gcTime in TanStack Query explained

gcTime in TanStack Query explained


I had a bit of a tough time understanding gcTime in TanStack Query. So I decided to write this post for myself.

Every query is cached

When you fetch data using Tanstack Query, the data is cached so that the following requests can be served from the cache. This is done to avoid unnecessary network requests.

As long as a query is being actively used, the cached data will be kept in memory.

What about inactive queries? If we kept all the data in memory, it would be a waste of resources. Why should we cache data that is not being used?

Garbage collection

Garbage collection is the process of cleaning up unused data. In Tanstack Query, this is done by the gcTime option.

The "thing" to be cleaned up is the cache for a query that's inactive. The gcTime option tells Tanstack Query how long to keep the data in the cache before it's cleaned up.

By default, inactive queries are garbage collected after 5 minutes. This means that if a query is not being used for 5 minutes, the cache for that query will be cleaned up.

Configuring gcTime

You can configure the gcTime option by passing it to the QueryClient constructor.

const ONE_SECOND = 1000;

// Set gcTime to 10 minutes globally
const queryClient = new QueryClient({
  defaultOptions: {
    queries: {
      gcTime: TEN_MINUTES,


The purpose of gcTime is to strike a balance between caching data for future use and not consuming too much memory.