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How to Delete or Uninstall WordPress Themes - A Complete Guide 2023

Follow our guide to delete or uninstall WordPress themes quickly. Remove unwanted themes and customize your website easily in 2023.
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Are you a WordPress user? Then you definitely know the importance of picking a theme wisely. But have you considered what to do with the themes you no longer utilize? So you've been playing around with different WordPress themes, but now you have a mess of unused themes cluttering up your dashboard and slowing down your site. This inclusive guide will investigate why it's crucial to delete unused themes from your WordPress site. Deleting unused WordPress themes is actually pretty easy.

Why should you delete WordPress themes?

Delete WordPress Themes
  • Security issues: Outdated or unsupported themes can have vulnerabilities that put your site at risk. It's best to remove them so they can't be exploited.
  • Storage problems: Too many unused themes waste space and can slow down your site. Deleting them frees up storage and helps your site run more efficiently.
  • A cluttered dashboard: Having a bunch of themes you don't use makes your WordPress dashboard messy and confusing. Removing unused themes declutters your dashboard and makes it easier to navigate.
  • Avoid confusion: If you have multiple similar themes installed, you or another user may accidentally activate the wrong one. Deleting unused themes avoids any mix-ups and ensures the right theme is always in use.
  • Stay up to date: When you delete old themes you're not using, you can focus on updating the themes you do use. This helps keep your site looking fresh and prevents your theme from becoming outdated.

In the end, deleting unused WordPress themes just makes sense. Your site will run better, be more secure, and be easier to manage. Do a clean sweep of your themes today and get rid of any you're not using. Your site and dashboard will thank you.

When should you keep an unused WordPress theme?

There are a few reasons you may want to hold onto an unused WordPress theme rather than deleting it completely.

  • You paid money for the theme and want to get your money's worth by using it on another site in the future.
  • The theme has a lifetime update option, so you'll continue receiving security patches and compatibility updates as WordPress core updates.
  • You like the design and features of the theme, so you want to keep it in your back pocket in case you need it for a future project.
  • The theme supports popular page builders like Elementor that you've used to create content. Deleting the theme would remove that content.

In these cases, it's best to deactivate the theme to remove it from your active themes list but keep it installed in your themes directory. That way it's there if you need it again, but not currently active on your site. You can always reactivate it, but if you're certain you won't use it again, good to delete it permanently.

Keeping unused themes does take up space in your WordPress install, so if storage space is limited or you have many inactive themes, you may need to do some housekeeping. Look for themes you're unlikely to use again, especially if they're outdated, and delete them. But for high-quality, versatile themes you've paid for or used extensively, keeping them installed as inactive themes is a good option.

Deleting vs Uninstalling a Theme

There are two ways to stop using a WordPress theme: deletion and uninstallation. What's the distinction?

Deleting a theme removes the theme files from your WordPress install, but it leaves behind the theme data and settings. Uninstalling removes both the files and the data.

Delete a theme if you just want to remove the theme to free up space, but plan to keep using the current theme settings and styling.

Uninstall a theme completely if you want to revert to your default theme and settings. Uninstalling wipes the slate clean.

Things to do before you delete a WordPress theme

There are a few vital tasks you must complete before removing a theme from your WordPress website.

Backup Your Site

In case anything goes wrong during the theme deletion process, you'll want a recent backup of your site. Create a full backup of your database and files. This way you can easily restore your site if needed.

Test the New Theme

If you're switching to a new theme, install and activate it first to ensure everything is working properly before deleting the old one. Check that:

  • Your content is displaying correctly.
  • Features like menus, sidebars, and widgets are functioning.
  • The theme is mobile-friendly.

Make any necessary customizations to get the new theme setup the way you want before proceeding.

Update URLs

If your theme uses custom URLs or page/post types, they may break when you delete the theme. Update any hard-coded URLs in your content to use relative or core WordPress URLs that won't change.

Remove Theme Data

Some themes store extra data, options, or custom tables in your database. Remove any data associated with your theme before deleting it to avoid potential issues. Check with the theme developer for details on what data may need removal.

Consider Keeping the Theme

If the theme you want to delete is well coded and you may reuse it in the future, consider keeping it installed but deactivated. As long as it's not causing any issues, there's no need to fully delete it from your site. You can always reactivate and update it down the road if needed.

Following these steps before deleting a WordPress theme will help ensure a smooth transition to your new theme without disruption. Be sure to test things thoroughly after deleting the old theme and you'll be all set.

How to uninstall a theme in WordPress

  • Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard.
  • Go to Appearance → Themes.
  • Locate the theme you want to uninstall.
  • Click Theme Details to open the theme settings page.
  • Scroll to the bottom and click Uninstall.
  • Confirm you want to uninstall the theme and reset settings.
  • Your site will revert to the default WordPress theme and settings.
  • You may need to update menus, widgets, and other customizations.

