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How to delete a WordPress theme

Have you installed a new theme and want to delete your old theme without losing your existing content?

This short article will show you how to do this in a safe way that doesn’t remove any of your existing content.

Okay, let’s dive in!

Table of Contents


Over time, most WordPress owners will try multiple themes to see what works best for their website. If you are not careful you can end up with multiple unused themes on your website.

If you are not sure how to safely delete an old theme it’s natural to just leave them hanging around on your website. Unused themes may seem harmless but there are some good reasons why you should remove them from your website.

Let’s delve into those reasons in the next section.

Why delete unused WordPress themes?

It’s a good idea to remove unused themes to keep your website clean and reduce the attack surface for hackers and malicious actors.

Themes contain potentially thousands of lines of code that hackers can exploit to gain access to your website – even when the theme is not active!

Reasons to delete unused themes on your WordPress website:

  1. Security: Every theme you keep installed, even if it’s inactive, can potentially be a security vulnerability. Themes can have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. By removing unused themes, you reduce potential entry points for attacks.
  2. Performance: Inactive themes can still consume server resources and slow down your website. This affects your site’s loading speed, user experience, and SEO rankings. Removing them can improve your site’s performance.
  3. Clutter Reduction: Keeping multiple themes installed clutters your WordPress dashboard. This makes it harder to manage your site and can lead to confusion.
  4. Updates: Themes need regular updates for security and functionality. Keeping unused themes means you have to keep track of updates for them as well. Removing them simplifies the update process.
  5. Focus: Having only the themes you use installed can help you focus on your site’s design and functionality. It makes it easier to choose and customize a theme that suits your needs.

Deleting unused themes is an easy and effective way to limit your security risks, clean up your site and reduce the disk space quota on your hosting account.

Preparing Before Deleting a WordPress Theme

It’s always a smart move to back up your website before taking on a potentially destructive task, like deleting a theme.

If you don’t have daily automated backups for your website, it’s a good idea to consider enabling this option in your hosting account.

The process for enabling daily backups depends on your hosting provider. Personally, I use SiteGround, which not only provides daily backups but also allows me to manually create backups with customized names. These manual backups can be particularly handy before you tackle any risky tasks.

SiteGround daily backups
daily backups give you peace of mind for your website

Accessing the WordPress Theme Management

Go to the Dashboard on your WordPress website. Click on the Appearance Menu and then select the Themes link.

select themes link from the Appearance menu on the WordPress Dashboard

The themes page will list all the current available themes on your WordPress website.

Deleting the WordPress Theme

Select the theme you want to delete. You will see the theme information page displayed with a few options on the bottom.

Activate – to activate the theme

Live Preview – to preview the theme

Delete – delete the theme

Note: You can’t delete the active theme. First install and activate a new theme, then you will see the option to delete the theme.

click the delete theme button
Delete a (non-active) theme

Now, go ahead and click the Delete button.

I recommend performing a backup of your website before deleting a theme.

Confirming Theme Deletion

You will see a dialog box appear, this is your last chance to stop the deletion process. Remember, this is a non-reversible action. If you are sure then go ahead and press the OK button.

confirm deletion of WordPress theme

Cleaning Up After Deletion

After deleting an unused theme, it’s wise to test your website to make sure everything is running smoothly. While deleting a theme shouldn’t cause any issues, it’s always best to confirm that everything is in order.

In case you encounter any problems, you can easily restore your website to its previous state using a backup (you did take a backup, right?)

SiteGround backups
Restore a backup

Best Practices for Managing WordPress Themes

Keeping your theme up-to-date is crucial. Developers constantly discover and resolve programming errors and security issues. Moreover, themes frequently receive new features, especially if you’re using a professional theme.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this article useful and informative. Here is a quick recap:

  • Deleting an unused theme enhances your website security and reduces disk space
  • Always keep your theme up to date
  • Keep daily backups so you can easily recover from website issues
  • Keep your WordPress dashboard clean by removing unnecessary themes

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