2 Plugins to Delete Unused Images in WordPress

two plugins to delete unused images wordpress media library

Whisk away the web waste; it’s time to tackle the task of tidying up your WordPress website.

You’ve likely noticed your Media Library can get cluttered with images that you no longer use. These digital dust-gatherers do more than just take up space; they can slow down your site, swell your backups, and stealthily increase costs.

By deleting them, you’ll streamline your site, speed up loading times, and save on storage. Don’t worry about losing something important; you’ll learn to carefully check each image’s relevance before it’s removed.

So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to give your website a refresh by clearing out those unnecessary images.

Key Takeaways

  • Cross-reference the media files with posts, pages, and content areas to identify unused images.
  • Use plugins like Media Hygiene or Media Cleaner to automate the cleanup process.
  • Regularly manage the media library by deleting unnecessary files and optimizing images for SEO and site speed.

Assessing Your Media Library

Before you start deleting, you’ll need to carefully assess the contents of your media library to identify which images aren’t being used. Go through your WordPress Media Library to understand what type of files are being stored, used and unused, size of files, and number of files.

A thorough understanding of media files in your WordPress Media Library will help you understand how files are being used in WordPress. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Are the media files mainly used in blogs?
  2. Are the media files mainly images or other types of files including PDFs, MP3 or some other file types like DOCx or PPTx or ZIP?
  3. Are the media files a part of some off-site media campaign where people can download a file using a QR code or link?
  4. Are there media files from a website rebuild still lying around?

When you delete unused images or media files, the plugin’s internal trash system comes into play, providing a safety net. This allows you to preview and confirm deletions before they become permanent. Remember, before taking any action, ensure you have a recent backup of your site. This step is vital to safeguard against accidental loss of important files.

Manual Image Deletion Process

Moving on from assessing your media library, let’s dive into the process of manually deleting those unused images in WordPress. Your goal is to clean up space and maintain an organized library, so you’re not overwhelmed with clutter.

To start the manual image deletion process, navigate to your WordPress dashboard and click on ‘Media’ to open your media library. Here, you’ll see all the images, videos, and files you’ve uploaded to your website. Carefully review these items and identify the images that are unused and no longer needed.

For individual file deletion, hover over the image you want to remove and click on ‘Delete Permanently.’ Confirm the action if prompted. This removes the image from your server and the media library.

If you’ve got multiple images to delete, use the ‘Bulk Select’ option for a more efficient workflow. Click the ‘Bulk Select’ button, choose the relevant images, and then select the ‘Delete Permanently’ option to remove them in one go.

Automating Cleanup With Plugins

To streamline your WordPress maintenance, you can rely on plugins like Media Cleaner and Media Hygiene to automate the process of detecting and purging unused images from within your media library.

Media Cleaner, developed by Meow Apps, excels in automating cleanup tasks for efficient media management. Media Hygiene, a relatively new entrant, has successfully also automated the cleanup process in both shared hosting and dedicated hosting environments which extremely large WordPress media file libraries.

Before diving in, it’s crucial to back up your website when you either plugin. This precaution ensures you can restore your site should anything go awry during the cleanup. Once you’ve secured a backup, install and activate either Media Cleaner or Media Hygiene from the WordPress plugins repository.

Media Cleaner operates by conducting a smart analysis to identify unused WordPress media files. It’s compatible with your active theme and plugins, minimizing the risk of deleting something vital. The plugin offers an internal trash system, allowing you to review and confirm deletions before they become permanent.

For advanced users, Media Cleaner Pro extends functionality with filesystem analysis, scanning the /uploads directory, and checking against the Media Library for absolute thoroughness. It supports complex plugins such as ACF and Divi Builder and includes a live site scan feature.

Media Hygiene uses a unique scanning process involves multiple scans and visually identifying all used files on every page of the website that virtually guarantees 99.9% identification. It’s compatible with the latest version of PHP and WordPress basic theme builders such as Gutenberg and the every popular Elementor.

The Media Hygiene Pro covers pretty much every major builder on the marketplace along with various plugins that reference images such as SEO plugins or gallery and slider plugins, and custom post plugins such as ACF and Pods.

Preventing Future Image Clutter

Regularly managing your Media Library with tools like Media Cleaner and Media Hygiene not only tidies up past accumulations but also helps you prevent future image clutter. This proactive approach ensures that you’re not just cleaning up the WordPress environment but also maintaining it.

By deleting files that are no longer needed, you free up valuable storage space and streamline the content management process.

When you add new images on your website, consider how each file contributes to your overall Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. Large, unoptimized images can slow down your site, negatively affecting user experience and search rankings. Using either the Media Hygiene or Media Cleaner plugin to seperate which files are essential and which are unused, keeping your Media Library lean and efficient.

Integrating either of these plugins with your regular maintenance routine can also leverage the power of the Rest API, ensuring compatibility with various plugins and themes. This compatibility is crucial for a seamless user experience and for avoiding disruptions in your site’s functionality.

Post-Cleanup Maintenance Tips

After you’ve cleared your WordPress site’s unused images, it’s crucial to maintain your Media Library’s newfound neatness with consistent management. Regularly remove unused images to prevent clutter and keep your site running smoothly. WordPress makes it simple to clean up your Media Library. As you add new files and images, take a moment to review whether they’re all necessary. If not, choose ‘Delete’ from the drop-down menu associated with the image and click on ‘Save’ to confirm the removal.

Remember, before using any plugin for media cleanup or manually deleting images or media files, ensure you have a solid backup plan in place. This step is non-negotiable to safeguard against accidental loss of important files.

For those comfortable with command-line tools, using FTP or WP-CLI support can streamline the maintenance process, offering you higher speed and the convenience of automatic scanning and direct server access.


You’ve now streamlined your WordPress site by purging those unused images. Remember, regular cleanups paired with smart prevention tactics will keep your site zippy and storage costs down.

For peace of mind, schedule backups before any major cleanup. By harnessing the right plugins and habits, you’ll maintain a tidy Media Library with ease.

Keep up the good work, and your site’s performance will thank you!