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:
- Wooden scraper
- Soft cloths
- Non-ionic soap (ex: Ivory or Orvus)
- Natural bristled brushes
Steps to Clean a Marble Headstone:
- 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.
- Soak the stone with water to saturate any growth that may be present.
- Use the wooden scraper to remove any algae or moss growth from the surface.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of the non-ionic soap with 1 gallon of water.
- Use the brushes to apply the soapy mixture to the surface and scrub away any debris.
- Keep the stone wet with clean water for the duration of your cleaning.
- Once all of the debris is removed, rinse the stone thoroughly with clean water.
- 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.
- Non-ionic soap is a classification of cleaning solutions that means it has no electrical charge. Other soaps are classified as anionic (negative charge), cationic (positive charge), or amphoteric (the charge is based on the pH).
- Handbook for Critical Cleaning; Cleaning Agents and Systems by Barbara and Edward Kanegsberg