How to Remove Rows with Any Zeros in R

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R is a powerful statistical computing language that provides a wide variety of tools for data manipulation, exploration, and analysis. One common task in data preprocessing is to remove rows that contain zeros, as these might be considered as missing or incomplete data in certain analyses. This article will walk you through several methods for removing rows with any zeros in an R data frame or matrix.


Removing rows with zeros from a data frame or matrix can be a crucial step in data cleaning, especially when zeros are placeholders for missing or undefined data. Although R provides multiple ways to approach this task, understanding the advantages and limitations of each method is essential for efficient data manipulation.

Why Remove Rows with Zeros?

In many data analysis tasks, especially in the realms of statistical modeling and machine learning, having zero values can distort the results. For instance:

  • In financial datasets, zeros might signify missing or incomplete information.
  • In medical research, zeros could indicate that a measurement was not taken.
  • In social science studies, zeros might imply non-responses in surveys.

Initial Setup

Before diving into the methods, let’s create a sample data frame for demonstration:

# Create a sample data frame
df <- data.frame(a = c(0, 2, 3, 4, 0),
                 b = c(1, 0, 3, 4, 5),
                 c = c(2, 2, 0, 4, 5))


Removing Rows in Base R

Using apply( ) and all( )

One of the most straightforward ways to remove rows with any zeros is to use the apply() function along with all():

# Remove rows with any zeros
df_cleaned <- df[apply(df, 1, function(x) all(x != 0)), ]


Here, apply(df, 1, function(x) all(x != 0)) returns a logical vector where each element indicates whether all elements in a row are non-zero.

Loop Method

You can also accomplish the task using a loop, although this is generally less efficient for large datasets:

# Initialize an empty data frame to store non-zero rows
df_cleaned <- data.frame()

# Loop through each row
for(i in 1:nrow(df)) {
  if(all(df[i, ] != 0)) {
    df_cleaned <- rbind(df_cleaned, df[i, ])


Vectorized ifelse Method

A more vectorized approach can be used with ifelse to filter out rows:

# Create a logical vector
non_zero_rows <- rowSums(df == 0) == 0

# Filter rows
df_cleaned <- df[non_zero_rows, ]


Removing Rows Using dplyr

Using filter( )

The dplyr package provides a more readable and faster approach using the filter() function:


# Remove rows with zeros
df_cleaned <- df %>%
  filter(across(everything(), ~ . != 0))


Using slice( )

Alternatively, slice() can also be used:

# Remove rows with zeros
df_cleaned <- df %>%
  filter(!rowSums(. == 0))


Removing Rows in a Matrix

If you’re working with a matrix instead of a data frame, you can use:

# Create a matrix
mat <- as.matrix(df)

# Remove rows with zeros
mat_cleaned <- mat[apply(mat, 1, function(x) all(x != 0)), ]



  1. Speed: Vectorized solutions are usually faster than loops.
  2. Readability: Using dplyr often results in more readable code.
  3. Data Integrity: Ensure that zeros do indeed signify ‘missing’ or ‘irrelevant’ data before removal.


Removing rows with zeros is a common data preprocessing step. We’ve covered multiple methods ranging from Base R functions like apply() and all() to dplyr functions like filter() and slice(). Each method has its own merits and demerits, so choose the one that fits best for your specific scenario.

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