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Five expert tips to care for your garden hose and make it last

Avoid leaks in your garden hose and help to extend it's life for longer with our simple garden hose maintenance advice

Even the best garden hose won't last too long if you don't take care of it. Repeated exposure to UV rays and freezing winter conditions can often lead to cracks and small holes that annoyingly reveal themselves as leaks just when you need your hose the most.

We recently tested 10 garden hoses from brands including B&Q, Gardena, Hozelock and Wickes, so we can tell you which hoses will kink the least, and stand up best to general wear and tear - for example bending, twisting and crushing.

If your garden hose is in a good condition, you won't be rushing out to buy a new one, but we'd recommend these few simple steps to extend the life of your current one for as long as possible.

Best garden hoses: find which came top in our tough tests

1. Drain the water after each use

Keeping your hose under constant water pressure isn't good for it. While you might get away with it in the warmer months, as soon as the first freeze hits, a hose filled with water is asking for trouble.

Water expands while freezing, and if your hose isn't up to it, it will crack under the pressure. Get in the habit of disconnecting your garden hose at the reel before you reel it in.

The water will dribble out as you wind the hose on to the reel and save you the pain of early hose retirement.

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2. Avoid kinks while reeling up

Always wind your garden hose on to your reel carefully, ensuring there are no kinks or twists.

Leaving a hose in a stressed kinked or stretched position for long periods will damage sections of it and it won't always bounce back into shape.

Winding the hose on to the reel from a straight-on angle, and keeping the end of the hose under some light tension can help when smoothly winding on to the reel.

3. Buy a reel

If you don't have a reel, consider buying one. As well as keeping it tidy, it keeps most of the hose out of direct sun.

4. Don't store in direct sun

The sun's UV rays can gradually degrade the rubber in your hose over time, so if possible, place your hose reel on a part of your home that doesn't get the midday sun.

If this is unavoidable, then consider a reel that's covered.

5. Take extra care with expandable hoses

Expandable hoses are light and easy to use, but they can have a notoriously short shelf life.

The material on the outside can easily snag or tear and the stretchy rubber is prone to breaking if you overstretch it, drag it over rough ground or leave it out in freezing conditions even for a short period.

If you have an expandable hose, you should store it inside if you can over winter and take extra care while you're using it. They're just not as durable as standard hoses.

Find out what we learned after testing a popular Hozelock expandable water hose.

How we tested garden hoses

We designed our tests to find the easiest to use and most durable hoses.

  • SetupWe rated each hose on how easy it is to attach to a standard reel, including attaching the spray gun.
  • Reeling We reeled each hose on to the reel 10 times from a 90-degree angle and also straight on. The best hoses reel on easily without kinking or tangling on the reel.
  • ManeuverabilityWe dragged each hose around a back garden obstacle course and around the front of a house to wash a car. The best hoses don't kink or snag while you're using them.
  • Durability For the all-important durability test, we bent, twisted, stretched and crushed each garden hose to see how they would stand up to years of wear and tear.

To learn more about how we test garden hoses and which ones we recommend as Best Buys, head straight to our garden hose reviews.