Remove empty elements from an array in Javascript


How do I remove empty elements from an array in JavaScript?

Is there a straightforward way, or do I need to loop through it and remove them manually?

EDIT: This question was answered almost nine years ago when there were not many useful built-in methods in the Array.prototype.

Now, certainly, I would recommend you to use the filter method.

Take in mind that this method will return you a new array with the elements that pass the criteria of the callback function you provide to it.

For example, if you want to remove null or undefined values:

var array = [0, 1, null, 2, "", 3, undefined, 3,,,,,, 4,, 4,, 5,, 6,,,,];

var filtered = array.filter(function (el) {
  return el != null;
});

console.log(filtered);

It will depend on what you consider to be "empty" for example, if you were dealing with strings, the above function wouldn't remove elements that are an empty string.

One typical pattern that I see often used is to remove elements that are falsy, which include an empty string "", 0, NaN, null, undefined, and false.

You can pass to the filter method, the Boolean constructor function, or return the same element in the filter criteria function, for example:

var filtered = array.filter(Boolean);

Or

var filtered = array.filter(function(el) { return el; });

In both ways, this works because the filter method in the first case, calls the Boolean constructor as a function, converting the value, and in the second case, the filter method internally turns the return value of the callback implicitly to Boolean.

If you are working with sparse arrays, and you are trying to get rid of the "holes", you can use the filter method passing a callback that returns true, for example:

var sparseArray = [0, , , 1, , , , , 2, , , , 3],
    cleanArray = sparseArray.filter(function () { return true });

console.log(cleanArray); // [ 0, 1, 2, 3 ]

Old answer: Don't do this!

I use this method, extending the native Array prototype:

Array.prototype.clean = function(deleteValue) {
  for (var i = 0; i < this.length; i++) {
    if (this[i] == deleteValue) {         
      this.splice(i, 1);
      i--;
    }
  }
  return this;
};

test = new Array("", "One", "Two", "", "Three", "", "Four").clean("");
test2 = [1, 2,, 3,, 3,,,,,, 4,, 4,, 5,, 6,,,,];
test2.clean(undefined);

Or you can simply push the existing elements into other array:

// Will remove all falsy values: undefined, null, 0, false, NaN and "" (empty string)
function cleanArray(actual) {
  var newArray = new Array();
  for (var i = 0; i < actual.length; i++) {
    if (actual[i]) {
      newArray.push(actual[i]);
    }
  }
  return newArray;
}

cleanArray([1, 2,, 3,, 3,,,,,, 4,, 4,, 5,, 6,,,,]);

Simple ways:

var arr = [1,2,,3,,-3,null,,0,,undefined,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,];


arr.filter(n => n)
// [1, 2, 3, -3, 4, 4, 5, 6]

arr.filter(Number) 
// [1, 2, 3, -3, 4, 4, 5, 6]

arr.filter(Boolean) 
// [1, 2, 3, -3, 4, 4, 5, 6]

or - (only for single array items of type "text")

['','1','2',3,,'4',,undefined,,,'5'].join('').split(''); 
// output:  ["1","2","3","4","5"]

or - Classic way: simple iteration

var arr = [1,2,null, undefined,3,,3,,,0,,,[],,{},,5,,6,,,,],
    len = arr.length, i;

for(i = 0; i < len; i++ )
    arr[i] && arr.push(arr[i]);  // copy non-empty values to the end of the array

arr.splice(0 , len);  // cut the array and leave only the non-empty values

arr // [1,2,3,3,[],Object{},5,6]


via jQuery:

var arr = [1,2,,3,,3,,,0,,,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,];

arr = $.grep(arr,function(n){ return n == 0 || n });

arr // [1, 2, 3, 3, 0, 4, 4, 5, 6]


UPDATE - just another fast, cool way (using ES6):

var arr = [1,2,null, undefined,3,,3,,,0,,,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,], 
    temp = [];

for(let i of arr)
    i && temp.push(i); // copy each non-empty value to the 'temp' array

arr = temp;

arr // [1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6]

