How to Delete a WordPress Theme: Comprehensive Guide

Looking to give your WordPress website a fresh, new look w.r.t. your brand identity? Or perhaps you want to eliminate a theme-related error. Theme is a crucial part of any WordPress website. It controls the design and layout of the website. So before you hit that delete button, it’s important to understand the process to do it safely.

Well, the experts at our WordPress development company focus on a few user-friendly methods to delete the theme effectively. I’ll tell you all about them. But first let’s look at the “why”.

Why Delete a WordPress Theme?

There are several reasons to delete a WordPress theme. It can be a part of the site redesign or error troubleshooting. Deleting a WordPress theme becomes necessary for WordPress security concerns and the need to optimize storage space. Deleting unused themes is a good practice for several reasons. Here are some key situations:

  • Revamping Your Website: As your brand evolves, your website’s design should too. An outdated theme may no longer align with your brand identity. So deleting it will help pave the way for a fresh look that better resonates with your audience.
  • Troubleshooting Theme Errors: Some of the most common WordPress errors are often due to theme-related conflicts. They can affect your website’s functionality or display. So deleting the problematic theme can help identify the source of the issue and potentially switch to a more stable theme.
  • Improved Security: Unused themes, especially older ones, might have unaddressed security vulnerabilities. So deleting them is often part of the WordPress security implementations. It reduces the potential attack surface for hackers and keeps your website safer.
  • Streamlined Management: Maintaining a large collection of themes can be cumbersome. Deleting unused themes simplifies your WordPress dashboard, making it easier to find and manage the themes you actually need.
  • Faster Backups: Fewer themes translate to smaller backup files, saving you time and storage space when taking backup of your WordPress website.
  • Maintenance: With fewer themes to keep track of, you’ll have less to worry about updating. This simplifies WordPress website maintenance saving you time.

By understanding these situations, you can better judge whether deleting a theme would be the right course of action. You can also consult with dedicated WordPress experts for the same.

When to Keep an Unused WordPress Theme?

While it’s advisable to delete unused themes, there are a few situations where keeping an unused theme can be beneficial. Here are the key reasons to consider:

  • Fallback Option: Keeping one additional default WordPress theme, such as Twenty Twenty-Three, serves as a fallback option. If your active theme faces any issues, WordPress will automatically switch to the default theme, maintaining your site’s functionality.
  • Staging Environment: Developers often create a WordPress staging environment to test new designs and features before making them live. Having an extra theme available for testing can ensure that changes don’t negatively impact the live site.
  • Plugin Compatibility: Sometimes, it’s necessary to verify how certain plugins or updates interact with different themes. With an extra theme, you can check WordPress plugins for compatibility without altering your live site.
  • Customizations on Hold: Have you heavily customized a theme but don’t use it anymore? Then you might as well keep it, so you can pick up where you left off without losing your customizations.
  • Multisite Network: Manage a WordPress multisite network means different sites use different themes. So deleting a theme might cause issues on those specific sites. It’s best to keep the theme active for those sites while considering alternative themes for new additions to the network.

Keeping unused themes is only purposeful for specific scenarios that can be beneficial for the above instances. Also, having an extra theme installed is a good practice when you need availability and compatibility.

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How to Delete a WordPress Theme?

Deleting a WordPress theme can be done in various ways, depending on your access and preferences. You can use the WordPress Dashboard, the FTP/SFTP client, and or your hosting panel.

Method 1: Using the WordPress Dashboard

The WordPress admin dashboard provides a straightforward way to delete themes. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Backup Your Website: Always start by backing up your website to ensure you can restore it if anything goes wrong. Use plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy.

Step 2: Ensure the Theme is Not Active: Go to Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard. Activate a different theme preferably a default WordPress theme like Twenty Twenty-Four.

Step 3: Delete the Theme: In the Themes section, hover over the theme you want to delete and click on Theme Details. In the theme details window, click the Delete button at the bottom right. Confirm the deletion when prompted.

Step 4: Verify the Deletion: Ensure the theme no longer appears in the Themes list in your dashboard.

Using the WordPress Dashboard is the simplest and most user-friendly method for deleting themes. It’s ideal for users who prefer a graphical interface.

Method 2: Deleting via FTP/SFTP

If you encounter issues with the WordPress Dashboard or prefer direct file management, use FTP/SFTP to delete the theme:

Step 1: Connect to Your Site via FTP/SFTP: Use an FTP client like FileZilla and connect to your website using the FTP credentials provided by your hosting provider.

Step 2: Navigate to the Themes Directory: Go to the /wp-content/themes/ directory on your server (it’s a part of the WordPress file structure).

