When it comes to garden hoses and recycling, they’re a confusing item to categorize. Often constructed of multiple materials, it’s hard to know whether hoses can even be recycled based on what they’re made out of. 

Garden hoses should not be put in the recycling because they can cause serious problems at the recycling plant that threaten plant workers and equipment. Instead, garden hoses should be thrown in the trash or upcycled for other uses around the home. 

There are a few things that absolutely should never end up in the recycling bin, and hoses are one of them. That being said, there are still plenty of other things you can do to upcycle an old or leaking garden hose. Read on to learn more about why you shouldn’t recycle garden hoses and what you can do with them instead. 

Garden Hoses Can’t Be Recycled

Garden hoses are used by many people for landscaping, but it’s often a puzzle what to do with them once they’ve outlived their usefulness and need to be replaced with a newer hose. It’s unfortunate, but old hoses can’t go in your recycling for several reasons:

  • Non-recyclable materials: Many garden hoses are constructed of non-recyclable plastics and other materials. Mixing non-recyclable materials in with the recyclables causes a serious hassle for those who have to go through them at the plant.
  • Composite materials: These materials are integrated with each other in such a way that it’s basically impossible for recycling plant workers to separate the different materials out for recycling. 
  • Safety issues: In recycling parlance, garden hoses are one of a category of items known as “tanglers” – these items can get tangled up in recycling plant equipment. Equipment malfunctions increase the chances that recycling plant workers get injured on the job and can delay the plant’s recycling schedule. (Source: Stockton Recycles)
  • Mechanical issues: Along with threatening harm to recycling plant workers, “tanglers” like hoses, chains, and other long materials can seriously damage recycling plant machinery. This puts the entire recycling operation of the plant at jeopardy and makes it harder for other members of the community to process their recycling. (Source: Earth 911)

These risks should be more than enough to convince you that garden hoses don’t belong anywhere near your recycling bin. This is why it’s always a good idea to double-check the items in your recycling before you put it out to make sure that nothing non-recyclable accidentally made it in. 

What Are Garden Hoses Made Of?

One of the biggest reasons that garden hoses are a non-recyclable item is due to their construction materials. Garden hoses are typically made out of the following materials: 

  • PVC: Many hoses are made of PVC, a synthetic plastic material that can contaminate non-PVC plastics. PVC shouldn’t be placed in the recycling bin because it can become brittle and sharp when it dry-rots, creating a hazard to recycling workers.
  • Polyurethane: Polyurethane is a petrochemical-based plastic material. While polyurethane is recyclable, the polyurethane is usually combined with other materials in a garden hose to make it difficult to extract in a pure recyclable form. (Source: Polyurethanes.org)
  • Rubber: Some hoses are constructed out of rubber, a recyclable material, but this rubber is usually incorporated with other non-recyclable plastics.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl can be recycled, but it’s a specialty plastic that can’t be handled by all recycling facilities. 

When it comes to garden hose construction materials, it isn’t just what the hoses are made out of. It also has to do with the form of the hose. Many hoses are constructed with an internal net-like structure of plastic holding the shape of the hose together. 

This plastic netting is typically built into the hose itself and makes it impossible to separate out the other materials of the hose out for recycling even if they’re recyclable materials. There also isn’t a lot of plastic available to even make it worth the trouble for recycling workers to try and extract it. 

Can You Recycle the Metal Fittings on Your Hose?

Even though your garden hose itself typically can’t be recycled, that doesn’t mean that the metal fittings on your hose can’t be recycled. Since these threaded fittings are usually pure metal, they can go in with the metal in your recycling after you cut them off the garden hose. At least this way you’ll be able to recycle part of the hose and won’t be forced to trash the entire thing. 

Are There Any Garden Hoses You Can Recycle? 

Unfortunately, there are no garden hoses you can recycle no matter what materials they’re made out of. Even if a garden hose was made out of 100% recyclable materials, the shape of the hose itself makes it a hazard at the recycling plant. (Source: Providence Journal)

How to Dispose of Old Hoses

To dispose of a garden hose, first remove it from the faucet and reel and allow it to dry out for 24-48 hours. After the hose has been given a chance to dry, take a utility knife or other sharp cutting tool and remove the metal threaded fittings on either end of the hose. These fittings can go in the recycling. 

Once you’ve removed any metal fittings from your hose, you can dispose of your hose in the trash. It’s a good idea to take your knife and run a slit up the length of the hose before chopping it into sections since it may pose a hazard to wildlife in its original state. 

Ways to Reuse an Old Gardening Hose at Home

Before you throw out your old garden hose to replace it with a new one, consider some other ways you might use your old hose around your home. Since you can’t recycle garden hoses the traditional way, it may take a little creativity on your part to give your old garden hose a new lease on life after replacing it in the garden. 

