Crucial Steps for Cleaning a Headstone


When preparing for a loved one's burial, headstone installation is usually part of the process. The grave marker allows family and friends to preserve the memories of the deceased. Once installed, gravestones remain in the open and are exposed to the elements at all times. Therefore, adequate care is essential to preserving the condition of a headstone, and this includes cleaning. However, cleaning a headstone is not as straightforward as most people think. Notably, a lot is involved to ensure that a gravestone remains in optimal condition. This article highlights crucial steps for cleaning headstones.

Inspect the Condition — Just because you see mould, loose dirt or bird droppings on a headstone does not mean you should proceed with the cleaning process. If you begin scrubbing an unstable headstone, it might lean excessively or fall over. Therefore, the first thing you must do is assess a headstone's condition. Look for cracks, fissures or signs of tipping since they will guide you on proceeding with the cleaning process. For instance, if a headstone is unstable, you should reset it before cleaning. Similarly, any cracks must be filled to keep moisture from the stone's interior once the cleaning process commences.

Identify Headstone Material — Headstones are made from different materials; hence, you must avoid a one-size-fits-all cleaning approach. Headstone cleaning supplies and procedures depend on the material. For instance, marble and limestone are smooth and soften over time due to acid rain. Therefore, you should not scrub a marble headstone like a granite grave marker to avoid causing damages. Likewise, slate tends to suffer from flaking due to prolonged exposure to sunlight. Thus, you should not use a pressure washer since it might damage the stone's upper layer, leading to discolouration. Most importantly, always match cleaning supplies and procedures to a specific headstone material.

Identify Types of Dirt — Headstone dirt includes bird droppings, mould, loose soil, lichen, algae and moss. Over time, dirt stains a headstone, making it difficult to restore the grave marker. Therefore, you should identify the type of dirt on a loved one's headstone before proceeding with cleaning. For example, if the moss and algae on a grave marker are still fresh, you can easily clean them off with regular freshwater. However, if the algae or lichen has stayed on a headstone for long and stained the surface, you need to scrub the stubborn stains with a brush and detergents. Ultimately, identifying the type of dirt on a headstone goes a long way in helping you choose the right cleaning supplies.


25 October 2021

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