The Best Way to Clean Headstones

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Headstones are one way to remember your loved ones that have passed on and because of this, you want their final resting place to look as good as possible. Cleaning a headstone can be done with relative ease as long as care is taken not to damage the stone.

1 Assessment

Before attempting to clean a headstone, access the situation. If the headstone is in disrepair, do not attempt to clean it. Cleaning a damaged headstone can make it worse. If the headstone is brittle or flaking, look into getting it repaired. If the headstone has moss or fungi growing on it do not attempt to remove it. Removing the moss may cause more harm than good.

2 Water and soap

When cleaning a headstone always use clean water. Rain water is less damaging then tap water, since it does not contain as many chemicals. If possible, collect rain water in a container weeks before cleaning the headstones. Pour the collected rain water into a pump sprayer. Using a pump sprayer allows you to rinse off the gravestone without transferring any dirty water to it. When you use a bucket to clean with, swish the scrub brush in the water when cleaning. This only transfers the dirty water back to the headstone. Using a pump sprayer, which can be bought at garden centers and home improvement stores nationwide, eliminates the transfer of dirty water.

Spray the gravestone with water, soaking it completely. Always use water first to try to remove as much of the dirt and grim that is on the headstone.

Mix one tablespoon of non-ionic soap such as Orvus, which can be found at feed and farm stores, with one gallon of water. Use this solution to clean with. If the headstone you are cleaning is made from marble or limestone, add one tablespoon of ammonia to the non-ionic soap water mixture. Use only a soft bristled brush such as an automotive detailing brush or a soft toothbrush. When scrubbing the tombstone, always move in an orbit motion randomly all over the stone. This will help to eliminate any streaking and avoid erosion on the stone. Once you have scrubbed the headstone, rinse thoroughly.

Avoid cleaning limestone, marble or sandstone more than once every 18 months. Instead, rinse with clean rain water to remove bird droppings and other debris whenever needed.

Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.