How to Clean a Memorial Stone

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how to clean a memorial

Many people come forward with the question of ‘How do I clean a memorial stone’? expecting the answer to be as simple as a wipe clean with a cloth but in fact to keep the stone maintained and in the best preserved condition, there is a little more tender loving care that goes into it.

As our memorial stones and statues age and fade over the years, it’s in our nature to restore them to their original beauty by cleaning them but if we don’t take the correct steps to restoring them, we can actually create damage.

Remember that all stones will deteriorate differently to each other and your end picture of how you want the stone to look may actually be different to the final view of the memorial stone.

Easy Steps

Follow these steps below to help you clean your precious stones without the worry of creating any harm and damage to them:

  1. Firstly you will need to inspect the stone you are wanting to clean. Can it be cleaned? If you see any signs of deterioration such as flaking or chipping then you should not clean the stone due to further damage occurring.
  2. Next you will need to determine what stone you are dealing with, lots of different types of stone will need a different cleaning routine. Common memorial stones are often created from slate, marble, limestone and sandstone.
  3. Once you have completed the first two steps and are ready to start cleaning the stone, you will need to start gently. Even though you know your cleaning routine with your specific stone, you can still cause damage with an aggressive clean to it.
  4. You must always start cleaning with water and a soft brush. You can pick up a selection of brushes from your local hardware store, it is always best to have different brushes from large to small as they will clean different parts of the stone. Another great tip is to buy a pump sprayer to gently spray the water over the memorial stone, this is a great water saver so you don’t need to keep returning to the tap and filling up constantly.
  5. You should only dab the letters with a soft sponge, do not scrub the letters especially gold letters, you may use a light brush to remove debris but you will need to be extremely careful.
  6. Carefully use a scraper to remove any moss or algae growing on the stone. There are many types of scrapers, plastic, wood etc. Plastic scrapers tend to be the most popular due to them being softer and easier to handle the delicate stones.
  7. If you are needing a stronger cleaner than water and a brush then depending on the stone you are cleaning you may use a non – ionic detergent that has been watered down with clean water. Start cleaning from the bottom to the top of the stone and always keep the stone wet with clean water as you clean it.
  8. Repeat every 18 months. If you are needing to clean it sooner then you may use clean water and keep gently dabbing your sponge over the debris that needs removing.

Important Notice

Please note:

  • Memorial stones that are very old, stained and chipping are extremely fragile and should never be cleaned.
  • These cleaning routines are a guidance only and the person must understand that weather and aging will deteriorate certain stones a lot quicker than others.
  • Do not place wreaths with a wire stand directly onto the stone due to the wire rusting and staining the stone.
  • Do not use artificial flowers or plastic flowers with wire supports in the stems as the stone may be affected with the rust and artificial dye from the flowers.
  • Your final view of the stone once cleaned may be different to what you had visualized.
  • Allow as much time as needed to clean memorial stones, they need time, effort and a gentle cleaning approach.

3 Responses to “How to Clean a Memorial Stone”

  1. Lovely post, and just what I needed to make our old memorial stone, new again.

  2. I had no idea that aged and damaged memorial stones are incredibly delicate and should not be cleaned. When my wife and I visited my late uncle’s grave last weekend, we noticed that dirt had started to accumulate on the front of the headstone. Still, we’re worried that we may damage the stone if we try cleaning it since cracks have started to form around it recently. We’ll consider finding someone that can restore the headstone so that we can clean it without causing damages.

  3. Hi Curtis, thanks for sharing the experience of your memorial stone with others.

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