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Storing Pesticides Safely in the Home

Return to Environment articles.

By Dennis L. Patton, M.S., County Horticulture Agent, K-State Research and Extension/Johnson County

Walking through my garage on just about any day has me scratching my head and saying, “this place is really messy.” There are a lot of reasons for this mess. I am guessing I am not alone in the messy garage boat.

One mess that should not be an issue in the garage is storage of pesticides. We all have them setting around. For a number of reasons we should be good stewards of these products and follow these recommendations for proper storage.

It is never a good idea to have insecticides and herbicides sitting out in the open where kids and pets can get at them. Unattended pesticides containers are unsafe, and it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little attention and thought, pesticides can be safely stored so they can be used for their intended purpose.

Check out these storage ideas:

  • Don't stockpile.
    • Reduce storage needs by buying only the amount of pesticide that you will need in the near future or during the current season, when the pest is active. While it’s tempting to buy the “value” size, old, unused product costs more to get rid of in the long run.
  • Follow all storage instructions on the pesticide label.
    • Because the label is the law, start with the label first to determine storage guidelines, especially temperatures. Some products will freeze at 32 degrees, others at 20 degrees, and others at zero. If the product freezes, gets too hot, or gets wet (in the case of a powder) it may no longer be any good.
  • Store pesticides high enough so that they are out of reach of children and pets.
    • If possible, keep all pesticides in a locked cabinet, in a well-ventilated utility area or garden shed. A simple metal cabinet or lockable file cabinet would do the trick.
  • Never store pesticides in cabinets with or near food, animal feed or medical supplies.
  • Store flammable liquids outside your living area and far away from an ignition source, such as a furnace, a car, an outdoor grill or a power lawn mower.
  • Always store pesticides in their original containers, which include the label listing ingredients, directions for use, and first aid steps in case of accidental poisoning.
  • Never transfer pesticides to soft drink bottles or other containers.
    • Children or others may mistake them for something to eat or drink.
  • Use child-resistant packaging correctly.
    • Close the container tightly after using the product.
    • Child resistant does not mean child proof, so you still must be extra careful to properly store — out of children's reach — those products that are sold in child-resistant packaging.
  • Do not store pesticides in places where flooding is possible or in places where they might spill or leak into wells, drains, ground water, or surface water.

What to do with your unwanted household chemicals
If you can't identify the contents of the container, or if you can't tell how old the contents are, follow the advice on safe disposal. Johnson County Household Hazardous Waste Disposal offers a pesticide drop off where you can get rid of unwanted household chemicals for free. Schedule an appointment at https://www.jocogov.org/dept/health-and-environment/environment/hazardous-materials/schedule-dropoff




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Have questions? The Garden Hotline is staffed by trained EMG volunteers and Extension staff who will assist you with questions.

Phone: (913) 715-7050

Email: garden.help@jocogov.org