Here are just a few of the many ways you can upcycle an old garden hose for other uses around the house (Source: One Good Thing): 

  • Handle covers: Sections of old garden hose are great for adding protective sheaths over potentially sharp or pinching objects like wire bucket handles and moving chains. A good handle cover can make carrying heavy items in these types of containers more comfortable.
  • Soaker hose: If your old hose has sprung a leak, that doesn’t mean you automatically need to throw it out. Poking some more holes along the entire length of the hose can turn it into a soaker hose, which is designed to drip water consistently down into the soil for even watering.
  • Siphon: A length of old hose is perfect for turning into a gravity siphon to siphon water out of large containers such as aquariums, cattle troughs, or swimming pools. While a new hose can be used for this as well, saving an old hose back for this purpose allows you to free up your newer hose for other uses.
  • Blade covers: Sections of old hose are perfect for sliding over the blades of axes, shovels, and other sharp garden tools in your shed. These blade covers can help keep the blades sharp while also protecting people in the garden from accidentally hurting themselves if they trip or fall on a garden tool.
  • Watering funnels: Container plants need to be watered regularly to look good, but it can be hard to water potted plants without getting the dirt in them everywhere. Getting water all over the leaves and flowers can also lead to an uptick in disease. To avoid this mess, put a section of old hose in the soil and water the pot directly into the hose length.
  • Planters: Old rubber and plastic hoses are easy to bind together to form the walls of a homemade planter. Planters made of plastic hoses hold their shape well and also provide plenty of drainage.
  • Tool hangers: Using a drill and some screws, you can use old sections of garden hose to create loops on your garage or garden shed wall that are perfect for storing stand-up tools like hoes, rakes, shovels, etc… Simply slide the handles of the tools through the rubber hose loops and you’ll keep tools off the floor where they may trip someone. 

Hopefully the ideas above give you some inspiration about what to do with your old garden hose before you decide to put it out with the garbage bin. Often a hose can live a second life as another household tool with a little imagination. 

Alternatives to Throwing Out an Old Hose

If you have an old hose lying around and you don’t want to use it anymore, there are still more alternatives you have other than to either throw the hose out or reuse it somewhere around the house. Here are a few of the choices you have for getting rid of old garden hoses without throwing them away. 

Repairing an Old Hose

If the only reason you’re getting rid of your garden hose is that it has a small leak, you have the option to repair the hose. Hose repair kits are easy to purchase from most home improvement stores, and a simple leak is usually easy to fix once you know where in the hose the leak is originating. 

Donating an Old Hose

Another choice you have for dealing with an old garden hose is to donate the hose to a secondhand store like Goodwill or some other thrift store. Even if the hose is slightly damaged, many second hand stores will still take the hose in to repair it for resell.

Donating old garden hoses to charity thrift stores is also a practical option if you have an old hose you want to replace with a newer model, but there’s nothing physically wrong with the old one. Sometimes you need a longer or newer hose for your landscaping needs, but that doesn’t justify tossing out a perfectly good one. If you don’t have room to store it, try donation. 

A benefit of donating your old garden hose to the Salvation Army or Goodwill is that you can write off the donation on your taxes. (Source: Goodwill)

Giving Away an Old Hose

If you don’t want to donate your old hose to charity, there are other ways to give away a hose you’re not using anymore to someone who may need it more than you. Consider these sources when trying to find someone who needs a new hose: 

  • Neighbors: If you have an old hose that is still functional but you want to replace it, it’s polite to offer it up among your neighbors to see if anyone needs a hose. Websites such as NextDoor help connect neighbors with each other to arrange exchanges like this. 
  • Family: It’s always good to keep useful tools in the family if you can since there’s a chance one of your relatives may need an extra hose for their landscaping purposes and you have the option to borrow it back if you need to. This can help generate goodwill with extended family members and give you an excuse to socialize.
  • Churches: Many churches have landscaping that they need to maintain, and they’re usually on the lookout for free new or gently used tools. Try checking with local churches to see if any of them need a hose for landscaping purposes. 
  • Plant nurseries: If you want to get rid of your garden hose and you don’t want to consign it to the trash, try calling around at some local plant nurseries. Most are always looking for additional equipment as long as it’s in good working order. 

If you feel guilty throwing your garden hose in the trash, never fear! There are plenty of ways you can find another home for your hose as long as it’s not completely destroyed by wear and tear. Keep in mind that even if you’re not willing to repair a garden hose with a simple leak, there are many people who would. 

Throw Garden Hoses in the Trash

It may be disappointing to learn that old garden hoses have to go in the garbage unless you can find something useful to do with them yourself around the house. Luckily, if you’re a little crafty or you use your imagination, there are several ways you can get some extra life out of your old hoses before you have to throw them in the trash. 

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