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How to Delete a Theme in WordPress


In this tutorial you’re going to learn how to delete a WordPress theme in two ways:

  1. The proper way you should use virtually every single time
  2. The backup way you can use if you are having problems with your WordPress site, or if you want to delete several themes at once

1. How to Delete a WordPress Theme: the Proper Way

In your WordPress admin panel go to the theme management area by clicking  Appearance > Themes in the left side bar menu.

themes in wordpress

Once there, make sure you have a theme other than the one you wish to delete active. You cannot delete an active theme through the WordPress admin panel.

Now, hover over the thumbnail of the theme you wish to delete, and click the Theme Details button:

theme details

In the bottom right hand corner you will see the word Delete in small red letters:

delete theme

Click that delete button, then confirm that you wish to delete the theme, and WordPress will automatically handle the deletion process for you.

2. How to Delete a WordPress Theme: the Backup Way

In the vast majority of circumstances deleting a WordPress theme through the admin panel is the correct way to proceed.

However in some rare cases this may not be possible. For example, a mistake made during live edit to the theme might have accidentally broken the entire site, leaving you unable to access the admin panel as a result.

In a case such as this you would need to delete the theme manually through a file manager, such as the one that comes with cPanel, or an FTP client. Using a manual theme deletion process can also be useful if you want to remove multiple themes at once in an efficient manner.

The first thing you’ll need to do is connect to your site’s host with a file manager or FTP client and browse its directory structure. Find your site’s  wp-content directory, and inside that the themes directory.

ftp client

Every theme on your WordPress site has its own directory inside the  themes directory. If you delete a theme’s directory, you delete the theme from WordPress as well. So all you need to do is select the theme(s) you want to get rid of, then use the file manager or FTP client to delete them.

delete folders

Then when you return to your WordPress site’s theme management page the deleted theme(s) will be gone from the list of available themes.

3. How to Delete a WordPress Theme Completely

You may be wondering if deleting a WordPress theme is a bit like deleting a program from Windows, where there might be left over files and junk you have to get rid of after the fact.

Fortunately this is not the case, and using either of the methods described above will always enable you to delete a WordPress theme completely.

The only circumstance under which using one of these methods might not result in complete deletion is if a theme contains malicious code deliberately designed to inject itself into areas it’s not supposed to be.

Choose Your WordPress Theme Wisely!

To avoid this possibility make sure you only ever install themes from trusted sources who have vetted themes to ensure they are safe, such as the official WordPress repositories, or our own Themeforest and Envato Elements range. Take a look through some of our roundups to see the most popular themes available right now:


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