Step 3: Delete the Theme Folder: Locate the folder of the theme you want to delete. Right-click on the folder and select Delete. Confirm the deletion.

Step 4: Verify the Deletion: Check the Themes section in your WordPress dashboard to ensure the theme no longer appears.

Deleting a theme via FTP/SFTP is a more controlled and reliable method. Those comfortable with file management can ensure theme removal through this method.

Method 3: Deleting through the Hosting Panel

The best WordPress hosting providers offer control panels, like cPanel or Plesk, that you can use to delete themes:

Step 1: Access Your Hosting Control Panel: Log in to your hosting provider’s control panel.

Step 2: Navigate to the File Manager: Find and open the File Manager section.

Step 3: Locate the Themes Directory: Navigate to the public_html/wp-content/themes/ directory (the exact path may vary depending on your hosting setup).

Step 4: Delete the Theme Folder: Find the folder of the theme you want to delete. Select the folder and click the Delete option.

Step 5: Verify the Deletion: Check the Themes section in your WordPress dashboard to ensure the theme no longer appears.

Deleting a theme through your hosting panel’s file manager is a practical method for users familiar with their hosting environment. It provides a direct way to manage website files.

Choosing the method depends on your expertise and preference. Before making any theme changes to your website, make sure you consult with dedicated WordPress development services. You’ll get the best idea on the move forward, after the theme deletion.

How to Restore a Deleted WordPress Theme?

Accidentally, deleting a WordPress theme can create a problem, but there are several ways to restore it. Here are the steps to recover a deleted WordPress theme:

Method 1: Restore from Backup

One of the most important aspects of managing a website is taking regular backups. That will come in handy when trying to restore themes or any other critical aspect of the website.

Step 1: Access Your Backup: Log in to your WordPress dashboard or your backup service provider’s dashboard (e.g., UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy).

Step 2: Navigate to the Backup Section: Go to the backup section of your plugin or service.

Step 3: Select the Appropriate Backup: Choose a backup version that contains the theme you want to restore.

Step 4: Restore the Theme: Follow the plugin or service instructions to restore the files and database. Ensure you select the option to restore the theme files.

Step 5: Verify the Restoration: Check the Appearance > Themes section in your WordPress dashboard to ensure the theme is restored and available.

Restoring a theme from a backup is the most straightforward method, if you have a recent backup available. Therefore it is crucial to have a backup in case you may need reference or need to revert back.

Method 2: Restore from Hosting Backup

Other than the regular WordPress backups, you can also dip into the hosting backups. 

Step 1: Access Hosting Control Panel: Log in to your hosting provider’s control panel (e.g., cPanel, Plesk).

Step 2: Navigate to Backup/Restore Section: Find the backup or restore section in your hosting panel.

Step 3: Select the Appropriate Backup: Choose a backup that contains the deleted theme.

Step 4: Restore the Files: Follow the instructions to restore your website files from the backup. Ensure you select the option to restore theme files.

Step 5: Verify the Restoration: Check the Appearance > Themes section in your WordPress dashboard to ensure the theme is restored.

It can restore the theme along with other website data, but this may also roll back other changes that were made after the backup.

Using these methods can help you restore your old theme and recover a deleted theme. To ensure more safety, you can get help from website maintenance services for easy backup and recovery.

FAQs About How to Delete a WordPress Theme

Can deleting a theme affect my website's content?
Deleting a theme does not affect your website's content, such as posts, pages, and media. However, any theme-specific settings, customizations, or widgets associated with the deleted theme will be lost unless backed up or transferred.
Are there any plugins to help manage and delete themes?
Yes, there are plugins like WP-Optimize and Database Cleaner to help you manage and clean up unused themes and other files on your WordPress site.
Can deleting a theme affect my SEO?
Deleting a theme doesn't affect your SEO. However, if the theme had specific SEO settings or schema markup, you would need to configure it in the new theme to maintain your site's SEO performance.


Whether you’re giving your site a brand refresh or troubleshooting errors, deleting a WordPress theme can be effective. You can also improve the security and backup and streamline the site management.

You can delete the WordPress theme via:

  • WordPress dashboard
  • FTP client
  • Hosting control panel

Make sure you have a recent site backup, so there’s a safety net in case of accidental deletions. If you face any issues managing the themes and plugins, hire dedicated WordPress developers. Their expertise can help you resolve any issues and recover themes in case a theme is deleted accidentally.

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Chinmay Pandya is an accomplished tech enthusiast specializing in PHP, WordPress, and Laravel. With a solid background in web development, he brings expertise in crafting innovative solutions and optimizing performance for various projects.

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