What is Email Scrubbing? How Can You Clean Your Email List?

Ammar Mazhar
Ammar Mazhar

Last updated on

June 11, 2024

Email marketing is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes, allowing them to communicate with their target audience directly and cost-effectively. However, as with any marketing tactic, the success of email marketing campaigns hinges on the quality of the email list being used. If an email list is filled with outdated, inactive, or invalid email addresses, email campaigns can become ineffective and even result in adverse outcomes like spam complaints and high bounce rates.

That's where email scrubbing comes in. Email scrubbing removes inactive, invalid, and unengaged subscribers from an email list to maintain quality and ensure that emails are only sent to engaged and interested recipients. It's an essential practice for any business that wants to optimize email campaigns and ensure they are as effective as possible.

In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at what email scrubbing is, why it's essential, and the steps involved in it. We'll also explore the benefits of email scrubbing and offer tips for maintaining a clean and engaged email list. By the end of this post, you'll better understand why email scrubbing is crucial for email campaign success and how to implement it for your business.

What is email scrubbing?

Email scrubbing, also known as email list cleaning, removes invalid, inactive, or non-engaging email addresses from a mailing list. This is done to improve the list's quality and ensure that emails are only sent to people who are likely to engage with them.

The process of email scrubbing involves analyzing the list to identify email addresses that are no longer valid, such as those that have bounced back or are no longer in use. It can also involve removing email addresses that have never engaged with previous emails, as they are unlikely to be interested in future messages.

Pro Tip: If you don't wanna do email cleaning yourself, you can outsource any best email cleaning services.

When should you do email scrubbing?

Email scrubbing should be done regularly to maintain the quality of an email list. The frequency of email scrubbing depends on the list size and the email address turnover rate.

Here are some general guidelines for when to do email scrubbing:

  • Quarterly: For large email lists with high turnover rates, email scrubbing should be done every quarter to ensure that the list remains up-to-date and relevant.
  • Semi-Annually: Email scrubbing should be done every six months to maintain list hygiene for medium-sized email lists.
  • Annually: For small email lists with low turnover rates, email scrubbing can be done annually to keep the list clean and relevant.

In addition to regular email scrubbing, it is essential to perform verification checks whenever new email addresses are added to the list. This helps to ensure that the new email addresses are valid and active and helps to prevent invalid or fake email addresses from being added to the list.

5 Benefits of email scrubbing

Scrubbing your email list can benefit you and your email campaigns in a number of ways. Here are a few of them.

Infographic: 5 Benefits of email scrubbing

1. Improved open and click-through rates

When an email list is scrubbed, inactive and unengaged subscribers are removed, resulting in a list of engaged subscribers who are likelier to open and click through on emails. This can result in higher engagement rates, improving overall email campaign success.

2. Fewer spam complaints

Email scrubbing can help reduce the number of spam complaints a sender receives by ensuring that emails are only sent to people who have opted in to receive them. This can help maintain sender reputation and prevent emails from being flagged as spam.

3. Fewer bounces

Scrubbing a list can also reduce the number of email bounces by removing invalid or inactive email addresses. This can improve email deliverability and ensure emails are only sent to valid addresses.

4. Reduced costs

By removing inactive and unengaged subscribers, email scrubbing can help reduce the cost of email campaigns by reducing the number of emails sent to subscribers who are unlikely to engage. This can help optimize email campaign spending and improve the overall return on investment (ROI).

5. Accurate reporting

When a list is scrubbed, the resulting metrics and reporting can be more accurate and reflective of the engagement and performance of active subscribers. This can help businesses make data-driven decisions and optimize their email campaigns for success.

What is the email scrubbing process?

Email scrubbing can be done in multiple ways. Here are a few of these:

Infographic: What is the email scrubbing process?

1. Define inactive subscribers

Inactive subscribers haven't opened or clicked on any emails in a specific period. The definition of an inactive subscriber can vary based on the business and the email campaign, but it's essential to have a clear definition before starting the scrubbing process.

2. Segment inactive subscribers

Once inactive subscribers have been defined, they should be segmented into groups based on how long they have been since they engaged with an email. This can help tailor the win-back strategy for each group and improve the chances of re-engaging subscribers.

3. Remove duplicate, spam, and misspelled emails

Before scrubbing the list, removing any duplicate, spam, or misspelled emails is essential. This helps ensure that the list is as clean and accurate as possible.

4. Win-back dormant customers

After identifying inactive subscribers, the next step is to create a win-back campaign to try and re-engage these subscribers. This can include offering a special promotion or providing valuable content to entice subscribers to engage with future emails.

5. Remove inactive subscribers

Finally, after the win-back campaign has been executed, any subscribers who still don’t engage with emails should be removed from the list. This helps maintain list hygiene and prevent inactive subscribers from negatively impacting email campaign performance.


In conclusion, email scrubbing is a crucial process for maintaining a clean and engaged email list, which is essential for the success of any email marketing campaign. By removing inactive, invalid, and unengaged subscribers from the list, businesses can improve their email campaign performance, reduce spam complaints and bounces, and optimize their spending.

The email scrubbing process can be broken down into several steps, including defining inactive subscribers, segmenting the list, removing duplicate and misspelled emails, executing a win-back campaign, and removing inactive subscribers. By following these steps and regularly scrubbing their email lists, businesses can ensure that they are only sending emails to engaged and interested recipients and avoid the adverse outcomes of a poorly maintained email list.

Remember, maintaining a clean and engaged email list is an ongoing process that requires regular attention and effort. But the benefits of email scrubbing are well worth the investment. They can lead to higher engagement rates, improved deliverability, and a better return on investment (ROI) for your email campaigns. So don't overlook the importance of email scrubbing – make it a priority for your business and start reaping the benefits today.

Author Bio

Ammar Mazhar

A voracious reader and a music lover, Ammar has been writing engaging and informative content for over 3 years for B2B and B2C markets. With a knack for writing SEO-optimized content, Ammar ensures the results speak for themselves.


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