This is driving me crazy. I've had these large pockets for a long time (they're on their second kid, can they get too old?) and I haven't changed a thing. I've had minor stink issues in the past which were always resolved with stripping, but I've NEVER had repelling. I do cold rinse, then hot wash with Charlie's soap, and then an extra rinse or two. I just stripped with a couple soapless washes and many, many rinses, and a few of them are still repelling. A couple times it just leaked right out. When I tested it, the water just beaded up.
The only thing that has changed is that I wash them with prefolds and covers now too (not unbleached prefolds, they've been washed several times). I used bac-out a few times on some of them, but have since stopped. We have hard water, so I stay away from vinegar.
Someone give me an idea why these things aren't absorbing!