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How to Clean Up Your Email List

How to Clean Up Your Email List
Last updated: May 1, 2024
Reading time: 10 minutes
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Email marketing is a valuable tool for most businesses, but it’s not just about sending out mass emails to subscribers. Maintaining good email hygiene is just as important as growing your email list. Without proper email hygiene, your email campaigns could hurt your brand’s reputation instead of helping your business grow.

A clean and accurate email list ensures your emails reach the right audience and achieve the desired results. In this article, we will discuss what email hygiene is, why it is important, and when you should clean your email list. We’ll also provide some valuable tips for maintaining good email health.

Read also: Best Email Drip Campaign Examples

What Is Email Hygiene?

Email hygiene refers to the process of keeping your email list clean and accurate by regularly removing invalid, inactive, and unengaged email addresses. The goal is to ensure your email campaigns reach subscribers’ inboxes, avoiding bounces and reducing the chances of being marked as spam.

Email data cleaning also improves your email deliverability and email engagement. Plus, it may involve removing unengaged email addresses, correcting misspelled ones, and verifying them to ensure their accuracy.

Read also: How to Find Someone’s Email

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Why Is Email Hygiene Important?

Maintaining good email list hygiene is essential for several reasons, including the following:

Improved Email Deliverability

Good email health means your emails are more likely to be delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes instead of being filtered as spam or bouncing back. Remember, emails sent to invalid or inactive email addresses bounce back; high bounce rates can lead to your emails being marked as spam by email service providers (ESPs), harming your sender reputation. 

Email data cleaning can reduce bounce rates, improve your sender reputation, and ensure your emails reach your subscribers’ inboxes.


Removing inactive subscribers from your list can help reduce the cost of sending emails to subscribers who aren’t interested in your content. That’s because you only pay for subscribers who are actively engaged with your brand and interested in receiving your emails. 

Also, when you remove invalid or unengaged email addresses, you actually can reduce your email list size, leading to cost savings. Most email marketing service providers charge based on the number of subscribers in your email list.

Better ROI

A clean and accurate email list ensures your emails reach the right audience and achieve their objectives. In other words, this means you can improve your ROI with better email list hygiene. For instance, good email health can increase open rates, click-through rates, and conversions, all of which can help improve your ROI

Maintaining a Good Sender Reputation

Your sender reputation is vital for email deliverability. Sending emails to inactive or invalid addresses harms your sender reputation, leading to your emails being marked as spam. 

ESPs use various metrics to determine your sender reputation, such as bounce rates, spam complaint rates, and unsubscribe rates. Maintaining good email hygiene ensures your sender reputation remains high, which can lead to better email deliverability, higher engagement rates, and increased ROI.

Email Engagement

You risk lowering your email engagement rates when you send emails to unengaged subscribers. That’s because unengaged subscribers are less likely to open or read your emails.

By removing unengaged subscribers from your email list, you can increase email engagement rates, improve email open rates, and achieve better results from your email marketing campaigns.

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When Should You Clean Your Email List?

Cleaning your email list should be a regular practice. However, there are some specific situations when you should consider cleaning your email list:


If you haven’t sent any emails to your subscribers in a while, you should consider cleaning your email list. This ensures that you are not sending emails to invalid or inactive addresses.

High Bounce Rate

Bounce rates occur when emails are sent to invalid email addresses or email addresses that no longer exist. If you notice a high bounce rate in your email marketing campaigns, it’s a sign that you need to clean your email list. High bounce rates negatively impact your sender reputation and deliverability.

Low Engagement Rate

Low engagement rates occur when emails are sent to subscribers who are uninterested in your content or have stopped engaging with your brand. If your email campaigns have a low engagement rate, you should remove subscribers who have not opened your emails in a while. This helps improve your email engagement and ROI.

Spam Complaints

If you receive a high number of spam complaints, it’s a sign that you need to clean your email list. Spam complaints occur when subscribers mark your emails as spam, harming your sender reputation and leading to lower email deliverability rates. You can reduce the risk of receiving spam complaints by removing subscribers who are not interested in your content.


Unsubscribes occur when subscribers no longer want to receive your emails. Removing inactive subscribers from your email list can help reduce the number of unsubscribes and improve your email engagement rates.

