Safe Winter Pesticide Storage

As the growing season draws to an end and we put away our gardening equipment, it’s also important to store any remaining pesticide products properly to prevent contamination and maintain product effectiveness for next year. But even more important, being careless with pesticide storage is an open invitation to disaster, in the form of a pesticide poisoning or spill.  

Prevent Accidental Poisoning
Always store pesticides in their original packaging, whether that’s a bottle or bag, with the label attached. Using any other container is illegal. Never be tempted to pour small amounts of pesticide into another container. Pesticides in soft drink bottles, fruit jars, milk cartons, margarine tube or glassware are a common cause of accidental poisonings.  

Losing track of the original product package label is a serious problem for several reasons, but most importantly it’s easy in just a few short months to forget what product is in the unlabeled container. Plus, you now don’t have access to: 

  • toxicity warnings, 
  • environment and other hazard information, 
  • clean-up information in case of a spill, 
  • medical instructions in case of a poisoning, 
  • and  rate information.  


Maintain Product Effectiveness   
Some pesticides, particularly liquid products, lose effectiveness if exposed to freezing temperatures during winter storage in your unheated garage. Plus, expansion of frozen liquid pesticides can cause their container to crack or break, resulting in a dangerous leak or spill.  

Protect dry pesticide formulations from water during winter storage. Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension

Pesticides should be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from heat or flame. Read the pesticide label and follow the required temperature storage guidelines. If products need to be stored indoors, make sure they are in a secure location or locked storage container, not accessible to children and pets.

Always store pesticides away from food, pet food, animal feed, seed, fertilizers and veterinary supplies. 

Be Ready for an Emergency 
Put together a pesticide spill kit and have it on hand in your pesticide storage area, in case of an emergency. Your spill kit should include protective equipment, including chemical-resistant gloves, goggles and a coverall. Have clay-type kitty litter on hand (to soak up spilled liquid chemicals) and a leak-proof plastic bag or container to hold pesticide-contaminated kitty litter during clean up.  

A home pesticide spill kit is simple to assemble. Sarah Browning, Nebraska Extension

When a spill occurs, pour enough kitty litter on the spill so the liquid is completely absorbed. Then sweep or shovel the material into the plastic bag or container. Dispose of this material according to label directions.  

If pesticide is spilled on a person’s body or clothing, all contaminated clothing should be removed as quickly as possible. Wash the affected areas thoroughly with soap and water. Launder contaminated clothing in hot water, using the highest water setting available, separately from any other family laundry. After washing, remove clothing from machine and run the empty machine through another cycle with hot water and detergent before laundering any other family clothing.  

If clothing is heavily contaminated with concentrated pesticide, dispose of it. 

In any pesticide contamination event, follow the label’s first aid treatment instructions. If there are additional concerns, seek medical attention or call Omaha Poison Control (800) 222-1222.  

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