How to clear the NPM cache on your computer

Updated: January 1, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Clearing the NPM cache from your computer can resolve various issues related to package installation and improve the performance of NPM commands.

Before we dive into the steps for clearing the NPM cache, let’s understand what it is. NPM, short for Node Package Manager, is a tool used by JavaScript and Node.js developers to share and consume packages of reusable code. When you install a package using NPM, it stores a copy of installed packages in a cache on your local machine. This cache helps in speeding up future installations of the same package versions. However, sometimes the cache can become corrupted or out of sync, leading to errors that can be resolved by clearing the cache.

Basic Steps to Clear NPM Cache

In its simplest form, clearing the NPM cache involves a single command. Open a terminal or command prompt and enter the following:

npm cache clean --force

This command forces NPM to empty its cache, regardless of content verification. This is usually safe, but can lead to increased data usage if many packages must be re-downloaded.

Verifying Cache Before Clearing

If you’d like to check the state of your cache before clearing it, you can use the following command:

npm cache verify

This command will help you assess the health of your cache and only recommend a clean operation if it finds issues.

Automating Cache Cleaning

If you find yourself clearing the cache frequently, you can automate this process with npm scripts. Add the following to your package.json under the ‘scripts’ section:

"scripts": {
  "clear-cache": "npm cache clean --force"

Then run it using NPM:

npm run clear-cache

Advanced Cleaning Techniques

In more complex scenarios, you might want to combine cache cleaning with other NPM commands to resolve stubborn issues. For example:

npm cache clean --force
rm -rf node_modules
npm install

This set of commands not only clears the cache but also removes the node_modules directory and reinstalls all packages, which is helpful when dealing with inconsistent state issues.

Handling Errors Post-Cache Cleaning

On occasion, clearing the cache can lead to unexpected errors. To diagnose and troubleshoot these, check the following:

  • Check file permissions for the cache directory.
  • Ensure there are no connectivity issues.
  • If all else fails, reinstall NPM/Node.js.

Considerations for Continuous Integration (CI) Environments

In a CI environment, where builds need to be reproducible, handling the NPM cache should be done with care. It might be beneficial to clear the cache before each build to ensure that the build reflects the current state of dependencies:

npm cache clean --force

Maintaining NPM Cache Integrity

Maintaining the integrity of your NPM cache can help prevent the need to clear it too often. Practices such as regularly updating NPM and your packages, as well as avoiding package installation interruptions, can help maintain a healthy cache state.


Clearing the NPM cache is a straightforward process that can resolve a variety of problems. By understanding when and how to properly perform this maintenance task, developers can troubleshoot package installation issues effectively and keep their Node.js environment running smoothly.