This will be VERRRY long. (Abbreviations, in case they are confusing: CD = cloth diaper. BF = breast feeding)
We started with prefolds and covers when Elliot was 5 weeks old and they worked really well when he was small. This is the least expensive CDing option, as you go through many dipes in those early days - at least 12, usually more, in a 24 hour period. We fastened them with a Snappi and I found they held in those explosive BF poos well enough. He grew fast though, and the next size prefolds didn't fold down small enough for me. We then moved on to Mother-Ease One Size diapers and covers (I LOVE the ME airflow covers - so light and they fit well and dry fast. I'm not a fan of Bummis covers, as they are stiff and they smelled and they ended up leaking quickly. But they have such cute prints!)
I then moved him into the ME Sandys diapers, which I've found to be much more absorbent and leak-proof than the one-size. You still need a cover with these. They come in small and large sizes and are based on the child's weight. With Felix, I skipped the prefolds and started using Small Sandys diapers and covers almost right away. LOVED them! The odd time I did use a prefold, I was able to put the Mother Ease cover over it with no problems.
We also have a good supply of Fuzzi Bunz sized pocket diapers. These didn't work so well when the boys were small and had those BF poops - it would run right out the legs, which surprised me since their thighs were both so chunky and the diaper was done up as tight as possible and seemed to fit really well. But they work great now. I love how trim they are! And, the pocket allows you to customize the absorbency by added different types of inserts. (Great for overnight!) Pockets are more expensive, but they don't need a cover. Most come in sizes, so you have to buy a new size as your child grows. We only had 1 small FB, and then 10-14 medium and 8-10 large ones in our rotation. Though, there are new Fuzzi Bunz One-Size dipes now!
We had a few Bum Genius pockets, which velcro closed. These diapers are a one-size diaper - they snap down to a small size for infants and open up bigger for older children. I prefer them for younger babies. I like them, except that they are super expensive in Canada. For fit and absorption, I prefer Fuzzi Bunz. In fact, I ended up selling all my BGs and won't buy any new ones, even if they were cheaper. The velcro wore out very quickly. The diaper actually fell off Elliot once, as he was walking outside, because the weight of the wet dipe (and it wasn't excessive!) caused the velcro to let go. Oops.
The most recent diaper I tried with Felix is an AMP diaper. The pocket is in the front instead of at the back, which makes it easier to get the insert out of a poopy diaper! They fit well, too, and I like the gusseting at the legs and around the waist. I am discovering that they aren't as absorbent as the Fuzzi Bunz, though. They will leak sooner. Another draw back is that the fleece tends to roll out at the legs/waist, which can cause wicking into the clothes. This seems to be created by the extra fabric remaining on the other side of the gusset - it's too long and flips easily. Disappointing.
I tried Happy Heinys when Elliot was small and didn't like them - too leaky and I wasn't able to get them tight enough. I know that HH is now making a one-size diaper and it looks like it might have a better fit to it, though, which is good. We also tried the very pricey Berry Plush AIO (all-in-one), which was cozy and ultra-soft, but again, not great for liquidy BF poops.) I tried a Thirsties AIO pocket with Felix and it worked well, but it was too small so I didn't get to try it for long.
We used flushable bio-liners when the nastier poops started when we introduced solid foods. It made clean up a lot easier. Otherwise, it's so hard to scrape out of a CD!!! We also use fleece liners (especially overnight, to help wick away moisture), which I dunk in the toilet and swish if necessary, but otherwise go into the laundry with the rest of the diapers.
At first I did a dry pail for pee diapers and kept a wet pail (with a bit of vinegar added to the water) in the basement for poopy dipes. The night before wash day (every 3 days), I would take the dry pail down to the laundry room and fill it with water to soak over night, then drain both pails in the laundry sink the next morning and dump the dipes in the wash.
As Elliot grew, I found that keeping a wet pail makes the dipes smell terrible, even after several washings. They just wouldn't come clean and the poopy water seems to seep deep into the diapers fibres and cling or something. (Note: you can also get tote bags in large and small sizes, which are good for lining the diaper pail or putting in the diaper bag for bringing home soiled dipes.)
So, I stopped soaking my dry pail over night and stopped using a wet pail, and started washing every other day. (The poop pail is a dry pail, except that the diapers are wet when they go in due to the rinsing I give them.) I just dump everything in the wash, do a cold rinse cycle (I have to manually turn the dial to do this, my washer sucks) and then I do a hot wash cycle as normal. I did have to change my detergent from Tide Free and Clear (contains enzymes that build up over time and cause stink in the dipes and a red rash on Elliot) to Nature Clean powder, and finally to Allen's Naturally powder. (I've always found that powdered detergent works best for CDs) And I sun them to dry whenever possible - this is amazing for getting out stains and keeping things fresh. Otherwise, I use the dryer. We don't use dryer sheets (ie bounce) - we have dryer balls. Sheets cause a build up on the diapers and makes them less absorbent.
Now, with both boys in CDs, I wash every other day. It's best to keep the wash load to under 20 diapers (15 is best, I think) and to make sure to wash with the largest water setting, no matter how full the load looks.
Bottom line - for babies, I prefer Sandys with covers, then as they grow out of the small, I love both FuzziBunz pockets and the large Sandys with covers.
Shhhhhhh... secrets: I will admit to now putting both boys in disposables at night. It's a habit I want to break.