Skip to main content Accessibility Feedback

How to add and remove a CSS class from multiple elements with vanilla JavaScript

For the next few weeks, I want to go back-to-basics and look at JavaScript fundamentals. Today, we’re going to look at how to add and remove classes from multiple elements.

Let’s dig in!

An example

Let’s imagine you have some CSS that affects the color of some text, like this.

.color-blue {
	color: blue;

.color-purple {
	color: rebeccapurple;

And you’ve got some HTML like this.

<p class="color-purple">Hello</p>
<p class="color-purple">How</p>
<p class="color-purple">you?</p>

You want to add the .color-blue class to each paragraph element (p), and remove the .color-purple class from an element that has it.

Let’s look at a few techniques that we can combine to do just that.

Getting all of the elements

To get all of the elements we want to modify, we can use the document.querySelectorAll() method. You pass in a CSS selector string (any valid CSS selector, including complex ones, will work), and it returns a NodeList of matching elements.

// Get all paragraph elements
let p = document.querySelectorAll('p');

// Get all paragraph elements with the .color-purple class
let purple = document.querySelectorAll('p.color-purple');

Here’s a demo.

Adding and removing classes

You can add and remove classes from an element using the Element.classList API.

It provides a handful of methods you can use to add, remove, toggle, and check for classes on an element. We can use the add() method to add a class, and the remove() method to remove a class. Do not include the leading dot (.) when passing in the class name.

This method only works on a single element, not a collection of them.

let elem = document.querySelector('p.color-purple');

// Add the .color-blue class

// Remove the color-purple class

Here’s another demo.

You can also add or remove multiple classes by passing them in as a comma-separate list.

// Add the .color-blue and .text-large classes
elem.classList.add('color-blue', 'text-large');

Looping through each element

To add and remove classes from multiple elements, we need to loop through each one in the NodeList we get back from the document.querySelectorAll() method and use the Element.classList API with it.

There are many ways to do that, but the two easiest are with the NodeList.forEach() method and the for...of loop.

Here’s a for...of loop.

// Add the .color-blue class
for (let elem of p) {

// Remove the .color-purple class
for (let elem of purple) {

Here’s a demo of the for...of loop.

And here’s how you’d do it with the NodeList.forEach() method.

// Add the .color-blue class
p.forEach(function (elem) {

// Remove the .color-purple class
purple.forEach(function (elem) {

And here’s a demo of the NodeList.forEach() method.

I generally prefer the for...of loop as I think it’s simpler to write.

However, the NodeList.forEach() method can also be called directly on the NodeList returned from the document.querySelectorAll() method, without saving it to a variable. That might be useful on occasion.

// Add the .color-blue class
document.querySelectorAll('p').forEach(function (elem) {