The best way to protect a gravestone is to clean with water and a soft brush. However, if you feel that water alone is not accomplishing the results you would like, we want you to make good choices about the products that you use. A note of caution being that there are many products out on the market for stone cleaning, some might not be good for all types of stones. We hope that you take the time to learn more about these cleaners before using them. Education will help you make the right choices. Remember you are working with historic family monument. Please read this page on the NCPTT website.
Whatever products you decide to use, you will need lots of water. It’s best to use distilled water. This is because distilled water is soft, and will not affect the stone by having additives such as salt or mineral deposits such as rust.
Wet the stone down before using any chemical cleaning product. Wetting prevents the chemical from getting deep inside the stone. So always start with lots of water and rinse with lots of water.
Only use soft bristled, plastic nylon brushes, preferably white. Always test selected cleaning method before putting chemical all over the gravestone. A small edge or corner of the back of the stone is a good spot for this. Clean from the bottom to the top of the headstone to avoid streak staining on the stone. Don’t assume that one cleaning procedure that is effective in one specific case will work for all cleaning situations. Non-ionic detergents are recommended for cleaning gravestones. Three cleaners that people use are Orvus Soap by Proctor & Gamble (Mix one tablespoon of non-ionic Orvus soap, with one gallon of water) and Kodak Photo-Flo used by photographers, it’s non-corrosive, balanced and safe for stones; it’s preferred for absorbent stones. Another product you can use is D/2 Biological Solution is a safe, easy to use liquid you can order it from Lime Works.us with a savings if you use “saveagrave” as your coupon code. Please follow the directions.
A suggested cleaning solution for newer stones is one ounce non-ionic detergent to 5 gallons water. Ammonium Hydroxide (household ammonia) is recommended for cleaning newer light colored stones. Ammonia is effective for the removal of biological growth. One cup ammonia to one gallon of water. Avoid products containing sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate and ammonium carbonate, due to their ability to form and deposit soluble salts in monuments. Do not use metal brushes or scrapers and NEVER use bleach.
Cleaning Trip List – Click on image to buy.
Ammonium Hydroxide – good for cleaning light colored stones.
Clippers – Use to clean away any grass or weeds.
Bucket With Lid – To store your supplies and used as a seat.
Rubber Gloves – Protect your hands cleaning products.
Nylon Brushes – Only use soft bristled, preferably white.
Orvus Soap by Proctor & Gamble Kodak – Non-ionic
Photo-Flo – It’s non-corrosive, balanced and safe for stones.
Plastic Scraper – Always use plastic or wood.
Q-tips – Used to get into small crakes.
Sponges – Always use soft sponges.
Tooth Brushes – Another way to get in small spaces.
Water – This water container is great.
Spray Bottle of water – You can wet down the stone to take a better picture of it.
Waterless Hand Sanitizer – For your safety.
Whisk Broom – Use to sweep off the stone before cleaning.
Kendrick Lester’s Book Headstone Cleaning Guide