We always want the best for our loved ones, even when they have passed away. That’s why many families make it a point to regularly clean the memorial stones of their beloved departed relatives.
We recommend the cleaning and maintenance of a memorial stone should only be carried out by professionals who have the required level of expertise, knowledge and practical skills. However, if you wish to clean your loved one’s memorial stone, please ensure that you don’t use any materials that can damage the stone.
There is a perception that since granite and marble are such strong materials their surfaces can withstand chemical cleaning agents and wire brushes. Where in fact, the surfaces are best cleaned with simply water and a soft cloth. What some people may not be aware of, is that smooth polished monument surfaces can be easily scratched by strong bristles on a brush or permanently stained by chemical cleaners. Never use shaving cream or other household chemicals to clean the stone. Although they may highlight the inscriptions quickly during the cleaning process, they are harmful to the memorial stone in the long run. Some cleaners can even eat through a smooth polished granite finish. Power washers are also not recommended unless they are used by professional monument cleaners.
For marble monuments, we highly recommend calling a professional monument cleaner for this type of stone. Marble monuments in particular are very hard to clean safely as they are a softer stone that can easily stain.
Water and household glass cleaner (not industrial strength glass cleaners) are the only products we recommend for cleaning monuments. It is important to note that when using household glass cleaner in the final cleaning phase, ensure that all of the product is polished completely dry. Do not leave any liquid residue on the surface.
For everyday maintenance there are a few simple processes that can be followed to help ensure that a memorial stays in good condition. The following are broad guidelines which, if followed correctly, will help maintain the general appearance of your loved one’s headstone or gravestone.
Cleaning Granite Memorial Stones
Depending upon the amount of debris that has accumulated on the gravestone, gently wash with water and a soft cloth the worst of the dirt. Simply wet a soft brush in a bucket of water and gently scrub away the debris from the stone. Be prepared, as this process may take a bit of time, even for a 4 foot square surface.
Remember that water is the safest cleaning product to use on the stone. Any soaps or cleaners containing oils can penetrate into the stone and cause discoloration. Household glass cleaner can be used (once the worst of the debris is cleaned off) in order to give it a streak- free polished finish.
Here are a few tips and suggestions to protect and maintain a memorial stone:
- The safest way to clean a headstone is to use natural clean water or distilled water
- Using a bucket and lots of water, keep the stone wet through the entire washing process
- In order to clean a polished or honed granite memorial stone, wash it well with a soft, damp cloth
- Do not use household cleaners as they may contain chemicals that my stain the monument
- Avoid using a protective coating which is impermeable to water vapor as it is likely to stain or damage the stone beyond repair
- Use “household” glass cleaner (not industrial strength glass cleaner) to creating a streak free finish
- Ensure that the glass cleaner is completely polished (dry to the touch) on the monument surface
Remember, the modern techniques used to clean and maintain new granite memorials may not be applicable for OLD stones. The techniques used for modern stone are not safe for 200+ year old markers. Each stone needs its own diagnosis. What is good in one situation is not necessarily good for all. Contact us if you would like a more detailed understanding of cleaning granite memorial stones – their distinct qualities, styles, textures, colors as well as the maintenance of bronze memorials.