Teddy bears are a child's first best friend, and have a life full of shared experiences including summer holidays, playing in the park and bedtime stories. They are a comforter, and companion that travel everywhere and anywhere with your little one.

Many children will drop their teddies on the floor from time to time, and pick them up without giving it much thought, however, they could be harbouring and transporting dirt and germs around the household.

Latest research conducted by Dettol as part of their 'Care For Your Bear' campaign has found that 90% of children are regularly dropping their beloved teddy bears on the floor, with 1 in 5 teddies having never been washed. Consequently cuddly toys have been found to have the highest levels of bacteria in the family laundry basket.

Swab tests on a variety of children's teddy bears found that 80% were contaminated with staphylococcus spp, which is a pathogen associated with food poisoning, and almost a quarter were contaminated with coliforms, indicating a possible presence of harmful organisms.

The new campaign is supported by hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley, to raise awareness of germs and bacteria found on soft toys. With almost three quarters of children putting teddies in their mouth, the campaign is raising awareness of germs on much loved teddies and soft toys. Dr Ackerley comments "Anything that children put in their mouth should be hygienically cleaned but it is often difficult to get a child to let you wash their favourite teddy, which means they can become very dirty. I would recommend regularly washing them in a machine at a low temperature but including something to kill the germs such as Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser which kills 99.9% of bacteria during the washing process."

Next time your little one wants to cuddle up to their favourite teddy, follow these steps to help keep teddy hygienically clean and your little one healthy:

1. Wash at a low temperature with an anti-bacterial laundry cleanser to prevent damage - Wash teddy at a low temperature using an anti-bacterial laundry cleanser which works alongside your usual detergent. Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser kills 99.9% of bacteria, and will leave your bear feeling soft, smelling fresh and hygienically clean.

2. Avoid cross contamination - Avoid washing teddy bear with regular laundry, especially dirty tea towels and underwear. This will help to prevent discolouration and eliminate cross contamination of bacteria from other garments.

3. Dry teddy naturally - When possible dry teddy naturally, tumble dryers can be too harsh on most soft toys and increase the risk of damage to shape, fur and smaller parts like little eye.

4. For extra protection - You can pop teddy in a netted laundry bag or pillow case before he goes in the wash to provide a protective layer, minimising damage whilst keeping any fur soft and fluffy.

5. Give teddy a sponge bath - Small smudges and build ups of dirt are common and expected for a well-loved teddy. For a quick wash dilute 1 cap of Dettol Anti-Bacterial Laundry Cleanser to 2.5L of warm water and sponge clean.

Keep your child's teddy bear clean with these steps

Keep your child's teddy bear clean with these steps

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk