Before you begin to clean any gravemarker, you need to get prepared before you leave home!
Items to include:
Prior to beginning to clean a gravemarker, determine the condition of the stone.
If the gravemarker exhibits any of the following conditions, I would not recommend that you clean it:
Remember, your goal is to do no further damage to the gravemarker and if cleaning it will cause any damage, do not attempt to clean the stone.
I personally do not recommend any cleaning solutions be utilized. I only use clean clear water. This is especially important if you are working in a cemetery, which does not have running water available.
Using chemical cleaning solutions on an old gravemarkers is very dangerous because the chemicals can leach into the pores of the stone and no amount of flushing with water will remove the effects of the chemical.
I begin by thoroughly wetting down the gravemarker and then starting at the top, I work my way down to the bottom, keeping the brush strokes in the same direction. Sort of like painting a house, you start at the top and keep your brush strokes in the same direction.
Additionally, NEVER use high-pressure equipment to clean gravemarkers. One horror story I heard about was a man who was actually digging up gravestones from the cemetery, putting them on a trailer and taking them down to the car wash and blasting them with soap and water. While this person was well intended, his actions resulted in the permanent damage of several gravemarkers.
Do not use any abrasives, acids, solvents, household cleaners, liquid soap, wire brushes, or sand blasting or any other equipment to clean a gravemarker.
Do not be disappointed if the gravemarker does not have a like-new appearance, remember, it has stood out in the elements of nature for several, if not hundreds of years.
Do not clean gravemarkers with a brush more than once every 18-months. However, you can rinse the gravemarker with clean clear water to remove bird droppings.
Do not use any chemical weed killer around the base of gravemarkers. Again, the old gravemarkers act as a sort of wick and draw the chemicals into the pores of the stone.
Be careful and do not use electric or gas powered weed-eaters around the gravemarkers. If the stone is especially brittle or fragile, the plastic twine can cut groves into the gravemarker. I suggest using hand-held grass clippers.= = = = = = = = = = =
Source for some of the above taken from suggestions made by: John R. Dennis - Dallas Museum of Art Conservation Lab, March 1995
This webpage was last created on 14 Sept 2000 and was last revised on _____ 2000
Copyright © 2000 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604