WordPress Delete Theme? (Easy way)

WordPress delete theme: If you want to delete a theme from WordPress Installation, but struggling to do it, we’re here to help! What makes WordPress so great? It is the readymade theme that you get from this great, easy-to-use website maker!

Who would have thought even during the dotcom boom that website making would just be editing a template that too free of any cost! The simple drag and drop functionality allowed the users of any kind of expertise to make a website of their own.

WordPress initially started only as a blogging website. That is understandable since in blogs, there is only limited functionality, and most are text-based. However, things have changed. Now, you can make almost any type of website, even an eCommerce one, with WordPress themes! Remember, an eCommerce website is a more complicated one than your average laptop.

You will have to have cart features, payment methods, customized product offers and many more back-end functions with them. However, now and then, interchanging themes is not an ideal option if you want to give new looks every day.

Perhaps, for that level of dynamism, WordPress isn’t even suited for you. Instead of piling up themes or having a fresh new start, you may consider deleting the WordPress theme. Continue Reading to the end to know how to delete a theme from WordPress.

wordpress delete theme

What is a WordPress Theme?

WordPress themes cover the whole frontend part of the website. The part is constructed with HTML (hypertext markup language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Basically, all we see through our eyes when we enter a website is the WordPress themes’ work.

The fonts, the spaces, the widgets, colors, shadings, layouts, styling, sizes, menu everything is essentially the front end or WordPress theme. There are over thousands of free WordPress themes developed by the organization and other developers. You can also buy some premium themes which come with increased functionalities and support.

They are also a way you can stand out from others, since, due to the themes being free and easy to use, all the websites look the same more or less. The situation is such that if you don’t add your own delicate touch while designing the UX, users won’t attach with the website as you would like them to.

Why wordpress delete theme is the right choice?

It is only natural to adhere to the themes that you are no longer using. After all, what harm is it doing! Who knows, you might even decide to use those themes in the future!

However, there are good reasons why deleting and/ or uninstalling unused WordPress themes is the right choice.

Reasons why it is ideal to delete unused themes or plugins:

Security: More themes and plugins mean more vulnerabilities available for the hackers to utilize and find a loophole.

Updates: You should know by now that you shall continuously keep updating your themes and plugins. Even if they are unused, you shall continue this tiresome process, or else they will be a security threat.

Performance: Even though you only see the active theme on the frontend, in the backend, the unused themes are also eating up processes. Especially during the updates, the system queries all the themes available, and that will affect the performance.

Space: This is the most visible backlash of having unnecessary files on the system. The unused themes and plugins are consuming spaces from your valuable hosting plan. This is leading to more costs and even lead to low spaces when in need. 

Database performance: Inactive themes still have their loads on the database. Data regarding the themes stay in the database in case they can be used once you activate them.

Deleting vs. Uninstalling vs. Deactivating

In concept, uninstalling vs. deleting is the same thing. In both instances, the code data for the theme will be removed from the server. In both instances, any data shall be removed. However, in some instances, all content is not lost or removed by simply uninstalling a theme or plugin.

On the other hand, deactivating is different. When you activate a new theme on your site, the old one automatically gets uninstalled.

Unlike the plugins, you need not uninstall them by manually clicking on uninstall on each of them. Upon uninstalling, the data of the old themes and plugins remain in the database in case you would want to use them again. To remove the data, you need to delete the themes.

Remember before deleting a theme

Before deciding to delete a theme, make sure you verify if deleting won’t break the site. You shouldn’t delete if the following happens:

Things to Do Before You Delete a WordPress Theme

  • Check if the theme is acting as a parent theme to a child theme. If you delete a parent theme, the website will break.
  • If you have a multisite setup, make sure that the theme is not required for another site.
  • You won’t need the theme in the near future. If you delete it once, all the setups will be lost.

Safety Measures

Before going ahead and deleting the theme, wait. You should be careful when doing such actions.

  • Take a backup of the site and the themes.
  • Use staging sites to check the functionality and run tests.

Staging Sites

Some of the web hosts offer a free staging site to their clients. Staging sites are simply the mirror or duplicate of your website created within the server. Use this staging site to run any kind of experiment as it will not affect the main site. So, by this, you will know if deleting a theme affects your site in any way and likely progress.

Backing Up

Backing up your site frequently is a good and necessary habit, speaking from experience. Any virus can find its way to the codes in the server and wipe everything out. There are many ways to take backups of the entire website operation. However, the easiest way is to use a backup plugin and schedule it to take backups in an interval.

WordPress delete theme (Best way)?

