Last Updated on July 18, 2022 by The Filtery Staff
Whether you’re using your hose to fill up your kiddie pool or water your vegetable garden, you might find yourself wondering: what in the world could this hose be leaching into my water?
And you’re right to wonder because most conventional garden hoses that you’d pick up from big box stores like Walmart or Home Depot contain toxic chemicals.
So in this article, you’ll learn about why typical garden hoses are problematic, what to look for in safer options, and our recommended brands.
This article may contain affiliate links, which means we might earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our standards.
Are Garden Hoses Toxic?
The short answer is: yes, most typical garden hoses contain a list of potentially toxic materials. These include things like:
- Other heavy metals
- Bisphenols (like BPA)
In fact, back in 2016, The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor tested 32 garden hoses for toxins like lead, bromine, antimony, and phthalates.
These chemicals all come with their own potential problems, from cancer to fertility issues, and more. Although they’re pretty darn difficult to avoid completely, most of us want to do what we can to at least reduce our exposure (and that of our kids, pets, and other loved ones).
According to the results of the above study, hoses made out of polyurethane (PU) instead of PVC and labeled “Drinking Water Safe” contained a much lower amount of toxic chemicals.
Your Best Bet: Go With a Hose That’s Drinking Water Safe AND Phthalate-Free
Here are a few things to look for in a safer garden hose for your home:
- Polyurethane (PU), instead of PVC
- Meet FDA and NSF standards for drinking water safety
- Bisphenol-free (that includes BPA, BPS, and others)
- UV-stabilized (to prevent excess breakdown and leaching of chemicals when sitting in the sun)
- Made in the USA
- Meets California Prop 65 standards
As you can see in the Ecology Center study, the hoses that were labeled as “Drinking Water Safe” were free from elevated levels of lead, bromine, and antimony, but about 30% of them still contained phthalates.
Therefore, your best bet is to choose a garden hose that is BOTH “Drinking Water Safe” AND “phthalate-free.”
The Best Non-Toxic Garden Hoses
Now that you know what we’re looking for, here are our picks for the safest non-toxic garden hoses:
This is one of the most popular brands for safe, non-toxic garden hoses. Key features include:
- Made from polyurethane (PU)
- Meet FDA, EPA, and NSF standards for drinking water safety
- Free from BPA and other endocrine disruptors
- Made in the USA
- Resistant to kinking
- Come with a 5-year warranty
Prices range from $50 to $115.
Available in a few different colors (peach, blue/green, and gray) and lengths (5 feet or 100 feet), this lightweight drinking water safe garden hose from Terrain is:
- Made out of polyurethane
- Free from BPA and phthalates
- Made in the USA
- Drinking water safe
The price ranges from $50 to $138.
Gilmour is a hose brand you can find at big box stores like Home Depot Not all of their hoses are PVC-free and/or drinking water safe, but they do have a couple of options that are.
Their AquaArmor line, for example, is made from TPE, another kind of plastic PVC alternative that is free from lead and phthalates.
The AquaArmor hose comes in a 50′ and 100′ version and is lighter weight than most conventional hoses so it’s easier to move around your yard or garden. These hoses are also made in the USA and come with a lifetime warranty.
What About a Non-Toxic Garden Hose Nozzle?
Although the material of your hose nozzle isn’t AS important simply due to the size, it’s still something to consider. You’ll want to look for many of the same labels that you did for your hose, like “lead-free,” “phthalate-free,” and “drinking water safe.”
These are pretty hard to find, to be honest, but we did find one right here!
Again, these nozzles probably aren’t going to be 100% perfect, but the goal here is just to do what you can!
A Couple More Tips for Reducing Toxin Exposure from Garden Hoses
No matter what kind of hose you decide on, here are a couple last tips for reducing your exposure to potential toxins through your garden hose:
- Don’t drink or use water that’s been sitting in the hose. Let the water run through the hose for a couple of minutes before taking a drink, filling a pool, or watering your garden.
- Don’t let the hose sit in the sun for too long. When it’s not in use, put it in the garage, shed, or at the very least, in a shady spot.
More Guides to Non-Toxic Summer Fun
Here are some related guides you might also find helpful for outdoor fun in the sun:
- The safest kiddie pools
- Your options for swimwear made from natural materials
- The best organic beach towels
- The best non-toxic play sand for the sandbox
- Ideas for creating a natural DIY playground at home
- The best non-toxic sidewalk chalk options
More FAQs About Garden Hoses
Are Rubber Garden Hoses Safe?
Synthetic rubber hoses come with many of the same problems that PVC/plastic ones do, so we do not recommend them. Natural rubber hoses, on the other hand, are generally a safer option (if you can find one!).
Are Stainless Steel Garden Hoses Safe?
A stainless steel garden hose is less likely to include things like phthalates (although the lining could still include these chemicals), is less likely to break down in the sunlight, and is probably going to be generally more durable. However, the problem with stainless steel garden hoses is that they’re more likely to contain toxic lead and heavy metals.
We don’t recommend drinking from a stainless steel garden hose unless it is explicitly “Drinking Water Safe” and meets Prop 65 standards for lead safety.
Are Garden Hoses BPA-Free?
Most garden hoses are not BPA-free. Therefore, we recommend choosing one that is explicitly labeled as free of BPA and phthalates.
Do All Garden Hoses Contain Lead?
Many conventional garden hoses on the market contain lead. This is why we recommend purchasing a garden hose that is Prop 65 compliant and labeled as “Drinking Water Safe” according to EPA, NSF, and/or FDA standards.
Is a PVC Garden Hose Safe?
No. PVC can leach toxic chemicals, which is why we recommend choosing a polyurethane (PU) hose instead.
Can Dogs Drink From the Garden Hose?
When exposed to the toxins commonly found in garden hoses, pets are put at risk for many of the same health problems that humans are. For this reason, we recommend using one of the non-toxic hoses above not just for your human family members, but also for your furry ones, too.
If you or your kids are going to be swimming in the water from your hose, watering your vegetable garden with it, and/or drinking your hose water at all, we definitely recommend investing in a high-quality, drinking water safe garden hose.
This can help reduce exposure to toxic chemicals like PVC, phthalates, lead, and other heavy metals.
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