Pandas: How to clear all rows in a DataFrame (keep column names)

Updated: February 20, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


When working with data in Python, the pandas library is a powerful tool that allows for efficient data manipulation and analysis. A DataFrame is one of the primary structures provided by pandas, which can be thought of as a table with rows and columns. There are instances when you might need to clear all rows from a DataFrame while keeping the column names intact. This tutorial will guide you through multiple methods to achieve this, ranging from basic to more sophisticated approaches.

Preparing a Test DataFrame

Before delving into how to clear the rows, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of what a DataFrame is and how to create one. A DataFrame is a two-dimensional, size-mutable, potentially heterogeneous tabular data structure with labeled axes (rows and columns). Here’s how you can create a simple DataFrame:

import pandas as pd

df = pd.DataFrame({
    'Name': ['John', 'Anna', 'Peter', 'Linda'],
    'Age': [28, 34, 29, 32],
    'Occupation': ['Developer', 'Teacher', 'Engineer', 'Doctor']


This will output:

    Name  Age Occupation
0   John   28  Developer
1   Anna   34    Teacher
2  Peter   29   Engineer
3  Linda   32     Doctor

We’ll use this DataFrame in the coming examples.

Method 1: Using df.drop

The df.drop() method allows you to delete rows or columns from a DataFrame. To remove all rows while keeping the columns, you can specify a list of index values. Here’s how:

df.drop(df.index, inplace=True)


This method effectively removes all rows, leaving an empty DataFrame with the original column names.

Method 2: Reassign Empty DataFrame with Same Columns

An alternative approach is to create a new empty DataFrame with the same column names. This can be done as follows:

df = pd.DataFrame(columns=df.columns)


This code snippet creates a new DataFrame with no rows, using the existing columns from the original DataFrame.

Method 3: Using df.iloc

The df.iloc property is used for integer-location-based indexing, selecting rows and columns by their positions. To clear all rows, you can use it like this:

df = df.iloc[0:0]


This approach retains the DataFrame’s structure, but removes all row data.

Method 4: DataFrame Masking

Data masking is another technique that can be used to clear rows. It involves using a condition that filters out all the rows, effectively leaving the DataFrame empty. For instance:

df = df[df['Name'] == 'Nonexistent']


Since no entries match the condition (‘Name’ equals ‘Nonexistent’), the DataFrame returns empty, keeping the columns.

Advanced Techniques

For more advanced scenarios, where you might be working with very large DataFrames or require higher performance, consider applying the previous methods inside function definitions or using libraries such as Dask for parallel computing. These approaches can enhance execution speed and efficiency.


Clearing all rows from a DataFrame while preserving column names can be achieved through several methods, depending on the specific requirements and constraints of your project. This guide has explored some of the most efficient and straightforward ways to accomplish this task, ranging from basic drop and reassignment techniques to more advanced masking and parallel computing methods. Whatever your data manipulation needs, pandas provides a flexible and powerful toolkit to manage your data effectively.