SQL Tip: How to Strip Repeating Delimiters from String

Jan 22, 2018


Welcome to OptWizard SEO's blog post on how to strip repeating delimiters from a string in SQL. In this informative guide, we will explore various methods and techniques to achieve this task efficiently and effectively.

Understanding the Challenge

When working with strings in SQL, it is not uncommon to come across situations where we need to remove repeating delimiters such as commas, semicolons, or other characters from a string. This could be necessary when processing user inputs, handling data imports, or performing data transformations.

Method 1: Using Recursive CTE

One approach to addressing this challenge is by utilizing a recursive Common Table Expression (CTE) in SQL Server. This method involves splitting the string into individual elements, removing any repeated delimiters, and then concatenating them back together.

Here's an example:

WITH delimiter_cte (Position, OriginalString, CleanedString) AS ( SELECT 1, CAST(YourString AS VARCHAR(MAX)), CAST('' AS VARCHAR(MAX)) UNION ALL SELECT Position + 1, SUBSTRING( OriginalString, CHARINDEX('YourDelimiter', OriginalString) + LEN('YourDelimiter'), LEN(OriginalString) ), CleanedString + CASE WHEN Position = 1 THEN '' ELSE 'YourDelimiter' END FROM delimiter_cte WHERE CHARINDEX('YourDelimiter', OriginalString) > 0 ) SELECT CleanedString + OriginalString FROM delimiter_cte WHERE Position = 1

This recursive CTE method allows us to remove any repeated delimiters efficiently, ensuring that we are left with a clean, formatted string for further processing.


In SQL Server 2016 and later versions, the STRING_SPLIT and STRING_AGG functions provide a simpler and more streamlined approach to handle this task.

Here's an example:

SELECT STRING_AGG(value, 'YourDelimiter') AS CleanedString FROM ( SELECT DISTINCT value FROM STRING_SPLIT('YourString', 'YourDelimiter') ) AS split_values

By utilizing the STRING_SPLIT function to split the string into individual elements and the STRING_AGG function to concatenate them back together, we can effortlessly remove repeating delimiters and obtain the desired result.


Stripping repeating delimiters from a string is a common requirement in SQL, and with the right approach and techniques, it can be achieved effectively. In this blog post, we discussed two methods: using recursive CTE and utilizing the STRING_SPLIT and STRING_AGG functions.

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Thanks for sharing this helpful guide! Removing repeating delimiters in SQL can be a tricky task, but it's great to have a comprehensive resource like this to refer to. It's important to ensure data cleanliness and accuracy, and this guide seems to address that perfectly. Looking forward to trying out these techniques in my next project. 👍
Nov 12, 2023
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