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8 Ways to Store and Care For Pesticides Safely

If you use home and garden pesticides for weed and pest control, here’s what you need to know to store them safely. It may seem like a lot of rules, but these products pose significant risks.

Plastic containers of Neudorff Sluggo slug and snail killer on shelf display in garden center, UKGEOGRAPHY PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

Included in this roundup are products for repelling and eliminating pests, weed killers, nitrogen stabilizers and other plant regulators. If you’re unsure about a product, check the label for signal words like danger, poison, warning and caution, and for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number.

Proper storage prolongs the chemical shelf life of a product. More importantly, it protects the health of people, animals and the environment. Here are some general storage requirements, but refer to your pesticide labels for specific information about the products you’ve purchased.

The simplest method is to choose nontoxic alternatives whenever you can.

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Fh22jun 618 06 M01 8 Ways To Store And Care For Pesticides SafelyCourtesy The Home Depot

In a Locked Cabinet

The EPA recommends keeping pesticides in a locked cabinet in a well-ventilated utility area or garden shed. They shouldn’t be stored with or near food, animal feed or medical supplies.

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Pesticides for sale at Lowe's Home Improvement.Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

In the Original Container

Store in original containers with the labels so you’ll have the directions, ingredients and first aid steps handy in case of poisoning. Keep the tops tightly closed. Never store pesticides in the application equipment, where they are more likely to spill and be found by children.

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Farmer sprays pesticide with manual sprayer against insects on potato plantation in garden in summer. Agriculture and gardening conceptIKvyatkovskaya/Getty Images

Out of Reach

Keep these products out of reach of children and pets. Store them at least five feet above the ground in that locked (preferably metal) cabinet.

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Man Working On Wooden FloorKyryl Gorlov/Getty Images

Away From Flooding and Leaks

Place your cabinet where there’s no chance of flooding, or where they might leak or spill into a floor drain. From there, they would enter the sewer and cause toxic pollution.

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Garden Tools in GarageCharles Gullung/Getty Images

In an Ideal Temperature Area

The temperature in the storage area should not drop below 40 F or rise above 100 F. Extremely high or low temps can cause pesticides to deteriorate and become ineffective, and high humidity and direct sunlight will break them down. Cool and dry is the goal.

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Rose bouquet and pot plants on bay window in a homegollykim/Getty Images

Away from Living Areas

Flammable liquids should be stored outside your living area and far away from an ignition source such as a furnace, car, grill or lawn mower.

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Midsection Of Man Holding Bottle In FarmIvan Sviatkovskyi/Getty Images

Dispose of Properly

When you need to throw away chemicals, follow the instructions on the labels. Empty pesticide containers should not simply be thrown into the trash or recycling bin. Thoroughly rinse them before disposal, and the diluted rinse water should be disposed of by applying it to the same areas you sprayed.

If you have unwanted leftover pesticide, drop it off with a local program. Search online for “household hazardous waste disposal near me.”

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Wooden cabinetlingqi xie/Getty Images

Clear Your Storage Cabinet Out Regularly

Don’t buy more pesticide than you’ll need soon. Think of what you’ll use in one year or less. The less you store, the safer you are. To help prevent stocking up, keep your storage cabinet as small as possible.