How to use household pesticides

Pesticides should always be a last-resort solution. They are dangerous chemicals that come with risks to your health and the environment. Before considering pesticides, do the following:

  • Identify the pest you want to control;
  • If it causes only mild damage, think about tolerating it;
  • Try alternative solutions first.

Many people prefer the services of a green space maintenance company for their lawns, trees and shrubs, or an exterminator for pest control. These companies have all the expertise needed to help you.

If you decide to personally use a pesticide, be careful. Choose a household product that is easy to apply and that is suitable for your needs. As well, use appropriate personal protective equipment.

Purchasing a pesticide

The best way to find the right product starts at the hardware store or garden centre, where you can get advice. Once you know which pest you want to control, the type of pesticide to use will be clear. Read the Yard and houseplant maintenance webpage for information.

When purchasing, prioritize the following products:

  • Least harmful;
  • Ready to use (less concentrated and therefore less toxic, they are correctly dosed and easier to apply);
  • Designed to only eliminate pests and not attack organisms that are your allies;
  • Format corresponds to your needs;
  • Sold in leak-proof containers (avoid paper and glass packaging).

You cannot buy certain household pesticides to be applied to grass surfaces. Check the brand names of prohibited pesticides This hyperlink will open in a new window.. As of July 6, 2025, the same will apply to certain pesticides intended to be applied for the maintenance of green spaces or indoor plants or inside homes for pest management purposes.

Some dangerous pesticides necessitate contacting a certified vendor who has the information required to advise buyers on which pesticide to use, how to identify pests and what alternatives to pesticides are available.

Read the product’s label carefully and ensure that you fully understand the instructions before purchasing the pesticide. Here is a fictional example of a label (PDF 420 Kb) (in French only) to help you understand what it displays.

All pesticides sold or used in Canada are evaluated scientifically to confirm that they have no unacceptable risks to human health and the environment when used per the instructions on the label. Using an unapproved pesticide can be dangerous and therefore the following is not recommended:  

Only buy products labelled with a 4 or 5-digit registration number assigned by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Some hardware stores and garden centres sell personal protective equipment and signs to put on your lawn stating that pesticides have been applied. These purchases may be required to comply with labels and regulations.

Pesticide application

Using pesticides can impact your health, the health of those close to you, and the environment. Be careful and comply with the health protection safety measures on your products’ labelling. Pay particular attention to the symbols printed on the labels. If there are no symbols, it does not mean there is any danger of poisoning but simply that the risk is lower.

Before mixing or applying a pesticide, ensure the following:

  • Carefully read the label and understand the instructions shown;
  • Dress appropriately and wear the right kind of protective equipment. If the product label does not refer to a specific type of protective equipment, wear a long sleeve sweatshirt, long pants and waterproof gloves and boots;
  • Stay at least 3 metres away from lakes and watercourses and far away from wells so as to not contaminate drinking water sources;
  • Warn neighbours that a pesticide will be applied and remain alone when mixing and applying the pesticide;
  • Close all windows to your home to prevent pesticide infiltration;
  • Remove all objects that could be contaminated, such as toys, and cover objects that cannot be moved, such as sandboxes;
  • Ensure that no one touches treated surfaces for at least 24 hours. After applying a pesticide to your lawn, post a sign stating that this was done.

After using the product, rinse your protective equipment, wash your hands and wash your clothes separately from your regular laundry.

Read the list of Québec municipalities that regulate the use of pesticides This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only) and comply with current rules.

General notice

Exposure to pesticides

If you have been exposed to pesticides and do not feel well, call the Poison Control Centre This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only) immediately at 1 800 463-5060 and follow instructions. If you are seriously ill, go to the emergency room of a hospital and bring the pesticide container label information with you or note the name and registration number of the product to show the triage nurse.

Health Canada collects pesticide incident reports This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Last update: September 29, 2023


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