If you are a Docker fan, like me, your dev environment may look like this:

Terminal window showing lots of containers created from the same image

It’s a good practice to clean up your Docker resources every now and then to avoid such clutter.

In this post, you will look into some useful Docker commands and scripts to help you clean your system tidy.

Overall cleaning with system prune

The first tool in your toolbelt to do an overall cleaning is docker system prune.

When you run the command, you get a warning that looks like this:

warning message showing the resources that will be deleted by docker system prune

This is a great way to get rid of all the unused resources.

If you use the --all option,

docker system prune --all

it deletes all unused images and not just the dangling ones.

The difference between unused and dangling Docker images is

  • An unused image means that it has not been assigned or used in a container.
  • dangling image means that there is a new build of the image, but it wasn’t given a new name. (As you can see in the top screenshot, I have lots of containers with image name <none>)

Stop and remove containers

You can stop and remove containers by running the following commands:

docker stop {container id}
docker rm {container id}

If you want to do a bigger cleaning by applying the above to all containers, you can run the following commands:

docker stop $(docker ps --all --quiet)
docker rm $(docker ps --all --quiet)

If you want even a shorter version, you can only use the rm command with the force flag:

docker rm --force --volumes $(docker ps --all --quiet)
Be careful about using the –volumes option. This command assumes all containers are ephemeral and no data is stored in the volumes. If you have data containers such as a database, you may want to remove that flag.

The above command will remove all containers, including the running ones.

I used the long options in the commands to make the commands more understandable. You can choose to use the shorter versions if the length of the command is of concern.

Remove all images

The Docker command to remove an is rmi (shot for remove image).

You can remove all images in one go like this:

docker rmi $(docker images --quiet)

Remove based on a filter

Sometimes you can’t go nuclear like the above, and you have to be more selective about what you delete. For example, you may want to delete containers and images that belong to a specific project. To accomplish this, you can run the following command:

docker rm --force $(docker ps --all | grep <keyword> | awk '{print $1;}')

Make sure to replace <keyword> with the actual keyword.

Similarly, you can remove all images based on a keyword by running the following command:

docker rmi $(docker images | grep <keyword> | awk '{print $3;}')

The command above will only delete the unused images and not the ones used by running containers.


If you want to run a tight ship in your development environment, you need to be on top of all your precious resources. Cleaning your system periodically will give you a piece of mind and will keep your system performing better. Here’s how much disk space I got back after cleaning up unused resources:

Terminal showing the total reclaimed space after cleaning unused resources
Categories: docker

Volkan Paksoy

Volkan Paksoy is a software developer with more than 15 years of experience, focusing mostly on C# and AWS. He’s a home lab and self-hosting fan who loves to spend his personal time developing hobby projects with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, LEGO and everything in-between.