Charlie's Corner

May 19, 2021

How to Gently Clean a Gravestone

To honor deceased loved ones and veterans, it’s customary to purchase attractive gravestones.  Generally, these memorials are made from natural stone such as granite, slate, and marble. While gravestones look great when they are first installed, they get worn out with time. As they are constantly weathered in the outdoors, gravestones need consistent attention to remain looking their best. 

As we approach Memorial Day, our departed loved ones are on the front of many people’s minds. However, an often missed fact about cemeteries is that groundskeepers are not responsible for cleaning gravestones. In fact, it is left up to family and friends to ensure that these memorials are properly maintained and cleaned. 

If you are curious about the best way to keep gravestones clean, Charlie’s Soap has some hands-on guidance for you. Pay careful attention, to not cause damage, there are some specific steps you must take when cleaning gravestones. 

Use the Right Soap and Water

A great starting point for cleaning a gravestone is using the correct soap and water. Get these two important factors right and you are well on your way to success.

Avoid using hard water for cleaning gravestones. The excess minerals in hard water can stain and even damage precious stonework. For the best results, use distilled water that doesn’t contain any dissolved minerals. 

Importantly, standard cleaning products should not be used when cleaning gravestones. Harsh cleaners like bleach and tile cleaner are extremely alkaline – these high PH products are corrosive for granite, slate, and marble. For the best results for cleaning gravestones, we recommend Charlie’s Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner. This product will get your loved one’s monument looking great, while also helping preserve it. 

It’s also worth noting, because Charlie’s Soap products are 100% natural, they will not damage the lawn around gravestones during cleaning. 

Get Your Ratios Correct  

While it is extremely important to use the right soap for cleaning gravestones, you must also mix the soap with the correct amount of water. Even with the most PH-balanced cleaners, using too much product with too little water can cause damage to granite, slate, and marble.

With our Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner, we recommend a ¼ strength solution for cleaning gravestones. Meaning, you should mix 1 part soap to 4 parts water for the ideal cleaning solution. In following these specifications, you will avoid stripping the color from the stone or weakening its surface. 

Use the Right Tools, Scrub Gently, and Be Patient 

Once you have the right water and soap in place, it’s time to gather the other tools you will need to gently clean the gravestone. Soft bristle brushes are a great bet for removing tough stains on gravestones. 

Start by thoroughly soaking down the gravestone with water and soap. Let the mixture sit for 2 to 5 minutes, then start scrubbing. To avoid scratching the surface of the stone, be sure to work the brush in a circular fashion. For difficult stains and grime, rework the area again with soap, water, and gentle scrubbing. Please note, for gravestones that have never been cleaned, you might have to repeat this process several times. 

Once the surface is clean, rinse away excess dirt and soap with distilled water. After that, dry the gravestone with a soft microfiber towel to remove any remaining mineral deposits. When you are done cleaning the stone, have a look around the area to ensure you clean up all the materials you brought for the job. 

Honor Veterans this Memorial Day 

Cleaning gravestones is a great way to honor our deceased veterans this Memorial Day. It’s often overlooked that families and friends are responsible for keeping gravestones clean. This notion also applies to veterans’ headstones paid for by the federal government. While these memorials look great when they are first put in, they get worn out in time. 

This Memorial Day, Charlie’s Soap encourages you to get out there and help preserve these iconic monuments to our nation’s heroes. If interested, you can join the ranks of Eagle Scouts and good samaritans who have made this pastime an important part of their lives.