Pets love their toys, but have you taken a close look at the condition of some of them lately? Experts recommend that pet toys should be sorted and cleaned regularly.

The cleaning experts at MOLLY MAID suggest keeping dog and cat toys in one place (such as a basket or bin) – this makes it easy for the pet to find their favourite toy, and it’s easier for you to keep track of them. Go through the toys to determine which ones to keep – and clean – and which ones to throw away.

Toss any toys that have missing parts, or hanging bits (which could be a choking hazard), or that have been heavily chewed up. Also, dispose of any toy that your dog, for example, is tending to ‘eat’ part of, such as the stuffing.

Here’s a guide to cleaning different types of toys. A word of caution: never use bleach or harsh cleaning chemicals, as they can harm your pet. If a toy has a bad smell or doesn’t get clean after washing, throw it away.

Plastic/rubber/hard toys: Clean by hand with soap and water, or put these toys into the dishwasher on a hot cycle with no detergent – the heat and water pressure should kill most of the germs and remove the dirt.

Small fabric cat toys: Put into a mesh laundry bag and run through the washer using gentle laundry soap. Dry in the dryer. Catnip toys probably can’t withstand this kind of cleaning so simply wipe them with a wet cloth.

Bones: Put bones into a bucket with hot water and a bit of dish soap. Using a scrub brush, loosen any mud or dirt from outdoor play, then scrub them clean. Allow the bones to dry on a towel before giving them to your dog.

Rope toys: Soft rope toys are breeding grounds for bacteria. Wet the toy and microwave for 20 seconds to one minute, depending on the wattage. Remove from the microwave (be careful, as it might be hot.) Alternatively, put this toy into the dishwasher on the hot cycle with no detergent.

Stuffed animals: Bacteria love soft plush fabric too. Wash these toys in the washing machine using hot water and a little soap (some toys will fare better than others – it will depend on the quality of the toy). If they make it through the wash, put them in the dryer too.

Treat toys and chews: Rinse under water. Throw these away when they get small to avoid risk of choking.