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How to Uninstall and Delete a WordPress Theme (Step by Step)

Do you want to delete a WordPress theme but are worried that it might be unsafe?

If you have recently switched your WordPress theme, then you may want to delete the old one. You may also have a few other WordPress themes that come pre-installed on your website that you may want to remove.

In this article, we will show you why and how to easily delete a WordPress theme without affecting your website.

How to easily delete a WordPress theme

Why Delete a WordPress Theme?

If you are not using a WordPress theme, then it is recommended to delete it from your website. There are a number of reasons for deleting unused WordPress themes.

  • WordPress theme files are written in PHP and can be used to hide malicious code or malware on your website (that is if your website was ever compromised). Sometimes rogue developers can hide backdoors in unused themes as well.
  • Keeping them installed on your server increases your backup sizes, and your WordPress security plugin takes longer to finish a scan.
  • You will also keep getting updates for those themes, even though you are not using them at all.

A lot of users install WordPress themes on their live websites just to test them out. This is not the best way to test drive a WordPress theme.

We recommend using a staging site or a local WordPress install to do all your testing. This way, it doesn’t affect your live website and allows you to offer a consistent experience to your users.

What’s the difference between uninstalling vs. deleting a WordPress theme?

WordPress allows you to only keep one theme as your active theme. However, you can install as many themes as you want on your website.

These themes will not be active, but they are still installed on your site, and you will continue to receive updates for them.

To completely uninstall a WordPress theme, you need to delete it. This will remove all theme files from your website.

Is it safe to delete old WordPress themes?

Yes, it is safe to delete a WordPress theme that you are not using.

Each WordPress site needs at least one theme installed to function properly. This is the theme that WordPress will use to display your website.

You can view which WordPress theme you are currently using by visiting the Appearance » Themes page. Your current theme will appear as the ‘Active’ theme.

Active theme

We also recommend keeping one default WordPress theme (e.g. Twenty Twenty or Twenty Nineteen) installed on your website. It acts as the fallback theme in case your current theme is not working.

If your current theme is a child theme, then you will also need to keep the parent theme installed on your WordPress website.

Apart from these themes, you can safely delete any other themes installed on your website.

That being said, let us show you how to delete a WordPress theme.

Video Tutorial

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If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then just continue reading

Preparing Before Deleting a WordPress Theme

If you have customized a WordPress theme and want to preserve those customizations before deleting it, then you can create a complete WordPress backup.

We recommend using the Duplicator plugin, and you can follow this tutorial on how to back up your WordPress site for step-by-step instructions.

You can also just download the theme folder to your computer as a backup.

To do that, you can use an FTP client or the File Manager app in your WordPress hosting account dashboard.

Once connected, go to the /wp-content/themes/ folder and download the inactive theme folder to your computer.

Download WordPress theme folder to your computer as backup

Once you have safely backed up your old theme, you can go ahead and delete it.

Deleting a WordPress Theme

There are multiple ways to delete a WordPress theme. We will start with the easiest one first.

1. Deleting a WordPress Theme via Admin Dashboard

This is the easiest and recommended way to delete a WordPress theme.

First, you need to go to the Appearance » Themes page and click on the theme that you want to delete.

WordPress will now open theme details in a popup window. You need to click on the ‘Delete’ button at the bottom right corner of the popup screen.

Deleting a WordPress theme via WordPress admin dashboard

Next, you will be asked to confirm that you want to delete the theme. Simply click the ‘OK’ button to continue, and WordPress will delete your selected theme.

2. Deleting a WordPress Theme via FTP

This method is a bit advanced, but it comes in handy if you are unable to access the WordPress admin area.

Simply connect to your WordPress site using an FTP client and then go to the /wp-content/themes/ folder.

Deleting a theme via FTP client

From here, you need to locate the theme folder that you want to delete. Right-click on the folder name and then select ‘Delete’.

Your FTP client will now delete your selected theme.

3. Delete a WordPress Theme Using File Manager

If you are uncomfortable using an FTP client, then you can also use the File Manager app in your web hosting control panel.

For this example, we will be showing screenshots from Bluehost’s hosting dashboard. Depending on your hosting provider, your hosting dashboard may look a bit different.

Log in to your hosting account dashboard and click on the ‘File Manager’ icon under the ‘Advanced’ tab.

