Was just wondering if there was an easier way, than having to track down all the records related to that original process, and then waiting for recycle bin to do the full physical delete.
The Approval Process cannot be pulled into the IDE, because there is no meta data access to Approval Processes just yet.
Hence why it has to be deployed manually.
Here's an idea to enable meta data for approval processes, much needed ! https://sites.secure.force.com/success/ideaview?id=08730000000BqjDAAS
While Approval Processes are not exposed in the Metadata API in order to delete the process definition in the IDE, the actual process workflow is exposed in the SOAP (Doc link) and REST APIs: .
as a result, it's possible to delete a workitem (approval for a record) that is in process. It also means you can track down all the records related to the original process and delete them if you want including identifying ones already deleted.