We've tried three different types of cloth diapers, since we've switched from disposables. They've been:
Trifold cloth diapers: This is, basically, a rectangular piece of cloth that is triple-folded to have a thick, absorbent strip down the middle of the diaper. It is held together by diaper pins or by a nifty little plastic claw-thing. When you're using these, you put a pair of rubber pants on the baby over the diaper to prevent leakage. Pros: inexpensive; good for the environment. Cons: VERY uncomfortable for The Boy when they're wet; must be changed immediately when wet, which tends to cut naps VERY short; also, try pinning a diaper on a grumpy, thrashing baby.
Blue Penguin form-fitted cloth diapers: This is similar to the tri-fold diapers, except they're form-fitted to a baby's behind and have plastic snaps to hold the diaper in place. These are more absorbent than the trifolds, but they still need to be changed VERY promptly upon evacuation. These came with two or three really cool diaper covers - plastic pants that snapped into place with plastic snaps, decorated with some really cool designs. High fashion for babies, indeed! Pros: still mostly inexpensive, slightly better at absorbing a little bit of pee; don't stain easily when washed correctly; still good for the environment by reducing throw-away stuff; cool looking covers. Cons: still must be changed promptly, no waiting - wakes The Boy up when he sleeps.
The biggest cons of the above come with the fact that nothing whisks the moisture away from the genital area. The Boy's got a horrendous diaper rash above his equipment, one that's been there for a few weeks without letup. I'm convinced this is because the moisture just sits there instead of moves away from the area. Plus, there's the whole washing-of-diapers thing, which is going to happen every day or every other day; there's no diaper service in Scotch Plains, NJ, to the best of our knowledge. The diapers need to be washed carefully, or they will stain permanently.
This absorption problem is mostly taken care of by the diaper we've stuck with: The Bum Genius diaper, from Cotton Babies. This diaper has a wonderful, soft inside, with a pouch that contains an absorbent cotton strip in the middle. The cotton is removable and must be taken out before washing; but, what this does is remove most of the moisture from around the baby's junk, leaving them almost as dry as a disposable diaper. These are smart-looking, coming in different colors, and attach easily with velcro strips. The pros to this are all of the above pros, plus the fact that this diaper really does absorb more stuff and is a LOT more comfortable for The Boy. Now that he's starting to sleep five or six hours at a time at night, he needs something that's going to absorb more stuff instead of waking him up when wet. (Yes, I realize the inherent contradiction of being concerned that he's got a nasty diaper rash, and then wanting him to wear a wet diaper for longer; I'll accept that contradiction for the sake of my sanity.) These diapers attach to the baby a lot easier and a LOT more securely than the other two; The only times there's been issues of leakage have been when we put the diaper on the wrong size-snap setting, and stuff leaked out the bottom.
The issues: they're a LOT more expensive than the other two. We've got eight or nine, and that means that we're washing the diapers every night. (Hope we don't get home too late, or we're staying awake for an extra 45 minutes.) They need to be washed specifically: on a quick rinse cold setting with a little bit of detergent, then on a hot setting, with soak time, with a 2nd spin cycle with less detergent. Then, tumble dry on medium. It's not hard, but it's specific. Also, the diaper rash cream interferes with the absorbency of the diaper, which has made treating The Boy's rash problematic - do I put cream on it and risk him peeing out the top of the diaper, or do I let it sit and potentially get worse?
I'm not entirely convinced that the cloth diapers are a step up from the disposables. The disposables do have perfumes and stuff on them that is irritating to The Boy's skin; that rash was replaced by a rash around his Thingie that looks painful. Which is better, which is worse? Your decision. For me, I'm not willing to make waves - The Wife wants cloth, we have cloth. I feel good that I'm not contributing 20 pounds of wet diapers into the landfills every week - just a small plastic bag of used wipes.
(I'm not quite emotionally prepared for reusable wipes yet.)