Remove unused CSS styles from Bootstrap using PurgeCSS

Nghia Pham
Feb 1 · 3 min read
You just want to bootstrap grid. eg: col-12 col-10md… But you have a bunch of unused CSS grid classes in your CSS file

Introduction

Reducing assets size is one of the most practical ways to speed up your web application. I have a simple use case, lets imagine your HTML file looks like this:

Your HTML file

Now look at bootstrap-grid.min.css:

Quite huge isn’t it? Thanks to Purgecss here is the CSS file after being purged will only contain parts of the CSS file (only used selectors), as you can see horizontal scrollbar is not very long:

Usage

Purgecss can be installed with npm packagenpm i --save-dev purgecss

Basically, you run it against your CSS files and your HTML/JavaScript files. It will parse and analyze which CSS content will be used and remove unused CSS content.

PurgeCSS can be used as a CLI. This is our project structure, we gonna need to transform CSS files so we have to download bootstrap distro and get file we want to transform.

Project Structure

Here is the syntax of CLI command:

purgecss --css <css file> --content <content file to parse css> --out <output-directory>

Since Purgecss is installed in /node_modules we must run this command through npm script. We use --out dist option to store output CSS files in dist folder after transformed. Now change the path of bootstrap-grid.min.css in index.html to:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="./dist/bootstrap-grid.min.css" />

Then create npm script to run purgecss:

Then run npm run build, you should see new bootstrap-grid.min.css in dist folder with unused CSS content being removed

Contents of CSS file after removed unused CSS classes
File size decrease from 48kb to 651bytes. Amazing

You can view full CLI options at https://www.purgecss.com/cli

Example repository: https://github.com/PhmNgocNghia/purge-css-demo-cli

Setup using Webpack

Purge CSS can be used together with built tools such as webpack, gulp, grunt,… etc. You can view it’s documentation at https://www.purgecss.com/

I’m going to demonstrate how to integrate with Webpack. This is my simple project which integrate project and Webpack:

My project webpack config

In my index.js file, I simply import bootstrap grid CSS.

// Import CSS Grid min CSSimport 'bootstrap/dist/css/bootstrap-grid.min.css'

Here is the build output which includes CSS grid file

CSS File took up to 47.3 kb

To use Purgecss with Webpack simply install this Webpack plugin:

npm i purgecss-webpack-plugin -D

Then add it to plugin section in Webpack config file:

main.css file after being optimized is must smaller thanks to purgecss

Full example repository: https://github.com/PhmNgocNghia/purge-css-example-webpack

Conclusion

With Purgecss, our bootstrap-grid.main.css file reduce from 47kb to 601byte. All unused selectors has been removed. You can view the documentation at https://www.purgecss.com/ which contain details instruction and api references.

Not only bootstrap, you can use Purgecss with many css libraries such as TailwindCSS, Zurb foundation,... etc.

Dwarves Foundation

We help tech startups, entrepreneurs and makers build world class products. We empower next innovations by using world-class product design and cutting-edge technologies.

Nghia Pham

Written by

Frontend Developer.

Dwarves Foundation

We help tech startups, entrepreneurs and makers build world class products. We empower next innovations by using world-class product design and cutting-edge technologies.

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