System Administration

Essential System Tools: BleachBit – open source system cleaning software

Last Updated on May 28, 2022

This is the sixth in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table in the summary section.

Most of the tools covered in our series are text-based software. This time, we’re recommending a graphical utility that is excellent at giving your system a deep clean. It’s called BleachBit, software that’s written in Python and uses PyGTK, a set of Python wrappers for the GTK+ graphical user interface library.


Popular Linux distributions include BleachBit in their repositories. The developer of BleachBit recommends using packages he provides as distributions may not be carrying the latest version. The developer provides packages for CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Mint, RHEL, SLE, Ubuntu, and openSUSE in case your distribution is lagging behind. However, given the popularity of the software, mainstream Linux distributions’ packages typically offer the latest version.

There’s the full source code available, so users can compile the software if their distribution doesn’t carry a package for the latest version.

In operation

BleachBit is a useful and easy-to-use graphical utility that frees disk space, and helps to guard your privacy. For example, the software will delete caches used by software, delete logs, and empty junk from your system. On the privacy front, the software deletes cookies (including tracking cookies), clears your internet history, and much more.

By default, BleachBit lists only the software that’s installed on your system. In the image below, you can see that the software has detected the Chromium web browser.

Click to enlarge image

The software supports thousands of applications including all the popular web browsers, shells, mail software, desktop environments like GNOME and KDE, business applications such as LibreOffice, multimedia software, and system administration in general. The latter includes the cache, clipboard, disk space, localizations, memory, recent documents list, rotated logs, rubbish bin, and temporary files. Each cleaner represents an application such as Chromium or Thunderbird. Within each cleaner, the software provides options covering components that can be cleaned. Accompanying each option is a description to help the user make sensible decisions.

There’s also a helpful preview mode that lets you see what the ticked checkboxes will change. For example, here’s an image of a preview of the changes that will be made if my system is cleaned.

BleachBit Preview
Click to enlarge image

Features of BleachBit include:

  • Advanced features such as shredding files and folders to prevent recovery, wiping free disk space to traces of files deleted by other applications, and vacuuming web browsers’ database to improve their speed.
  • Wipes unallocated disk space, improving data compression ratio for backups.
  • Removes unused localizations
  • Identifies and removes web caches, cookies, temporary log files, and URL history.
  • Option to start BleachBit on boot up.
  • Defaults to hiding irrelevant cleaners (i.e. software that’s not present on the system).
  • Whitelisting support.
  • Command line interface for scripting automation and headless operation.
  • Internationalization support with 64 translations.
  • Cross-platform support – runs under Linux and Windows.


One of the strengths of BleachBit is its support for a huge range of software. It offers a quick and easy way to service your computer. Think of it as a 10,000 mile service for a car. It’s reliable software as long as the user is sensible, and does not blindly click every checkbox without knowing what it’ll do, and whether that checkbox invokes something experimental.

The software will never replace competent system administration. But it’s a good time-saver for the average desktop user.

Support: Documentation, Forums
Developer: Andrew Ziem
License: GNU General Public License version 3

BleachBit is written in Python. Learn Python with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

All the essential tools in this series:

Essential System Tools
AlacrittyInnovative, hardware-accelerated terminal emulator
BleachBitSystem cleaning software. Quick and easy way to service your computer
bottomGraphical process/system monitor for the terminal
btop++Monitor usage and stats for CPU, memory, disks, network and processes
catfishVersatile file searching software
ClonezillaPartition and disk cloning software
CPU-XSystem profiler with both a GUI and text-based
CzkawkaFind duplicate files, big files, empty files, similar images, and much more
ddrescueData recovery tool, retrieving data from failing drives as safely as possible
dustMore intuitive version of du written in Rust
f3Detect and fix counterfeit flash storage
Fail2banBan hosts that cause multiple authentication errors
fdupesFind or delete duplicate files
FirejailRestrict the running environment of untrusted applications
GlancesCross-platform system monitoring tool written in Python
GPartedResize, copy, and move partitions without data
GreenWithEnvyNVIDIA graphics card utility
gtopSystem monitoring dashboard
gWakeOnLANTurn machines on through Wake On LAN
hyperfineCommand-line benchmarking tool
inxiCommand-line system information tool that's a time-saver for everyone
journalctlQuery and display messages from the journal
kmonManage Linux kernel modules with this text-based tool
KrusaderAdvanced, twin-panel (commander-style) file manager
NeofetchSystem information tool written in Bash
NmapNetwork security tool that builds a "map" of the network
nmonSystems administrator, tuner, and benchmark tool
nnnPortable terminal file manager that's amazingly frugal
petSimple command-line snippet manager
PingnooGraphical representation for traceroute and ping output
ps_memAccurate reporting of software's memory consumption
SMCMulti-featured system monitor written in Python
TimeshiftReliable system restore tool
QDirStatQt-based directory statistics
QJournalctlGraphical User Interface for systemd’s journalctl
TLPMust-have tool for anyone running Linux on a notebook
UnisonConsole and graphical file synchronization software
VeraCryptStrong disk encryption software
VentoyCreate bootable USB drive for ISO, WIM, IMG, VHD(x), EFI files
WTFPersonal information dashboard for your terminal
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