How to Safely Dispose of (or Sell) Smarthome Hardware

A trash can with Echo, Smartthings, Wink, and Google Home boxes
Josh Hendrickson

When you decide to get rid of your smarthome gadgets, you shouldn’t just toss them in the trash, sell them, or give them away. Before you take the products out of your house, you should wipe the data off them.

Smarthome Tech May Contain Personal Data

Alexa Privacy Notice from their Website
Amazon

Smarthomes are continually changing, and what may be the best tech will be old news tomorrow. Sometimes our devices are replaced by better versions of the same product, like when Amazon released the slimmer Ring Pro. in other cases, you may have jumped into one ecosystem only to find that a different ecosystem emerged that better suited your needs—like a switch from SmartThings to Wink, for example.

No matter the reason, occasionally it’s time to retire older smarthome hardware. You may want to toss it, you may want to give it to family, or you may even want to sell it. But before you do that, you need to properly remove the device from your smarthome system and erase its data. Otherwise, you run the risk of someone else gaining access to your saved credentials. (You should take it to an electronics recycler rather than just tossing it in the trash, though!)

It may be tempting to unplug your voice assistant or smart plug and call it a day, but the truth is those devices may have information about you on them. That could be your location, your network, or even passwords. Even in cases where a device might not contain this kind of information (like some Z-Wave lightbulbs), if your intention is for someone else to use your old gadget, they will run into trouble connecting a used smart device that still retains its old connection information.

Unfortunately, the process for factory resetting your smart devices is as wide and varied as smart devices themselves. Some of your smarthome gear will have a reset button that does the trick. Some of it will require using an app. And some will provide both options. If you’re going to use a reset button, doublecheck that it truly factory resets the device. Routers, for instance, often have reset buttons but those perform a power cycle operation.

How to Factory Reset an Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo with paperclip pushed into reset hole
Amazon

Amazon Echo devices retain not only information about your Wi-Fi network, but also what devices connect to it through Bluetooth (such as if you paired your phone). Resetting an Echo is easy, but the exact steps depend on which Echo you have.

If you have a first generation Echo, Echo Plus, or Echo Dot, you will take a different process than other Echo devices. Grab a paperclip and unbend it. Then lift your Echo and find the hole on the bottom. Insert the paperclip until you feel a button depress, then hold the paperclip in for five to eight seconds. You’ll see the light ring turn off, and then turn on. The factory reset is complete, and you should be prompted for setup.

For the Echo Dot Second Generation, the Echo Second Generation, and Echo Plus Second Generation, press and hold the volume down and microphone off buttons for twenty-five seconds. The light ring will turn off and on, and the factory reset is done.

The Echo Dot Third Generation and Echo Input, Echo Auto, and Echo Sub are similar, but in this case, you will press and hold the action button twenty-five seconds.

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