Soft Delete in Laravel

Ivan Radunovic

Feb 04, 20245 min read
Soft Delete in Laravel

Soft deletes are a way to retain deleted records in the database by marking them as deleted, instead of actually removing them from the database. This approach allows you to recover records at a later time if needed. Laravel makes implementing soft deletes straightforward, thanks to its built-in support for soft deleting.

Database Structure for soft deletes

To use soft deletes, your database table needs an additional column to mark the record as deleted. This column is typically named deleted_at. If deleted_at is NULL, the record is considered not deleted. When a record is soft deleted, Laravel sets the deleted_at column to the current timestamp, which indicates the record is deleted.

Here's an example of a database table structure for a posts table that supports soft deletes:

    title VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL,
    content TEXT NOT NULL,

Migrations for soft deletes

In Laravel, you define the deleted_at column in your migration by using the softDeletes method:

use Illuminate\Database\Migrations\Migration;
use Illuminate\Database\Schema\Blueprint;
use Illuminate\Support\Facades\Schema;

class CreatePostsTable extends Migration
    public function up()
        Schema::create('posts', function (Blueprint $table) {

    public function down()

Using Soft Deletes

To enable soft deletes for a model, use the Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\SoftDeletes trait in your model:

use Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Model;
use Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\SoftDeletes;

class Post extends Model
    use SoftDeletes;

    // Model content

With soft deletes enabled, when you call the delete() method on a model, Laravel will set the deleted_at column for that model instead of removing the record from the database.

Querying Soft Deleted Models

Laravel automatically excludes soft deleted records from query results. To include soft deleted records in your query results, use the withTrashed() method:

$posts = Post::withTrashed()->get();

To retrieve only the soft deleted records, use the onlyTrashed() method:

$deletedPosts = Post::onlyTrashed()->get();

Restoring Soft Deleted Models

To restore a soft deleted model, use the restore() method:

$post = Post::withTrashed()->find($id);

Pros and Cons of Using Soft Deletes


  • Data Recovery: Soft deletes allow you to recover accidentally deleted records.
  • Audit Trails: They help in maintaining an audit trail since you can see when a record was deleted.
  • Relationship Integrity: They prevent cascading deletions that might otherwise occur in hard deletes, preserving related data integrity.


  • Performance: Over time, the table can grow in size due to the soft deleted records, potentially impacting performance.
  • Complex Queries: Queries can become more complex because you have to consistently remember to filter out soft deleted records if they should not be included.
  • Data Clutter: Without proper maintenance, your database can become cluttered with soft deleted records.

Final thoughts about Soft Deletes in Laravel

Soft deletes in Laravel provide a convenient and effective way to handle deletions in your apps. If you understand how to implement them correctly you can make your code more robust and user-friendly.

Main disadvantage of soft deleting a model are that queries are becoming more complex. If you have many-to-many relationships, or you want to traverse many layers of relationships soft deletes could be painful.

Author Photo
Ivan Radunovic is a Senior Developer with over 11 years of experience in web development. His expertise are Laravel SaaS solutions. So far he developed or took part in 300+ Laravel projects.

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