Keeping Your Git Repository Tidy: The git clean Command

Keeping Your Git Repository Tidy: The git clean Command

While Git excels at tracking code modifications, it’s crucial to maintain a clean and organised repository to ensure efficient workflows and avoid potential conflicts. This is where the git clean command is an indispensable tool.

The purpose of git clean

The git clean command serves to remove untracked files from your Git repository. These files, often created unintentionally or during development experimentation, can clutter your working directory and interfere with Git’s tracking mechanism. git clean effectively removes these distractions, keeping your repository focused on the actual code changes you want to manage.

Why Regularly Clean Your Git Repository

Regularly using git clean offers several benefits:

  1. Streamlined Development: A clean repository ensures you’re working with only the files relevant to your current project state, minimising distractions and improving focus.
  2. Reduced Conflicts: By removing untracked files, you reduce the chances of conflicts arising during merges or pull requests. This simplifies collaboration and enhances overall workflow efficiency.
  3. Improved Performance: A lean repository with fewer extraneous files can lead to faster Git operations, reducing development bottlenecks.
  4. Maintaining Version History Accuracy: git clean prevents untracked files from being included in your Git history, ensuring the repository accurately reflects the true evolution of your code.

Using git clean safely

While git clean is a powerful tool, it’s essential to use it with caution. By default, it removes all untracked files in your working directory. To avoid accidental deletion, always use the -n flag for a dry run, which will list the files that would be removed without actually deleting them.

Additional Flags for More Control

The git clean command offers additional flags to provide granular control over the cleanup process:

  • -f: Forces deletion without prompting for confirmation.
  • -d: Removes directories along with their contents.
  • -x: Excludes files specified in the .gitignore file from being removed.
  • -i: Invokes interactive mode, prompting for confirmation before deleting each file.

Incorporating git clean into Your Workflow

Integrating git clean into your development workflow is straightforward. A common practice is to run git clean -n before committing or pushing changes to ensure your repository is clean. This practice helps maintain a consistent and organised working environment.


The git clean command proves to be a valuable asset for any Git user. By regularly cleaning your repository, you enhance productivity, reduce conflicts, and maintain a repository that accurately reflects your project’s history.

Embrace the power of git clean to keep your Git workflow clean, efficient, and free from distractions.


Hi, my name is Stephen Finchett. I have been a software engineer for over 30 years and worked on complex, business critical, multi-user systems for all of my career. For the last 15 years, I have been concentrating on web based solutions using the Microsoft Stack including ASP.Net, C#, TypeScript, SQL Server and running everything at scale within Kubernetes.