How to Replace Multiple Characters in a String with JavaScript


In this Byte we'll be replacing multiple types of characters in a string using JavaScript. We're going to explore the world of string manipulation, specifically focusing on how to replace one or more types of characters within a string.

Strings in JavaScript

In JavaScript, a string is a sequence of characters enclosed in single or double quotes. It's one of the fundamental data types in the language.

let myString = "Hello, Stack Abuse readers!";
console.log(myString); // "Hello, Stack Abuse readers!"

Strings in JavaScript are immutable, which means they can't be changed once created. But this doesn't mean we can't modify the content of a string. We just can't do it directly. Instead, operations like replacing characters create a new string.

Why Replace Multiple Characters in a String

There are plenty of times where you might want to replace multiple characters in a string. Let's say you want to sanitize user input, in this case you'd want to replace special characters to prevent SQL injection attacks. Or perhaps you're working with a large text data set and need to standardize punctuation. Whatever the case, understanding how to replace multiple characters in a string can come in handy.

How to Replace Single Character in a String

Before we see how to replace multiple characters, we'll start with replacing a single character. The simplest way to do this is by using the replace() method. This method searches a string for a specified value and returns a new string where the specified values are replaced.

Here's an example:

let myString = "I love cats.";
let newString = myString.replace("cats", "dogs");
console.log(newString); // "I love dogs."

In this example, we replaced the word "cats" with "dogs". But remember, we're focusing on characters, not words. So let's now just replace a character:

let myString = "I love cats.";
let newString = myString.replace("c", "b");
console.log(newString); // "I love bats."

We've successfully replaced the first occurrence of the character "c" with "b"! But what if we want to replace all occurrences of a character? Well, the replace() method only replaces the first match it finds. To replace all occurrences, we need to use a regular expression with a global modifier (g).

let myString = "I love cats and dogs.";
let newString = myString.replace(/o/g, "0");
console.log(newString); // "I l0ve cats and d0gs."
Get free courses, guided projects, and more

No spam ever. Unsubscribe anytime. Read our Privacy Policy.

Now we've replaced all occurrences of "o" with "0". But what about replacing multiple different characters?

Replacing Multiple Characters in a String

To replace multiple different characters in a string, we can still use the replace() method, but we'll need to use it with a regular expression. The regular expression will include all the characters we want to replace, enclosed in square brackets [].

Here's an example:

let myString = "I love cats, dogs, and birds.";
let newString = myString.replace(/[cdbr]/g, "*");
console.log(newString); // "I love *ats, *ogs, an* *i**s."

Here, we replaced all occurrences of the characters "c", "d", "b", and "r" with "*". The g modifier ensures that all occurrences of these characters are replaced, not just the first one.

This is just a basic introduction to replacing multiple characters in a string with JavaScript. There's more to explore, like using the split() and join() methods, or handling case sensitivity with regular expressions. But we'll save those topics for another Byte.

Link: Regular expressions can be quite complex, but they're incredibly powerful. If you're not familiar with them, it might be worth taking some time to learn more.

Replacing Special Characters

Let's consider a real-world scenario. Suppose we're building a web application and we need to sanitize user input to prevent issues with special characters. This could be because want to remove any special characters from a username before saving it to a database.

Here's how we could do that:

function sanitizeUsername(username) {
  return username.replace(/[^a-zA-Z0-9]/g, '');

let username = 'user$name@_123';
username = sanitizeUsername(username);
// Output: username123

In this case, we're using a RegEx pattern [^a-zA-Z0-9] to match any character that is not a letter or a number. The ^ character inside the square brackets inverts the match, so we're effectively replacing anything that is not a letter or a number. So instead of specifying the characters we do want to remove, we specify only those that we will allow.


Replacing multiple types of characters in a string is a common task in JavaScript, and it's one that can be handled quite elegantly with the replace() method and regular expressions. Whether you're sanitizing user input, formatting text, or performing some other kind of string manipulation, these tools can make your life much easier.

Last Updated: September 21st, 2023
Was this helpful?

React State Management with Redux and Redux-Toolkit

# javascript# React

Coordinating state and keeping components in sync can be tricky. If components rely on the same data but do not communicate with each other when...

David Landup
Uchechukwu Azubuko

© 2013-2024 Stack Abuse. All rights reserved.