How to delete a theme in WordPress

WordPress Theme

Deleting a theme you no longer want to use in WordPress is simple. There are a few ways to uninstall a theme completely.

Delete a theme in the WordPress Dashboard

The easiest way is right in your WordPress dashboard.

  • Log in to your WordPress admin area and click on "Appearance" → "Themes".
  • Locate the theme you want to delete and click "Delete".
  • Click "OK" to confirm.

Delete a theme via FTP

If the delete option is not available in the dashboard, you'll need to delete the theme folder manually.

  • Access your website's FTP file manager or hosting control panel's file manager.
  • Navigate to wp-content/themes.
  • Locate the folder for the theme you want to delete and delete it.
  • Empty your browser's cache to see the changes.

Delete a theme in your Hosting Control Panel

Some hosting providers allow you to manage your WordPress themes directly in your control panel.

  • Log into your hosting control panel and look for the WordPress or website management section.
  • Find the option to manage themes or WordPress files and folders.
  • Delete the theme folder you want to remove.
  • Clear your cache to see the changes.

Deleting unused themes will help keep your WordPress install clean and optimized. Be sure to always test deleting a theme on a staging or backup install first before removing it from your live site.

What to do after deleting a WordPress Theme

Check Your Site

Once you've deleted the theme, visit your site to make sure everything looks correct. Check that:

  • Your posts and pages are displaying properly without any formatting issues.
  • Your menus, widgets, and plugins are all still working.
  • There are no 404 errors or blank pages.

If anything looks off, you may need to assign a new theme, or re-activate plugins and widgets. Don't panic - your content and settings are still there. You just need to reconnect everything.

Choose a Replacement Theme (Optional)

If deleting your theme left your site bare, you'll want to install a new WordPress theme. Search for a theme that suits your site's purpose and install it the same way you did the first one. Activate the new theme and your site should be up and running again, this time with a fresh design.

Consider a Theme Cleanup

Over time, themes can accumulate excess code, options, and files that slow down your site. Deleting an old theme is a perfect time to do some cleanup. Run a scan with a plugin like WP Optimize to detect unused files and database options to delete. Trim down your theme options to just what you need. A good cleanup can help your site run faster and prevent potential security issues.

Test and Double Check

Always test your entire site after making any major changes to ensure everything is still working properly. Check posts, pages, comments, media, menus, plugins, and anything else critical to your site. It's an important final step to guarantee deleting your theme didn't cause any unforeseen issues.

  • Posts and pages: Make sure all of your content is still there and displaying correctly. Check that images, videos, and other media are appearing as expected.
  • Sidebars and widgets: Confirm any sidebars, widgets, and other components in your theme are displaying information properly.
  • Forms and contact: Test any contact forms, email sign-up forms, or other web forms to guarantee they are working and submissions are being received.
  • Responsiveness: View your site on multiple devices to check that the theme is responsive and the site looks good on mobile, tablet, and desktop.
  • Speed and performance: Use a tool like Google's PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to analyze your site speed and make sure uninstalling the theme did not negatively impact performance.
  • Errors or broken links: Scan your site for any error messages or broken links and resolve them. Double-check that external links open in new tabs as intended.

It is highly recommended to create an additional backup of your website after introducing any major modifications. Uninstalling a WordPress theme qualifies as a significant update, so back up your files and database one more time for peace of mind before launching your site. With some testing and potential tweaking, your site will be up and running again in no time.

Best practices for removing themes in WordPress

Check if your theme is causing issues

Before deleting a theme, make sure it's actually the source of your problem. Disable the theme to confirm it's the culprit, then re-enable it. If issues return, it's likely the theme.

Regenerate thumbnails

After deleting a theme, use a plugin like Regenerate Thumbnails to recreate your post-thumbnails. This will ensure no stray thumbnail images from the old theme will remain.

Troubleshooting common issues when deleting themes

It is essential to be aware of some frequently occurring drawbacks, although troubleshooting problems when uninstalling WordPress themes is typically simple.

Theme files remain

Sometimes theme files will remain in your WordPress install even after you delete the theme. This can cause errors and interfere with your current theme. To fix this:

  1. Login to your WordPress admin and go to Appearance → Themes.
  2. Locate the theme you want to fully delete and click "Delete".
  3. Next, go to Tools → Server Information. Note the Filesystem Path to your WordPress install.
  4. Using your FTP client or file manager, navigate to wp-content/themes.
  5. Delete any folder with the same name as the theme you deleted.

Theme options still showing

Another common issue is that the old theme's options or custom post types may still show in your WordPress admin. Install a plugin like Theme Cleanup to fully remove all traces of the old theme. Alternatively, you can manually delete:

  1. The old theme's options page. Go to Settings → Theme Name Options and delete the page.
  2. Any custom post types registered by the theme. Go to Settings → Post Types and delete them.
  3. The old theme's widgets. Go to Appearance → Widgets and delete any widgets from the old theme.

