Pile of old phones.

Most people are upgrading to a new phone every year or two, which means we all have old phones lying around. What can you do with these devices? There are a few ways to safely get rid of them.

You don’t have to get rid of your old phone. Even a super outdated phone still has a lot of powerful technology inside. It can be put to a different use. However, if you don’t want to re-purpose your old phone, you should dispose of it in a safe way. We’ll show you how.

RELATED: How to Turn an Old Android Phone into a Security Camera

First, Wipe It Clean

An iPhone silhouette with an orange screen and circular arrows

Before you get rid of a phone—whether it be by selling or disposing of–it’s a good idea to get all of your stuff off of it. As long as the device is still functional, you should be able to do this.

RELATED: How to Wipe Your Android Device and Restore It to Factory Settings

iPhones and Android devices let you perform a “factory reset.” As the name implies, this will wipe the device and bring it back to the state it was in when it left the factory. The process is straightforward, but it can’t be reversed. Make sure you backup anything you want to keep first.

RELATED: How to Factory Reset an iPhone or iPad

Sell Your Phone

If your old phone is still functional, you may actually be able to get some money for it. There are plenty of places to sell phones these days. One of our favorite places is Swappa.com.

Swappa is a similar concept to eBay, but a little more focused. You can sell any type of phone, including iPhones and Android devices. iPhones especially hold their value well, so you may be surprised to see what you can get.

It’s always a good idea to explore selling before ditching an old phone. You can get a little cash and provide a device to someone who has a use for it. If someone is willing to pay for your old phone, chances are it won’t go to immediate waste.

RELATED: How to Sell Your Laptop, Phone, or Tablet for Top Dollar


Goodwill store.

You may not be interested in going through the hassle of selling your old phone, but that doesn’t mean it has to go to waste. There are a number of places that will accept donations of old phones.

Before you donate, make sure the device is functioning. Donating should not be used as a way to offload broken phones. Donating a phone can put it in the pocket of someone who really needs it.


The last resort is to recycle the old phone. This is the best option if you don’t want to sell it or it’s not functional enough for donating. There are a lot of valuable components in smartphones, which makes recycling important.

There are many places that can recycle an old phone for you. It’s likely your local recycling center or landfill has electronics recycling. Here are a few other places that can do it as well.

  • Best Buy: Many Best Buy locations have a convenient electronics recycling kiosk inside the store.
  • Call2Recycle: This non-profit organization offers drop-off locations for phones across the U.S.
  • Earth911 has a Recycling Search tool than can help you find a location near you to drop off your phone.

How Not to Dispose of an Old Phone

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to safely get a phone out of your possession. There is a wrong way to do it, though.

You should never throw away electronics with your regular trash. Many of the components—especially batteries—can be harmful or dangerous if not disposed of properly. That doesn’t happen if you’re just taking it to the curb.

Sell, donate, or recycle, but don’t trash an old phone. There might be something you can still do with your old phone, but if not, choose one of those safe methods. They’re better for everyone.

RELATED: How to Turn An Old Android Phone into a Networked Security Camera

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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