Remove empty values

['foo', '',,,'',,null, ' ', 3, true, [], [1], {}, undefined, ()=>{}].filter(String)

// ["foo", null, " ", 3, true, [1], Object {}, undefined, ()=>{}]

If you need to remove ALL empty values ("", null, undefined and 0):

arr = arr.filter(function(e){return e}); 

To remove empty values and Line breaks:

arr = arr.filter(function(e){ return e.replace(/(\r\n|\n|\r)/gm,"")});

Example:

arr = ["hello",0,"",null,undefined,1,100," "]  
arr.filter(function(e){return e});

Return:

["hello", 1, 100, " "]

UPDATE (based on Alnitak's comment)

In some situations you may want to keep "0" in the array and remove anything else (null, undefined and ""), this is one way:

arr.filter(function(e){ return e === 0 || e });

Return:

["hello", 0, 1, 100, " "]

Simply one liner:

[1, false, "", undefined, 2].filter(Boolean); // [1, 2]

or using underscorejs.org:

_.filter([1, false, "", undefined, 2], Boolean); // [1, 2]
// or even:
_.compact([1, false, "", undefined, 2]); // [1, 2]

If you've got Javascript 1.6 or later you can use Array.filter using a trivial return true callback function, e.g.:

arr = arr.filter(function() { return true; });

since .filter automatically skips missing elements in the original array.

The MDN page linked above also contains a nice error-checking version of filter that can be used in JavaScript interpreters that don't support the official version.

Note that this will not remove null entries nor entries with an explicit undefined value, but the OP specifically requested "missing" entries.


For removing holes, you should use

arr.filter(() => true)
arr.flat(0) // Currently stage 3, check compatibility before using this

For removing hole, and, falsy (null, undefined, 0, -0, NaN, "", false, document.all) values:

arr.filter(x => x)

For removing hole, null, and, undefined:

arr.filter(x => x != null)

arr = [, null, (void 0), 0, -0, NaN, false, '', 42];
console.log(arr.filter(() => true)); // [null, (void 0), 0, -0, NaN, false, '', 42]
console.log(arr.filter(x => x)); // [42]
console.log(arr.filter(x => x != null)); // [0, -0, NaN, false, "", 42]


The clean way to do it.

var arr = [0,1,2,"Thomas","false",false,true,null,3,4,undefined,5,"end"];
arr = arr.filter(Boolean);
// [1, 2, "Thomas", "false", true, 3, 4, 5, "end"]

Simple ES6

['a','b','',,,'w','b'].filter(v => v);

With Underscore/Lodash:

General use case:

_.without(array, emptyVal, otherEmptyVal);
_.without([1, 2, 1, 0, 3, 1, 4], 0, 1);

With empties:

_.without(['foo', 'bar', '', 'baz', '', '', 'foobar'], '');
--> ["foo", "bar", "baz", "foobar"]

See lodash documentation for without.


Just ES6 and newer versions method, assume array is below:

 const arr = [1,2,3,undefined,4,5,6,undefined,7,8,undefined,undefined,0,9];

Simple way:

 const clearArray = arr.filter( i => i );

If using a library is an option I know underscore.js has a function called compact() http://documentcloud.github.com/underscore/ it also has several other useful functions related to arrays and collections.

Here is an excerpt from their documentation:

_.compact(array)

Returns a copy of the array with all falsy values removed. In JavaScript, false, null, 0, "", undefined and NaN are all falsy.

_.compact([0, 1, false, 2, '', 3]);

=> [1, 2, 3]


@Alnitak

Actually Array.filter works on all browsers if you add some extra code. See below.

var array = ["","one",0,"",null,0,1,2,4,"two"];

function isempty(x){
if(x!=="")
    return true;
}
var res = array.filter(isempty);
document.writeln(res.toJSONString());
// gives: ["one",0,null,0,1,2,4,"two"]  

This is the code you need to add for IE, but filter and Functional programmingis worth is imo.

