I am grateful to the friend who explained cloth diapering to me before I had my first baby, thus saving me lots of money and helping me reduce guilt about my contributions to the landfill. I am paying it forward here and sharing what I have learned about cloth diapering for anyone else who needs the info.
They sell all-in-one diapers, with absorbent material on the inside and plastic/vinyl/whatever on the outside and I have used them but they are more expensive. Unless you are committed to drip-drying, I find that they wear out faster, too. I especially dislike them for new babies because new babies go through so many daily diapers. A much less expensive but effective option is to buy old-fashioned square diaper liners and diaper covers.
I got my square diaper liners from this local company: http://www.alltogetherdiaper.com/ They work wonderfully and are extremely durable. They lasted for all four of my babies! Do not buy those thin, horrible "Gerber diaper burp cloths" that they sell at big box stores. They look too thin and cute to be absorbent because they are NOT absorbent.
I may be old-fashioned in my preference for square diaper liners, but I have no desire to use old-fashioned pins. I love Snappi fasteners. No poke risk.
If you want even more padding, such as to avoid changing the diaper at night, you can even add one of these 1/3 size liners in the middle but usually it is not necessary.
Add the Snappi. It has tiny comb ends that catch the fabric. Hold it at one side, pull and stretch it to the other side, and then pull the middle comb down.
Then add the diaper cover to keep all that wetness away from you. I have found that the kind that are shaped like disposables work better than plastic pants. They come with snaps or velcro. Snaps stay nice longer but I use these velcro ones by Dappi that I got from Baby Best Buy because they are the least expensive diaper covers in the world. You can get them here: http://www.babybestbuy.com/dappi-diaper-covers-277.html They aren't as cute as the bright-colored diapers you can get elsewhere but bright colors are impractical for me because I machine wash on the "heavy duty" cycle with bleach. I machine dry, too. You will find lots of rules online about diaper care that teach how to make diapers last longer through gentle cleaning and drip drying. I ignore these and stay sane. Hey, most of the liners lasted through four kids in spite of my non-gentle cleaning ways and I only rarely had to replace the covers, which I could afford to do because I bought such a cheap brand.
Cloth diapers do not go in a diaper genie. Again, you will find lots of "helpful," complicated tips online about storing dirty cloth diapers. For me, the easiest, cheapest, non-stinky way to store them is in a bucket with a gamma seal lid, lined with a trash bag. I got mine here: http://beprepared.com/5-gallon-bucket-with-lid.html
If you use the non-gentle cleaning cycle I use, you will rarely need to rinse a diaper. A diaper with a moderate amount of sticky gunk in it will clean in the heavy duty cycle. But there are occasions when the diaper is extra crazy full and too sticky to shake out into the toilet. When I was living in my previous residence, we bought an OsoCozy diaper sprayer that attaches to the toilet for this purpose: http://www.alltogetherdiaper.com/Products/Other-Accessories/OsoCozy-Cloth-Diaper-Sprayer In my current residence, we have a pull-out spray faucet in the bathroom sink, that I can just point at a diaper as I hold it over the toilet and spray.