How to clean up old ruby gems


Chances are that if you have been using Ruby for a while, your system will be full of gems and more specifically, outdated gems.

Every time you perform an update with $ gem update the default behaviour is to install a new gem version maintaining the older one.

The update command does not remove the previous version.

Gem update command Help

Removing old unused gems

To remove older gems we use the clean command:

The cleanup command removes old versions of gems from GEM_HOME that are not required to meet a dependency. If a gem is installed elsewhere in GEM_PATH the cleanup command won’t delete it.

If no gems are named all gems in GEM_HOME are cleaned.

Gem cleanup command Help

We can choose to specify a gem to remove its older versions or remove every old gem:

$ gem cleanup
Cleaning up installed gems...
Attempting to uninstall test-unit-3.1.7
Unable to uninstall test-unit-3.1.7:
        Gem::InstallError: test-unit is not installed in GEM_HOME, try:
        gem uninstall -i /usr/share/rubygems-integration/all test-unit
Attempting to uninstall public_suffix-2.0.4
Successfully uninstalled public_suffix-2.0.4
Attempting to uninstall power_assert-0.2.7
Unable to uninstall power_assert-0.2.7:
        Gem::InstallError: power_assert is not installed in GEM_HOME, try:
        gem uninstall -i /usr/share/rubygems-integration/all power_assert
Attempting to uninstall nokogiri-
Successfully uninstalled nokogiri-
Attempting to uninstall minitest-5.9.0
Unable to uninstall minitest-5.9.0:
        Gem::InstallError: minitest is not installed in GEM_HOME, try:
        gem uninstall -i /usr/share/rubygems-integration/all minitest
Attempting to uninstall rb-inotify-0.9.7
Successfully uninstalled rb-inotify-0.9.7
Attempting to uninstall kramdown-1.12.0
Successfully uninstalled kramdown-1.12.0
Attempting to uninstall jekyll-seo-tag-2.0.0
Successfully uninstalled jekyll-seo-tag-2.0.0
Attempting to uninstall jekyll-3.3.0
Successfully uninstalled jekyll-3.3.0
Attempting to uninstall jekyll-sass-converter-1.4.0
Successfully uninstalled jekyll-sass-converter-1.4.0
Attempting to uninstall sass-3.4.22
Successfully uninstalled sass-3.4.22
Attempting to uninstall kramdown-1.13.1
Successfully uninstalled kramdown-1.13.1
Attempting to uninstall html-proofer-3.3.1
Successfully uninstalled html-proofer-3.3.1
Attempting to uninstall parallel-1.9.0
Successfully uninstalled parallel-1.9.0
Attempting to uninstall nokogiri-1.7.0
Successfully uninstalled nokogiri-1.7.0


Marcelo Canina
I'm Marcelo Canina, a developer from Uruguay. I build websites and web-based applications from the ground up and share what I learn here.