Is there a way to delete created variables, functions, etc from the memory of the interpreter?


I’ve been searching for the accurate answer to this question for a couple of days now but haven’t got anything good. I’m not a complete beginner in programming, but not yet even on the intermediate level.

When I’m in the shell of Python, I type: dir() and I can see all the names of all the objects in the current scope (main block), there are 6 of them:

['__builtins__', '__doc__', '__loader__', '__name__', '__package__', '__spec__']

Then, when I’m declaring a variable, for example x = 10, it automatically adds to that lists of objects under built-in module dir(), and when I type dir() again, it shows now:

['__builtins__', '__doc__', '__loader__', '__name__', '__package__', '__spec__', 'x']

The same goes for functions, classes and so on.

How do I delete all those new objects without erasing the standard 6 which where available at the beginning?

I’ve read here about “memory cleaning”, “cleaning of the console”, which erases all the text from the command prompt window:

>>> import sys
>>> clear = lambda: os.system('cls')
>>> clear()

But all this has nothing to do with what I’m trying to achieve, it doesn’t clean out all used objects.

Asked By: rombez



You can delete individual names with del:

del x

or you can remove them from the globals() object:

for name in dir():
    if not name.startswith('_'):
        del globals()[name]

This is just an example loop; it defensively only deletes names that do not start with an underscore, making a (not unreasoned) assumption that you only used names without an underscore at the start in your interpreter. You could use a hard-coded list of names to keep instead (whitelisting) if you really wanted to be thorough. There is no built-in function to do the clearing for you, other than just exit and restart the interpreter.

Modules you’ve imported (import os) are going to remain imported because they are referenced by sys.modules; subsequent imports will reuse the already imported module object. You just won’t have a reference to them in your current global namespace.

Python doesn’t make any security guarantees about data in memory however. When objects no longer are referenced the interpreter marks the memory as no longer in use but does not take steps to overwrite that memory to prevent access to data. If you need that level of security protection you’ll need to use third-party extensions that manage their own memory with security in mind.

Answered By: Martijn Pieters

Actually python will reclaim the memory which is not in use anymore.This is called garbage collection which is automatic process in python. But still if you want to do it then you can delete it by del variable_name. You can also do it by assigning the variable to None

a = 10
print a 

del a       
print a      ## throws an error here because it's been deleted already.

The only way to truly reclaim memory from unreferenced Python objects is via the garbage collector. The del keyword simply unbinds a name from an object, but the object still needs to be garbage collected. You can force garbage collector to run using the gc module, but this is almost certainly a premature optimization but it has its own risks. Using del has no real effect, since those names would have been deleted as they went out of scope anyway.

Answered By: d-coder

Yes. There is a simple way to remove everything in iPython.
In iPython console, just type:


Then system will ask you to confirm. Press y.
If you don’t want to see this prompt, simply type:

%reset -f

This should work..

Answered By: EyesBear

If you are in an interactive environment like Jupyter or ipython you might be interested in clearing unwanted var’s if they are getting heavy.

The magic-commands reset and reset_selective is vailable on interactive python sessions like ipython and Jupyter

1) reset

reset Resets the namespace by removing all names defined by the user, if called without arguments.

in and the out parameters specify whether you want to flush the in/out caches. The directory history is flushed with the dhist parameter.

reset in out

Another interesting one is array that only removes numpy Arrays:

reset array

2) reset_selective

Resets the namespace by removing names defined by the user.
Input/Output history are left around in case you need them.

Clean Array Example:

In [1]: import numpy as np
In [2]: littleArray = np.array([1,2,3,4,5])
In [3]: who_ls
Out[3]: ['littleArray', 'np']
In [4]: reset_selective -f littleArray
In [5]: who_ls
Out[5]: ['np']


Answered By: user1767754

You can use python garbage collector:

import gc
Answered By: Fardin Abdi

This worked for me.

You need to run it twice once for globals followed by locals

for name in dir():
    if not name.startswith('_'):
        del globals()[name]

for name in dir():
    if not name.startswith('_'):
        del locals()[name]
Answered By: Viswa

This should do the trick.

Answered By: Aps
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