The UK’s Cleanest Cities

Whether you’re looking for a quaint village to settle down in, an emerging town to move to, or a lively city to embark on new adventures – the cleanliness of your surroundings is of great importance. It can affect everything from your physical and mental health, to how your property is perceived and valued by others.

A spotless building will naturally give off a better impression than a filthy one, impressing visitors, attracting more custom, and providing business opportunities. Despite this, premises hygiene can only go so far – to benefit further, you must look at cleanliness beyond your site.

Here at Vanguard Cleaning, we’ve tended to premises across the entire UK, and seen a mixed bag of properties and environments. In the process, we’ve learnt that clean surroundings are vital to the perception of your business. Whether that means breathing in clean and crisp air every day, strolling across tidy and maintained streets, or viewing a skyline without abandoned and derelict buildings, a clean city will provide a smoother and more pleasant experience for customers and clients. As such, it can have an outsized impact on your business.

In Vanguard’s latest blog, we’ll explore which UK cities are the cleanest, and what factors might contribute to this. We’ll rank them accordingly, considering factors such as air pollution, abandoned homes, fly-tipping, and the general standard of cleanliness to determine our rankings.


What Qualifies As A ‘Clean’ City?

The definition of what makes a ‘clean’ city can be rather ambiguous. There’s a range of different metrics we could use, such as air quality and pollution, the frequency of dilapidated homes and fly tipping incidents are in the area, or maybe the extent that the populace googles common household cleaning problems. When all is said and done, there is no one methodology that can determine which cities are cleaner than others, but to get the best possible idea, we used a combination of all the above.

First, we used data collated from over 83 local authorities for insights into number of derelict buildings and fly tipping incidents per 10,000 people in different regions. Then, we looked at how often common household cleaning problems were google searched per 10,000 residents, using Google Keyword Planner to cast a wide net over the past 12 months of online activity. Finally, we took data from the World Health Organization on the average air quality of UK cities (measured by concentrations of PM2.5). The recommended limit for healthy air is 10µg/m³, and all of this list’s entries come in well below that figure.

By connecting this data together, we gain a greater picture of which cities in the UK are the cleanest overall. Despite this, our data is not the full picture, as some local authorities have failed to report their figures like others, so some regions are excluded from our calculations. If you don’t see a particular city that you might expect to be on this list – such as Chester or Edinburgh – this is most likely the reason why. For the purposes of this ranking, we will consider these entries as honourable mentions.


Top 10 Cleanest Cities In The UK

Without further ado, here’s a list of the 10 cleanest cities in the UK.

10. Middlesbrough

Located in the very centre of the Tees Valley, Middlesbrough is the area’s largest and greenest town. Much of the settlement rests on the banks of the River Tees, which snakes its way through the town. Moving inland, the town is home to countless green spaces, including major locations such as Albert Park and Pallister Park, and a range of golf courses, sports centres, and smaller county parks.

Air quality of the town, perhaps reflecting its natural surroundings, comes in at 5µg/m³, well below the WHO’s recommended limit. As for derelict properties and fly-tipping incidents, there were 5 abandoned buildings and 11 illegal dumping incidents per 10,000 residents. Finally, the area saw 537 google searches for common house problems per 10,000 people. This all indicates that the town faces some problems with cleanliness but is largely free from serious dirtiness.


9. Peterborough

A major settlement in the East of England, Peterborough enjoys the close proximity of Nene Park just on the outskirts of the town, with amenities including multiple lakes, a river flowing right through the park, and even a rowing and canoeing course. However, the town is often overshadowed by the larger and more renowned Cambridge, despite results showing Peterborough is cleaner than its neighbouring city.

Air quality in Peterborough averages at 3µg/m³, significantly lower than Cambridge’s score. This is on top of only 4 derelict properties and 6 fly tipping incidents per 10,000 residents, running below figures in many other areas. Despite this, the area has almost 11,000 google searches for common household cleaning problems every year, a higher rate than most other locations on this list.


8. Swindon

Located around halfway between London and Bristol, Swindon was forever transformed by the arrival of the Great Western Railway, setting the town up as a major stopping point between the two cities. This is memorialized by the railway village and a major railway museum in the centre of town, emphasizing the decline of the industry. Despite this, and its industrial heritage, Swindon remains one of the cleanest cities in the UK.

The area has an air quality of 6µg/m³, which is among the highest figures on this list. Where Swindon improves, however, is their lack of derelict housing and illegal dumping, with only 6 abandoned properties and 2 fly tipping incidents per 10,000 residents respectively. Searches for common household cleaning problems are also lower, with only 568 google searches per 10,000 people.


