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Luke Lowrey
Luke Lowrey

Posted on • Originally published at on

Automatically remove unused css from Bootstrap or other frameworks

I love bootstrap (and other css frameworks). For a developer like me who often works on web projects without any design input it is a real lifesaver.The problem is since bootstrap is a kitchen sink type framework (although you can pick and choose via sass) the css file size can get out of hand quickly. Bootstrap.min.css weighs in at 138 KB. If you add a theme and custom css it can easily bump you over 200 kb.

PurgeCSSPurgeCSS is a node.js package that can detect and remove unused css selectors. It will analyze your view pages - be they HTML or a templating engine and build a list of the css selectors in use. PurgeCSS will then take your stylesheets and remove any selectors that are not present in your views.

I setup PurgeCSS using the webpack plugin which works in conjunction with the extract-text-webpack-plugin. My webpack config is based off the Simple webpack config I have written about previously.

The webpack config was already setup to process sass and combine css into a single file. I added the PurgecssPlugin which will run at after the initial css processing.

npm i -D purgecss-webpack-plugin

npm i -D extract-text-webpack-plugin

const path = require('path')
const glob = require('glob')
const webpack = require('webpack')
const ExtractTextPlugin = require('extract-text-webpack-plugin')
const PurgecssPlugin = require('purgecss-webpack-plugin')

const outputDir = './wwwroot/dist'
const entry = './wwwroot/js/app.js'
const cssOutput = 'site.css'

module.exports = (env) => {    
    return [{
        entry: entry,
        output: {
            path: path.join(__dirname, outputDir),
            filename: '[name].js',
            publicPath: '/dist/'
        module: {
            rules: [
                    test: /\.js$/,
                    use: 'babel-loader'
                    test: /\.css$/,
                    use: ExtractTextPlugin.extract({
                        use: ['css-loader'],
                        fallback: 'style-loader'
                    test: /\.scss$/,
                    use: ExtractTextPlugin.extract({
                        use: ['css-loader', 'sass-loader'],
                        fallback: 'style-loader'
        plugins: [
            new ExtractTextPlugin(cssOutput),
            new PurgecssPlugin({
                paths: glob.sync('./Views/**/*.cshtml', { nodir: true }),
                whitelistPatterns: [/selectize-.*/]

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The plugin accepts an array of paths to view files to search for css selectors in use. The glob package accepts a search pattern and generates a list of files. I am looking for .cshtml view files in my .net web app.

paths: glob.sync('./Views/**/*.cshtml', { nodir: true })

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The whitelistPatterns parameter allows you to exclude selectors from the purge that may not have been present in the paths. I found that the selectize plugin I am using has css classes that are added dynamically and were being removed so I added a pattern to match the prefix of its css classes. I could alternatively include the .js file for this plugin with the paths parameter.

whitelistPatterns: [/selectize-.*/]

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Running PurgeCSS on one of my (admittedly heavy) bootstrap based web sites reduced the css file size from 159KB to 60KB with essentially no effort on my end!


Top comments (8)

attacomsian profile image

It is a good tiny package but the problem is it does not search JavaScript files for CSS references. Sometimes there are some CSS classes which only apply via JavaScript e.g. Bootstrap dropdown toggler. Due to this, it broke one of my projects and I had to remove it to bring everything back to normal.

ogrotten profile image

Also, after using this tool, rename your remaining classes from `#content-item-article-div.times-bold-450 to anything smaller to simplify everything else and, arguably, help performance.

phild profile image

This is perfect ! I was looking so long for something like this. Thank you a lot !

ali4ever profile image
Ali Al Lawati デベロッパー

I really needed such thing a year back was creating an html form to run on microcontroller chip and had very limited storage that can't handle bootstrap css

tripflex profile image
Myles McNamara


plainjavascript profile image

Just use plain-vanilla CSS: It solves the whole problem...

likebrain profile image
Ricardo Rivera • Edited

Hey, i dissagree here.
this sounds a bit polemical... ;)

You can have unused Plain-Vanilla CSS Classes also... this is the Problem that here Solved...

I think you Need multiple steps to solve a Size Issue in CSS...

  • Remove unused CSS Rules
  • Avoid Base64 Embedding ( a Base64-String has 120% size compared to RAW-Binary-Format)
  • Minify CSS
  • Compress

and so on...
you need to ensure that, no matter if Vanilla CSS or Framework CSS

Written on my phone ;)