Go to Bluehost File Manager

This will launch the file manager, where you can browse the contents of your web server like you would using an FTP client.

You need to go to the /public_html/wp-content/themes/ folder.

Deleting a WordPress theme using the file manager

Next, you just need to right-click and delete the theme that you want to get rid of, and that’s all.

What to Do If You Accidentally Delete a WordPress Theme

If you accidentally deleted a WordPress theme, then there are multiple ways to restore it.

First, you can restore the theme from the backup. This is easier as many WordPress backup plugins allow you to quickly restore your website to an earlier stage.

However, if you didn’t make a backup, then you can restore the theme by downloading and installing a fresh copy of the same theme.

The downside of the second approach is that you will lose any customizations you made to the theme.

We hope this article helped you learn how to easily delete a WordPress theme. You may also want to see our guide on how to choose the best premium WordPress theme and our list of the best WordPress plugins.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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36 CommentsLeave a Reply

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    • If you use the FTP or file manager method that would allow you to remove the theme without that error.


  2. Why do I have ZERO delete buttons in the bottom right corner after I click on the Theme Options? I am trying to clean out the all the extra themes. Would love to be able to click one button and see these extra ones simply go away. But, after the pop-up window shows up there are no delete buttons in the bottom right corner.

  3. My apologies. I did find the delete. here’s the important step:
    Be sure that the theme you want to delete isn’t active. I know that sounds like it makes sense, but if you accidentally have the theme you want to delete still active, you can’t. There won’t be a delete button.

    • Glad you were able to find the delete option and we’ll see if we can help clarify that when we next update this article :)


  4. I tried using the delete button to delete an unused theme. It kept running with no end in sight. After waiting for twenty minutes, I just gave up; exited the panel and logged off. Later I logged back in to the Admin Dashboard to see if the theme was deleted. It was still there.

  5. I’ve been searching how to delete a theme in WP… and everyone says there is a delete button on the theme… BUT THERE ISN’T on mine… None of them have a delete button… What am I doing wrong?

  6. When I upload the same theme again, the edit I made on it still the same.
    the theme should be in the factor reset.
    How to completely delete them & its cache to not show last edits when I re upload it?

    • You would want to reach out to the support for your specific theme for if they have the option to do that as there isn’t always something like that set up with the theme.


  7. hi! i’ve deleted a theme but anytime i try activating it again with the licence, it says product is already registered. can you help?

    • You would want to reach out to the support for the paid theme you are using and they should be able to assist.


  8. Maybe you will have to activate another theme before seeing the option to delete the former theme.

    • You will need to have more than one theme on your site to have the option to delete the inactive theme.


  9. How do you delete a theme if it does not give the option under the theme? I am not using wordpress,com but this option is not showing

    • Our tutorials are for sites, does not have this option but you shouldn’t need to worry about that on


  10. I am still having trouble removing themes. It doesn’t appear to show me the delete option through the admin screen method. I know have multiple layers of themes on my site with no idea how to remove them. I also don’t know very much about the other options to try and remove it another way.

  11. thanks for all your articles; my host is technically fine but not good for customer service or punctual support. I get nearly all of my resolutions from you!

  12. Hi,

    I am attempting to delete some old themes via the WordPress Dashboard.

    After deleting the themes they are then re-appearing when I refresh the Themes section.


    • You may want to ensure you don’t have a strange plugin or similar that is adding the themes that you are attempting to remove


  13. I don’t have the delete option on any of the themes on my set-up – is it necessary to delete them all? I’m a bit confused about this. I only ask because the book I am following says to delete old themes for security reasons – I can’t see the themes I’ve used – have been playing with lots of different ones – vs. the standard templates visible on WordPress, of which there are lots!

    • If you do not have the option to uninstall/delete them then you may want to make sure you are not on for the most common reason for that to be missing.


  14. You said here that – WordPress theme files are written in PHP and can be used to hide malicious code or malware on your website (that is if your website was ever compromised). Sometimes rogue developers can hide backdoors in unused themes as well. Does this include free and paid themes? Or just crack

    • It would depend on where you get the theme from. If it is from the developer or from the repository then you should not need to worry about it. You would want to be very concerned about any cracked versions of themes.


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