Read also: Why Your Email Campaigns Fail

Email Hygiene Best Practices

It’s no secret that a healthy email list is essential for any successful email marketing campaign. Email list hygiene best practices are strategies that help you keep your email list clean and up-to-date, improving your email deliverability, increasing engagement, and ultimately driving better results.

Here are some best practices for maintaining email hygiene:

1. Use Double Opt-In

How to Clean Up Your Email List: Use Double Opt In

Double opt-in is a process where subscribers confirm their email address twice before being added to your email list. This can help to ensure that the email addresses you collect are valid and belong to real people. It can also help to reduce the number of invalid email addresses on your list, improving your email deliverability rates.

2. Segment Your Email List

Email list segmentation involves dividing your subscribers into different groups based on their interests, preferences, and behavior. It ensures you can send more targeted and personalized emails to your subscribers, improve your engagement rates, and reduce the risk of spam complaints.

3. Send Re-Engagement Campaigns

It is a good idea to send re-engagement campaigns to subscribers who haven’t opened or clicked on your emails in a while. Doing so will encourage them to engage with your brand again.

4. Regularly Remove Inactive Subscribers

Inactive subscribers are the ones who have not engaged with your emails in a long time. Removing these subscribers from your email list is a good practice because doing so can help improve your engagement rates and sender reputation, as well as reduce the risk of spam complaints. Plus, removing inactive subscribers can help reduce your email marketing costs.

5. Monitor Your Email Deliverability

Email deliverability refers to the process of furnishing emails to subscribers’ inboxes. To maintain good email deliverability, you should avoid sending emails to invalid addresses. What’s more, try to avoid sending too many emails too quickly and using spam trigger words in your subject lines and email content.

6. Provide an Easy Unsubscribe Option

How to Clean Up Your Email List: Provide an Easy Unsubscribe Option

Always make it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe from your email list because it can reduce the likelihood of them marking your emails as spam. A clear and easy-to-use unsubscribe option will show your subscribers that you respect their privacy and preferences.

7. Avoid Purchasing Email Lists

Purchased email lists are often filled with invalid or unengaged email addresses, harming your sender reputation and deliverability. As such, you should avoid buying email lists. 

Instead of buying email lists, there are several things you can do to grow your email list organically and maintain good email hygiene. Here are some tips:

  1. Offer an Incentive: Offer an incentive, such as a free e-book or a discount code, to encourage people to sign up for your email list.
  2. Use Social Media: Use social media to promote your email list and encourage people to sign up.
  3. Add a Signup Form to Your Website: Add a signup form to your website so visitors can easily subscribe to your email list.
  4. Use a Pop-Up: Use a pop-up on your website to promote your email list and encourage people to sign up.
  5. Attend Events: Attend events, such as conferences and trade shows, to network and collect email addresses.
  6. Use Referral Marketing: Use referral marketing to encourage your existing subscribers to refer their friends and family to your email list.
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8. Avoid Using Spam Trigger Words

Spam trigger words are words and phrases that are commonly associated with spam emails and can trigger spam filters. Using these words in your subject line or email body can result in your email being marked as spam, which can negatively impact your email deliverability and open rates.

Here are some examples of spam trigger words and phrases you must avoid:

  1. Urgent
  2. Free
  3. Buy now
  4. Limited time offer
  5. Act now
  6. 100% satisfied
  7. Order now
  8. As seen on
  9. Guarantee
  10. Make money fast
  11. Cash
  12. Amazing
  13. Incredible
  14. Double your
  15. Get paid
  16. Increase sales
  17. Save big
  18. Act today
  19. Don’t delete
  20. Cheap

To avoid using spam trigger words, try to write subject lines and email copy that are clear and concise, and avoid using hype or overly promotional language. Also, make sure to personalize your emails using deep personalization marketing strategies and use a clear sender name and email address.

Read also: Using Email Variables For Bulk Email Outreach

9. Regularly Update Your Email List

Regularly update your email list to ensure that it is accurate and up-to-date, reducing the likelihood of sending emails to invalid or inactive addresses. You should clean your email list at least once every six months to remove inactive subscribers, invalid email addresses, and subscribers who are not interested in your content. Use only the best email finder tools to find emails faster and grow your list of potential customers.

