Why and How to Remove Theme from WordPress

Let’s start from the beginning.
It’s nice to know how to remove themes from WordPress. But why should you do that?
Here are the main reasons why removing a WordPress theme might be useful, if not necessary:

  • They are no longer in use
  • They are outdated
  • The themes might lead to security breaches
  • Those themes might clutter the Admin Dashboard of your WordPress
  • Unused themes removal ensures improved performance for the website.

Likewise, you should clean up plugins, periodically. As plugins represent a greater number of elements you add more frequently to the website, the cleaning process should occur more frequently than for themes.
You should keep in mind that, before switching to another theme, you must make a backup of your current version of the website. Thus, if something goes wrong with the theme change, you can always revert to the previous version, without any risks.
In case of a Child Theme, there’s no Delete button for the Parent theme. This way, you’ll be sure that if something is broken, you can refer back to the Parent Theme.
There’s a simple method to remove a theme from WordPress, we’ll show you how to do this in a few easy steps:

  1. Login to the WordPress Admin Dashboard with the username and password you’ve chosen.

  1. In the left-hand menu, go to Appearance. Next, go to the Themes subsection.

You’ll be taken to a list of themes, both active and inactive themes that are installed.

  1. To remove a theme, you need to previously deactivate it. That theme will go inactive when you choose to activate a different theme for your website.

You have to make sure your website runs on the theme you’ve chosen. You can’t delete the active theme, neither can you remove active plugins. This is a safe measure for the website.

  1. Hover over the theme you want to remove. Click on Theme Details. A popup will open, with details about the respective theme.

In the lower part of the popup window, you’ll find a Delete button.
To remove that theme from your WordPress, you only have to press the Delete button.

  1. Next, check the list of installed themes. You’ll not find the theme you’ve just deleted in the list. You have completely removed it from your WordPress.

However, if you want to reinstall that theme, you can do it anytime.
You’ll have to upload the theme again/search it again in the themes directory; you’ll have to reinstall it, then activate it.

Now, as you see, removing a theme from WordPress is pretty easy.
However, the process might occur with errors. Generally, the longer you’ve used a theme, the likelier it will be that removing the theme comes with errors. In such cases, it’ll be of use to know how to fix some issues that might occur.

Cases when theme installation/theme removal goes wrong

1.There might be such a situation when the theme you’ve found and installed is not compatible with the WordPress version you have. A theme compatibility issue you can’t solve should lead to removal of that theme.

2. Another case is when one of your installed plugins prevents the theme from functioning correctly. Here, keep the theme and deactivate plugins. After having deactivated plugins, try and install your theme again. If the theme works well now, you don’t need to resort to such a solution as removing the theme. Reactivate the plugins one by one and see which one prevents the theme from functioning correctly.

3. For your newly downloaded or purchased theme, the stylesheet is missing from the files.
2 situations are possible:

  • The style.css stylesheet is missing from the theme; in this case, you need to remove the theme from your WordPress
  • The root theme folder has not been uploaded. You need to find the respective file (usually it’s recognizable by the name of the theme) and upload it. A simpler solution is to use the Easy Theme and Plugin Upgrades plugin, that automatically upgrades a theme if it already exists.


  1. When trying to remove a theme, the following message might display:

“Deletion failed, the theme requested does not exist”.
The cause for this might be that the theme was not completely deleted. Some files have still remained in your WordPress.
In this case, you have to find the theme folder and manually remove all files related to it.

  1. When you try to remove a theme, the files won’t be removed.

Then again, you should check files corresponding to the theme you want to delete. The best way is to manually remove them from your WordPress, then check to see if the theme has been entirely removed.

  1. Errors while trying to remove themes Twenty Sixteen, Twenty Seventeen, Twenty Eighteen.

When you’re attempting to remove one of these themes, errors might appear. The solution would be to change ownership/permissions that are set incorrectly for those themes.
You can find details about how to change permissions for themes in this article. Also, you can contact your hosting company for solving ownership/permissions issues.

Sometimes overlooked, theme removal needs, however, to be correct, to make sure it doesn’t affect in any way all other current installations.
We hope this article will help you better manage the process of removing inactive themes and cleaning up your WordPress. It’s a process you need to go through, from time to time, to keep your WordPress and website safe and clean.

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