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React's useEffect hook

The useEffect hook is the most weird hook available in React. Basically, it is getting called on different type of changes in your DOM. What is driving developers crazy is useEffects tendency to create infinite loops. Thankfully, here is what you need to know about it. But first, some historical context.

In times of class-based React components there was nothing like this hook - it turns out, useEffect combines a couple of things, we used separated methods before:

  • componentDidMount
  • componentDidUpdate
  • componentDidUnmount
  • etc.

Running useEffect

It is necessary to import the hook from the core of React. Make sure to write the hook on top level of the components-function scope itself.

import { useEffect } from 'react'

function App() {
useEffect(() => {})

return <p>Hello world</p>

As you can see, this is the structure of useEffect:

useEffect(function, optional array)

In the following we'll keep it short with the code snippets, only portraying the hook itself.


Make sure to turn of strict mode when trying out useEffect, as strict mode will run components twice in development, creating unwanted executions of useEffect

useEffect running on every render

As I described on top, the array passed into useEffect is optional. When leaving it out like this:

useEffect(() => {

useEffect will execute on every single render. These renders include updating of data in the DOM and the initial render of the component.


Passing no array at all like before and passing an empty array leads to different behavior. We'll cover this now.

useEffect running after mounting

When passing an empty array, useEffect will be run only after the component mounted. On DOM updates, it won't be run again.

useEffect(() => {}, [])

Mounting includes re-mounting the component on the page, after it was unmounted. Therefore, it may not only be executed after loading the page in the browser.

useEffect running on unmounting

As useEffect combines the methods we know from class-based components, there is also something for handling the removal of components: unmounting.

The function which is returned in useEffect is executed, when the component is unmounting.

useEffect(() => {

return () => {
console.log('is unmounted')
}, [])

useEffect running on certain updates

The hook can also execute only when certain data changes. For example, we can pass state variables into it, making useEffect execute when we alter the state:

const [count, setCount] = useState(0)

useEffect(() => {
console.log('count is updated')
}, [count])

Try it out

The following is the React code I tried out the useEffect hook at first. Feel free to copy it and play with it yourself.

import { useState, useEffect } from 'react'

function Bar() {
useEffect(() => {

return () => {
console.log('is unmounted')
}, [])

return <b>Bar component</b>

function App() {
const [count, setCount] = useState(0)
const [visible, setVisible] = useState(false)

return (
<div className="App" role="main">
{visible ? <Bar /> : null}

<button onClick={() => setVisible(!visible)}>Toggle visiblity</button>

<p>count: {count}</p>
<button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Increment</button>