Use pesticides safely

If you choose to use a pesticide in or around your home, you are responsible for using it safely.

These safety tips will help you use, store, and dispose of pesticides properly, so you reduce risks to yourself, other people, and the environment.


  • These are general recommendations.
  • Check the label for specific instructions.
  • When in doubt, contact a professional.

Before buying a pesticide

Did you know?

Some provinces and municipalities have placed more restrictions on the use of certain approved lawn and garden pesticides. Please check with your city, province, or local lawn care centre for more information.

Buying a pesticide

  • Read the label directions and safety tips before buying the product. The label must include the name of the pest to be controlled and the treatment location (for example, indoor, outdoor, garden use, pet treatment).
  • Buy only the amount of product needed for the treatment.
  • Do not buy a pesticide if the packaging is visibly damaged or seems to have been tampered with. Instead, report it to the vendor.

Using a pesticide

  • Carefully read all label instructions and warnings before using pesticides.
  • Never mix different pesticides together, unless the instructions tell you to.
  • Use a pesticide only for its stated purpose. For example, never use a pesticide indoors when it is intended for outdoor use.
  • Do not apply pesticides directly to people, clothing, or bedding, except when told to do so on the label (like when using personal insect repellents).
  • Do not drink, eat, or smoke while applying pesticides.
  • Do not rub your eyes or touch your mouth while working with pesticides.
  • People and pets should leave the area during treatment, especially children, pregnant women, and elderly people.

Using a pesticide indoors

  • Cover or remove food, dishes, and utensils from any area that is to be treated.
  • Cover or remove aquariums and pet food dishes.
  • To help the product dry, provide some air flow (for example, open your doors and windows for a few hours).
  • Do not touch treated surfaces until the pesticide has dried completely (directions on the label will tell you the drying time).
  • Wash all surfaces that normally come in direct contact with food with hot soapy water, like counters, tables, and stove tops.

Using a pesticide outdoors

  • When using a pesticide for the control of home garden pests, be sure to wait the directed amount of time for each garden crop before harvesting.
  • Never spray a pesticide outdoors if wind speed is more than 8 kph (5 mph), if the air temperature is above 30°C (86°F), or if it is raining. Check your local weather forecast for up-to-date temperature, wind, and rain information.
  • If noted on the pesticide label, post warning signs to notify neighbours. They may want to keep children and pets away from the treated area.
  • Wear protective clothing as stated on the label, like rubber gloves, long-sleeved shirts, aprons, or coveralls. Keep sleeves outside gloves, and pants outside boots to prevent the pesticide from getting inside. Check the label for any other specific protective clothing or equipment requirements.
  • Only apply pesticides at the rate stated on the label. A higher rate may damage plants, kill beneficial insects, and leave undesired residues on plants. On the other hand, a lower rate may not control the pest at all.

Special considerations

  • People who often have allergic reactions should stay out of the treated area for 24 hours after the pesticide has been applied.
  • Pregnant women should also not enter a pesticide-treated area for 24 hours. Pregnant women may be more sensitive to the strong smell of some pesticides. The odour itself is not harmful.
  • Do not allow people or pets to enter the treated area until sprays have dried for liquid applications or dusts have settled for dry applications.
  • Do not treat pets with pesticides unless the pesticide says it is intended for use on pets.
  • If you need to use a flea control product, be sure to use it only on the animal specified on the product label: dog products for dogs, cat products for cats. Apply only the amount stated for the size, weight, or age of the animal being treated. Apply only as often as it says on the label.

What's that smell?

Odour from some insecticides or herbicides may be caused by trace amounts of ingredients, like sulphur-based compounds and solvents. Although somewhat unpleasant, these odours are harmless.

After using a pesticide

  • Wash your hands and face with hot soapy water.
  • Thoroughly wash clothes used to apply pesticides, separate from regular laundry.
  • Do not let people or pets contact treated surfaces until the residue has dried completely.
  • Many residual pesticides can be removed from surfaces simply by washing with soap and water.

Accidental poisoning

  • Call a poison control centre right away and get medical help.
  • Take the pesticide container or label with you to the emergency room or doctor.
  • Follow first aid statements on the label.
  • In case of accidental poisoning of pets, get veterinary help right away.

Storing pesticides

  • Always store pesticides out of reach of children and pets, and away from food and drinks.
  • Always store pesticides in their original container.
  • Do not reuse empty pesticide containers. Wrap and dispose of in household garbage.
  • Do not expose pesticides to extreme heat, cold, or humidity.
  • Check the label for specific storage instructions, including expiry dates.

Disposing of pesticides

  • Follow the product label instructions for how to safely dispose of pesticides.
  • Never burn or pour pesticides down the drain.
  • Return extra unopened containers to the supplier.
  • For partially used pesticides, contact city or town officials for information on how to dispose of household hazardous waste.

Report a problem

  • Report problems with pesticides to the manufacturer listed on the label. They must report them to Health Canada. Damaged or defective packaging should also be reported
  • You can also report problems to Health Canada. Have the information for the specific product you used available when you call or write.
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