As hard as we may try to keep our sites free of clutter, shit happens. You might try out a few plugins for social sharing + forget to remove the extras. Or perhaps you are giving a new theme a try but it didn’t make the cut. It’s always a good idea to spring clean your WordPress site now + then. Not only for your own sanity, but also for your site speed + security.
Spring clean your WordPress site + remove inactive plugins
One of the easiest ways to clean your site is by removing plugins listed in the “inactive” column. These may be plugins that were installed by default — *cough hello dolly cough* — or plugins that you tested + didn’t love. Or maybe you have no idea when or where they came from… which is all the more reason to delete them right away.
Head to plugins > installed plugins > inactive to select all + click “delete”. Then WordPress will ask “Are you sure” to which you’ll reply “Yes, delete these files and data.”
It’s important to only delete inactive plugins because active ones are likely serving a purpose on your site. Deleting active plugins will delete those functions. It could also delete all of the settings in place if you add them back later.
For my overachievers in the room: review all of your active plugins to see if there are some that you should get rid of. Maybe you have 3 caching plugins installed (in this case, more is not better). Or maybe you switched mailing list providers + have a plugin for the old service still active. I see this all the time.
Get rid of inactive themes
Just like the plugin cleanup, theme cleanup is an easy way to make a dent in your spring cleaning. You might have a site free of excess themes, but if you’ve been running WordPress for a while (+ keeping it up to date), you’ve been getting all of the themes that WordPress releases each year. So a site launched in 2012 will have 5 extra themes from WordPress alone.
first, head to appearance > themes to review your existing themes. If you have 3 or less, you can check this item off of your list + put a gold star by your name.
If you have more, first click on your active theme to make sure it’s not a child theme. This means that your theme is based on an existing theme that MUST be installed for it to work. If you delete the parent theme, you will break your site. To figure out if you need to keep a parent theme, click on the active theme details + it will be listed in the description as “This is a child theme of _____.” Make a note of that theme name so you don’t delete it.
Aside from the active theme + parent theme (if you have one), it’s not a bad idea to keep the most recent WordPress theme (in this case, twenty fifteen or twenty sixteen are great choices). At tiny blue orange, we always advise clients to keep one WordPress theme installed so that you can utilize it for troubleshooting if something really odd starts happening to your site.
Now that you know what themes are extra + unnecessary, click on them one at a time. The theme details will give you an option to delete in the bottom right corner. After you confirm, you can move on to the next until you are left with your shortlist of themes.
Note: newer versions of WordPress won’t let you delete child themes. However, if your site isn’t up to date, that protection may not be in place. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And to know exactly what themes you need before starting to clean up the unnecessary ones.
Clean up unnecessary drafts
If you’re like me, you have a million ideas that you test the waters on. And for my WordPress site that looks like page + post drafts of content, form changes, etc. and since we may not always clean up after our creative binges, it’s nice to round out spring cleaning with this step.
Head to your post list + click on drafts. From there you can review any existing ones to see if you can trash blank posts or lackluster ideas. Then do the same for your page list. Depending on how many drafts you have, this task can be super quick or a bit more time-consuming.
Yup, I still see you overachievers! When you’re done cleaning up your drafts, make sure you permanently delete all trash items. This will officially clear the content off of your WordPress site. Once you’ve done that, do the same review for all private pages + posts, if you have any.