Environment-induced decoherence presents a great challenge to realizing a quantum computer. We point out the somewhat surprising fact that decoherence can be useful, indeed necessary, for practical quantum computation, in particular, for the effective erasure of quantum memory in order to initialize the state of the quantum computer. The essential point behind the deleter is that the environment, by means of a dissipative interaction, furnishes a contractive map towards a pure state. We present a specific example of an amplitude damping channel provided by a two-level system's interaction with its environment in the weak Born-Markov approximation. This is contrasted with a purely dephasing, non-dissipative channel provided by a two-level system's interaction with its environment by means of a quantum nondemolition interaction. We point out that currently used state preparation techniques, for example using optical pumping, essentially perform as quantum deleters. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.