3 Easy Ways to Cleanup Your WordPress Images

Have you reviewed your media library since you set up your WordPress website? You may get surprised to know that besides important files, your media library is also containing a lot of unused and irrelevant images.

They include accidentally uploaded files and copies of the main image with different sizes. These unnecessary images not only mess your library up but also affect the website loading time and performance.

The problems require you to clean up your WordPress images as soon as possible. In our article today, we’ll explain the reasons you should delete unused images in more detail. Then we’ll guide you on 5 ways to find and clean up WordPress images. Tips on making an efficient media library will wrap this article.

Let’s jump in.

Why You Should Clean up Your WordPress Media Library?

You have two reasons to remove images from your WordPress library, saving the server storage and reducing time finding old images.

Save Disk Space on Server

Whenever you upload an image to the library, WordPress will automatically make different versions of it, for Thumbnail, Medium, and Full sizes. Plugins and themes also need unique image sizes. As a result, each of your photos has at least 5 separate copies.

On top of that, you may upload a lot of images not used on any page or post on your site. From our experience, we used to collect and upload tons of profile photos of our clients to build a testimonial page. Still, we just add 5 pictures to that page and never touch the rest.

The combination of these never-used files will end up taking up huge storage on your hosting server. Consequently, it takes longer to back up your site than usual. On top of that, the increase in hosting storage can cost you more every month although you don’t use that much disk space.

Organize Images Better

The number of media files in your media library keeps increasing over time. If you don’t clean up, it’ll be filled with unnecessary images. Since then, you’ll find it difficult and time-consuming when you want to find and use old files again.

You can’t just scroll down to an endless list of images, click one by one, and pick your desired file. Removing unused images makes your WordPress library more well-organized.

3 Simple Ways for WordPress Image Cleanup

We’ve discussed reasons to delete WordPress images. Now we’re going to show you 3 easy ways to clean up your website library, including manual and plugin methods.

#1 Stop Creating Image Copies with Different Sizes

As we already mentioned above, WordPress duplicates an uploaded file for different sizes automatically. To easily stop this, all you need to do is head to the Media page under the Settings in your WordPress admin dashboard.


You can see 3 images sizes available, consisting of Thumbnail size, Medium size, and Large size. You now set all the values in these image size options to 0 so WordPress won’t have a chance to auto-duplicate your uploaded images.


#2 Delete Unused Files Permanently

Another way for you to clean up referred media files comes to manually remove them from the media library. There are 2 paths you can take to achieve that, either in media list view or grid view.

If you’re organizing files in the media library in list view, simply hover the one you want to eliminate and click Delete Permanently.


You will see a popup asking if you’re sure to delete the image. Click “Yes” and you’re done. Make sure you remove the right file since you can never restore it unless you upload it again.


In case you’re arranging images in grid view, click on the file you intend to wipe out. An attachment details popup will appear giving an option to delete that file forever in the bottom-right corner of the page. Click Delete permanently and OK, that’s all.


#3 Clean up WordPress Images Using Media Cleaner Plugin

What if you have hundreds to thousands of unused images, it may take you hours to days to manually take them out. That’s where the Media Clean plugin comes in handy.


The plugin gives you a helping hand in collecting all files that are not embedded anywhere on your site and putting them in an internal trash bin. You, later on, can decide to delete or ignore those files.

Follow the guide below to get started with the plugin:

  1. Go to PluginsAdd New in your admin dashboard
  2. Type “media cleaner” in the keyword box to search for the plugin
  3. Install and activate the plugin
  4. Open the new Cleaner section under your Media menu
  5. Hit the Scan button so the plugin can start going through your library, pages, and posts to check which files are not currently being used
  6. Check the box of files you want to remove permanently
  7. Press Delete All or Delete … items to take out these files

Bear in mind that you must back up your site before taking any action otherwise it might damage your library. Once deleting files, you can’t undo and restore them by all means.

How To Make An Efficient Media Library

Instead of keeping finding ways to clean up your WordPress media library, it’s also recommended to keep it well-organized and optimized at the beginning. You can refer to these tips on utilizing and creating a great media library.

Avoid Uploading Videos

We understand the important role of videos in quickly catching users’ attention, keeping them stay on your site longer, and making them interact. However, it doesn’t mean that you should self-host videos in your library.

It’s because video file sizes are very large which takes up much space in your server storage. Plus, if you run an event and many play a video at the same time, it eats up a lot of your bandwidth. Hosting videos directly will slow down the site speed too.

You should host videos on other third-party platforms like Youtube to display the video by embedding its link in the content.

Name Your Files Properly

It doesn’t make sense if keep file names like “screenshot,” “image,” or “download,” etc. At first, it’s difficult for Google bots to crawl and index your files since they don’t understand what the images are about. High chances are your images hardly rank on search results.

What’s more, when going to the library to review and remove unused images, you’re unable to recognize them by looking at their files. It requires you to click on individual images to make sure you’re taking out the right one.

You need to name your files correctly and meaningfully to best describe them. Remember to provide image description and alt tag as well. This is very good for SEO.

Reduce File Sizes before Uploading

Last but not least, photos taken by phone cameras are often really heavy, from 3,00 to 5000 pixels.

It’s not necessary to have such large files on your pages since WordPress just needs a certain file size to display the photo in full width. That’s why we always recommend reducing image dimensions before uploading.

Ready to Cleanup Your WordPress Image?

It’s of significance to find and delete “orphaned” images in your library. They’re files that have never been used anywhere on your site. Removing them helps reduce the server storage and at the same time makes your library more well-organized.

We’ve walked you through 3 different solutions for WordPress image cleanup. You can prevent WordPress from automatically creating copies of a photo or can manually take files out of the library. In case you want a plugin to handle all the jobs, Media Cleaner will be a smart choice.

You should also take some tricks on making your media library more efficient. Hosting all videos on video-specified platforms, naming file names meaningfully, and reducing file sizes before uploading are things you can do easily.

If you still have a question about WordPress image cleanup, just drop a line in the comment to let us know.