How to Clean a Marble Headstone/Tombstone


Joyce asked: How do I clean marble or granite tombstones? I need to clean a tombstone, and I am not sure if it is granite or marble. Can you tell me what to use?

The first step in caring for a tombstone or headstone is to identify what material it is made of. Once that is determined, you can choose the appropriate cleaning method. For marble, use the cleaning steps below. For granite, see our guide How to Clean a Granite Headstone/Tombstone.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Wooden scraper
  • Soft cloths
  • Non-ionic soap (ex: Ivory or Orvus)
  • Natural bristled brushes

Steps to Clean a Marble Headstone:

  1. Only marble that is in good condition should be cleaned. Inspect the entire headstone for cracks, wear and signs of damage. If these are present, it may be best to leave it as is. Cleaning weak marble can result in further, irreparable damage.
  2. Soak the stone with water to saturate any growth that may be present.
  3. Use the wooden scraper to remove any algae or moss growth from the surface.
  4. Mix 1 tablespoon of the non-ionic soap with 1 gallon of water.
  5. Use the brushes to apply the soapy mixture to the surface and scrub away any debris.
  6. Keep the stone wet with clean water for the duration of your cleaning.
  7. Once all of the debris is removed, rinse the stone thoroughly with clean water.
  8. Repeat every 18 months. If more frequent cleanings are necessary, use plain water to remove any dirt or residue that may be present.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • For additional information, such as removing stains, see our guide How to Clean Marble.
  • Only use wooden tools when cleaning marble. Plastic tools can cause scratches. If scratches are present, see our guide How to Remove Scratches from Marble.
  • If there are oil or grease stains on the stone, add a small amount of ammonia to the cleaning solution.
  • If there are plaques, etc. made of other metals, do not allow the cleaning solution to come in contact with these metals.


  1. Magy says:

    “Based on NCPTT research, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will implement new policies that ban bleach-containing cleaners and encourage the use of gentle biocidal cleaners for regular maintenance of more than three million headstones nationwide.”

    Two recommendations: D/2 Biological Solution (from Lime Works) and Enviro Klean BioWash.

    Source: NCPTT – Best Practice Recommendations for Cleaning Government-Issued Marble Headstones (2011-13)

  2. Deborah says:

    Other articles that I have read say not to use Ivory detergent.

  3. Jan says:

    Bucket of soapy water and some elbow grease, here we come!

  4. Kath says:

    Hi. My nan’s headstone got green on it, so I was told to use white vinager on it. Is there any other stuff I can use to make it come white or cleaner please?

  5. Melanie says:

    You can try using the stain removal methods in the article, How to Clean Marble. The green on the headstone is likely organic, so hydrogen peroxide might be a good first choice. Keep in mind though that it is best to try any cleaner on a small, hidden spot first. Also, make sure that you rinse off the cleaner well after using it.

  6. Coco says:

    A smart person NEVER will clean marble or different types of stone. The stone “writes” for centuries and should be left alone.

  7. Judy says:

    My parents’ headstone has staining about a foot of the way up from the bottom. The staining is from the natural clay soil in that area. I think it will take something really powerful to get it to come out. I have no idea what to use. Can you please help?
    Thank you so much!

    Check it out! We’ve answered your question! Yay!

  8. Ann says:

    My mother’s tall gorgeous marble tombstone, which has been up 15 years, is this year covered in green mildew. I love the ageing of marble, but this I’d not ageing!! I have marble cleaner in the can, but I don’t believe it would do this. Someone said bleach & water, but I’m afraid to do this.

  9. Melanie says:

    Look for a product that is specifically designed to kill fungus (mold/mildew) and is safe for marble. A great choice is Marblelife Mold and Mildew Remover. If a product isn’t an antifungal, then it won’t work to kill the mold spores. You may be able to wipe the mold off, but you need to kill the spores to prevent it from returning. See this article for more information: How to Clean Mold/Mildew from Natural Sealed Stone Shower.

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