What makes a city “clean” or “dirty”? Is it the amount of litter covering its streets? What about how it smells? Sightings of mice, rats, and other creepy crawlers scattering around? 

No matter what your definition of “clean” is, no one wants to live somewhere that makes them feel unsanitary and uncomfortable. Not to mention the host of diseases and illness that can be contracted by living in a “dirty” environment. 

The company LawnStarter recently released their list of 2023’s Dirtiest Cities In America. To select the unlucky cities that made the cut, they used publicly available data to analyze metrics like pollution, living conditions, and the number of landfills and junkyards in 150 major cities and metro areas across the United States. 

Houston Texas skyline

Unfortunately for Houston, Texas, they currently wear the crown of LawnStarter’s “dirtiest” city in America, pushing last year’s “winner,” Newark, New Jersey, to the #2 spot. 

You also won’t be too shocked to discover that New York City didn’t do so great on Lawnstarter’s filthy list, and is currently listed the 12th dirtiest in the US. Yonkers, New York did even worse, landing at #9.

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There is some good news for New York State, though! 

This City In Upstate New York Is One Of The Cleanest In America

LawnStarter did feature a few other prominent cities in the Empire State on their “dirtiest cities” list, but thankfully, their cleanliness rating tips in the other direction of the scale. 

In fact, one city in particular in Western New York even cracked the top 10 cleanest cities in the entire United States, giving it the honor of being our state’s cleanest city.

Which one is it?

New York State’s Cleanest City Is…

It looks like a “City of Good Neighbors” is also a city of good cleanliness -  and it certainly doesn’t hurt that it sometimes smells like Cheerios!

Sailboats in Buffalo Harbor With Buffalo Skyline, Buffalo, New York, USA
Getty Images

Buffalo, New York stands heads and shoulders above the rest of the areas that LawnStarter covered from our state. Their research led them to declare Buffalo, New York the 6th cleanest city in America, as well as the cleanest city in New York State. 

The other upstate  cities named in their study was Syracuse, which came in as the 40th cleanest city, followed by Rochester at number 72. 

Does this surprise you?

If you’re shocked Buffalo was ranked so high, especially with the amount of dirty-looking snow covering our streets and sidewalks in the winter, consider some of the factors used to determine Buffalo’s squeaky cleanliness. 


Buffalo scored incredibly high numbers when it came to pollution (like air and water quality), living conditions (homes without kitchens/plumbing and signs of pests), and overall consumer satisfaction in the state of the city. 

Dirty Cities Cost Taxpayers Millions Of Dollars In New York State

“Dirty” cities aren’t just gross to live in for their residents. Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent yearly in the grimiest cities to clean up their mess. (For example, San Francisco, which finished in the top 100 dirtiest cities in LawnStarter’s list, spent over $72 million in 2019 to clean its streets.)

Even if you disagree with LawnStarter’s findings about Buffalo’s cleanliness, you have to admit when you look at the data that we’ve really got it much better than a lot of other cities across the country - and New York State.

These Are The 10 Cleanest Cities In America according to LawnStarter

  1. Virginia Beach, VA
  2. Sunnyvale, CA
  3. Norfolk, VA
  4. Des Moines, IA
  5. Fremont, CA
  6. Buffalo, NY
  7. Winston-Salem, NC
  8. Huntsville, AL
  9. Greensboro, NC
  10. Roseville, CA

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