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How to clear Docker Cache?

Docker, the go-to platform for containerization, empowers developers to encapsulate applications and dependencies. However, as projects evolve, Docker images accumulate layers, leading to increased disk space usage and potential inefficiencies. In this comprehensive guide, we tell you the crucial process and steps to clear Docker cache.

Docker is a powerful platform that makes it simple for developers to containerize their apps, package and distribute them, and operate them. However, Docker images can get a lot of extra data and files over time. This can make the image much bigger and the build process take longer. From understanding the significance of Docker cache to step-by-step methods for efficient cache clearance, let’s explore how to streamline your Docker workflow and optimize your development environment. In this article, we’ll discuss how to clear the cache in Docker so that performance can be improved and disk space can be better utilized.

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The Significance of Docker Cache

Understanding Docker Cache

It is essential that we have an adequate knowledge of how the Docker cache operates before we begin the cleaning process. Docker makes use of a build cache to expedite the process of building a Docker image after the image has been created. The build cache is responsible for storing the image’s intermediate layers, which are those that undergo minimal modification. Docker will be able to save time and resources by reusing these layers when it builds a new image thanks to this.

However, whenever you make modifications to your code, Docker will be required to rebuild the complete image, including the intermediate layers. The building process can be severely slowed down by an excessively large build cache, which also consumes space on the disk.

The Cache Mechanism

Docker employs a cache mechanism during builds to enhance efficiency. When a build step is unchanged from a previous build, Docker uses the cached result instead of re-executing the entire step. While beneficial, this caching strategy can sometimes lead to unexpected outcomes.

Knowing When to Clear Docker Cache

Common Scenarios to Clear Docker Cache

  • Dependency Updates: When dependencies in your project change, clearing the cache ensures that new versions are fetched.
  • Altering Build Scripts: Changes to build scripts or configurations may necessitate cache clearance.
  • Debugging Build Issues: If you encounter unexplained build issues, stale cache might be a culprit.

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Methods to Clear Docker Cache

Step 1: Docker Build Without Cache

Force Docker to rebuild the image without using the cache. The –no-cache option ensures a clean build.

How to clear Docker Cache?

Step 2: Leverage Build Arguments

Introduce a unique build argument to invalidate the cache when necessary. This is particularly useful for scenarios where only specific parts of the cache need clearing.

How to clear Docker Cache?
How to clear Docker Cache?

Step 3: Docker System Prune

Use the docker system prune command to clean up unused data, including cached images, containers, and networks.

How to clear Docker Cache?

Step 4: Manual Cache Directory Removal

Navigate to the Docker cache directory and manually remove cached files. Exercise caution with this method to avoid unintended consequences.

How to clear Docker Cache?

Also Read: Our blog post on restart docker daemon

Best Practices to Clear Docker Cache Efficiently

1. Fine-Tune Dependencies Management

Be judicious in managing dependencies to minimize unnecessary cache invalidation.

2. Utilize Multi-Stage Builds

Leverage multi-stage builds to create a smaller final image. This reduces the need for extensive cache clearance.

3. Optimize Dockerfile Instructions

Arrange Dockerfile instructions strategically to maximize caching benefits. Less frequently changing instructions should precede those prone to frequent alterations.

4. Automated CI/CD Pipelines

Incorporate cache clearance steps in your Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipeline to ensure a clean build for every deployment.

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How to Clear the Docker Cache

There are a few ways to clear Docker cache. These are some of the most popular ways to do it:

Use the Docker CLI

Using the Docker CLI is one method to clear Docker cache. You can get rid of all of the dangling images by using the following command to do so. Dangling images are photos that are not associated with a container.

How to clear Docker Cache?

Using this command will get rid of all of the images that aren’t related to any container. An alternative method of eliminating inactive images, which are those not being utilized by any container, is by running the following command:

How to clear Docker Cache?

Using this command will erase any unneeded images, along with any intermediate layers they might have. Be very careful while using this command, as it has the potential to delete images from the system that you might still require.

Using Dockerfile instruction

In addition to that, you can clear Docker cache by including an instruction in a Dockerfile to get rid of intermediary layers. Take a look at this example:

How to clear Docker Cache?

In this instance, we are removing any cached package files by utilizing the apt-get clean command, and we are getting rid of the package lists by utilizing the rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/* command. These commands remove any data or files that aren’t necessary that might be stored in the intermediary layers.

Using docker builder prune

Let’s consider you’ve made some modifications to your code and have a Docker image called “myapp” stored on your computer. Docker will utilize the cache to quicken the process whenever you execute the “docker build” command to recreate the image. On the other hand, if you wish to rebuild the complete image, including the intermediate layers, you can clear Docker cache by using the following command:

How to clear Docker Cache?

Although “docker rmi” removed the images, cached layers for those images will still be there after this command. It is essential to keep in mind that this command will only clear docker cache for images that have been deleted using the “docker rmi” command and are not displayed using the “docker images –all” option. It’s possible that the command will run for up to 15 minutes, so be patient.

As an example, let’s say you used “docker rmi” to remove the “myapp” image. The cached layers are still there. It is possible that the warning “Already exists” will appear for some of the layers when you attempt to extract the “myapp” image. You can clear the cache for this image by using the command that is provided below:

How to clear Docker Cache?

If “docker rmi” was used to remove layers from the “myapp” image, this would eliminate those layers as well.

Use a third-party tool

In addition, there are a number of third-party tools that may be used to clear Docker cache. Docker-Clean is a popular software that is an easy Python script that can clean up Docker images, containers, volumes, and networks. You may install Docker-Clean by typing the following command into your terminal:

How to clear Docker Cache?

After installation, you can clear Docker cache by typing the following command into the terminal:

How to clear Docker Cache?

Using this command will remove any images, containers, volumes, and networks that are not currently being used.


In the dynamic realm of containerization, maintaining a streamlined Docker workflow is paramount. Efficient cache management is a key aspect of this journey, ensuring that your Docker builds remain fast, reliable, and aligned with the evolving needs of your projects. As you embark on the path of cache clearance, remember that balance is the key—clearing when necessary, and optimizing when possible.

Clearing the Docker cache is an important job that can help you get the most out of your disk space and speed things up. You can clear Docker cache in a number of different ways, including utilizing the Docker command-line interface (CLI), integrating an instruction into a Dockerfile, or making use of a tool developed by a third party. Clearing the Docker cache on a regular basis enables you to guarantee that your Docker images are lean and efficient, which in turn enables you to provide applications more quickly and with greater reliability.