Inspect the marble tombstone for crumbling, scratches or flaking. If you
notice any damage, do not attempt to clean the tombstone. Doing so could
cause more destruction to the marble.
Fill a spray bottle with cool water. Saturate the marble tombstone
completely with water about 30 minutes before you begin the cleaning
process. This helps keep the cleaning solution from leaching into the
Dip a soft-bristled brush into cool water and gently scrub the marble
tombstone. Work from the bottom up and scrub in a gentle, circular
Apply a neutral cleaner to a sponge and scrub the marble tombstone. A
neutral cleaner is sulfate-free, acid-free and ammonia-free. Once again,
work from the bottom to the top. Continue gently scrubbing until the
streaks are no longer visible.
Dampen a soft cloth in cool water and rinse the marble tombstone by
gently wiping it. Repeat this step several times to make sure you have
removed all traces of the cleaning solution.
Wipe the tombstone dry with a microfiber cloth.
Metallic brushes are entirely too harsh, and they also leave
particles on the surface of the stone that can rust.
Small, soft, slanted paintbrush
- To clean debris and critters out of lettering or carvings
least one large sponge
may also want to bring a small spray bottle of water for gently
cleaning dirt and debris from the stone. The spray bottle, should
contain only water
and not detergent or chemicals of any kind that would damage
and further erode the stone's material. You might want to use Photo
Flo, which is made by Kodak and used in photo developing. Mix one
capfull per gallon of water. Wash stone with solution, then rinse
stone with clean water. Use brush
Used to kneel on or clean polished granite stones. Launder them
first, but do NOT use fabric softener. The softener will affect
their ability to absorb liquids as well as cutting down on the
"magnetism" for dirt and dust.
Bring along a sample size of antibacterial waterless hand cleaners
Cutting Tool -
Hand-held grass clippers, scissors or a retractable razor
knife for trimming grass and/or weeds close to the stones. Do NOT
use weed whacker type trimmers as these can scar the stones. For
site clearing/cleaning, a pair of pruning shears or hedge clippers
is also helpful for brush that is too thick to rip out or cut with
grass clippers, but not thick enough to bother with a chain saw.
Pencil and Notepad
to record information about the stone or cemetery location.
addition, you will want to also look at taking along the following
- plan to bring at least several quarts of water with you for
drinking , apart from the water you use for washing the stones.
- Both work gloves and rubber gloves.
First Aid kit
and wasp spray
Antibacterial liquid soap
and or waterless instant hand sanitizer
Protective hand lotion
(for poison ivy, oak and sumac)
STAINS AND STAIN REMOVAL
Before you attempt to remove a stain, it is extremely important to
know what has caused it. If you don't know, it is highly recommended
that you consult a stone specialist
Avoid using chemicals of any kind until you know which chemical
cleaner to use. Certain chemicals will react with the spilled
material, and could make the stain permanent.
Removing stains from marble or granite can prove difficult. These stones
are porous materials, and If not thoroughly sealed they we be
susceptible to staining. The only way a stain can be removed is to use a
safe chemical that will pull it out of the stone and an absorbent
material that will soak up the stain. This chemical absorbent-material
combination is commonly referred to as a poultice.
Poultices are commonly powder or cloth materials that can be mixed with
a chemical and placed on top of the stain. Refer to the table below for
some of the more common poultice materials. Clays and diatomaceous earth
are safe and readily available, but do not use whiting or clays
containing iron with an acidic chemical; iron will react with the acid,
and may cause rust staining. It is best to purchase powders that are
designed specifically for stone and tile. Consult a stone restoration
specialist or your stone supplier if in doubt.
towels Cotton balls Gauze pads Clays such as attapulgite, kaolin,
fuller's earth Talc Chalk (whiting) Sepiolite Diatomaceous earth Methyl
cellulose Flour Saw dust How to apply a poultice
apply a poultice, take the following steps:
Clean the stained area with water and stone soap. Remember to blot
rather than wipe.
Pre-wet the stained area with a lot & lots of water. Distilled water is
Refer to the chart and determine which chemical to use for the stain.
the poultice material with the selected chemical. Mix until a thick
peanut-butter paste consistency is obtained.
Apply the paste to the stained area, overlapping the stain by at least ¼
. Do not make the application too thick, or it will take a long time to
Cover the paste with a plastic sandwich bag or food wrap. Tape the
plastic using a low-contact tape.
Allow the paste to sit for 12–24 hours.
Remove the plastic cover and check to see if the paste has dried. If it
has not, allow it to sit uncovered until thoroughly dry.
it is dry, remove the paste by scraping and rinse the area.
Examine the stain. If it still remains, but is somewhat lighter,
re-poultice until it is gone. If the stain refuses to disappear
completely, it is time to give up, replace the tile or call a stone
removal can be very difficult, and care must be taken when using a
above information from The National Training Center for Stone and
Practice on a rock at home, or check with a local monuments store to
see if you can practice on one of their tombstones, before going to
the case of cemeteries located on private property, remember that
you are doing rubbings on someone else's property. It is ALWAYS
advised to gain permission by attempting to speak with the property
owner, and explain want you want to do, BEFORE you begin. If you
do not get permission, please respect the wishes of the cemetery and
ask if you can take a photograph to record the information and
condition of the stone. If you find that a gravestone is severely
damaged, please notify the property owner or supervisor of the
Before starting, all surfaces of the stone should be checked. If
there is any question as to the stone's condition, do not attempt
to clean it, as the surface could be irreparably damaged in the
Start with a test patch of your proposed cleaning technique on an
area of the structure that is least visible.
stone surface should be thoroughly pre-soaked with water.
Thoroughly wash with plain water the pre-wetted stone with natural,
soft bristled (natural or nylon), wooden-handled brushes of various
sizes. The use of plastic handles is not recommended, as colors from
the handles may leave material on the stone that will be very
difficult to remove. Wire brushes, metal instruments and abrasive
pads may give you instant satisfaction but, if you clean with
anything that is harder than the stone, you risk scratching the face
of the stone and causing more damage in the long run. Be thorough.
Wash all surfaces. Scrub the stone from the bottom up to avoid
further streaking and staining. Always watch carefully to make sure
that none of the stone’s surface is eroding as you scrub. Rinse
thoroughly, with lots of clean water.
Keep the stone wet at all times; really wet. Where a garden hose is
not available, be sure to bring plenty of jugs of water and keep
dousing the stone as you work and, most importantly, flush the stone
well when done.
Remove bird droppings, dirt moss, lichen etc. from the stone if
possible. This will insure clear and sharp copy. If lichen is a
problem, you can scrape with a wooden or plastic scraper. Tongue
blades or craft sticks work well. Also, inexpensive plastic putty
scrapers from home stores work well. Remember, no metal. If you
have any trouble getting any of these materials off the stone, STOP
and be sure that you do not cause any damage the stone in your
attempt to clean it.
used, do not allow detergent solutions to dry on the stone while
Some stains in porous stones cannot be removed & cleaning some that
is embedded can damage the stone. Do not expect the stones to appear
new after cleaning.
not clean marble, limestone, or sandstone more than once every 18
months. These types of stone may occasionally be rinsed with clean
water to remove bird droppings and other accretions. Granite can be
cleaned as needed.
Keep a record of the cleaning, including date of cleaning, materials
used and any change in condition since last cleaning (such as
missing parts, graffiti, and other damage). These records should be
kept at a central location where the condition of the stone can be
monitored over time. Illinois Saving Graves will be happy to store
this information as a part of a cemetery protection association
from original Savings Graves Site, Thank You Steve., although you are no
longer with us you live on in some of my pages.