The Do’s and Don’ts of handling and applying pesticides

Whether you are a homeowner, farmer or grower, precaution and care need to be front and center when handling and applying pesticides.

Pesticides-such as insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides-are chemicals or biological substances designed to kill or control living organisms such as unwanted plants, insects, disease or animals. Applications of pesticides can expose people, pets, wildlife and the environment to substances that can cause health and environmental effects. Following these do’s and don’ts will help protect you, your family, employees and the environment.


  • Know your pest(s) and consider alternatives before you treat with pesticides
  • Read the label carefully before you purchase the pesticide
  • Choose the form of pesticide best suited to your target site and the pest you want to control
  • Transport pesticides securely stowed in the car trunk or in the back of a truck away from passengers, groceries and animal feed
  • Read the label again before opening the container (each and every time) and follow it to a “T” (It’s the law, after all)
  • Use the proper safety equipment and protective clothing listed on the label
  • Apply the correct dosage
  • Apply only to crops (targets) identified on the label
  • Keep detailed records of all pesticides used and the environmental conditions at the time of application
  • Post all treated areas and follow re-entry directions
  • Triple rinse all tools and equipment and apply rinse water to target according to label
  • Wash clothing worn when using pesticides separately from other laundry
  • Post pesticide emergency contact information near every phone
  • Call a doctor or your local poison control center immediately in the case of accidental exposure
  • Properly store in original containers that are tightly closed, labeled and securely stored
  • Dispose of unused or unwanted pesticides properly (there are 18 Clean Sweep sites in Michigan ready to collect and dispose of these products free of charge)
  • Be safe, responsible and prepared!

Do not:

  • Purchase more than you will use in one season
  • Handle or apply pesticides when you are not feeling well
  • Smoke or eat while applying pesticides
  • Inhale pesticide dusts, sprays or vapors
  • Mix or apply a pesticide near a well head
  • Endanger the environment by using excess quantities of pesticide, applying to non-targets or applying at the wrong time
  • Use on targets not specified on the label (if it is labeled only for fruit trees, do not use it on ornamental shrubs)
  • Allow pets or people access to the treated area prior to labeled re-entry time
  • Dispose of unused product down the drain, sink or toilet
  • Reuse empty pesticide containers as they can be as hazardous as a full one
  • Transfer pesticides to other containers, such as empty milk bottles
  • Store pesticides with or near food, animal feed or medical supplies or in areas where flooding is possible
  • Take handling and applying pesticides lightly-precaution and care need to be front and center!

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