Stone memorials are very robust and durable when left to nature’s elements – but when it comes to man-made chemicals and cleaning processes they’re a little more vulnerable.
We are often asked about the best way to keep headstones and memorials clean. The first rule is to ask yourself:
1. “Does it really need cleaning?”
Sometimes cleaning a memorial can do more harm than good. Our best advice is always to only clean if absolutely necessary.
The less often you clean the stone the less chance there is of causing damage. Even with a gentle clean it is possible to remove small amounts of stone. In most cases once a year is sufficient.
2. Use the gentlest method first
Any time you clean a headstone or marker you should always use the gentlest method first. Just plain old water and a kitchen towel or soft brush is all you need in some cases. You should not use any household cleaners and definitely no chemicals, headstones are very porous and can take on any materials that are scrubbed on their surface.
3. Start from the bottom
Work your way up from the bottom, this helps to avoid dirt running down the stone.
4. Clean the whole surface
Keep the brush wet at all times and keep rinsing with clean water as you go. Scrub gently in circular motions, do not scrub hard.
There’s no point cleaning half of the stone to leave built up dirt above. When you start cleaning make sure to clean the whole stone.
5. Wipe away the wet water
Never leave the stone dry without rinsing. You can use a soft plastic scraper to scrape away any water.
- Do not clean a gravestone that is chipped, flaking or has loose stone, this can lead to unintentional damage.
- Do not use abrasive and wire brushes, use the softest brush possible before trying anything else.
- If you are not sure, consider a professional cleaning service to limit any chance of damage.