Mastering the Art of Deleting with WordPress Queries: 5 Code Examples You Need to Know

Table of content

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding WordPress Queries
  3. Why Mastering Deletion is Important
  4. Code Example 1: Deleting Posts with a Specific Category
  5. Code Example 2: Deleting Comments Older than a Certain Date
  6. Code Example 3: Bulk Deleting Unused Tags
  7. Code Example 4: Deleting Custom Post Types
  8. Conclusion


Deleting content is an essential part of managing a WordPress website, but it can be a complex task. Fortunately, WordPress queries can simplify the process by allowing you to delete content in bulk or based on specific criteria. In this article, we'll cover five essential code examples that will help you master the art of deleting with WordPress queries.

Whether you're deleting spam comments, unneeded posts, or outdated pages, these code examples will give you the power to efficiently manage your WordPress site. We'll start with a basic overview of how WordPress queries work and then dive into specific examples that demonstrate how to delete content using queries.

Understanding WordPress Queries

In WordPress, queries are used to retrieve information from the database. A query is a request for data that matches certain parameters. By default, WordPress uses a set of queries to display posts, pages, and other content on your website.

WordPress queries use a special query language called WP_Query. This language allows developers to specify exactly what data they want to retrieve from the database.

is essential for developing custom post types, creating custom taxonomies, and building custom search functions.

Some key concepts to understand when working with WordPress queries include:

  • Post types: WordPress has several built-in post types, including posts, pages, and attachments. Developers can also create custom post types, such as products or events.

  • Taxonomies: Taxonomies are used to organize content, such as categories or tags. Developers can create custom taxonomies to fit the needs of their website.

  • Meta data: Metadata is additional information associated with a post or other piece of content. Developers can use metadata to store and retrieve custom data, such as prices or ratings.

WordPress queries use these concepts to retrieve the data that is needed for a specific page or function. By mastering the art of deleting with WordPress queries, you can learn how to manipulate this data and create custom functions to fit the needs of your website.

Why Mastering Deletion is Important

In WordPress development, deletion is an essential and commonly used process that helps keep the website organized and efficient. When dealing with large amounts of data, it is important to know how to efficiently delete unused or unnecessary data to improve the performance of the website.

Here are some key reasons :

  • Efficient use of storage: Delete unnecessary and unused data on the website to optimize storage usage. This helps reduce the overall size of the website and improve its performance.
  • Improved website performance: Unneeded data can slow down the website by creating additional database queries, which can lead to longer load times. By deleting unnecessary data, you can optimize website performance and reduce server load.
  • Reduced security vulnerabilities: Unneeded data can also create potential security vulnerabilities. By deleting unnecessary user accounts or posts, you can help reduce the risk of security breaches.
  • Improved website organization: Deleting old or unnecessary content can help keep the website organized and easier to maintain. This can help reduce confusion for website visitors and improve the overall user experience.

Overall, mastering the art of deletion in WordPress development can help improve website performance, optimize storage usage, reduce security vulnerabilities, and keep the website organized. By understanding the importance of deletion, you can work more efficiently as a developer and create better websites for your clients.

Code Example 1: Deleting Posts with a Specific Category

Deleting Posts with a Specific Category

Deleting posts with a specific category can be a useful tool when cleaning up your WordPress site or when you want to remove certain types of content altogether. Here's how to do it:

  1. First, we need to establish the category ID for the category that you want to delete. You can do this by going to Posts > Categories in your WordPress dashboard and hover over the category name; the ID number should appear in the URL bar.

  2. Once you have the category ID, you can use the following code to delete all posts with that category:

$category_id = 123; // replace with your desired category ID
$args = array(
    'category' => $category_id,
    'post_type' => 'post',
    'post_status' => 'publish',
    'posts_per_page' => -1,

$posts = get_posts($args);

foreach($posts as $post) {
    wp_delete_post($post->ID, true);

The above code uses the get_posts() function to retrieve all posts with the specified category ID, and then loops through each one to delete it using the wp_delete_post() function.

  1. If you want to delete posts with the specified category ID and any child categories as well, you can modify the code slightly:
$category_id = 123; // replace with your desired category ID
$args = array(
    'category__in' => array($category_id),
    'post_type' => 'post',
    'post_status' => 'publish',
    'posts_per_page' => -1,

$posts = get_posts($args);

foreach($posts as $post) {
    wp_delete_post($post->ID, true);

Notice that we're using 'category__in' instead of 'category' in this example. This allows us to specify an array of category IDs, which we've set to include only the main category ID that we want to delete.

Hope this helps you to delete posts with a specific category in WordPress.