//This prototype is provided by the Mozilla foundation and
//is distributed under the MIT license.
//http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/LICENSES/mit.license

if (!Array.prototype.filter)
{
  Array.prototype.filter = function(fun /*, thisp*/)
  {
    var len = this.length;
    if (typeof fun != "function")
      throw new TypeError();

    var res = new Array();
    var thisp = arguments[1];
    for (var i = 0; i < len; i++)
    {
      if (i in this)
      {
        var val = this[i]; // in case fun mutates this
        if (fun.call(thisp, val, i, this))
          res.push(val);
      }
    }

    return res;
  };
}

Since nobody else mentioned it and most people have underscore included in their project you can also use _.without(array, *values);.

_.without(["text", "string", null, null, null, "text"], null)
// => ["text", "string", "text"]

ES6: let newArr = arr.filter(e => e);

You may find it easier to loop over your array and build a new array out of the items you want to keep from the array than by trying to loop and splice as has been suggested, since modifying the length of the array while it is being looped over can introduce problems.

You could do something like this:

function removeFalsyElementsFromArray(someArray) {
    var newArray = [];
    for(var index = 0; index < someArray.length; index++) {
        if(someArray[index]) {
            newArray.push(someArray[index]);
        }
    }
    return newArray;
}

Actually here is a more generic solution:

function removeElementsFromArray(someArray, filter) {
    var newArray = [];
    for(var index = 0; index < someArray.length; index++) {
        if(filter(someArray[index]) == false) {
            newArray.push(someArray[index]);
        }
    }
    return newArray;
}

// then provide one or more filter functions that will 
// filter out the elements based on some condition:
function isNullOrUndefined(item) {
    return (item == null || typeof(item) == "undefined");
}

// then call the function like this:
var myArray = [1,2,,3,,3,,,,,,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,];
var results = removeElementsFromArray(myArray, isNullOrUndefined);

// results == [1,2,3,3,4,4,5,6]

You get the idea - you could then have other types of filter functions. Probably more than you need, but I was feeling generous... ;)


What about this(ES6) : To remove Falsy value from an array.

var arr = [0,1,2,"test","false",false,true,null,3,4,undefined,5,"end"];

arr.filter((v) => (!!(v)==true));

//output:

//[1, 2, "test", "false", true, 3, 4, 5, "end"]

You should use filter to get array without empty elements. Example on ES6

const array = [1, 32, 2, undefined, 3];
const newArray = array.filter(arr => arr);

I'm simply adding my voice to the above “call ES5's Array..filter() with a global constructor” golf-hack, but I suggest using Object instead of String, Boolean, or Number as suggested above.

Specifically, ES5's filter() already doesn't trigger for undefined elements within the array; so a function that universally returns true, which returns all elements filter() hits, will necessarily only return non-undefined elements:

> [1,,5,6,772,5,24,5,'abc',function(){},1,5,,3].filter(function(){return true})
[1, 5, 6, 772, 5, 24, 5, 'abc', function (){}, 1, 5, 3]

However, writing out ...(function(){return true;}) is longer than writing ...(Object); and the return-value of the Object constructor will be, under any circumstances, some sort of object. Unlike the primitive-boxing-constructors suggested above, no possible object-value is falsey, and thus in a boolean setting, Object is a short-hand for function(){return true}.

> [1,,5,6,772,5,24,5,'abc',function(){},1,5,,3].filter(Object)
[1, 5, 6, 772, 5, 24, 5, 'abc', function (){}, 1, 5, 3]

When using the highest voted answer above, first example, i was getting individual characters for string lengths greater than 1. Below is my solution for that problem.

var stringObject = ["", "some string yay", "", "", "Other string yay"];
stringObject = stringObject.filter(function(n){ return n.length > 0});

Instead of not returning if undefined, we return if length is greater than 0. Hope that helps somebody out there.

