How To Delete a WordPress Theme: 4 Effective & Easy Ways

how to delete wordpress delete theme

As a website owner or developer, managing your WordPress themes is a crucial part of maintaining your site’s functionality and aesthetics. There might come a time when you need to delete a WordPress theme. Whether you’re looking to clear up unused themes, change to a new theme, or have accidentally deleted your active theme or wrong theme, understanding the process and implications is essential.

This article will guide you through why and how to delete WordPress themes, including steps to take before and after deletion, along with what to do if you accidentally remove a theme.

Why Should You Delete a WordPress Theme?

Deleting unused WordPress themes can significantly benefit your WordPress’s security and performance. Unused themes take up server space, slow down your site, and pose security risks if they are not updated.

  • Having too many unused themes clutters your admin area and takes up space on your server, potentially impacting website performance.
  • Outdated themes can contain security vulnerabilities and become incompatible with newer WordPress versions. Deleting them keeps your site secure and stable.
  • After finding a new theme that suits your needs better, deleting the old one eliminates confusion and simplifies your theme management.
  • If you mistakenly deleted your active theme, this guide will show you how to recover it.

By removing them, you streamline your WordPress installation, making it easier to manage while reducing vulnerability to attacks.

When Should You Keep an Unused WordPress Theme?

While deleting unused themes is generally recommended, there are some instances where keeping them might be beneficial:

  • If it’s a custom theme or one you might revisit in the future, keeping a copy as a backup can be helpful.
  • If you’re using a child theme, it relies on its parent theme to function properly. Deleting the parent theme will break the child theme.
  • If you use a specific theme for testing or development purposes, it might be beneficial to keep it for future experimentation.

Also, if you plan to revert to a previous theme after testing a new one, keeping the old theme temporarily can be practical.

What to Do Before Deleting a WordPress Theme

Before proceeding with deletion, consider the following steps to ensure a smooth and safe process:

Back Up Your Site

It’s always recommended to create a full backup of your WordPress site before making any significant changes, This includes your database, WordPress files, and your themes. Tools like UpdraftPlus or VaultPress can automate this process, including deleting themes. This ensures you can restore your site if anything goes wrong.

Deactivate the Theme

Before deleting, ensure the theme is not your currently active theme. Deactivate it first by hovering over it on the Themes page and clicking Deactivate.

Check for Child Themes

If you’re unsure whether a theme has a child theme, search for folders within its directory. Deleting a parent theme will break any associated child themes.

Document Customizations

If you’ve customized your theme, make sure to document or export these changes for future use.

Check for Shortcode or Custom Code Dependencies

Some themes might add functionality through shortcodes or custom code. Ensure that deleting the theme won’t adversely impact your site’s functionality.

Further reading: How to Change WordPress Theme: Ultimate Guide 2024

How to Delete a WordPress Theme

The simplest method to delete a theme is through the WordPress dashboard:

1. Log into your WordPress dashboard.

2. Navigate to Appearance > Themes.

3. Hover over the theme you wish to delete and click Theme Details.

4. In the bottom right corner, click Delete.

5. Confirm the deletion.

2. Using File Manager

If you’re comfortable with file management or need to delete a theme manually, this method allows direct access to your website’s files.

1. Log into your WordPress hosting account and access the File Manager.

2. Navigate to the `/wp-content/themes/` folder.

3. Find the folder of the theme you want to delete and right-click it.

4. Select Delete and confirm.

Important: Ensure you’re deleting the correct theme folder and it’s not your currently active theme.

3. Via FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

Similar to the file manager method, using an FTP client offers more control and is useful if you’re unable to access your WordPress dashboard:

1. Connect to your website using an FTP client.

2. Go to `/wp-content/themes/`.

3. Locate the theme’s folder you wish to remove.

4. Right-click the folder and select Delete.

5. Confirm the action.

Warning: Exercise extreme caution when using FTP as accidental deletion could break your website.

4. In Hosting Panel

Some hosting providers offer a file manager within their control panel, allowing you to delete themes directly.

1. Log into your hosting panel.

2. Locate the file manager and navigate to `/wp-content/themes/`.

3. Identify the theme to delete, right-click its folder, and choose Delete.

4. Confirm your decision to remove the theme.

Remember: This option might not be available with all hosting providers.

What to Do After Deleting a Theme

After successfully deleting a theme, consider the following:

Clear Cache

After deleting a theme, clear your website’s cache to ensure the changes reflect correctly on the front end. This can be done through your caching plugin or by clearing your browser cache.

Review Your Website

Ensure that deleting the theme hasn’t affected your site’s functionality or appearance with the active theme.

Update Your Site

If you’ve switched to a new theme, customize it to fit your brand and review your WordPress site performance to ensure optimal operation.

Security Checks

Run a security scan to ensure that deleting the theme hasn’t exposed your site to vulnerabilities.

Reviewing Unused Plugins

Similar to themes, unused plugins can slow down your site and pose security risks. Consider deleting or updating them.

Further reading: Top 20+ Free WordPress Themes 2024 for Every Website Need

What to Do If You Accidentally Delete a WordPress Theme

If you accidentally delete your active theme or a theme you wish to keep, follow these steps:

Restore from Backup

If you’ve followed the pre-deletion advice and backed up your site, now’s the time to restore it.

Reinstall the Theme

If you don’t have a backup, you can reinstall the theme. If it was a free theme from the WordPress theme directory, you could find it there. For premium themes, download it again from the source you purchased it from.

Contact Support

If you’re having trouble, contact your web hosting support or a professional WordPress developer for help.


Managing WordPress themes is a critical aspect of website administration, affecting everything from aesthetics to security. Whether you’re making room for a new theme, enhancing your site’s performance, or correcting a mistake, knowing how to delete a WordPress theme is an invaluable skill. By following these steps and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure a smooth transition, keeping your WordPress site fresh, fast, and secure.

For those looking to redesign their website or transition to a new WordPress theme, consider professional services like those offered at Polar Mass. With expertise in WordPress website design, we can help transform your website into a powerful, visually appealing platform that captures your brand’s essence and engages your audience effectively.

Remember, the key to managing your WordPress themes effectively is understanding when to let go of the old and how to embrace the new, all while maintaining your website’s integrity and performance.