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An Introduction to Headstone Cleaning

Cemeteries are responsible for the condition of the cemetery grounds, but the cleaning of your loved one's headstone is totally your responsibility.

Warning: We cannot be responsible for any damage that occurs as a result of anything covered in this article. Read this article all the way though. A proper headstone cleaning kit is recommended if you are trying to do it yourself. To be safe contact your local headstone services company.

Cleaning a headstoneccan be summed up like this:

  • Pay a professional to do it.
  • Do it yourself.

Pay a Professional to do Your Headstone Cleaning

There are companies that will clean your loved one's headstone for you. Unless you're willing to do the proper research for the situation you should use one of these companies. If you use the wrong chemical or cleaning technique you could permanently damage the stone.

A professional headstone services company will usually try to get you to agree to a regular maintenance contract. That may or may not be necessary. Contact your local headstone services company for more info. Contact Us if you are in the Greater Philadelphia Area.

Do-it-yourself Headstone Cleaning

It takes a long time for a headstone to get dirty. So don't expect it to come clean without putting some time and effort into it. Often a headstone made of porous material (like granite, marble and limestone) will still have a slightly "dirty" look to it when you are finished cleaning it. Be aware that this is because the "pores" of the material still contain dirt. This dirt often gets bleached by the sun after cleaning and your headstone will look better. Wait for two weeks after cleaning to see what happens. Sometimes your headstone will look great.

A simple way to start is to use soap and water. Soap and water has limitations and probably won't return your headstone to its original condition. You should always use a product that has been proven to work on the type of headstone material that you are cleaning using a non-toxic process.

Probably the best way to clean a headstone yourself is to buy a headstone cleaning kit for the type of headstone you have (granite, marble, etc) and follow the directions carefully.

Whether you hire someone or clean the headstone yourself there are some basics you should keep in mind:

  • Always check the stone's condition before cleaning. Do not clean the stone if its condition is questionable. If there is any condition that indicates that the stone is delicate, brittle, or otherwise vulnerable ask for the help of a professional headstone services company before proceeding.
  • Wet the headstone before cleaning and keep the stone wet throughout the entire process.
  • Don't let your chosen detergent solution dry on the stone during the process of cleaning (or after).
  • When cleaning a headstone do not use an abrasive, a high pressure wash, a solvent, a household cleaner, a wire brush, or a sandblaster.
  • Be sure to test any type of detergent solution on a small area before washing the more visible parts of the headstone.
  • Some stains in porous stones cannot be removed.
  • Do not clean marble, limestone, or sandstone more than once every 18 months.
  • Granite can be cleaned as needed.
  • Keep records of the cleaning date, detergent used, and change of condition.

Keeping in mind the above information will significantly help you to decide how to maintain your loved one's headstone. Headstone cleaning is not rocket science but be sure to do your research before deciding hire someone or do it yourself.

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