I want to cleanup all inactive widgets. I tried following snippet as suggested by this answer Script to remove all inactive widgets?.

$sidebars_widgets = get_option( 'sidebars_widgets' );
$sidebars_widgets['wp_inactive_widgets'] = array();
update_option( 'sidebars_widgets', $sidebars_widgets );

I also tried deleting option sidebars_widgets directly from the options table.

But after page is refreshed, old value is restored with all inactive widgets. How can I remove all those inactive widgets at once? Thanks in advance.

2 Answers 2


You should do it with after_setup_theme action:

function remove_inactive_widgets() {
     $sidebars_widgets = get_option( 'sidebars_widgets' );
     $sidebars_widgets['wp_inactive_widgets'] = array();
     update_option( 'sidebars_widgets', $sidebars_widgets );
add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'remove_inactive_widgets' );
  • I tried above code. It removes inactive widgets but also blocks to add new widgets. I just want to clear up existing inactive widgets and I am trying to remove from plugin rather than theme. Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 3:49
  • I've checked its working in theme and inside plugin, please test it on fresh wp or deactivate other plugins.
    – Behzad
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 17:52
  • I deactivate all other plugins tried with above code only as a plugin. Now inactive widgets are hidden but no more any widget can be added in Inactive Widgets. Any idea? Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 3:56

Widget customizations are saved in the widget itself. So in addition to deleting the sidebars_widgets, you have to delete the custom data in the widget as well.

$sidebars_widgets = get_option('sidebars_widgets');
foreach ($sidebars_widgets as $key => $value) {
    foreach ($value as $widget_id) {
        $pieces = explode('-', $widget_id);
        $multi_number = array_pop($pieces);
        $id_base = implode('-', $pieces);
        $widget = get_option('widget_' . $id_base);

        //Here it deletes the widget customizations that are linked to an id

        update_option('widget_' . $id_base, $widget);

    //Here it erases all the page's widget. Set ampty array.
    $sidebars_widgets[$key] = array();
update_option('sidebars_widgets', $sidebars_widgets);

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