Does Windows Update use temporary files that I can later delete

I’ve just bitten the bullet and done a wipe/reinstall of my XP machine at home - after two years of use, it had just become too sluggish and buggy; I noticed immediately after the reinstall, only about 4GB of my hard drive was in use. Of course, I had to head off to Windows Update to install all the patches and service packs again and after that was done, 9GB of my hard drive is occupied, before I’ve even started reinstalling any apps.

Now of course I understand that some of the patches and updates will have added to the overall size of the code for a variety of reasons, but the space occupied by the OS has more than doubled - I can’t help wondering if the downloaded update files (in their packaged, pre-installed state) are still taking up space on my hard drive somewhere.

Is this the case and if so, where are they and is it safe to delete them?

I’ve wondered about this myself in the past. Not just with windows update but with any software that gets extracted/installed.

So, I found this bit of info for you.

Windows clean up.
Scroll down a page to Hard Drive Cleanup.

Forgot to add, the link might seem remedial but it does mention that anything in the Windows/Temp folder can be deleted safely.
It also suggests that you do a disk cleanup from the Drive Tools App. and see what that finds (anything it finds is game).
I only bring this up because you didn’t mention any of this in the op. I realise you probably tried these, but for anyone else following along it may be helpful.