Code Example 2: Deleting Comments Older than a Certain Date

Deleting old comments can be necessary for many reasons, such as reducing database size or improving website performance. Here is an example of how to delete comments that are older than a certain date using WordPress queries:

$old_date = date('Y-m-d H:i:s', strtotime('-1 year'));
$args = array(
    'date_query' => array(
            'before' => $old_date
$comments_query = new WP_Comment_Query;
$old_comments = $comments_query->query( $args );
if ( $old_comments ) {
    foreach ( $old_comments as $comment ) {
        wp_delete_comment( $comment->comment_ID, true );

In this code example, we are using the WP_Comment_Query class to retrieve comments that were posted before a certain date. We define the $old_date variable as one year ago, but you can adjust this to any date you want. The before parameter in the date_query array is used to retrieve comments that were posted before the specified date.

Once we have the list of old comments, we loop through each comment and use the wp_delete_comment() function to remove it from the database. The second parameter of this function is set to true, which means that all child comments will also be deleted.

Note that this code example only deletes comments from the database and does not affect any related content such as posts or pages. Also, it is always a good practice to have a backup of your database before making any deletions.

Code Example 3: Bulk Deleting Unused Tags

In WordPress, tags are used to classify and organize blog posts. However, over time, tags that are no longer relevant or in use can accumulate and clutter up your website. This can impact the website's performance, especially if there are thousands of unused tags. Bulk deleting these tags manually is time-consuming and not practical, which is why the following code example can be helpful:

$tags = get_tags(); 
$tags_to_delete = array(); 

foreach ($tags as $tag) { 
   if ($tag->count == 0) { 
      $tags_to_delete[] = $tag->term_id; 

if (!empty($tags_to_delete)) { 
   foreach ($tags_to_delete as $tag_id) { 
      wp_delete_term($tag_id, 'post_tag'); 

The above code works by first getting all the tags on your site using the get_tags() function. It then loops through each tag to check how many times it has been used. If the tag has not been used, it gets added to an array of tags to be deleted.

Finally, the code checks if there are any tags to delete, and if there are, it deletes them using the wp_delete_term() function.

It is essential to exercise caution when bulk deleting tags as they may have been linked to other content. Deleting a tag that is linked to a blog post can break the link, making it difficult to find that post. Therefore, it is recommended that you use the code example above with caution, and if you are unsure of a tag's links, you should seek advice from a WordPress developer.

Code Example 4: Deleting Custom Post Types

In WordPress, custom post types allow developers to create and manage various types of content that are not included in the default WordPress posts and pages. However, there may be instances where you need to delete these custom post types. Here's a breakdown of how to do it using the WP_Query class:

$args = array(
    'post_type' => 'your_custom_post_type',
    'posts_per_page' => -1,
$query = new WP_Query( $args );

if ( $query->have_posts() ) {
    while ( $query->have_posts() ) {

        $post_id = get_the_ID();
        wp_delete_post( $post_id, true );

Let's examine this code step by step:

  • We first specify the post type we want to target in the $args array.
  • We then set posts_per_page to -1 to ensure that all posts of that post type are returned.
  • A new instance of the WP_Query class is created using our arguments.
  • We check if the query has any posts, and if so, loop through each post.
  • For each post, we use the get_the_ID() function to retrieve the post ID.
  • Finally, we call the wp_delete_post() function with the ID of the post we want to delete.

Note that the true parameter in wp_delete_post() ensures that the post is permanently deleted, as opposed to being moved to the trash.

By using the WP_Query class in conjunction with wp_delete_post(), you can easily and efficiently delete custom post types from your WordPress site.


In the world of WordPress development, mastering the art of deleting data efficiently can save a lot of time and headaches. With these 5 code examples and the power of WordPress queries, you can easily delete a wide range of data with just a few lines of code.

Whether you need to delete old posts or remove spam comments, these techniques will help you do it quickly and reliably. By understanding the power of WordPress queries and the various parameters you can use to filter data, you can create complex deletion scripts that save time and effort.

So the next time you need to delete some data from your WordPress site, give these code examples a try. With a little practice, you'll be able to create custom deletion scripts that make managing your site's data a breeze.

Cloud Computing and DevOps Engineering have always been my driving passions, energizing me with enthusiasm and a desire to stay at the forefront of technological innovation. I take great pleasure in innovating and devising workarounds for complex problems. Drawing on over 8 years of professional experience in the IT industry, with a focus on Cloud Computing and DevOps Engineering, I have a track record of success in designing and implementing complex infrastructure projects from diverse perspectives, and devising strategies that have significantly increased revenue. I am currently seeking a challenging position where I can leverage my competencies in a professional manner that maximizes productivity and exceeds expectations.
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