The streets needed to be kept clean and refuse needed to be disposed of in order to improve the cleanliness of the city. The streets were swept and some were watered down with a hose to clean them of dust. Even in the poorer areas of the city, both streets and passages were to be washed to dispose of anything that could be injurious to health. Also street gullies were cleansed or flushed. In the business areas of the town cleaning was carried out by street orderly boys. During the war women were employed as cleaners to replace the male workers who had gone off to fight for their country.
It was necessary to find an effective way of collecting the city?s refuse. Most houses had ashpits where refuse was thrown. In 1895 the Health Committee decided to abolish ashpits and replaced them with galvanised iron dustbins. The refuse from these fixed bins was collected every week. From 1867, the Corporation organised the collection and disposal of refuse. Refuse was collected in horse-drawn carts and in later years the Corporation used steam wagons. Eventually came the advent of the motor refuse wagon, around 1903.
Up until 1870 disused stone quarries and excavated land were used for the disposal of dry ashpit refuse. Later, arrangements were made with farmers and others to take the refuse and use it for manure. Two steam hopper barges called the Alpha and the Beta were built in the 1880s to dump the refuse at sea. However, by 1890 the amount of refuse being collected had increased and it was decided that the lighter materials could be destroyed in large furnaces. The first ?destructor? was installed at the Chisenhale Street Depot. This experiment was successful and more destructors were built. The burning of refuse produced enough energy to generate electricity. Engine rooms were built at the destructors in Smithdown Road, Charters Street, Lavrock Bank and Cobb?s Quarry, St. Domingo Road. The leftover ?clinker? was used to make concrete for the construction of prefabricated housing.