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Cleaning gravestone: How to get polished and rough natural stone clean again in a gentle way!

At All Saints’ Day, it is traditional to spruce up the grave and replant and/or redesign it for fall and winter. I’m sure you’d also like the headstone to shine in new splendor. Over time, of course, it gets dirty from rain, winds, and not only does sand collect on it, but moss can begin to spread on it as well. Fortunately, however, nowadays the stone usually has a smooth surface, which makes cleaning it much easier. Today, we will give you a few tips on how to clean the gravestone and what means are suitable for this purpose. After all, natural stone is also sensitive and should be treated gently.

Porous vs. polished stones

Gravestone cleaning - How often per year to clean and maintain natural stone

If you think that the cleaning products for both variants differ, you are wrong. The only difference is that on a stone with a rough surface, you will have to invest more time and energy to clean it from dirt. On polished headstones, on the other hand, dirt and plants can’t stick as well and they come off more easily.

Do not try to make your job easier with the help of a pressure washer. Because this could not only cause trouble because of the noise. It is also quite a messy affair, with dirt and water flying around. As a result, you could also contaminate the neighboring graves. In addition, the hard water jet can damage soft stones (limestone, sandstone and marble for example ) and this would only make them dirty faster in the future.

Therefore, it is better to leave it at the old-fashioned variant with the hand. But how do I clean a tombstone properly? Which cleaning agents and cleaning utensils are best?

Polished stones are easier to clean

How often should you clean a headstone?

As mentioned above, many use All Saints . Others do it right after winter, as a spring cleaning, so to speak. But you would make any cleaning easier if you do it regularly, because then stubborn dirt can not arise in the first place. It is best to introduce it into your maintenance routine and clean the natural stone several times a year.

Cleaning gravestones – home remedies and helpful utensils

Gravestone cleaning with the right products and utensils

Simply use the classic brush and pure water. The moisture can soften the dirt, which makes brushing much easier afterwards. You can also scrub off coarse dirt dry with a sweeper beforehand, so as not to smear it unnecessarily. Also, scrub in circular motions without applying too much pressure.

The brush should:

  • not be too hard, but hard enough to be able to rub off more stubborn dirt. Natural bristles are optimal.
  • preferably have wavy bristles instead of straight ones, as they are not gentler on the stone.

(if you are not sure, test the brush first on a non-visible area to check how it affects the surface).

Smooth surfaces will also clean with a simple wet rag.

Clean the engravings effectively

Use brush and water instead of high pressure cleaner


The coarse brush you used for the flat stone surfaces will most likely not get into the fine crevices and corners of the engraving very well. Therefore, you can use a regular toothbrush for these elements. It is best to take a model with hard bristles.

Gravestone cleaning with detergents in addition to water?

Conventional cleaners contain chemicals and other ingredients that can damage and discolor natural stone. And once this happens, it is irreversible. Therefore, you should always clean the gravestone without chemicals. Especially chlorine or acids are taboo. But even the mild detergent or soap are not a good choice for stones. So, if you are used to using soapy water for gentle cleaning, don’t do it in this endeavor! Also, avoid agents that contain oil. You may think you’re adding shine to polished natural stone this way, but the truth is it will lead to unsightly grease stains.

Also, be careful with time-honored home remedies when cleaning a natural stone headstone. Vinegar and apple cider vinegar, no matter if diluted, attack the stone with their acidity and can ruin it. Baking soda, or soda ash, is also not recommended.

If you absolutely must use a cleaning agent, be sure to get one that is specifically designed for cleaning natural stone/gravestones to avoid risking damage.

Should you hire a professional?

Gravestone cleaning - Which cleaning agents for limestone, marble, sandstone and granite

To begin with, you can always try it yourself in a gentle way. But if these methods do not have the desired effect, by no means resort to more aggressive means out of sheer desperation. In this case, it is worth investing in a professional company. This is also an advantage if you live further away from the cemetery and cannot maintain the grave regularly, or if it is a gravestone that is particularly ornate and difficult to access.

Professionals use both a high-pressure cleaner and special cleaning agents as well as brushes designed for the particular type of stone. The cleaning process is repeated several times, if necessary, until the layer of dirt has been completely removed. Finally, the stone is rinsed thoroughly with clear water and now presents itself from its best side.