Returns

["some string yay", "Other string yay"]

var data = [null, 1,2,3];
var r = data.filter(function(i){ return i != null; })

console.log(r) 

[1,2,3]


What about that:

js> [1,2,,3,,3,,,0,,,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,].filter(String).join(',')
1,2,3,3,0,4,4,5,6

This works, I tested it in AppJet (you can copy-paste the code on its IDE and press "reload" to see it work, don't need to create an account)

/* appjet:version 0.1 */
function Joes_remove(someArray) {
    var newArray = [];
    var element;
    for( element in someArray){
        if(someArray[element]!=undefined ) {
            newArray.push(someArray[element]);
        }
    }
    return newArray;
}

var myArray2 = [1,2,,3,,3,,,0,,,4,,4,,5,,6,,,,];

print("Original array:", myArray2);
print("Clenased array:", Joes_remove(myArray2) );
/*
Returns: [1,2,3,3,0,4,4,5,6]
*/

Another way to do it is to take advantage of the length property of the array : pack the non-null items on the 'left' of the array, then reduce the length. It is an in-place algorithm -does not allocates memory, too bad for the garbage collector-, and it has very good best/average/worst case behaviour.

This solution, compared to others here, is between 2 to 50 times faster on Chrome, and 5 to 50 times faster on Firefox, as you might see here : http://jsperf.com/remove-null-items-from-array

The code below adds the non-enumerable 'removeNull' method to the Array, which returns 'this' for daisy-chaining :

var removeNull = function() {
    var nullCount = 0           ;
    var length    = this.length ;
    for (var i=0, len=this.length; i<len; i++) { if (!this[i]) {nullCount++} }
    // no item is null
    if (!nullCount) { return this}
    // all items are null
    if (nullCount == length) { this.length = 0; return this }
    // mix of null // non-null
    var idest=0, isrc=length-1;
    length -= nullCount ;                
    while (true) {
         // find a non null (source) slot on the right
         while (!this[isrc])  { isrc--; nullCount--; } 
         if    (!nullCount) { break }       // break if found all null
         // find one null slot on the left (destination)
         while ( this[idest]) { idest++  }  
         // perform copy
         this[idest]=this[isrc];
         if (!(--nullCount)) {break}
         idest++;  isrc --; 
    }
    this.length=length; 
    return this;
};  

Object.defineProperty(Array.prototype, 'removeNull', 
                { value : removeNull, writable : true, configurable : true } ) ;

foo = [0, 1, 2, "", , false, 3, "four", null]

foo.filter(function(e) {
    return e === 0 ? '0' : e
})

returns

[0, 1, 2, 3, "four"]

'Misusing' the for ... in (object-member) loop. => Only truthy values appear in the body of the loop.

// --- Example ----------
var field = [];

field[0] = 'One';
field[1] = 1;
field[3] = true;
field[5] = 43.68;
field[7] = 'theLastElement';
// --- Example ----------

var originalLength;

// Store the length of the array.
originalLength = field.length;

for (var i in field) {
  // Attach the truthy values upon the end of the array. 
  field.push(field[i]);
}

// Delete the original range within the array so that
// only the new elements are preserved.
field.splice(0, originalLength);

This might help you : https://lodash.com/docs/4.17.4#remove

var details = [
            {
                reference: 'ref-1',
                description: 'desc-1',
                price: 1
            }, {
                reference: '',
                description: '',
                price: ''
            }, {
                reference: 'ref-2',
                description: 'desc-2',
                price: 200
            }, {
                reference: 'ref-3',
                description: 'desc-3',
                price: 3
            }, {
                reference: '',
                description: '',
                price: ''
            }
        ];

        scope.removeEmptyDetails(details);
        expect(details.length).toEqual(3);

scope.removeEmptyDetails = function(details){
            _.remove(details, function(detail){
                return (_.isEmpty(detail.reference) && _.isEmpty(detail.description) && _.isEmpty(detail.price));
            });
        };

var data= { 
    myAction: function(array){
        return array.filter(function(el){
           return (el !== (undefined || null || ''));
        }).join(" ");
    }
}; 
var string = data.myAction(["I", "am","", "working", "", "on","", "nodejs", "" ]);
console.log(string);

Output:

I am working on nodejs

It will remove empty element from array and display other element.


