Let's talk dirty (diapers, that is)
There are two main ways to go here, too. Either your pail is wet or dry, meaning you either keep it full of water and some sort of stain fighter or you keep it dry (or as dry as is possible with wet diapers). I go the dry route because I have babies and there's this whole concern about a baby drowning in a bucket. Toddlers are top heavy AND love to play with water. Somewhere someday there's bound to be a lid isn't on just right and while drowning would be awful and sad, who would want their child to drown in sewage? So, that's my two cents. There is merit to both sides, but this is my opinion.
Some people put some baking soda or vinegar in the bottom of the pail to help with the stink. Either is really fine, though if I put vinegar in, I'd want to be sure the covers weren't directly in the bottom, since it CAN make the laminate deteriorate more quickly. There are also some great commercially available products you can add to your pail.
At any rate, it's probably best to wash at least every 2 to 3 days. Some people wait as long as a week, but there is a significant build up of bacteria that you'll have to deal with. You should consider this if you plan to only wash weekly.
So, you've changed a diaper. If it's a "wet" you can usually hang the cover to air dry and re-use several times. If it was a "dirty" you usually need to wash the cover, especially if "it" got on the cover.
Washing is very simple, actually. I have a rhythm down now, so I don't even hardly think about it. Your machine has to go through several cycles to get it all cleaned right, but that's one reason you have light, medium, and heavy cycles and why you have temperature settings. :-) Detergent is an important factor, as well. You can't use most regular laundry detergents because the chemicals will react with the urine and feces and cause chemical burns. You can either buy the special cloth diaper detergent, which I'm told is miraculous, or you can make your own detergent. The basic recipe that's been on pinterest for years is perfectly fine. I've used it on my cloth diapers from day 1 and it's been great. You don't need to use extra detergent when washing cloth. In fact, extra detergent is a problem. Use a regular scoop or whatever your commercial available cloth diaper box recommends. Experiment a little. You may need to use as much as 1/2 as much as for regular clothes. Or you may use the same amount.
Here's my cycle for anything except wool:
1. Wash the diapers on COLD with NO detergent for at least one cycle, so light to medium setting, with the highest water setting. This is the first rinse cycle. It gets down the excess poop and urine. Ammonia from the urine will react with detergent and makes poisonous gas when mixed with bleach. If you're having extra stinky diapers, you can add 1/4 to 1 full cup of vinegar in this rinse to neutralize those odors.
2. Wash on HOT WITH detergent for 3 cycles or the Heavy setting with highest water setting.
3. Rinse on HOT, no detergent with the highest water setting. This is the 2nd rinse cycle. It gets out all the extra soap. You may choose to wash with 1/4 cup of vinegar in this cycle as well as it removes soap quite well.
If you ANY smell remains, you need to wash more. If they stink, repeat steps 2 and 3. If they smell like soap AT ALL, repeat step 3 and next time add vinegar if you didn't before. If you had used vinegar before, cut down on the soap next time.
4. When drying, dry on the HOTTEST setting for at least 70 minutes. If the diapers are still at all wet, dry some more. This is the sanitizing step. As often as possible, dry them in the sun. This helps with any and all stains and does a great sanitizing job, too.