What You Need to Know about Storing a Pesticide

A nationwide study by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that almost one-half of surveyed households with children under the age of 5 had at least one pesticide stored within their reach.
What You Need to Know about Storing a Pesticide - Articles


Proper pesticide storage helps prolong chemical shelf life while protecting the health of people, animals, and the environment. Shelf life is the period of time a pesticide can be stored before it becomes less effective or uneffective. Read the product label for specific storage information.

Store Pesticides in locked cabinets

Store pesticides in locked cabinets (preferably metal) at least 5 feet above ground away from children and pets. Even if you don't have children, relatives and friends may bring their children to your home.

Do not store pesticides where flooding is possible or water damage is likely to occur. Also avoid areas where a spill could get into a well, groundwater, or surface water.

Always store pesticides in their original containers with their tops tightly closed

The pesticide label should be attached to or accompany the product at all times. If the pesticide label is damaged, provide as much information about the product as possible. Write information on the product or on paper to keep with the product such as trade name, active ingredient, signal word, EPA registration number, directions for use, and any other information that will be helpful to use the product safely.

What is a pesticide?

A pesticide is any product that makes a claim that it controls pests, has a signal word, and has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number.

A claim may indicate that the pesticide controls, kills, eradicates, repels, deters, etc., certain pests.

The four signal words on pesticide products are DANGER POISON, DANGER, WARNING, and CAUTION.

An EPA Registration number indicates that a product has been registered and its label was approved for sale by the EPA.

Never store pesticides in any food or drink containers

People, especially children, recognize the shape and color of these types of containers, and they may mistake them for something safe to eat or drink, causing an accidental poisoning.

Never store pesticides in cabinets near these places

Don't store pesticides in cabinets near food, potable water, animal feed, medical supplies, protective clothing, seed, fertilizers, or gasoline.

This will prevent contamination of these products from vapors, dusts, or spills, and reduce the likelihood of accidental human, animal, or environmental exposure.

Keep pesticides stored in cool, dry, and well-lit areas

The storage area should prevent temperature extremes as very high or very low temperatures can cause pesticide deterioration. Proper lighting helps ensure the correct pesticide for the task is chosen. In addition, any leaks or spills can be seen and cleaned up immediately.

Store dry pesticides above liquid pesticides

This will prevent the liquid pesticide from spilling or leaking onto the dry pesticides and contaminating them.

Never store pesticides in application equipment

To avoid the problem of excess mixture, carefully calculate and measure the amount of pesticide required for the application.

After applying, if excess mixture remains in application equipment, such as sprayers and spreaders, it should be applied according to label directions to your property.

Keep emergency numbers handy

Keep emergency numbers near your storage area and/or the phone, including the National Poison Center Number: 1-800-222-1222.

Reduce storage needs by buying only the amount and type of pesticide needed for the upcoming year

Mark the date of purchase on container and use older products first. An annual inventory will help eliminate the accumulation of old and outdated pesticides, which can become less effective after they are opened.

Place Mr. Yuk stickers on pesticide products so children know not to touch. Request Mr. Yuk stickers from the Pesticide Education Program.

Read the label

Follow the storage directions on the label for more specific or special requirements to prevent degradation, contamination, and accidental exposure.

For More Information

Penn State Pesticide Education Program 
222 Special Services Building
University Park, PA 16802
Email: pesticide@psu.edu

Updated by the Penn State Pesticide Education Program. Original text prepared by Richard H. Johnson Jr., former extension associate.