When an initialized variable in Rust goes out of scope or a temporary is no longer needed its destructor is run. Assignment also runs the destructor of its left-hand operand, unless it’s an uninitialized variable. If a struct variable has been partially initialized, only its initialized fields are dropped.

The destructor of a type consists of

  1. Calling its std::ops::Drop::drop method, if it has one.
  2. Recursively running the destructor of all of its fields.
    • The fields of a struct, tuple or enum variant are dropped in declaration order. *
    • The elements of an array or owned slice are dropped from the first element to the last. *
    • The captured values of a closure are dropped in an unspecified order.
    • Trait objects run the destructor of the underlying type.
    • Other types don’t result in any further drops.

* This order was stabilized in RFC 1857.

Variables are dropped in reverse order of declaration. Variables declared in the same pattern drop in an unspecified ordered.

If a destructor must be run manually, such as when implementing your own smart pointer, std::ptr::drop_in_place can be used.

Some examples:

fn main() {
struct ShowOnDrop(&'static str);

impl Drop for ShowOnDrop {
    fn drop(&mut self) {
        println!("{}", self.0);

    let mut overwritten = ShowOnDrop("Drops when overwritten");
    overwritten = ShowOnDrop("drops when scope ends");
    let declared_first = ShowOnDrop("Dropped last");
    let declared_last = ShowOnDrop("Dropped first");
    // Tuple elements drop in forwards order
    let tuple = (ShowOnDrop("Tuple first"), ShowOnDrop("Tuple second"));
loop {
    // Tuple expression doesn't finish evaluating so temporaries drop in reverse order:
    let partial_tuple = (ShowOnDrop("Temp first"), ShowOnDrop("Temp second"), break);
    let moved;
    // No destructor run on assignment.
    moved = ShowOnDrop("Drops when moved");
    // drops now, but is then uninitialized

    // Uninitialized does not drop.
    let uninitialized: ShowOnDrop;

    // After a partial move, only the remaining fields are dropped.
    let mut partial_move = (ShowOnDrop("first"), ShowOnDrop("forgotten"));
    // Perform a partial move, leaving only `partial_move.0` initialized.
    // When partial_move's scope ends, only the first field is dropped.

Not running destructors

Not running destructors in Rust is safe even if it has a type that isn’t 'static. std::mem::ManuallyDrop provides a wrapper to prevent a variable or field from being dropped automatically.