Leaf litter is a growing concern for cities. Due to adherent dirt such biomass is rarely utilized nowadays but may constitute a renewable energy source for communities or private households. Leaf litter from main roads, residential areas and city centres collected by the vacuum technique or the sweeper technique was sampled and analysed for ash content and chemical composition. Ash content of leaf litter collected by the sweeping technique was higher (21.6%–40.1% dry matter, DM) than in material collected by the vacuum technique (12.0%–21.7% DM). Leaf litter from residential areas had the highest contamination (21.7%–40.1% DM), followed by main roads (20.8%–26.2% DM) and city centres (12.0%–21.6% DM). Ash content was reduced by up to 60% with a washing treatment and reached values comparable to those achieved by multiple manual rinsing, which was conducted as a reference treatment. The chemical composition of washed leaf litter could be further improved by mechanical dehydration treatment due to a reduction in harmful elements for combustion such as K, Cl, Mg and S. Heating value of leaf litter increased and the risk of corrosion and ash melting during combustion were reduced.