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npm cache insanely large

Using version 6.9.0 on Debian Stretch.
The npm cache has been growing to huge size on 2 different machines of ours. We have not seen it happen elsewhere, these are new Xen vpses that we just set up, identical to other instances that have been fine for 6 months, but on these 2,.npm/_cacache/ is growing to like 5G, 12G, 18G, basically til it fills up the disk, in a matter of a few days. npm cache clean --force gets rid of it, but I would presume this is not supposed to happen. We’re at the point of installing a cronjob to run that hourly but I thought npm was supposed to play nicer than that. Any ideas, anyone? Thanks.