JavaScript DOM remove element

I'm trying to test if a DOM element exists, and if it does exist delete it, and if it doesn't exist create it.

var duskdawnkey = localStorage["duskdawnkey"];
var iframe = document.createElement("iframe");
var whereto = document.getElementById("debug");
var frameid = document.getElementById("injected_frame");
iframe.setAttribute("id", "injected_frame");
iframe.setAttribute("src", '');
iframe.setAttribute("width", "100%");
iframe.setAttribute("height", "400");

if (frameid) // check and see if iframe is already on page
{ //yes? Remove iframe
} else // no? Inject iframe
    // add the newly created element and it's content into the DOM
    my_div = document.getElementById("debug");
    document.body.insertBefore(iframe, my_div);

Checking if it exists works, creating the element works, but deleting the element doesn't. Basically all this code does is inject an iframe into a webpage by clicking a button. What I would like to happen is if the iframe is already there to delete it. But for some reason I am failing.

removeChild should be invoked on the parent, i.e.:


In your example, you should be doing something like:

if (frameid) {

In most browsers, there's a slightly more succinct way of removing an element from the DOM than calling .removeChild(element) on its parent, which is to just call element.remove(). In due course, this will probably become the standard and idiomatic way of removing an element from the DOM.

The .remove() method was added to the DOM Living Standard in 2011 (commit), and has since been implemented by Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge. It was not supported in any version of Internet Explorer.

If you want to support older browsers, you'll need to shim it. This turns out to be a little irritating, both because nobody seems to have made a all-purpose DOM shim that contains these methods, and because we're not just adding the method to a single prototype; it's a method of ChildNode, which is just an interface defined by the spec and isn't accessible to JavaScript, so we can't add anything to its prototype. So we need to find all the prototypes that inherit from ChildNode and are actually defined in the browser, and add .remove to them.

Here's the shim I came up with, which I've confirmed works in IE 8.

(function () {
    var typesToPatch = ['DocumentType', 'Element', 'CharacterData'],
        remove = function () {
            // The check here seems pointless, since we're not adding this
            // method to the prototypes of any any elements that CAN be the
            // root of the DOM. However, it's required by spec (see point 1 of
            // and would
            // theoretically make a difference if somebody .apply()ed this
            // method to the DOM's root node, so let's roll with it.
            if (this.parentNode != null) {

    for (var i=0; i<typesToPatch.length; i++) {
        var type = typesToPatch[i];
        if (window[type] && !window[type].prototype.remove) {
            window[type].prototype.remove = remove;

This won't work in IE 7 or lower, since extending DOM prototypes isn't possible before IE 8. I figure, though, that on the verge of 2015 most people needn't care about such things.

Once you've included them shim, you'll be able to remove a DOM element element from the DOM by simply calling


Seems I don't have enough rep to post a comment, so another answer will have to do.

When you unlink a node using removeChild() or by setting the innerHTML property on the parent, you also need to make sure that there is nothing else referencing it otherwise it won't actually be destroyed and will lead to a memory leak. There are lots of ways in which you could have taken a reference to the node before calling removeChild() and you have to make sure those references that have not gone out of scope are explicitly removed.

Doug Crockford writes here that event handlers are known a cause of circular references in IE and suggests removing them explicitly as follows before calling removeChild()

function purge(d) {
    var a = d.attributes, i, l, n;
    if (a) {
        for (i = a.length - 1; i >= 0; i -= 1) {
            n = a[i].name;
            if (typeof d[n] === 'function') {
                d[n] = null;
    a = d.childNodes;
    if (a) {
        l = a.length;
        for (i = 0; i < l; i += 1) {

And even if you take a lot of precautions you can still get memory leaks in IE as described by Jens-Ingo Farley here.

And finally, don't fall into the trap of thinking that Javascript delete is the answer. It seems to be suggested by many, but won't do the job. Here is a great reference on understanding delete by Kangax.

Using Node.removeChild() does the job for you, simply use something like this:

var leftSection = document.getElementById('left-section');

In DOM 4, the remove method applied, but there is a poor browser support according to W3C:

The method node.remove() is implemented in the DOM 4 specification. But because of poor browser support, you should not use it.

But you can use remove method if you using jQuery...

$('#left-section').remove(); //using remove method in jQuery

Also in new frameworks like you can use conditions to remove an element, for example *ngIf in Angular and in React, rendering different views, depends on the conditions...

If you are happy to use the brilliant function:


To completely delete the element from the DOM.

To remove the elements without removing data and events, use this instead:


jQuery Docs

The .remove() method takes elements out of the DOM. Use .remove() when you want to remove the element itself, as well as everything inside it. In addition to the elements themselves, all bound events and jQuery data associated with the elements are removed. To remove the elements without removing data and events, use .detach() instead.