No matter what material a headstone is made from, it will eventually start to succumb to the elements. Over time, headstones can get dirty and discolored, especially if they are not cleaned regularly. Keep in mind that aggressive cleaning with harsh chemicals can damage a headstone. Instead of using harsh cleaning supplies and tools, you can maintain a headstone using these helpful tips.
You can purchase non-ionic cleansers from any supplier that sells janitorial or conservation supplies. These cleansers aren’t formulated with salts that can harm grave stones. Instead, they’re made with gentle cleansing ingredients that can wash away dirt and other debris from stones. When combined with distilled water, non-ionic cleansers provide the perfect solution for brightening up a loved one’s headstone.
Different types of headstones require different cleaning methods. Granite is one of the more durable headstone materials but should still be cleaned carefully with a non-ionic cleanser. If lichen is attached to the stone, use a mixture of four parts water and one part ammonia to remove the lichen. If you’re dealing with marble or limestone, clean even more gently using soft sponges and wooden scrapers as needed.
If grave markers are irreparably damaged, it’s important to have them replaced. Consult an expert if you have any concerns about a grave stone’s condition or if you’re interested in replacing it with a new one. Severely damaged grave markers can’t be cleaned without further damaging the stone. Once the stone is replaced, make sure you clean it at least twice per year for best long-term results.
If you’re trying to clean a headstone after the finish has worn off, you could damage the stone. Don’t attempt to paint over an old finish or restore a tombstone yourself, since attempting to do so could yield undesirable results. It is best to hire a skilled professional to refinish and repair the stone before you resume cleaning it regularly.