What Does Cleaned Mean in Mailchimp (Definition + Examples)

Did you know that in Mailchimp email marketing, a seemingly harmless term like “cleaned” can wield a significant impact on your campaigns?

Imagine this scenario: You’ve diligently crafted an email campaign, poured your creativity into the content, hit send, and eagerly waited for the engagement metrics to roll in.

But then, you notice that a portion of your contacts has been marked as “cleaned.”

What does this status mean? How does it affect your email marketing endeavors?

This guide will help you understand the nitty-gritty of the “cleaned” status in Mailchimp.

What Does “Cleaned” Mean in Mailchimp?

In Mailchimp, the term “cleaned” refers to email addresses that have been marked as undeliverable due to hard bounces, typically caused by invalid addresses or repeated failed deliveries.

When an email encounters a hard bounce, Mailchimp automatically moves it to the “cleaned” status to maintain list hygiene and sender reputation.

This process ensures that future campaigns focus on engaged recipients, fostering a healthier email ecosystem.

How “Cleaned” in Mailchimp Works:

When an email is hard-bounced multiple times, indicating its inability to reach the intended recipient, Mailchimp flags it as “cleaned.”

This status serves as a precautionary measure to prevent sending further emails to non-existent or unresponsive addresses.

By segmenting out cleaned contacts, Mailchimp helps marketers maintain a high deliverability rate and establish a positive sender reputation. This process ultimately enhances the overall effectiveness of email marketing campaigns.

Reasons for Emails Getting Cleaned:

Let’s rewind a bit. Imagine you’re hosting a grand party. You’ve sent out invitations to all your friends, but there’s a catch — some of them have moved to new addresses or simply vanished from the social scene.

Similarly, in the world of email, the “cleaned” status pops up when an email cannot be delivered to its intended recipient. It could be caused by one of these reasons:

1. Invalid Email Addresses: Imagine sending a letter to an address that doesn’t exist—it’s like casting a message into the void. Similarly, when you send an email to an invalid address, it results in a hard bounce, swiftly landing your email in the “cleaned” realm.

2. Hard Bounces: Hard bounces are like impenetrable walls in the email universe. They occur when emails are rejected due to permanent issues such as non-existent domains or blocked recipients. Each hard bounce paints a clearer picture of addresses that require cleaning.

3. Inactive Subscribers: Picture sending messages to friends who’ve gone silent—they’ve moved on, leaving your emails unattended. In email marketing, a lack of engagement from subscribers can lead to your emails being marked as “cleaned” to focus on more promising contacts.

4. Repeated Spam Complaints: Just as a dissonant note disrupts a melody, repeated spam complaints disrupt your sender’s reputation. When subscribers consistently mark your emails as spam, it signals to Mailchimp that your messages aren’t welcome, possibly leading to the “cleaned” status.

5. Role-Based Email Addresses: Sending emails to role-based addresses like “info@company.com” can result in a metaphorical dead-end street. Mailchimp often considers these addresses low-value, as they’re meant for general inquiries, potentially leading to a cleaned status.

6. Unreachable Servers: Imagine sending a message to a remote island without a mailbox. Similarly, if a recipient’s email server is unreachable, your email bounces back unopened.

These failed deliveries contribute to the “cleaned” status, prompting Mailchimp’s hygiene measures.

Understanding Hard Bounces:

If you’re sending a letter to a friend, but the address you have is outdated or nonexistent. Your letter bounces back, unopened.

That’s precisely what happens in email marketing when a “hard bounce” occurs. An email is permanently undeliverable due to reasons like invalid domains, non-existent email addresses, or blocked recipients.

Soft Bounces vs. Hard Bounces:

Think of a “soft bounce” as a friendly hiccup. It’s like sending a letter to your friend, and it’s returned because their mailbox is temporarily full.

Soft bounces are usually caused by issues like full inboxes or temporary server glitches, and Mailchimp automatically retries sending the email. However, if an email repeatedly fails to reach its destination, it’s marked as a hard bounce and enters the “cleaned” status.

Implications of Cleaned Status:

Imagine you’re hosting a tea party. Invitations are your emails, and your reputation as a gracious host depends on their delivery. If your invitations (emails) are marked as “cleaned,” it signals to email service providers that your list might need a tidy-up.

A high rate of cleaned emails can impact your sender’s reputation and affect future email deliverability.

Preventing Emails from Getting Cleaned:

Now, let’s talk about prevention. Much like tending to a garden, maintaining a healthy email list requires regular care. Use double opt-ins to ensure engaged subscribers, periodically clean your list to remove invalid addresses, and provide clear and concise content to minimize the chances of spam complaints.

Handling Cleaned Contacts:

Imagine you’re at a crossroads, deciding whether to rekindle a friendship or move forward independently. Similarly, when contacts are marked as “cleaned,” you have choices.

You can launch re-engagement campaigns, encouraging subscribers to confirm their interest. Alternatively, you can bid adieu to unresponsive contacts, prioritizing quality over quantity.

Maintaining List Hygiene:

Think of your email list as a fine collection of vintage wines. To maintain its value, you need to ensure it ages gracefully. Regularly assess your list for dormant or outdated addresses, segment subscribers based on engagement levels, and implement a robust email verification process.

Monitoring and Analyzing Cleaned Status:

Imagine you’re a detective solving a case. The “cleaned” status provides clues about your email performance. Utilize Mailchimp’s reporting tools to track cleaned emails, analyze trends, and identify patterns.

This detective work allows you to refine your strategies and improve your email campaign’s effectiveness.

Table Chart: 7 Key Features of Mailchimp:

Email CampaignsCreate and send engaging email campaigns.
List ManagementOrganize and segment your contacts effectively.
AnalyticsGain insights into email performance and engagement.
AutomationAutomate your marketing workflows for efficiency.
A/B TestingTest different elements to optimize campaign success.
PersonalizationCraft tailored messages to resonate with subscribers.
IntegrationsSeamlessly connect with other tools for synergy.

Addressing 3 FAQs about Cleaned Status in Mailchimp

1. Can Cleaned Contacts be Re-engaged?

Absolutely! Think of cleaned contacts as old friends you’ve lost touch with. While they’re marked as cleaned due to past issues, you can rekindle the connection. Craft compelling re-engagement campaigns—offer value, ask for feedback, or entice them with exclusive content. If they respond positively, they can journey back from the clean realm.

2. How Often Should I Clean My Email List?

Picture your email list as a garden—regular maintenance is key. Aim to clean your list at least once every quarter. Remove addresses that consistently hard bounce, haven’t engaged in a while, or haven’t provided permission. This pruning ensures your list stays healthy, bolstering your campaigns’ deliverability and effectiveness.

3. Can the Cleaned Status be Prevented Altogether?

While you can’t entirely prevent the cleaned status, you can significantly reduce its occurrence. Implement double opt-ins to ensure engaged subscribers, regularly segment your list to target active contacts, and craft relevant content that resonates. By nurturing your list and respecting subscribers’ preferences, you can navigate away from the cleaned status waters more often than not.


In the intricate world of email marketing, understanding the “cleaned” status can be the difference between a cluttered inbox and a refined sender reputation.

Just as life’s challenges mold us, the cleaned status serves as a reminder to refine and optimize our strategies.

Armed with insights into hard and soft bounces, the significance of list hygiene, and the power of prevention, you’re now equipped to navigate the email marketing landscape with confidence.

As you send out your next campaign, remember that behind every cleaned email is an opportunity for growth and improvement.