Pesticide Application Tips

These tips will help you apply pesticides safely and easily!

Read the label of the pesticide product before you buy it. Be sure you are buying the right pesticide product for your need. Decide if you can apply the pesticide as stated on the label. If you can’t, can you have someone apply it for you? Depending on the kind of pest problem you have, you may decide you need to hire a pest control company or a lawn care service to take care of your problem for you.

Buy pesticides in the easiest-to-use forms you can. Buy only the amount of pesticide you need to take care of your immediate problem or for the current season. Don’t stockpile pesticides. Be sure you have any equipment you need to apply the pesticide. This includes sprayers, dusters, and lawn spreaders. It also includes the personal protective equipment and clothing found on the pesticide label. You must wear any personal protective equipment stated on the label; it is not just a suggestion! This may include waterproof gloves or chemical-resistant gloves, goggles, a respirator, a hat, coveralls, and waterproof foot coverings.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, close-toed shoes and socks, a wide-brimmed hat, and chemical-resistant gloves.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, close-toed shoes and socks, a wide-brimmed hat, and chemical-resistant gloves.
Molly Darr, Clemson Extension

waterproof gloves or chemical-resistant gloves

Waterproof gloves or chemical-resistant gloves.
Katie Moore, ©2022, Clemson Extension

Also, be sure you have on hand any materials, such as cat litter, and tools, such as a disposable broom, needed to clean up spilled pesticide. Clean up spills immediately. Know what to do in case of an emergency before you use a pesticide. Read the label and follow the directions exactly.

Measure pesticides accurately. Keep a separate set of tools used only for mixing and applying pesticides. This includes measuring spoons and cups and stirring paddles. Use plastic or metal items, not glass or wood. Open and mix pesticides outdoors. Mix only the amount of pesticide you will use. Use all that you mix. You should wear personal protective equipment and clothing when opening and mixing the pesticide. Don’t wear leather gloves. Wear rubber gloves made to resist pesticides.

If you use or plan to use outdoor pesticides regularly, get a separate sprayer for the herbicides and a separate sprayer for insecticides. Even after careful rinsing, a sprayer can contain herbicide residues that can injure or kill sensitive plants. Keep this in mind if you borrow or rent a sprayer or if you loan yours out.

Remove toys, pet feeding dishes, and any other items that might be contaminated by the pesticide from the treatment area. Don’t replace them until the waiting time on the label is up. Cover aquariums indoors and ornamental fish ponds outdoors. Keep people, especially children, and pets, out of the area you are treating. Don’t let them back into the treated area until the Restricted Entry Interval (REI) has passed. The REI is found on the pesticide label.

Don’t spray when it is windy. Don’t stand under anything you treat, such as a tree branch, eave, or ceiling. Don’t walk over surfaces, such as lawns, as you treat them or over surfaces you have just treated. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products while applying pesticides. Don’t eat or drink while you are applying pesticides.

For best control, time your treatment to the right stage of the pest’s life cycle. This helps prevent or reduce the need for reapplication.

Direct the pesticide application to the treatment locations stated on the label. Some pesticides, especially indoor-use products, have a picture to show you where to apply the pesticide for the best results. Treat only the kinds of plants or sites listed on the label.

Be sure to read and follow all label directions. For instance, some lawn pesticide labels may tell you to cut the lawn first or to water-in the product after application. The label may tell you not to apply to certain turf grasses or not to apply if the turf is drought-stressed.

Clean up your application equipment and yourself immediately after you have finished applying the pesticide. Store pesticides away from children. Do not store them where they could contaminate food, feeds and seeds, or water.

Follow the label directions for time to harvest of food plants and for reentry or reuse of treated areas or surfaces. The pesticide label may tell you to keep children or pets out of the treated area until the spray dries or for 24 hours. Follow label for specific instructions. Some indoor pesticide labels tell you to keep a room or building closed for a period of time after treatment. Some other indoor pesticide labels may tell you to ventilate a treated room or building before it is used again.

You should find out why you have a pest problem and try to correct conditions that may have caused it. If you do this, you may not have the problem again and may not have to use a pesticide again.

If you have any questions on identifying pests, how to prevent them, how to control them, or how to use pesticides safely, call your county Extension agent.

Measurements for Using Pesticides

Liquid Measures:

3 teaspoons (tsp.) = 1 Tablespoon (Tbs.)
2 Tablespoons = 1 ounce (oz.)
8 ounces (ozs.) = 1 cup
2 cups = 1 pint (pt.) = 16 oz.
2 pints = 1 quart (qt.) = 32 oz.
4 quarts = 1 gallon (gal.) = 128 oz.
Rates Example (for liquid measure):
2 ounces per gallon = 4 Tablespoons or ¼ cup per gallon

Dry Measures:

3 Tablespoons (Tbs.) = 1 ounce (oz)
16 ounces = 1 pound (lb.)

Area Measures:

12 inches (in.) = 1 foot (ft.)
3 feet = 1 yard (yd.)
1 square yard = 9 square feet

Document last updated on 3/23 by Katie Moore.

Originally published 03/99

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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