Gravestone Cleaning: What Not To Do

whatnottodoGravestone Cleaning : To clean or not to clean, that is the question? One of the most often asked questions regarding historic gravestones is ,”how do I clean this stone?”.

Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer. The first rule to follow is to use the gentlest means possible. With this being said a highly deteriorated gravestone should be left alone. Many well intentioned cleaning efforts have defaced or destroyed weak and fragile stones.

Since it is easily possible to do significant damage in a cleaning effort, first we will cover the most common errors.

The following cleaning techniques have no place in an historic graveyard!

  1. Do not employ pressure washers. They work great on modern granite memorials, but, can deface and erode the softer aged tombstones.
  2. Do not use any type of acids or acid based solutions.
  3. Do not use any kind of abrasives, especially sand blasting.
  4. Do not use metal or wire brushes, leave them in the garage.
  5. Do not bleach or any other household cleaners, leave them in the kitchen!
  6. Do not attempt to clean any stone that appears to be flaking, crumbling,or weakened in any way.
  7. Use your better judgment, if in doubt it is better left undone.

The following guidelines should point an aspiring gravestone cleaner in the right direction. This is not intended to be a comprehensive tutorial, but will keep you from jumping right into the frying pan.