How to Clean a Headstone

A cemetery may seem like just a final resting place to some, but family members, friends, and loved ones often visit gravestones to pay their respects long after death. Modern memorials are designed to withstand wear and tear for several centuries, but any headstone is susceptible to bird excrement, calcium deposits, discoloration, and more. In this article, we teach you how to clean a headstone, so you can preserve the past and restore your loved one’s grave to immaculate condition. Keep reading to learn more.

Before You Clean: Guidelines for Safety

Before you attempt to clean a headstone, you should take a quick inspection of its condition. If there is any evidence of instability or fractures, you should contact a headstone professional or funeral provider. If the stone displays any signs of chipping, scaling, flaking, or deterioration, you should avoid brushing and scraping as part of your cleaning process. You must also determine what kind of stone or material the headstone is made of before buying necessary cleaning supplies. No matter what kind of headstone you’re cleaning, remember to be as gentle as possible.

How to Clean a Headstone: Granite

True granite should resist natural deterioration and discoloration from season to season, but that might not stop your gravestone from weathering over time. Weathering can occur depending on the presence of water, the temperature, the mineral composition of the rock, and its chemical composition. Your headstone may also fall victim to moss, sap, lichens, bird droppings, or hard water from a cemetery watering system.

To start, you will need a clean bucket, dishwashing liquid, water, cotton balls or swabs, as well as clean cloths or rags for washing and drying. Mold, mildew, and rust may require specialty cleaning solutions. In terms of general cleaning, start by removing any excess debris on or around the headstone. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid into a bucket filled with at least two liters of water. You should never use ammonia, vinegar, or lemon cleaners on granite, as their acidic formulas will eat away at the gravestone’s surface. Soak a clean cloth in the soapy water, wring to remove any excess water, and wipe the granite headstone thoroughly. Once the headstone is as clean as you desire, you should wash it with water to remove soapy residue. Using a couple liters of clean water, wash the headstone with a clean rag. Then use a clean cloth to dry the headstone as soon as possible. You can also clean engravings or inlays by using a cotton swab or ball and a little soapy water. Once everything is clean, you should buff the headstone with a dry cloth.

How to Clean a Headstone: Bronze

Bronze headstones that lie horizontally are exposed and susceptible to environmental weathering. Most bronze grave markers feature protective coatings, but they do wear away over time. With regular cleaning, you can keep a bronze headstone looking like new for years to come and prevent oxidation. Start with two clean, dry cloths, distilled water, non-ionic soap, paste wax, a soft bristle brush, a toothbrush, and an applicator brush.

Remove any debris on or around the bronze memorial. Wet the headstone with water and scrub gently using a soft bristle brush to remove scum. Use a toothbrush to reach nooks and crannies. Rinse the brushes frequently, to ensure that you remove all debris possible. You should not use any abrasive materials while cleaning, because sandpaper and steel wool can scratch bronze surfaces and cause permanent damage. Using non-ionic soap, you can create a simple soap mixture and scrub again to remove any stubborn stains or grease. Once clean, rinse the grave marker with clean water and dry it completely with a clean cloth. You should then allow the headstone to air dry. You might choose to add a protective coating to the bronze headstone. If so, add a thin layer of paste wax and allow the wax to dry. Once dried, buff the surface with a dry cloth.

Maintaining a headstone is the key to enjoying a long-lasting memorial with your family members and friends. If you have any questions about how to clean a headstone, please contact Legacy Headstones today for more information.

Create Your Loved One’s Customized Headstone

At Legacy Headstones it is our goal to provide you with the tools you need in order to create the perfect headstones for graves that honor your loved one. Legacy Headstones has been a family run business for almost 100 years so we understand the importance of a legacy. Creation and design of headstones may have changed over the years but one thing has not, our family tradition. We are proud to have our two sons Shane and Dustyn to carry on the craft of providing people with quality headstones at affordable prices.

We understand that it is always hard to lose a loved one, and we hope that Legacy Headstones can make choosing the right memorial as easy as possible. Our free memorial designer is easy to use and helps to ensure they you are able to create the perfect headstone for the departed. It really is simple, just choose the style of headstone you wish to customize, then use the designer to add anything you wish such as a family name, favorite quote, or even an image. Our designer gives you the opportunity to continue your loved one’s legacy and pass it on to future generations!


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