Yes, prepping your cloth diapers is simple.
The first task most parents need to tackle after acquiring their cloth diaper stash is to prep the diapers. Why do they need prepping?
Prepping is needed to wash manufacturing residue from synthetic fibers and remove natural oils from natural fibers. Synthetic fibers like fleece, microfiber, and microsuede only need a single wash to remove anything left behind in the factory. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and hemp have naturally occurring oils in the fabric that will prevent proper absorption if not removed.
Prepping natural fibers can be a lot like stripping cloth diapers. The goal is simply to make the cloth absorb liquid well. Diapers will function after about five washes, but will not reach their potential until after about a dozen washes.
To get your prefolds nice and fluffy, you want to wash and dry them around 10 times. You can speed up the process by boiling them. Fill a large pot with water and add your inserts, prefolds and flats. Do not overfill the pot. Boil for 15 minutes. You can repeat this process for large loads and especially hemp. Fitteds should not be boiled since it can ruin the elastic. Inserts with snaps should also not be boiled. After boiling twice, you can run them through a single wash with detergent.
You can also just throw them in with bedding or towels instead of using up tons of water prepping them alone. Hemp takes the most washes to prep, followed by cotton, then bamboo. Some people prep each fiber type separately. I find this unnecessary and just prep all natural fibers together.(Usually with my loads of towels and rags.) I don’t bother with the dryer between each wash either, but machine drying in between prepping washes will make them fluffier and softer. When prepping you only need a little detergent since you are only drawing out oils and not really cleaning them. You could also use blue dawn like when stripping, which may actually speed up the process.
My newborn diapers are mostly previously used by my son so I don’t have much prepping to do for my newborn stash this time around. I will simply run them through a single wash with the newborn clothes when I pull them out of storage.