- Author: Lauren Fordyce
Did you know that disinfectants and sterilizers are pesticides? Any substance that claims to kill, destroy, prevent, or repel a pest, including germs, is considered a pesticide. So cleaning products that claim to sterilize or kill germs on surfaces or be effective against bacteria like E. coli or others, must be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA ensures pesticide products are effective and do not pose unreasonable risks to consumers when used according to the label, among other things. Recently, the EPA settled a lawsuit against Grocery Outlet Inc. for selling unregistered cleaning products claiming to be disinfectants and sterilizers. To know whether a product is a registered pesticide, look for the EPA registration number on the label. As with any pesticide product, always read and follow the label so the product can be used as safely and effectively as possible.
UC IPM is committed to educating the public on pesticides and their alternatives. View some of UC IPM's resources about antimicrobial pesticides and pesticide safety below, as well as in-depth resources from the U.S. EPA.
- What You Need to Know About Disinfectant Wipes (blog post)
- Using Disinfectants and Sanitizers Safely (blog post)
- Disinfectants are pesticides–so use safely! (blog post)
- What to Wear When Using Pesticides (blog post)
- EPA Registered Disinfectants (webpage)
- About Pesticide Registration (webpage)
- Using Disinfectants and Wipes Safely (webinar)
- What is a Pesticide? (video)
- Why do you need to read the pesticide label? (video)
When you hear the term “pesticide,” what comes to mind? Do you understand what pesticides are and, more importantly, how to use them correctly?
A pesticide is any material (natural or synthetic) used to control, prevent, kill, suppress, or repel pests. “Pesticide” is a broad term that includes insecticides, herbicides (weed or plant killers), algaecides (algae and moss), fungicides (plant diseases), rodenticides, miticides (mite control), and molluscicides (snails and slugs). Even antimicrobial products (such as bleach and sanitary wipes) that kill bacteria on surfaces and chlorine added to pools are pesticides. If a product has a U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) Registration Number on its label, it is a pesticide. To make it more confusing, there are some pesticide products that are exempt from registration and won't have an EPA Registration Number.
Home-made mixtures that you make yourself to kill or repel pests are also technically considered pesticides. These include dish soap and water, garlic juice spray, hot pepper spray, vinegar and water, and many other such concoctions.
In future issues of the Retail IPM newsletter and this blog, we will discuss several pesticide topics, including the difference between organic, less toxic, and more conventional pesticides, what are “exempt” pesticides, using pesticides safely, pesticide storage and disposal, and reading and understanding labels.
For more information about pesticides, see the UC IPM Pest Notes: Pesticides: Safe and Effective Use in the Home and Landscape. To sign up for the newsletter, visit https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=11686.