Why we don't have a Cloth Nappy Library
Cloth Nappy Libraries - where you can hire a range of cloth nappies for a period of time to find out which ones you like - are a great idea. For a weekly fee you can test out different nappies on your baby without actually buying them. There are a number of Cloth Nappy Libraries run by local councils, and several by cloth nappy businesses.
We don't offer a Cloth Nappy Library hire service. This is because we cannot meet Australian commercial laundry standards when washing nappies between hires, and we don't want to potentially put our customers at risk by operating a service that cannot meet these standards.
Australian Laundry Standard 4146 specifies general laundry practice and minimum compliance standards for laundries that are used commercially.
Apart from other health & safety and legislative requirements, the main purpose of the AS4146 is to provide assurance that items are being washed safely and effectively. As the items are being used by multiple people (like in a Cloth Nappy Library where numerous families may use the same nappies), there are certain rules covering how items are to be disinfected, either by heat (eg washing at 60 deg for 30 minutes kills HIV, at 70 deg for 10 minutes kills vegetative bacteria, and at 98 deg for 2 minutes kills Hepatitis B), or by chemicals for those items that cannot be washed at high temperatures. There are also high tech commercial sanitation systems that are able to disinfect to standards without the use of harsh chemicals.
Whichever disinfection method is chosen, by law it is required that it removes 99.9% of e-Coli bacteria, and 99.9% of coliform bacteria (an indicator of the presence of disease causing organisms of fecal origin). This has to be checked by lab tests every few months, to ensure the laundry is meeting standards.
We feel that due to the the risks associated with multiple families - who are strangers to each other - using the same nappies, and the variation in home washing routines, that accredited commercial laundering (either in-house or outsourced) is the safest and most effective method of washing between hires for a Cloth Nappy Library. Unfortunately the costs associated with outsourcing to a commercial laundry make this proposition financially difficult for a small business like Darlings Downunder.