This article is a complete guide to deleting a theme in WordPress, and shows you step-by-step how to do so.

By the time you finish, you’ll understand:

To learn how a theme fits in with plugins, content and other parts of WordPress see our article: What Is WordPress?


The Difference Between Uninstalling A Theme And Deleting A Theme

The terms uninstalling and deleting can be used as synonyms in some platforms but when it comes to WordPress themes, they are not the same. How to uninstall a WordPress theme differs from how to remove themes from WordPress!

Uninstalling a theme in WordPress means that you are deactivating your current theme. You can deactivate a theme by pressing the button below on the theme’s thumbnail “Deactivate”. If you have only one theme installed in your WordPress, you can’t deactivate it.

On the other hand, deleting a theme means that you are removing all the files and additions of a theme you have installed. When a theme is deactivated, it is still in your storage space, and you can always reactivate it. Once a theme is deleted, there is no way to recover your files again.

There will be times you need to deactivate a theme or delete a theme. However, the processes and their outcomes differ greatly.


5 Reasons You Might Want to Delete a WordPress Theme

As a WordPress user, there will be a point you’d need to delete the current theme on your WordPress site and install a new one. Now that you have a basic idea of what a WordPress theme is, let’s delve into the reasons why you would like to remove a WordPress theme.

  1. Security: As it is evident, you can only use one theme at once. The rest of the themes will be stored in your storage space as potential backdoors for hackers to infiltrate your website.
  2. Slowing: Keeping unwanted or old themes in your storage is going to slow your page eventually. This is most evident on the Admin Dashboard. WordPress will automatically try to update all your themes. ven the ones you don’t actively use, and this is going to slow and reduce the performance of your Admin Dashboard.
  3. Deprecation: WordPress is like a living organism, and it evolves every day. Updates on the WordPress version, even the languages it’s built on, can outdate your current theme. Unfortunately, not all theme developers can regularly update their released themes. This causes unwanted problems on the website due to deprecated uses or incompatibilities. Therefore, deleting old themes is necessary after a point.
  4. Storage: Most hosting plans offer a limited amount of storage space to their clients. Each installed theme is going to take up some space in your storage space. By removing unwanted themes, you can save up space and avoid upgrading your plan.
  5. Database Performance: This may seem like an advanced topic, yet it is valuable to know that the information in WordPress is kept in a database. When a theme is active, it is going to store the information it collects in the database and the data will be stored there even though the theme is inactive. Deleting a theme will remove the excess information from old themes. As a result, the database maintenance and performance will be much better.

All these reasons may apply to your case at once, or one by one.


3 Ways To Delete A WordPress Theme

There are multiple ways to delete a WordPress theme. Three main methods will give you the same result; however, you may need to pick the method which fits your experience level. Below, you can see how to remove a theme from WordPress with clear steps.


1. The Easy Way

The easiest way to how to remove a WordPress team is through using the WordPress dashboard. As a general user, basic knowledge of the Admin Dashboard is enough to perform this task. We will guide you step by step.



  1. Log into your admin dashboard. The easiest way is to type in “” and use your credentials to log in.
  2. When you are logged in, click on the “Appearance” link on the menu to your left.



  1. Once you clicked on “Appearance”, you’ll see your themes in place. Hover on the theme you’d like to delete. You’ll se “Theme Details” and click on it.



  1. You’ll see a new popup with the theme information. The heading is the name of the theme and below you can get the author information. On the bottom right, you’ll see the “Delete” link.



  1. Clicking on “Delete” will open another popup. Confirm your deletion. After your confirmation, the theme will be deleted in a short time.



2. The Intermediate Way

For the easy way, all you had to do is to have access to your Admin Dashboard. For the intermediate way, however, you’ll need access to the storage space of your website. This is an intermediate solution since you should understand how FTP works.

You can either use your hosting provider’s services, use a third-party FTP application, or use a plugin to access your website files. For security reasons, the safest way is to use your hosting provider’s services such as “File Manager”.

For this example, we’ll use the plugin “WP File Manager” since our demo website doesn’t contain any sensitive information.

  1. A file manager allows you to see the documents in your storage space just like in Windows File Explorer. There are three main files that you’ll see in every WordPress installation: wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-includes.


  1. Your theme files are kept in wp-content Open that file. You’ll see plugins, themes, upgrade, uploads and index.php in a clean installation. You can find your themes in themes folder.



  1. Select the theme folder you’d like to remove and delete it. You can select multiple files as well. Simple as that!



3. The Advanced Way

The advanced way involves WP-CLI, a command line interface for WordPress. For this solution, you should install WP-CLI and it involves more command over the operating system. However, this solution may be easier and quicker for Linux users.

After installing WP-CLI, you can use these steps for deleting a WordPress theme.

      1. Access your WordPress website using the client.
      2. List all your current themes by running this command:
        $ wp theme list
      3. Get your inactive themes by running this command. Afterall, you can’t remove an active theme.
        $ wp theme list –status=inactive
      4. Run this command to delete the theme. Insert the name of the theme you’d like to delete instead of “themename”:
        $ wp theme delete themename
      5. After your command successfully runs, you should see the message below:

Deleted ‘themename’ theme.

Success: Deleted 1 of 1 themes.


4 Mistakes People Make When Deleting a WordPress Theme

The methods for deleting a theme may seem easy; yet there are certain pitfalls even a seasoned WordPress user can fall into. We have compiled three possible mistakes you can encounter and listed them with their solutions.


1. Deletıng Parent Themes

This is a potentially bad mistake if your active theme is a child theme. The term parent theme means that a child theme was created using this theme and they are sharing the core files.

You may unknowingly delete a parent theme which also has a child theme. The potential result of this is the breaking of the child. If your active theme is a child, that would cause certain problems on the outlook of your site. The custom CSS and additions will not show anymore.

Luckily, before deleting a theme, you can check whether if it’s a child theme and which theme is the parent one. For this, check the theme details by hovering on the theme and clicking on the button.

Before deleting a theme, make sure that it’s not a parent.


Image showing child theme being deleted in WordPress


2. Deletıng a theme wıthout backup

This is not a mistake, rather a bad practice. When you delete a theme, all the necessary files will be removed from your storage.

It is always a good idea to take a backup before deleting a file.

This means that if you ever need those files for any reason you have to have a backup.

There are lots of plugins that will automate backup and restore them for you when required.


3. Ignoring The Multısıte Environment

When your website is a part of the multisite environment, things can get messy when you try to delete a theme.

If you’re not the network administrator, you won’t be able to delete or add new themes.

Only a network administrator, can delete a theme.

If you delete a theme that is in use the website using that them is likely to not function.

You can use a Multisite Enhancements plugin to avoid deleting an active theme.


4. Not Deleting The Remaining Items

Some themes can leave residues on your website such as widgets, menu items, dummy content, and images. Deleting a theme doesn’t ensure that these items are also deleted.

When you delete your theme, make sure that you are getting rid of the inactive widgets as well. You can do this by clicking on Appearance, then Widgets.

Removing the dummy content may be harder since they populate your website to look full. This means that you may need to delete posts, pages, and unnecessary images. You have to do this manually through the Posts and Pages section of your dashboard.

Don’t forget to check your Media section for unwanted images.



Deleting a WordPress theme is relatively straightforward so long as you do it carefully.

Knowing how to delete themes in WordPress will benefit your storage and website performance.

Deleting a theme is also covered in our WordPress courses.