The Ultimate HubSpot Cleaning List – 6 Ways to Clean Your Database

Written By Sean McGauley
August 10, 2023

One of the most overlooked aspects of using a CRM platform like HubSpot is maintaining a clean and organized database. It seems like such a simple thing, but many of us find the thought of cleaning up an entire database to be an impossible task to complete. Plus, as new contacts are being created and coming into your system daily – these compounding issues continue to grow bigger each day…

Until today!

Today’s the day you stumbled onto this post. So, grab your mop and bucket (or, maybe just a good cup of coffee) and let’s do this!

Here's what's covered in this article - just click to jump to the section you're most interested in:

1. How to Delete Bounced Contacts 

Let’s face it – as marketers, sometimes we have trouble letting go. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to cleaning databases is the reluctance to let go of contacts. It’s common for marketers and sales representatives to hold on to contacts, even if they’ve bounced, unsubscribed, or shown no interest in your offerings. But why? We fear that eliminating these contacts may mean losing potential opportunities. However, in reality, keeping these unengaged contacts clogs up our databases, making it difficult to focus on the truly valuable leads. Bounced contacts can show up in your reports and provide misleading information like how many contacts are in your database. Plus, continuing to send to these contacts can be damaging to your email deliverability and domain reputation.

So, let’s take a deep breath…and just let go.

Steps to delete your bounced contacts in HubSpot:

  1. Menu: Marketing > Email > Email bounce tools (left panel) > Create a list of hard-bounced contacts.Managing HubSpot Bounced Contacts
  2. Give your list a name so you can easily find it in the next step and select your “Hard bounce reasons”, including Unknown User, Content, Spam, Mailbox full, Policy, and Other. HubSpot’s default selects all of the bounce reasons – which is our recommendation (for more information about types of bounces, check out this article from HubSpot). You can also set the time range. Create your list.
  3. Menu: Contacts > Lists > Find the new list of hard-bounced contacts you just created > Delete all contacts

How to create a hard-bounced contact list in HubSpot

2. How to Manage Unsubscribed Contacts 

Another type of contact we like to hold onto is our unsubscribed contacts. Deleting (or setting them to non-marketing contacts, which we’ll cover below) unsubscribed contacts from your CRM is essential for maintaining a healthy and effective marketing strategy. 

Keeping unsubscribed contacts in your CRM could lead to non-compliance with data protection regulations, potentially resulting in damaged trust with your audience, or worse yet, legal trouble. 

Steps to delete your unsubscribed contacts in HubSpot:

  1. Menu: Contacts > Advanced filters
  2. Select ‘Opted out of all email’ is True 
  3. Delete Contacts

Another good option for those who don’t want to delete is to change their status to non-marketing contacts. HubSpot allows you to use the non-marketing contact status to remove them from your marketing, while still keeping their information in your database. The good thing here is that non-marketing contacts will not count toward your billable contact tier limit.

Steps to change the status of your unsubscribed contacts in HubSpot to non-marketing contacts:

  1. Menu: Contacts> Advanced filters
  2. Select ‘Opted out of all email’ is True
  3. Select all contacts
  4. Click on the ‘More’ option
  5. Select ‘Set as non-marketing contact’

Find Unsubscribed Contacts in HubSpot

3. How to Manage Uninterested Contacts 

Uninterested or unengaged contacts are inevitable. Sometimes contacts find their way onto your mailing list that really shouldn’t be there. They ignore your emails, yet don’t make the effort to unsubscribe.

HubSpot defines these contacts as those who have not opened any of the last 11 marketing emails you’ve sent or haven’t engaged with the last 16 emails in their inbox. While it’s natural to hold on to these contacts in the hope of rekindling their interest, it’s essential to recognize when it’s time to let them go. 

Steps to delete your uninterested contacts in HubSpot:

  1. Menu: Contacts > Lists > Create list
  2. Choose an active list 
  3. Name your list 
  4. Use HubSpot’s above definition to select your filters to pull unengaged contacts. Note: you can also set your own filters based on how your company defines an unengaged contact
  5. Save your list 
  6. Delete contacts

If you’re interested in re-engaging these contacts, sometimes a well-crafted reengagement campaign can be used to win them back. In this case, it’s sometimes helpful to set these contacts as non-marketing contacts so they don’t count toward your billable contact tier. 

Steps to change the status of your uninterested contacts in HubSpot to non-marketing contacts:

  1. Menu: Contacts > Lists > Create list
  2. Choose an active list
  3. Name your list
  4. Use HubSpot’s above definition to select your filters to pull unengaged contacts. Note: you can also set your own filters based on how your company defines an unengaged contact
  5. Save your list
  6. Select all of the contacts in your list
  7. Click on the ‘More’ option
  8. Select ‘Set as non-marketing contact’

4. How to Merge Duplicates 

Duplicate contacts come from someone using different email addresses on your forms, misspellings, or importing or syncing data from another source. When you have multiple contact records for one individual, the best practice is to merge them all into one.

Steps to merge duplicate contacts in HubSpot:

  1. Menu: Contacts > Contacts > Actions > Manage duplicates 
  2. This HubSpot tool will use AI to develop a list of what it determines to be potential duplicate contacts 
  3. Review the list
  4. If the contact is a duplicate, click review and merge contacts 
  5. If the contact is not a duplicate, click dismiss

Managing duplicate contacts in HubSpot

5. How to Archive Unused Contact Properties 

HubSpot has a ton of default contact properties, but many organizations standardize on just a fraction of them. By getting rid of the ones you don’t use, you can significantly minimize confusion when organizing your database. 

Steps to archive unused contacts in HubSpot:

  1. Menu: Setting > Properties
  2. Select contact properties to archive. Note: The “used in” column will show you if you’re currently using the property or not.

6. How to Assign Correct Lifecycle Stages

Lifecycle stages are extremely helpful in giving you insight into where a specific contact is in your buying process. It also ensures leads are handed off from marketing to sales seamlessly.

Steps to identify your contacts without a lifecycle stage:

  1. Menu: Contacts > Contacts > Advanced filters > Add filter > Select “Lifecycle stage” > Choose “is unknown”

Steps to update a contact’s lifecycle stage:

  1. Select contact record > View all properties > Search lifecycle stage property > Update property with correct lifecycle stage

Update lifecycle stages in HubSpot

Staying Clean

I feel cleaner already! As you can see, with a bit of effort, some tools provided by HubSpot, and some dedicated time, you can get your HubSpot portal clean.

Just like cleaning your house, this is not a one-and-done activity. Generally, we recommend going through this clean-up list once a year, though it can be done as often as needed.

Want more on HubSpot Hygiene?

Watch this replay of the Boston HubSpot User Group meetup with Will Smith, Certified HubSpot Trainer at IMPACT. Learn how to clean up your HubSpot portal and keep it that way!

At the end of this HUG, you’ll walk away with:

  • A step-by-step method to investigate and clean up HubSpot data messes.
  • An easy-to-follow schedule to ensure things don’t get this dirty again.
  • A few takeaway resources to get your team to continue to keep your HubSpot portal squeaky clean.



Sean McGauley

About the Author

Marketing is more challenging than it’s ever been - but, I’m committed to finding new and creative ways to succeed. By day, I’m a digital marketing enthusiast with a passion for connecting brands with their target audience. I have over a decade of experience in creating and executing successful campaigns with a proven track record. I specialize in Strategy, Copywriting, SEO, and social media marketing - always staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies. By night, you'll likely find me adventuring with family and friends. I enjoy nature, photography, mountain biking, fly fishing, and trying new foods. I want to connect with other like-minded professionals to learn from and work with.