What Does “Cleaned” Mean in Mailchimp? The Ultimate Guide

cleaned contact status label next to a woman looking at her laptop with a pure firefly logo

If you use Mailchimp for email marketing, you’ve probably seen contacts being marked as cleaned. Cleaned is a contact status which impacts how you can store and market to a contact. Let’s dig into what Mailchimp’s cleaned contact status means and what you can do about it.

What is a “Cleaned” Contact?

In Mailchimp, a Cleaned contact is any contact that has been determined as invalid. In other words, this email address is unable to receive any emails. Typically, contacts are marked as cleaned after emails sent to that contact from your Mailchimp account have hard bounced or repeatedly soft bounced. Emails need to soft bounce at least 15 times in order for Mailchimp to clean a contact.

Because you are prevented from sending emails to a cleaned contact, it can be frustrating to see them on your account. Thankfully, cleaned contacts do not count towards your monthly plan limit. 

You can export cleaned contacts, but Mailchimp does not allow you to archive or edit them.

When Does Mailchimp Mark a Contact as Cleaned?

Mailchimp may clean a contact at any point in their lifecycle in your audience. Here are a few of the most common times when you’ll see a subscriber become cleaned:

  • After you send a campaign: When you send out a new email, Mailchimp will record the contacts that bounce. Addresses that hard bounce or soft bounce repeatedly will be marked as cleaned.
  • When you import contacts: If you import a misspelled or invalid email address, Mailchimp may automatically mark them as cleaned. Some emails will even be blocked from importing at all.
  • Over the course of an automated series: Sometimes contacts that initially appear valid will bounce back repeatedly, leading to them being marked as cleaned.

If you find that many of your new contacts are being blocked from import or immediately marked as cleaned, it may be time to brush up on list hygiene. Consider using a list cleaner like Zerobounce to remove invalid addresses.

What Do I Do With Cleaned Contacts?

Unfortunately, Mailchimp does not allow you to archive cleaned contacts.These contacts are removed from your billing, but will remain in your audience unless you remove the list entirely.

To avoid cluttering your list with cleaned contacts, make sure invalid addresses are not allowed into your audience. Consider enabling double opt-in or reCAPTCHA to prevent spam on your signup forms. 

Double opt-in can also root out any real website visitors using fake email addresses – Some people will do anything for that 10% discount.

Can I Send Anything to a Cleaned Contact?

Contact statuses in Mailchimp impact what you are able to send. For example, users cannot send marketing emails to non-subscribed contacts. However, non-subscribed contacts can still receive post cards.

Cleaned contacts are unable to receive any communications from Mailchimp. 

Why is Mailchimp Strict About Cleaned Contacts?

Mailchimp maintains strict deliverability standards to protect the sender reputation of all its users. If a handful of Mailchimp users send to many invalid addresses, this can impact the delivery of all emails on Mailchimp’s platform. 

In order to keep everyone out of spam, Mailchimp constantly cleans contacts and monitors compliance with laws like CAN-SPAM & GDPR.

Optimize Your List Hygiene with Pure Firefly

If you’re struggling with managing cleaned contacts in Mailchimp, consider working with a Pro Partner like Pure Firefly. A qualified email marketing expert can help identify the source of cleaned contacts, and develop a strategy to ensure your list is healthy. Just send us a message for a quote on audience work.

30 & 60-Minute Training Calls are also available to answer all your email questions!

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