I just bought some used Rearz and DiaperRite used prefolds as testers before I bought a dozen of GMD prefolds (I'm new to this whole CD'ing thing) and I guess I'm crazy because I thought they were going to be kind of soft? They aren't...they feel like maybe softish (being generous) jeans. I thought they would be really soft...is it just the brand? Or that they are used? Do all pf's feel this way?
Such thing as soft PF's?
Have you prepped them yet? Several hot washes and dries. GMD prefolds are, imo, soft. Compared to bamboo diapers they are not very soft but they are reasonably soft. If you really want to you can use ecover fabric softener on you diapers. Drying in the dryer also leads to softer diapers than line drying.
Also, if you have only ever used previously used diapers that may be it. New prefolds take a bit to become soft. A month or so of use after the initial prep and they will be much softer.
I guess I don't see softness as something to aspire to in a prefold though. Thickness, yes. Fit, yes. And of course absorbability. But the kid isn't likely to notice if they feel like clothes as opposed to clouds ykwim?
ETA: I think that part of the softness equation has to do with water type as well. We have hard water and nothing gets really soft. I despise fabric softener though so, meh.
Oh...and there are lots of mamas who line dry their diapers and they get very scratchy that way but still wear and work great. I do this occasionally but am too lazy to all that often.
I suppose it really depends on what you mean by soft... If you mean cushy and silky, then no. If you mean the opposite of stiff/scratchy, then that may in part be your water and in part the quality of the dipe.
My unbleached Bummis and GMD pfs are both "soft", in the same way my woven cotton sheets are soft. Theyre not something i would rub against my cheek to enjoy the softness, but they're comfortable.
If however you're looking for that cheek rubbing soft, I have a bamboo fleece pf like that, and my UtN pfs are somewhere in between... Their outer is cotton knit, so just like your fave tee shirt.
There is a range of softness within the realm of prefolds, however. I personally prefer unbleached indian prefolds - and they're significantly softer feeling to me than other pf's that I've got - bleached indian, chinese dsq, hemp jersey. Actually I have some old 'vintage' curity prefolds that are amazingly soft - though they're not as thick as others being cotton gauze.
Prepping and use *will* make a difference. I've got a few odd ones that are now (approaching a 4th year of use) really softening up.
A lot of it depends on how they are washed. "Sanitary" cycle and hot drying can make them scratchy. Bleach will soften them, but by weakening the fibers. That is probably why they were softer a long time ago. My softest are organic Indian, but I have to keep them out of the sanitary cycle that I use for pocket inserts.