I'll start by saying that I don't find using cloth diapers any harder than using disposables or any more gross. I used cloth some with Cadence from when she was about 16 months to 2 years, so I sort of knew what I was getting into to do it full-time with Piper. Basically, I do about 3 more loads of laundry every week, since I have enough diapers to last about 2.5 days and you need to wash cloth diapers every 2-3 days. I like doing laundry! We don't feel that they smell any worse or that I have touch poo any more than I would with 'sposies. In fact, I feel like the cloth diapers contain runny/explosive messes better and I'm able to add extra absorbency at night. Plus, this way, we don't have to lug smelly trash bags of diapers to the garage and then to the dump.
You can't use regular diaper rash cream with cloth diapers because it can mess with their absorbency so I use GroVia Magic Stick when needed(recommended by Kat!). I put the dirty dipes in a hanging Fuzzibunz wet bag for now, but I will probably purchase a small lidded trash can to put the wet bag in once Piper is on solid food and things get more stinky. To wipe we just use baby wash cloths and water.
I put everything, including the wash cloths and wet bag, in the washer for a cold water soak and rinse, then do a hot water wash with an extra rinse. The rinsing is important to make sure all detergent residue is out of the diapers - it can build up and make them smell. You can't use regular detergent with cloth diapers either, too many perfumes and additives really build up and can cause leaking. I use Charlie's Soap powder. It's non-toxic and biodegradable and fairly cheap. Eventually, I'll probably use it for all our laundry. I like to hang the diapers out on the line when the weather is good - the sun helps kill germs and bleaches out stains. When I need to use the dryer I only put the inserts and prefolds in; the covers dry quickly hanging on a rack, and machine drying can ruin their elasticity.
There's some debate about the environmental impact of cloth diapers. Supposedly the impact is the same with disposables and CDs, because while 'sposies fill landfills, cloth uses more water and energy. I wonder about the impact of manufacturing both - disposables come in a lot of packaging, and certainly require some significant energy output to produce. Perhaps cloth do as well. I do know that cloth is certainly cheaper, especially if you use them with more than one child. I also like the convenience of not having to think about buying diapers. With cloth, I don't run the risk of running out and making a late night trip to the store.
Goodness, this was a manifesto, huh? Any questions? :-)