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Nihar Raote
Nihar Raote

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How does a React class-based component perform cleanup?

Why is it necessary?

When a component is subscribed to an event listener, initializes an interval, or does any other asynchronous task, it uses resources. These resources are used by the component when it is active.

But, once the component's work is done and it is removed from the DOM, cleanup is needed to free up those resources. All the asynchronous tasks the component had been running, might still continue executing even though the component instance has already been unmounted and destroyed. This might cause memory leaks and result in errors. To plug up these memory leaks, clearing out these tasks is crucial.

How is this cleanup done?

In React, class-based components have various methods that are invoked during the different stages of a component's lifecycle. Using these lifecycle methods, we can even perform asynchronous tasks.

Right before a component is unmounted, the componentWillUnmount() lifecycle method is invoked. This method is the place for any necessary cleanups. If we have any timers, event listeners, or ongoing network requests, they should be closed or canceled in this lifecycle method.

Here is a simple example of removing an event subscription to free some memory.

Cleaning up event listener subscription

Wrapping up

Resources occupied by tasks that are no longer needed can slow down the performance of an application significantly. To avoid this, cleanup is necessary. While in a class-based component, we have the componentWillUnmount() lifecycle method, this can also be done with Hooks. I will write an article on how to perform cleanup in a React application using Hooks.

If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments below. 😃

Top comments (2)

amin_louni profile image
amine louni

For functional components, the best way is to place your cleanup code is under return in useEffect hook

napoleon039 profile image
Nihar Raote

This is why I love Hooks more than lifecycle methods. Although the useEffect hook takes some time to get used to and use properly, it's worth it.

Check out this article if you haven't already. It has a ton of information on the useEffect hook, common mistakes people tend to make when using it and how to use it properly.