Updated: May 25
Ask any pest management professional what they consider important in their work and they’re more than likely to answer "handling and applying pesticides safely."
What goes for the professionals also goes for those non-professionals among us who use pesticides in our homes and offices. This might seem to be so obvious that it doesn’t need to be said, but it does: The safe handling and application of pesticides should be your number #1 priority when you’re dealing with these chemicals.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at how to safely handle pesticides:
Before you startAgain, this may seem to be obvious, but before you use a pesticide in your home or office make sure that you need to do so. What kind of pest (or pests) are you trying to eradicate? And are you using the right kind of pesticide?
Then, ask yourself if you might employ other, non-chemical pest management approaches. If the answer is no, then make sure you know what kind of pest you’re dealing with. Are you trying to get rid of ticks? Do you want to get rid of fleas? Are bed bugs the problem? Or mites? Scabies, perhaps?
Determine What Type of Bugs or Pests You Have
Actually, properly identifying the pest that’s causing problems is very important. Get it wrong and you could find that you’re using a pesticide that is completely ineffective. And that’s a waste of your time and money. If you have any doubts about the type of buggy ‘interloper’ you’re dealing with you can turn to a variety of sources for help. (Read more about how to tell bed bugs and scabies apart.)
For instance, on our own Sterifab website we have information regarding most of the pests you’re likely to encounter, including bed bugs, mites, fleas, ticks, scabies, cockroaches, etc. You can also turn to such sources as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provides pest prevention information. Other useful sources of information include various state agencies, such as the Tennessee Department Agriculture or the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Many universities across the country also provide useful information about pest control, including Cornell and the University of Florida, to name but a few.
Can You Tell Bed Bugs from Flea Bites from Bed Bug Bites?
In some cases, you may not actually see the invading critters, but you have unmistakable evidence of their presence: Bites! Now, they could be flea bites, tick bites or scabies bites. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. What’s the difference, for instance, between flea bites vs. bed bug bites. Again, go to the suggested sources, or to our website, which provides details on all sorts of insect bites and how to identify them.
Each type of pest requires a different approach, then. Not so much in the pesticide you use, more in the application and follow up. And there’s always follow up, especially since most pests can’t be completely eradicated first time out.
Finally, before you embark on your search-and-destroy mission, be sure to read the instructions on the product label and follow them carefully. You should also take all the precautions that will undoubtedly be listed on the label and always, always, wear the recommended protective gear, e.g., long pants or overalls, nonabsorbent gloves, rubber footwear (if possible), goggles, and a dust filter. You should also make sure your arms are covered and that you avoid sandals or flip-flops. Closed shoes are best.
Applying and Mixing Pesticides
Once again, what follows may seem too obvious to be mentioned, but it’s not. We all of us can profit from advice when it comes to pesticide use. We tend to forget that of most kinds of pesticides are chemicals ̶ and pretty potent ones at that. They should be treated with respect.
First, and foremost, use the product you’ve selected for its listed purpose and use only the amount suggested. If you’re like most of us, you probably think that doubling the dose will double the effectiveness of whatever it is you’re using, Not only is that demonstrably not true, but in the case of pesticides, using more than the suggested amount could harm you, your family, and anyone in close proximity to your ‘endeavors.’
Second ̶ and almost as an aside ̶ prepare only what you need for each application.
Third ̶ and this is particularly important ̶ ensure that pets, toys, etc ̶ are far removed from the sites where you apply your chosen pesticides.
Chances are that you’re going to use your pesticide of choice inside. Just make sure that the product label indicates that it’s safe for indoor use. And never, ever, use a pesticide designed for outdoor use inside your home or office.
When you do apply the pesticide be sure to adequately ventilate the area, or areas, in which you intend to work. If you can ̶ and the product instructions say it’s safe ̶ you should open all the windows, weather permitting. Obviously, if you’re doing this in the dead of Winter and there’s a snow storm raging outside, you might consider an alternate means of clearing the air, e.g., fans.
Next point: Only apply surface sprays to the areas that need them. And, unless the product label specifically suggests it, it’s best not to apply the pesticide to entire walls, floors or ceilings. Again, this depends on the type and seriousness of the infestation you’re dealing with. If in doubt read the label.
If the source of the infestation happens to be the kitchen, there are a few extra precautions you should take. Before you start the application make sure you remove all food items and packages, dishes and bowls, pots and pans, skillets, strainers, in fact all the utensils in and around your kitchen. You should also avoid getting any of the pesticide on the surfaces where food preparation takes place.
When you’ve finished applying the pesticide you should wait until the shelves are completely dry before you return your cooking utensils and food items. One more thing here: carefully wash all chemical; residue from the treated surfaces.
One final word: If you’re like me, you probably think that more is always better. Two candy bars are better than one. A large soda is better than a small one. Two sticks of dynamite will blast a bigger hole than one! It might well, be true, but not in the case of pesticides. Using more than the product label suggests will not be more effective. Twice the called-for amount will probably not kill twice as many bugs.
A word (or three) about Sterifab
When you go about selecting a pesticide keep in mind that Sterifab is an extremely powerful agent for eliminating bed bugs, lice, ticks, fleas and a host of other insects, and, it can used effectively on everything ̶ except people, animals and cooking utensils.
Easy to use and will not stain
Without added perfume or unpleasant odour
Fast drying and completely clear
Not harmful to fabrics or carpets
Labeled for use on mattresses and upholstered furniture
Not only can Sterifab be used to treat virtually any inanimate object or location, there are no other products registered with the U.S. EPA that can make these claims.
Keep a container of Sterifab handy. You never know when you’ll need it.