Ok so your super excited to use your brand new cloth diapers. You feel confident, and I've assured readers multiple times that it works if you change it. You washed them once after they arrived (like all new baby clothes). Time for super cute fluffy bum!!
And then they leaked. You changed them but the absorbency wasn't what everyone promised. Your frustrated, tired, confused and have 3 weeks worth of laundry that you've accumulated in just 2 days. There is a fix, its simple and its a strange little thing about the cloth diaper world.
Before using your cloth diapers for the first time they need to be washed 3-4 times. This makes them more absorbent. In fact cloth diapers continue to increase in absorbency over time (so long as they dont have residue build up or ammonia) .
Why does washing increase absorbency? Well with some natural fibers it removes oils, but thats only part of it and happens quickly. What the washing does is soften up the fibers in the cloth. It also takes them from smooth to more fiberous. And it opens the weave of the material up some. This allows the fabric to pull in and distribute the wetness. This process is especially important with prefolds as it quilts them up.
So before using your cloth diapers wash them up several times. I use a regular detergent amount on the first wash (and since I made them this time that was when I pre-washed the fabric before sewing). For the next several pre-washes just a few spoons of detergent is enough. **only for prepping, dirty diapers need the correct detergent amount** You dont need to dry between washes. That's optional and personal preference. If your at a laundry mat I'd just dry at the end to save money. If your like me and dont have home laundry perhaps a friend will help you out. I will be doing my pre-washing at my moms. Although I wouldn't ask to do all my laundry this way (cuz I'd feel like a college student who saved her laundry for holidays at home), I dont mind asking for this situation. If your starting your cloth diaper journey with a newborn you could ask someone to do this as a shower gift.
Pre-wash several times first and your diapers will work if you change them. Also keep in mind many are made to be used with a cloth liner (like mine) . Often its not added to the core because some if the benefits of a seperate liner are the same as the benefits of a prefold. These are: adjustability, more thorough clean, faster dry.