Ah summertime, hooking up the sprinkler for the kids to run through, washing the dog in the backyard, filling up the watering can from the hose. But after dragging the hose out of the garage, some of us might notice it has cracks, holes, or leaks. You can try to repair them, but if that doesn’t work, you might be wondering, “What do I do with the old hose?”

Unfortunately, the options for recycling are basically non-existent, because of both the hose material and its shape. Most hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU), also known as #3 and #7 plastics for those familiar with the plastic resin ID codes. These are two of the most difficult plastic resins to recycle.

If you purchased a more expensive hose, it’s likely made of synthetic rubber, the material used to make tires and machinery belts. While there’s a great market (and demand) for tire recycling, most of the options for consumers to recycle them are car repair shops, retail stores, and household hazardous waste (HHW) programs, which are unlikely to accept your hose.

Curbside recycling programs won’t want your hose because it is a “tangler,” an item that will easily jam the machinery at the material recovery facility (MRF), just like plastic bags do.

Landfill Alternatives

Most communities encourage citizens to put their old hoses in the trash but there are upcyclng and reuse options that can keep it out of a landfill. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Maybe you can get another year out of the hose. Do some DIY hose repair to fix leaks.
  2. Donate it to a second-hand store like Goodwill, which can make minor repairs and resell the hose. Call first to verify they will take it.
  3. Upcycle your hose into a doormat, door decor, a handle for a bucket, or a wastebasket.
  4. Some of the hose can be recycled. Using a utility knife, cut off the ends of the hose, which are typically made of metal such as steel or brass; you can then recycle these metal pieces at a scrap metal recycling facility.

Hose Helpful Hints

With limited responsible disposal options, extending the life of your hose is an effective step. The first thing to consider is paying a little extra for a rubber hose when buying a new one. Rubber hoses are often made of recycled material, so even though you might have a tough time recycling, at least the material in the hose may have had a previous life.

Additionally, rubber hoses are more resistant to kinks and punctures. Hoses made of PVC have been found to contain lead and phthalates, which can leach into the water (think twice before letting kids drink from the hose). Just like artificial Christmas trees made of PVC, taking the less expensive option may expose your household to lead.

If you live in an area subject to harsh winters, bring your hose inside before snowfall to preserve its life. Since water stays in the hose once you turn off the faucet, keeping it attached during the winter could also increase the chances of frozen pipes.

Editor’s Note: Originally published on November 7, 2018, this article was updated in October 2023.

By Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.