The best way to remove empty elements, is to use Array.prototype.filter(), as already mentioned in other answers.

Unfortunately, Array.prototype.filter() is not supported by IE<9. If you still need to support IE8 or an even older version of IE, you could use the following polyfill to add support for Array.prototype.filter() in these browsers :

if (!Array.prototype.filter) {
  Array.prototype.filter = function(fun/*, thisArg*/) {
    'use strict';
    if (this === void 0 || this === null) {
      throw new TypeError();
    }
    var t = Object(this);
    var len = t.length >>> 0;
    if (typeof fun !== 'function') {
      throw new TypeError();
    }
    var res = [];
    var thisArg = arguments.length >= 2 ? arguments[1] : void 0;
    for (var i = 0; i < len; i++) {
      if (i in t) {
        var val = t[i];
        if (fun.call(thisArg, val, i, t)) {
          res.push(val);
        }
      }
    }
    return res;
  };
}

If anyone is looking for cleaning the whole Array or Object this might help.

var qwerty = {
    test1: null,
    test2: 'somestring',
    test3: 3,
    test4: {},
    test5: {
        foo: "bar"
    },
    test6: "",
    test7: undefined,
    test8: " ",
    test9: true,
    test10: [],
    test11: ["77","88"],
    test12: {
        foo: "foo",
        bar: {
            foo: "q",
            bar: {
                foo:4,
                bar:{}
            }
        },
        bob: {}
    }
}

var asdfg = [,,"", " ", "yyyy", 78, null, undefined,true, {}, {x:6}, [], [2,3,5]];

function clean_data(obj) {
    for (var key in obj) {
        // Delete null, undefined, "", " "
        if (obj[key] === null || obj[key] === undefined || obj[key] === "" || obj[key] === " ") {
            delete obj[key];
        }
        // Delete empty object
        // Note : typeof Array is also object
        if (typeof obj[key] === 'object' && Object.keys(obj[key]).length <= 0) {
            delete obj[key];
        }
        // If non empty object call function again
        if(typeof obj[key] === 'object'){
            clean_data(obj[key]);
        }
    }
    return obj;
}

var objData = clean_data(qwerty);
console.log(objData);
var arrayData = clean_data(asdfg);
console.log(arrayData);

Output:

Removes anything that is null, undefined, "", " ", empty object or empty array

jsfiddle here


Removing all empty elements

If an array contains empty Objects, Arrays, and Strings alongside other empty elements, we can remove them with:

const arr = [ [], ['not', 'empty'], {}, { key: 'value' }, 0, 1, null, 2, "", "here", " ", 3, undefined, 3, , , , , , 4, , 4, , 5, , 6, , , ]

let filtered = JSON.stringify(
  arr.filter((obj) => {
    return ![null, undefined, ''].includes(obj)
  }).filter((el) => {
    return typeof el != "object" || Object.keys(el).length > 0
  })
)

console.log(JSON.parse(filtered))

Simple compacting (removing empty elements from an array)

With ES6:

const arr = [0, 1, null, 2, "", 3, undefined, 3, , , , , , 4, , 4, , 5, , 6, , , ,]

let filtered = arr.filter((obj) => { return ![null, undefined].includes(obj) })

console.log(filtered)

With plain Javascript ->

var arr = [0, 1, null, 2, "", 3, undefined, 3, , , , , , 4, , 4, , 5, , 6, , , ,]

var filtered = arr.filter(function (obj) { return ![null, undefined].includes(obj) })

console.log(filtered)


Filtering out invalid entries with a regular expression

array = array.filter(/\w/);
filter + regexp

All the empty elements can be removed from an array by simply by using array.filter(String); It returns all non empty elements of an array in javascript