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After Christmas, get rid of your old smart gadgets safely – here’s how

Have you dug out of the Christmas wrapping paper yet? The pile of shiny, red-and-green paper is a happy reminder of all the gifts your kids and grandchildren opened.

Of course, the hottest gifts on your family’s Christmas lists were tech. They may have opened up an iPhone XR or a Samsung Galaxy S9. They may have unwrapped a MacBook Air.

Whatever new tech they opened on Christmas morning, there is a downside to all the happiness the gadgets brought to your family. Have you thought about where all your old smartphones and tablets go? Is it a landfill, the oceans or a growing stack of tech gadgets in your attic?

Don’t do any of that. Your old tech is new, cutting-edge technology for millions of people, including kids, families, churches and non-profit groups here in America.

You’re concerned about handing over your internet-connected smart devices. We understand.

You don’t want to give a hacker easy access to your credit card credentials, bank account passwords, Social Security number or private photos. You don’t want to give away the private information you share with your smart speakers and internet-connected security systems.

Don’t worry. We have a straightforward tip to clean out your personal information before you give away your old smartphones, smart speakers and internet-connected gadgets.

You must do this one thing first!

You must reset your device back to its factory setting. That means it will have the functionality it had when you first bought it, but not your stored private information.

Here are some instructions for resetting your Apple device, your Android device, your printer, your old tablets and PCs, and other hard drives.

You’ll also want to log onto your apps to deregister your devices. Go to your Alexa app, for example, and deregister your devices.

Find your Alexa-voice-activated device, like Echo Dot, and click on the arrow. Scroll down to Device is Registered To and click on Deregister.

Amazon Echo factory reset

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation)

There are a couple of ways to reset your Echo Dot. The key thing to look for is the device’s orange ring turning blue then orange again.

Try this: Hold down the volume down button and the microphone button at the same time. Hold it until it turns from orange to blue and back to orange.

You might also have a reset button on your Echo. Stick a paperclip in there until it resets. It’ll go through the same orange-to-blue-to-orange process.

Google Home

Hold down the microphone mute button until it resets. Google Home will say it is resetting.

Your device might have a Factory Data Reset button. If so, hold it until Google tells you it is being reset.

Nest Cam

Your Nest camera may have a reset button on the front of it or on the back of it. If so, press that until it has been reset to factory settings.

If it doesn’t have that button, go to your Nest app. Go to Settings and look for the option to remove your camera.

Bonus: Delete your voice from the cloud

You know that your private information is never completely private. Just think about all the headaches Facebook has created for you this year with its massive data breach.

But you have a resource with that many people don’t – consistent advice and step-by-step instructions to keep your ID, your money and your devices safe from hackers and criminals. One bit of advice we’ve been sharing with you for years is to delete your voice from smart speakers like Amazon Echo.

Specifically, you’ll be deleting your recorded voice that’s stored in the cloud. Yes, your recordings must be deleted!

Here’s how to listen to all that Alexa has been recording.

Be sure to look up the instructions for your specific smart speaker. But they’ll most likely be similar to the steps for Alexa-voice-activated Amazon Echo.

Go to your Alexa app. Go to Setting, History and delete the recordings you don’t want in there.

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