People are flocking to cities these days. The populations of major metropolitan areas are booming with hundreds of people moving daily. And while the benefits can be fantastic, there are some downsides to city living as well. One of those can be that cities are typically dirtier than other locations. But luckily here in North Carolina, it is not nearly as bad as it is in other places like New York City and Boston (the only place I’ve actually seen a rat on the street).  Though often times city living does come with more pollution, trash, and yes even rats. But what cities are the dirtiest? Well, our friends at LawnStarter ranked 2023’s Dirtiest Cities in America. And the good news is that none of the highest-ranking dirtiest cities were in North Carolina.

In fact, the highest-ranked (dirtiest to cleanest) North Carolina city was ranked 93 on this list. This is out of 150 cities nationwide. Lawnstarter compared over 150 of the biggest U.S. cities across four categories, including pollution, living conditions, infrastructure, and consumer satisfaction. Six North Carolina cities were included in those that were ranked. Below you’ll find those six places ranked from dirtiest to cleanest cities in North Carolina. You’ll also find the top 10 dirtiest cites ranked. Live in the highest-ranking one?  You may want to buy some air fresheners, mouse traps, or a can of Raid. You can never be too safe. And if I run across a rat I’m out.

View the full study here.

  • 1. Raleigh


    Overall Rank: 83

    Overall Score: 32.99

    Pollution Score: 77

    Living Conditions Rank: 30

    Infrastructure Rank: 95

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 99

  • 2. Durham

    Durham NC

    Overall Rank: 100

    Overall Score: 30.72

    Pollution Score: 74

    Living Conditions Rank: 140

    Infrastructure Rank: 104

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 100

  • 3. Fayetteville


    Overall Rank: 119

    Overall Score: 27.68

    Pollution Score: 66

    Living Conditions Rank: 142

    Infrastructure Rank: 83

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 151

  • 4. Charlotte


    Overall Rank: 141

    Overall Score: 23.27

    Pollution Score: 130

    Living Conditions Rank: 107

    Infrastructure Rank: 119

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 87

  • 5. Greensboro

    Greensboro skyline

    Greensboro, North Carolina skyline from the west. (Photo: Raynor Garey/Getty Images)

    Overall Rank: 144

    Overall Score: 23.05

    Pollution Score: 128

    Living Conditions Rank: 104

    Infrastructure Rank: 86

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 123

  • 6. WInston-Salem

    Winston Salem

    Overall Rank: 146

    Overall Score: 22.2

    Pollution Score: 131

    Living Conditions Rank: 133

    Infrastructure Rank: 72

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 140

  • Top 10 Dirtiest Cities Nationwide

  • 1. Houston, TX


    Overall Score: 56.02

    Pollution Score: 3

    Living Conditions Rank: 4

    Infrastructure Rank: 12

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 34

  • 2. Newark, NJ

    Newark New Jersey

    Overall Score: 55.25

    Pollution Score: 14

    Living Conditions Rank: 5

    Infrastructure Rank: 97

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 3

  • 3. San Bernardino, CA

    San Bernardino

    Overall Score: 51.58

    Pollution Score: 1

    Living Conditions Rank: 56

    Infrastructure Rank: 1313

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 1

  • 4. Detroit, MI


    Overall Score: 48.30

    Pollution Score: 9

    Living Conditions Rank: 35

    Infrastructure Rank: 89

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 4

  • 5. Jersey City, NJ

    Jersey City

    Overall Score: 48.11

    Pollution Score: 50

    Living Conditions Rank: 2

    Infrastructure Rank: 110

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 15

  • 6. Bakersfield, CA


    Overall Score: 47.95

    Pollution Score: 27

    Living Conditions Rank: 69

    Infrastructure Rank: 122

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 7

  • 7. San Antonio, TX

    San Antonio

    Overall Score: 47.43

    Pollution Score: 34

    Living Conditions Rank: 12

    Infrastructure Rank: 29

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 36

  • 8. Fresno, CA


    Overall Score: 47.27

    Pollution Score: 31

    Living Conditions Rank: 81

    Infrastructure Rank: 121

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 5

  • 9. Oklahoma City, OK

    Oklahoma City

    Overall Score: 46.51

    Pollution Score: 5

    Living Conditions Rank: 25

    Infrastructure Rank: 8

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 96

  • 10. Yonkers, NY


    Overall Score: 46.36

    Pollution Score: 46

    Living Conditions Rank: 8

    Infrastructure Rank: 128

    Consumer Satisfaction Rank: 14

  • Methodology

    From LawnStarter

    For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below.

    We then grouped those factors into four categories: Pollution, Living Conditions, Infrastructure, and Consumer Satisfaction.

    Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category.

    Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories. We eliminated 48 cities lacking sufficient data for a fair comparison, resulting in a final sample size of 152 cities.

    The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Dirtiest” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Cleanest” (No. 152). (Note: The “Cleanest” among individual factors may not be No. 152 due to ties.)

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