Now that you have completed the prerequisites or safety measures, it is time you can delete a theme with little worries. There are three ways you can delete a WordPress theme:

  • Through the WordPress dashboard
  • Using FTP/SFTP
  • Using WP-CLI

We will talk about each of the ways in detail.

1. WordPress delete theme via the WordPress Dashboard

Deleting themes through the WordPress dashboard is the most convenient way to do it. Now, for this, you will need to have access to the admin screen. You can progress only if you have that.

From the WordPress dashboard, find Appearance and go to Themes. You’ll find all of your users but not removed themes here, with the active one at the very first.

The Themes screen

The Themes screen

From the list, select or click on the theme that you wish to delete permanently.

Let’s say it is the Twenty Seventeen theme.

The Twenty Seventeen theme

The Twenty Seventeen theme

Upon entering into the details, you will see a “delete” option on the bottom right. Click on that button to initiate deletion. WordPress will ask for double confirmation. Click OK on the popup dialog box. The theme is then deleted.

2. WordPress delete theme via FTP/SFTP

In case you do not have the admin privilege in the WordPress dashboard but happen to have access to your site’s root directories through FTP/SFTP, then follow this step.

Go to your FTP client software and open the site’s directory. From the directory, enter the “themes” folder under the “wp-content.”

Themes via FTPThemes via FTP

From there, you will find all of the undeleted themes listed as a folder of their own. Here, you have no way of knowing which theme is the active one, or if any of them are parent themes to those being used! So, the risk is high, and now the safety measures will come in handy. If you can’t access the theme from the admin dashboard, then this is your option.

Identify the theme you want to delete and right-click on it.

Deleting a theme via FTPDeleting a theme via FTP

Click on Delete. Then the FTP client will ask if you want to confirm and really delete the folder permanently. Select Yes or OK. Thus, the theme is deleted.

3. Deleting a Theme via WP-CLI

This is a more complicated process than the other two. With the help of WP-CLI, you can enter the commands to remove a theme and its files. We recommend using this method with the utmost caution and only follow it if you have experience managing sites through the command lines.

First, access your site through the WP-CLI using the command line.

Then, to see the list of all the installed or undeleted themes, type the following:

“$ wp theme list.”

Here you will find a list of all the current themes in your database, be it active or not. If you want to only see the names of the inactive or unused ones, type:

“$ wp theme list –status=inactive”

You will find a list of all the themes that are not active on the site you are now in command of. So, these themes are safe to delete, given that they are not in use in a multisite network or are a child theme.

Now, to delete a theme, let’s say the “twentyseventeen” one, type in the following:

“$ wp theme delete twentyseventeen”

Remember to type in the name exactly as you see in the WP-CLI list and NOT the WordPress dashboard.

Then, you will find a message saying the result of your action:

“Deleted ‘twentytwelve’ theme.

Success: Deleted 1 of 1 theme.”

If you’re comfortable with using WP-CLI, the mentioned method is the quickest way for you to delete a theme. However, you shouldn’t forget your risks. Since you don’t know about all the information as you would see in the GUI of Dashboard, there are chances that you might simply delete a required one.

That is where the staging sites and backups come in handy. First, try deleting the theme on the staging site. If everything remains okay, then continue the same on the main site.

Delete WordPress theme and start over

You may not like how you have progressed so far and really want a clean installation of the total theme and everything. Trust me, many have taken this path to improve their works. As said by every supervillain ever who wants to show they are actually doing the world a favor by destroying ever.

They believe you will have to first break it into pieces for you to build them correctly. Luckily, you are doing it only in WordPress. For this, follow the following steps:

  1. Install and Activate WP ResetPlugin

Head over to the Dashboard, go to Plugins, and click on Add New. Search for “WP Reset plugin by WebFactory Ltd.” Install it and then activate it.

  1. Go to Dashboard>Tools

From the tools section in the Dashboard, click on WP Reset. The screen will show all the information regarding the reset.

  1. Hit the Reset Button

Scroll down in the WP Reset menu, and you will find a Reset WordPress button. Type in “reset” in the adjacent box for double confirmation and hit on the button.

  1. Go to Tools Section

From the Plugins menu, go to the tools tab. There you will find more advanced features and deletion options. Find “Delete Themes” and click on “Delete all themes.”

Thus, all of your themes are deleted, and you can start all over again.

See also:

Best and Fastest WordPress Themes
WordPress Best Themes for Blog


Themes being the primary aspect and at the core attention for WordPress users, hundreds of features and plugins are related to it alone. If any of the processes on how to delete a theme from your WordPress installation seems hard or not convenient for you, you can try out searching for “WordPress delete theme” As always, remember to follow the safety checks and keep a backup.