapers and dump them into the washer. Turn the wet bag inside out and toss it in with the diapers (never touching the dirty diapers!)
2. Run a cold rinse cycle with no detergent. This dissolves the poop and keeps it from getting baked into the diapers.
3. Run a hot wash cycle with a small amount of detergent and do an extra rinse. On my washer, I can specify that I want an extra rinse without having to restart the washer. The hot cycle cleans the diapers and the extra rinse makes sure you've removed all of the detergent. Failing to remove the detergent can make diapers stink, and nobody likes a stinky diaper.
4. Toss clean diapers into the dryer. Never use fabric softener on diapers because it will waterproof them. We use wool dryer balls instead (here's a tutorial for making your own!). They reduce drying time, so that's an added bonus. I do hang up our covers to dry because putting them in the dryer can wear out the elastic faster. On the other hand, putting the covers in the dryer occasionally can help make the waterproof layer stronger and can help strengthen the Aplix. Don't ask me how. Basically, do whatever you want in regards to drying covers.
*Note: If you're super eco-conscious and not lazy like I am, you can line dry your diapers. Besides the obvious benefit of saving energy, hanging diapers in the sun to dry removes stains like magic! The Baby Fish is not at all embarrassed by his stained diapers.
That's it! Then you can fold them (or not) and start all over.
We have an HE washer, and some people with HE washers have to "trick" their washer into using enough water to clean the diapers well, but we haven't had to do that. If you have an old school washer, you'll be able to adjust the amount of water you use, so you won't have to worry about it.
You also can't use just any detergent. I use Ecos Free and Clear simply because I found it on this list and it was readily available at my local grocery store. I think the big container I got of it was $8 and I use so little per load that it lasts forever.
You will also want to be careful about which diaper creams you use when cloth diapering (petroleum based ointments can waterproof diapers). One benefit to cloth is that babies tend to have less diaper rashes than in disposables. However, we have a sensitive boy and we keep cream on his rear at all times. Here is a list of acceptable diaper creams. The one we've found to be available at regular stores like Target and Babies R Us is California Baby Diaper Cream. It is the only one we've used so far, but I do have another brand on standby for when his current tube runs out!