Probably overthinking this, but I'd rather ask then have to troubleshoot problems later!
We bought some Rockin Green detergent to use for our cloth diapers, which have not been through their initial wash yet (baby due in 4 weeks). This stuff is too expensive to use on everything, so I went to the http://www.pinstripesandpolkadots.com/detergentchoices.htm site to look for something that was cloth diaper safe but not as expensive. Fortunately, my parents have military privileges and they're happy to get me the ALL Free & Clear Military that does not have optical brightners (rated 5 stars on the chart). The plan is to use ALL on our regular clothes and the Rockin Green on the diaper stuff. The thought is that if for some reason we goof and items get mixed up it won't affect the cloth diapers. It's also likely that at some point we'll get tired of paying for the Rockin Green and just use the ALL.
But what about other stuff? Sometimes I use oxygen bleach on our clothes, or scented Mrs. Meyers detergent on blankets and bedding. Do I need to run an empty load to rinse the washer before washing the diapers? If I use dryer sheets on other things, will that coat the dryer and cause problems for the prefolds? I know stripping is probably inevitable, but I'd like to cut down on potential problems before they happen. The cloth diaper manufacturer website said specifically not to use dryer sheets and oxygen bleach. I suppose I could give all that stuff up, but having pretty smelling blankets makes me happy, and Mrs. Meyers has essential oils and not synthetic fragrance.
Also, do you all wait for there to be a problem before you add vinegar, baking soda, whatever, or do you just routinely add it to every wash? Our water is *supposed* to be soft - we bought a RainSoft water softner a few years back and we've been pleased with it, but I haven' actually had the water tested since. We're usually able to cut back on the amount of detergent we use (by half) and haven't had any problems.
I tell my mother frequently that she did not do me any favors by drilling into my head that you HAVE to follow instructions or else all hell will break loose. If there is anything else along the lines of what I've asked here that I've forgotten about, please feel free to share. I feel pretty good about the basics (standard washing / drying / line drying / sunning).
I don't use dryer sheets on anything because I've heard that it's really bad for the lifespan of your dryer. Also, it supposedly coats the inside of your dryer which I'd think would be hard to remove between loads (I can believe that, clothes dried with them often felt kind of "waxy" to me). So I'd say a definite no to the dryer sheets, but keep getting your scent fix from the detergent for non-diaper laundry.
We do use stain pre-treaters for DDs clothing, regular (scented) Tide and also liquid fabric softener for sheets/towels/DH's clothes and none of that has been a problem for us. I wouldn't run an empty load for those unless you have issues. To be fair, I do use a smaller-than-suggested amount of fabric softener since I find the scent really strong since switching to many unscented products. For DD's and my clothes as well as the cloth diapers we use Costco's "natural" detergent and it works great. I think the All F&C should be fine, if you start to have issues you can troubleshoot but I wouldn't stress over it before then.
I don't add anything to my wash as a matter of routine. Maybe every few weeks I put a little vinegar in the rinse cycle (I use our fabric softener dispenser) just to make sure it's helping all the detergent rinse out, but not too often as it can damage the PUL. If you only have prefolds I believe they are quite flexible in their washing preferences so hopefully that will help too.
Fabric sheets, and fabric softeners are also HIGHLY toxic and have loads of nasties in them. Honestly, people have gotten better results out of using a couple of crumbled up pieces of aluminum foil to serve the same purpose as fabric sheets.
On a personal note; I wash our diapers in fresh water, only. No detergent. Unless the urine's been sitting in them a while, or it's poopy. But my son's EC'd so I haven't dealt with a poopy diaper in months, and urine no longer sets in long enough to cause an issue. For any of the above reasons, I use Lemongrass EO as a disinfectant. No detergents. I've found any and all completely useless and absolutely noxious to smell.
I was also thinking to when I travel, since MIL uses every super perfumed laundry additive you can imagine. When we visit, whatever I wear to bed picks up the smell from the sheets and stinks up everything else in my bag. When they come to visit, the guest room smells like their detergent for days after. I'm paranoid that her washer and dryer will be too coated to wash my dipes in when we travel, even if I bring my own detergent (which is the other reason I asked about laundry add-ons).
Thanks for the answers so far ladies, keep 'em coming!