7. Coventry

Just miles from Birmingham, Coventry is separated from the nearby metropolis by a rural area known as the Meriden belt. This area is typical of the greenery that surrounds the city, with a broad spectrum of country parks, nature reserves, and sports clubs located in and around the historical and picturesque city. As a result, it should come as no surprise that Coventry remains as one of the cleanest cities in the UK.

Air quality hovers at around 4µg/m³ across the city, which is a remarkable achievement given the extensive size of the urban area. Abandoned properties and illegal dumping is also low, with 1 derelict property and 5 fly tipping incidents per 10,000 residents. Online activity indicates modest problems with cleanliness, with approximately 18,000 google searches annually for common household cleaning issues, but no stand-out concerns.


6. Derby

Sprawling out on either side of the River Derwent, Derby (like many other settlements on this list) contains a series of green spaces and parks that help beautify the area and make it more appealing for local residents. The city is known as a hub for transport manufacturing, with renowned car companies like Toyota and Rolls-Royce running major facilities in the surrounding area.

Despite the pollution this could cause, Derby’s air quality remains surprisingly low at 3µg/m³. As for derelict structures and fly tipping, the area enjoys low rates of both, with 6 abandoned buildings and only 1 illegal dumping incident per 10,000 residents. Google searches regarding common household cleaning problems are also limited, with approximately 14,000 searches every year, or 528 per 10,000 people.


5. Wolverhampton

A twin city to its neighbour Birmingham, Wolverhampton developed significantly during the industrial revolution, taking advantage of nearby coal mining, wool, and steel industries to blossom into the bustling metropolis it is today. Despite the nearby urban conglomerate that makes up the county of West Midlands, Wolverhampton itself remains remarkably clean.

Air quality across the city averages out at only 4µg/m³, much lower than most other urbanised areas. Moreover, there were 6 recorded derelict properties per 10,000 residents, but less than one fly tipping incident for every 10,000 people, an impressive achievement for such an expansive city. Digital activity is also below par, with google searches on common household cleaning issues only reaching 13,000 queries annually.


4. Milton Keynes

Just northwest of London, the city of Milton Keynes was created to take away some of the strain of London’s housing crisis. Uniquely, the metropolis was designed with a modern grid method in mind, helping ease traffic and congestion through the area. A striking bonus of this design is the added space between urban buildings, much of which has been filled with freshly mowed lawns and beautiful greenery.

Milton Keynes’ air quality rests at an average of 3µg/m³, while its numbers of derelict buildings and fly tipping incidents stand at 9 abandoned structures and 4 illegal dumps per 10,000 residents respectively. This corresponds with a sharp dip in online searches relating to common household cleaning problems, with only 389 google searches per 10,000 citizens, indicating far fewer issues than those faced elsewhere.


3. Southend-on-Sea

As the name implies, Southend-on-Sea runs across a stretch of water – specifically, the mouth of the River Thames. With this geographical position, the city appeals to plenty of tourists who aim to make use of the area’s beaches and coastal attractions for their summer holidays. Among the city’s draws are a 7000-foot pier, a fairground, an aquarium, and several parks and gardens.

With seaside wind blowing into the area, air quality has settled at around 4µg/m³, which is to be commended. As for dilapidated properties and fly tipping, the area sees just 1 derelict building and 1 fly tipping incident per 10,000 citizens each. Online searches for common household cleaning issues are also low, with 448 searches per 10,000, implying a greater state of cleanliness than other towns.


2. Gloucester

Lying on the River Severn, which passes by and eventually runs out to the Bristol Channel, Gloucester is a cathedral city with a deep historical past. Just a short distance from the border with Wales, Gloucester was founded by Romans and has since served as an important centre for services and industry. In the past century, the city has developed a thriving aerospace industry with deep aviation roots.

Despite this, the area’s air quality rests at 4µg/m³, a respectable score. In terms of abandoned structures and illegal dumping, Gloucester sees very few of these, with only 2 derelict properties and 1 fly tipping incidents per 10,000 residents. Additionally, google searches related to common household cleaning issues are extremely low, with less than 6000 searches reported annually.


1. Brighton and Hove

A seaside resort perched on the English Channel, Brighton has long been renowned as one of the greenest and cleanest areas of the UK. It boasts many appealing attractions, including pebble beaches, piers, and marinas, which all make use of Brighton’s blue coastal water, while numerous parks and gardens scatter the inland areas. With such great focus placed on local sustainability and preservation, it’s no surprise that Brighton has earned this position on our list.

The city’s air quality comes in at 1µg/m³, which makes for a near perfect score. Derelict properties and fly tipping are also relatively low, with 2 abandoned buildings and 11 illegal dumping incidents per 10,000 residents respectively. Where Brighton really shines, however, is the lack of online activity regarding common household cleaning problems, with only 356 google searches per 10,000 residents every year. These combined figures cement Brighton as one of the cleanest cities in the UK.