10. Test Your Emails

Testing your emails is essential for ensuring that they are delivered to subscribers’ inboxes and are optimized for different email clients and devices. Testing your emails for deliverability, readability, and compatibility with different email clients and devices is always good. This can help you to identify and fix any issues that could affect your email engagement rates and email deliverability rates.

11. Use a Good Email Service Provider

A reputed email service provider can help you maintain good email list hygiene by providing tools and features that can help you manage your email list, improve your email deliverability rates, and reduce the risk of spam complaints. Some of the features that a good email service provider should offer include email list management, email analytics, email automation, and spam testing.

Related article: Email Marketing Automation Tools

12. Monitor Email Engagement

Email engagement refers to the actions that subscribers take when they receive your emails, such as opening, clicking, and forwarding. By monitoring email engagement, you can identify subscribers not engaging with your emails and remove them from your email list. This can help to improve your engagement rates and reduce the risk of spam complaints.

Read also: Email Outreach Tracking Tips

5 Best Email List Cleaning Services

If you don’t know how to clean your email list or simply don’t have the time, there are several email list cleaning services available that can do it for you. These services use a combination of algorithms and manual verification to remove invalid email addresses, spam traps, and other problematic email addresses from your list. Uncover what is email verification and why it is important.

Here’re some of the top email list cleaning services you may want to use:

1. Email Checker

How to Clean Up Your Email List: Email Checker

Email Checker is a popular email verification tool that provides email verification and validation services. It offers real-time verification, domain checks, syntax checks, and mailbox checks to ensure that your email list is accurate and up-to-date. 

The best part? This tool is free and user-friendly, requiring nothing more than entering the email address and clicking “check.” This tool informs you whether the email address is legitimate or fake, although sometimes it can’t predict accurately and may label the email address as “unknown” due to restrictions imposed by email providers. 

2. Clearout

How to Clean Up Your Email List: Clearout

Clearout is a comprehensive email data cleaning service that offers a 98% accuracy rate. They use a combination of AI and manual verification to ensure that your email list is clean and up-to-date. Clearout also provides real-time verification and a variety of integrations with popular email marketing platforms. Plus, it offers free email verification API, widget, and plugin solutions.

3. Kickbox

How to Clean Up Your Email List: Kickbox

Kickbox checks your email list for invalid, inactive, and disposable email addresses. It offers advanced features such as email list verification, API integration, and real-time verification to prevent fake or invalid email addresses from damaging your sender reputation. This tool has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to upload and verify your email list.

Kickbox’s email verification process involves checking email addresses against various data sources, including public email provider databases, to determine if an email address is valid or not. This service can help improve email deliverability, increase engagement rates, and reduce bounce rates, all of which can positively impact your email marketing campaign’s ROI.

4. Xverify

How to Clean Up Your Email List: Xverify

Xverify is a list cleaning service that checks the validity of email addresses in your contact list. In fact, it is one of the best tools for reviving emails. Xverify offers features such as email list verification, real-time verification, and email address correction to ensure that your email campaign reaches real people and not bots or invalid addresses. Xverify checks email addresses against multiple databases and algorithms to identify whether an email address is deliverable, undeliverable, or risky.  This tool can verify email addresses from major consumer email providers, including Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, and Hotmail, among others. 

5. Bounceless

How to Clean Up Your Email List: Bounceless

Bounceless is a cloud-based email hygiene solution designed to verify email addresses and help businesses enhance their marketing efforts. Thanks to its user-friendly interface, you can quickly upload files by using the drag-and-drop function and identify and eliminate duplicate email addresses. 

What’s more? This tool allows you to remove invalid syntaxes, high-risk keywords, and parked domains to improve your email deliverability rates. It can also detect email addresses that are invalid, misspelled, inactive, or that may result in high bounce rates or spam complaints.

One of the key benefits of using Bounceless is its high level of accuracy, thanks to its use of advanced algorithms and verification techniques.

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Email hygiene is a critical aspect of email marketing that can make or break the success of your campaigns. Reviving emails and having a clean and healthy email list can improve your ROI, increase engagement, and avoid damaging your sender reputation. 

Remember to follow the best practices explained above to ensure that your email list is in top condition. While email hygiene may seem like a daunting task, there are many tools and services available to help streamline the process. Consider using one of the tools mentioned above to clean your email list.

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