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

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Are you trying to figure out how to remove themes from WordPress? Maybe you just recently got a new theme, but you’re worried about how safe it is to delete your previous theme. It can be stressful when making these large-scale changes, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience working with WordPress. 

Alternatively, you may be looking into removing a WordPress theme because there are some default ones that you are tired of seeing there. Things can get cluttered pretty quickly, and for those who want better organization, it’s a good idea to clear out items you don’t need anymore. 

No matter your reason, we’ll show you how to remove themes from WordPress without affecting your current site and why you would want to do so in the first place. 

Let’s get deleting! 

how to remove themes from WordPress

Why Delete a WordPress Theme?

If you’re not currently using a WordPress theme, you should delete it from your website. There are a few good reasons for WordPress theme removal: 

  • Keeping WordPress themes installed on your server results in a larger backup size for your backup plugin
  • Your WordPress security plugin needs more time to finish its scan
  • The unused WordPress themes will continue to be updated even though you’re not using them in any way 
  • WordPress theme files can hide malicious code or malware on your website because they’re written in PHP. This could happen if your website was ever compromised, or if developers with bad intentions hide backdoors in these unused themes. 

It’s important to know how to remove themes from WordPress to avoid these scenarios. Sometimes WordPress users install themes on their live websites for the sake of trying them out, but there is a better way. 

There are two options: using a staging site, or a local WordPress install so that you can test these themes. It’s much better because you won’t have to worry about later removing a WordPress theme, it won’t affect your live website, and you can present a consistent user experience to all visitors. 

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

WordPress only allows you to have one theme as the active theme on your live site. That said, as many themes can be installed as you wish. This is why it’s important to know how to remove themes from WordPress. 

Although the themes will not be active, they’ll be installed on your website all the same, continuing to receive updates. 

If you want to completely uninstall a WordPress theme, it has to be deleted. Only then will all of the theme files be removed from your website. 

Is it safe to delete old WordPress themes? 

It’s completely safe to delete WordPress themes when you are not using them. It won’t do any harm to your site and will actually help protect you from malware, save backup space, and improve the speed of your security scans. 

In order to function properly, your WordPress site needs at least one installed theme. This will be the active WordPress theme that is used to display your website to visitors. 

To view the WordPress theme you’re currently using, visit Appearance > Themes on WordPress. The theme you are currently using will appear as Active.

how to remove themes from wordpress active theme

It’s also a good idea to have one default WordPress theme installed, such as Twenty Twenty or Twenty Nineteen. This provides you with a fallback theme just in case something goes wrong and your currently active theme isn’t working. 

As long as you have these two themes, you’re good to go. 

You’ll also see all of the other themes that you have installed. If you want to know how to remove themes from WordPress when you’re done with them, read on. 

Note: If your current theme is a WordPress child theme, you’ll need to keep the parent theme installed on your website as well, so do not delete it. 

Preparing Before Deleting a WordPress Theme

We’re ready to find out how to remove themes from WordPress, so the first thing you’ll need to do is prepare.

If you have a customized WordPress theme and want those customizations to be preserved before deletion, you should create a complete WordPress backup. 

Alternatively, you can download the theme folder to your computer as a backup and for safe keeping. To do this, you'll want to use an FTP client or the File Manager app, found in your WordPress hosting account dashboard. 

After you’ve connected, go to public_html/wp-content/themes/ folder and download the inactive theme folder that you want to retain. 

remove wp theme with FTP

Once your old theme is completely backed up to your liking, you can then continue to WordPress theme removal. 

Deleting a WordPress Theme

In this section, we’re going to explain how to remove themes from WordPress in 3 different ways. We’ll begin with the easiest and most direct. 

1. How to remove a WordPress theme via admin dashboard

Removing a WordPress theme from the admin dashboard is the recommended way because it’s simple and straightforward. 

The first step is to visit Appearance > Themes page. Once you’re there, click on the theme that you’re looking to delete. 

Clicking on the theme itself will open a popup window with details. At the bottom right corner of the popup screen, you’ll see the Delete button. 

delete button

After clicking, you’ll need to confirm that you want to delete the WordPress theme. Click the OK button to proceed. WordPress will delete your selected thing, and voila! Now you know how to remove themes from WordPress in just a quick minute. 

2. How to remove a WordPress theme via FTP 

The second option for WordPress theme removal is a bit more advanced, but if you can’t access the WordPress admin area, you’ll have the following steps as a workaround. 

All you have to do is connect to your WordPress site through an FTP client and then visit /wp-content/themes/folder. 

delete them through FTP

Once there, you’ll need to locate the theme folder that you’re trying to delete. Find the folder and then right-click on the folder name. 

The window that pops up will have a variety of options, and one towards the bottom will read Delete. 

Click that option and the theme will be deleted by the FTP client. 

3. How to remove a WordPress theme using File Manager 

If using an FTP client is too tricky or tedious for you, there’s another alternative even still if you’re looking for how to remove themes from WordPress. There is an app in your web host’s control panel called File Manager, and that is our third option. 

All WordPress hosting providers have different dashboards in terms of appearance, so your particular dashboard may not look like exactly the same one that you see here, which is Bluehost. 

To begin, log into your hosting account, visit your dashboard, and navigate to the Advanced tab, which is where you will then see the File Manager icon. 

bluehost file manager

Clicking this icon will launch the file manager where you can browse your web server’s contents; this is almost exactly the same as it would be using an FTP client like FileZilla. 

In the file manager, navigate to the folder /public_html/wp-content/themes/. 

Locate the theme you want to delete within that folder, right-click it, and select delete.

cpanel from bluehost

And that’s it! Your WordPress theme will be deleted. That's the final option for how to remove themes from WordPress.

What to Do If You Accidentally Delete a WordPress Theme?

There are few types of anxiety-like the kind you get after accidentally deleting a file. The good news is that you can restore any WordPress themes that you deleted by mistake, and there are two ways, in fact. 

The first option is to restore your WordPress theme from backup. Many WordPress backup plugins allow you to restore your website from an earlier page quickly, so this method is a great choice. All of your customizations will remain intact and you’ll have everything set just as it was before. 

If you committed the big no-no and didn’t create a backup, you still have a chance. You can restore the theme by downloading and installing a new copy of the same theme. This is great if you left the theme exactly as it came. 

Unfortunately, any customizations you made to the theme won’t be restored, but you’ll be able to recover the theme itself. 

Great work! Now you now how to remove themes from WordPress. Next, take a look at how to duplicate a WordPress page or post in a simple click!

By Nicole

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By Nicole

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