Images not deleting

If your old theme came bundled with images, they may not be deleted automatically when you delete the theme. To remove them:

  • Check if your theme came with any demo or sample content images. If so, delete them manually using an FTP client or your host's file manager in the wp-content/uploads folder.
  • Search your media library for any images with the old theme's name and delete them.

By following these troubleshooting tips, you'll be able to fully delete your old WordPress theme and avoid any issues with your current theme. Let me know if you have any other questions.

How to Reset WordPress

To reset your WordPress site, you'll need to delete your current theme and activate the default Twenty Twenty theme.

Delete Current Theme

First, you need to delete your currently active theme by following the above given instructions. Your site may look a bit wonky for a bit without an active theme. No worries, we'll fix that next.

Activate Default Theme

WordPress comes with a simple default theme called Twenty Twenty. To activate it:

  1. In the Themes page, find "Twenty Twenty" and click "Activate".
  2. Your site should now be using the default WordPress theme.
  3. The Twenty Twenty theme provides a simple, clean layout to get you started. You can customize it or install a new theme whenever you're ready.

Resetting your site by deleting your theme and activating the default WordPress theme is an easy way to remove any customizations or layout changes, allowing you to start fresh with a blank slate. Be aware that when deleting a theme, you will lose any theme-specific content, layouts, or styling. Your posts and pages will remain intact, but may appear differently using the default theme.

How to recover a deleted WordPress theme?

Locate your theme files

If you accidentally deleted your WordPress theme, don't panic. The files may still be in your WordPress installation, you just have to find them. Log into your WordPress admin dashboard and check /wp-content/themes/. This is where all your theme files are stored. See if there's a folder with the name of your theme. If so, your theme files are still there - you just have to reactivate the theme.

Check your theme's deactivation

Themes are not actually deleted when you uninstall them, they are just deactivated. Go to Appearance → Themes in your WordPress admin. Scroll through the list of themes and see if you can find your theme. If it's there, just click "Activate" to restore your theme. This will get your site back to the way it was before the theme was uninstalled.

Use a backup plugin

If the theme files are missing from your themes directory and the theme isn't shown as deactivated, you may need to restore from a backup. If you have a backup plugin installed, check if it has a backup of your theme files. Some top backup plugins are UpdraftPlus, BackWPup and BackUpWordPress. They allow you to schedule backups and restore previous backups if needed. You may be able to find a recent backup with your theme still intact and restore it.

Contact your hosting support

As a last resort, you may need to contact your web hosting company's support for help. They may have daily or weekly backups of your entire site stored that you can restore to recover your deleted WordPress theme. Be prepared to provide details about when your theme was deleted so they can locate the proper backup. With some luck, they can fully restore your site to before the theme was removed.

How to delete multiple WordPress themes at once?

The easiest way to delete multiple WordPress themes at once is by installing a theme bulk delete plugin. These plugins provide an interface within your WordPress admin to select and delete themes in bulk.

Some of the popular options are:

  • Theme Bulk Delete: Free plugin that lets you select and delete multiple themes at once. It will also delete any theme options data associated with the themes.
  • WP Theme Bulk Delete: Another simple but effective free plugin to bulk delete WordPress themes. It displays all your installed themes in a table with checkboxes to select and delete multiple at a time.

Using a dedicated plugin is the most efficient method to remove several WordPress themes at the same time. The plugins handle deleting the theme files as well as any associated theme options or metadata stored in the database. This helps ensure all traces of the themes are removed from your site.

FAQs About Deleting WordPress Themes

Will delete a WordPress theme free up space on my website?

Deleting an unused WordPress theme will free up space on your website. A theme's associated graphics, stylesheets, scripts, and templates are all deleted along with the theme when a theme is deleted.

How much space will be freed up by deleting a theme?

The amount of space you free up depends on the size of the theme. Some themes are very lightweight at just a few megabytes, while premium themes with lots of features and assets can be 30 megabytes or more. If you have multiple unused themes on your site, deleting them can significantly reduce your website's file size and speed up load times.

Will deleting themes affect my website content or design?

Deleting a theme you are not currently using will not affect your live website content or design in any way. Your site will continue to run on the active theme you have selected. The only effect will be freeing up the space the unused theme was occupying.

However, if you delete the theme you are actively using on your site, it will change your site's appearance and potentially cause issues. So only delete themes you have tested and confirmed are not in use. It's a good idea to keep at least one backup theme active in case you need to quickly revert your site's design.


At this point, you should have a good understanding of how to delete or uninstall WordPress themes that you no longer need. While the process seems straightforward, take it slow and be very careful, as deleting the incorrect theme could affect your site's functionality and appearance.

Lastly, consider re-optimizing your database after uninstalling themes, as leftover data may remain. You can use a plugin like WP-Optimize to clean and compress tables. Performing regular maintenance like this helps keep your WordPress site running smoothly and securely.

Hope this guide has helped you successfully remove old WordPress themes you no longer need. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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