How to Care For a Headstone

Losing a loved one is devastating, and seeing their tombstone become dirty over time makes the loss feel worse than ever. Proper headstone care keeps the burial site looking pristine and respectful for years to come.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a son lost recently or a grandparent lost decades earlier. Headstones are made up of many different materials, and each requires a particular type of cleaning. For example, bronze headstone care is different from one made of granite.

This guide teaches you the dos and don’ts of granite and bronze headstone care. Read on to ensure your loved one’s final resting place looks great for years to come.

Headstone Care: Caring for Different Types of Headstones

When you chose the headstone in Melbourne, or another location, you had many types of material to choose from, including marble, sandstone, granite, slate, and bronze pieces.

If the headstone has extensive physical damage such as cracking or peeling or is unstable, don’t risk cleaning it.

It may end up causing more damage to an already fragile tombstone. Also, keep in mind that these headstones may be fragile, so be very gentle when cleaning headstones of any kind.

What Supplies Are Needed?

An essential item you’ll need is a bucket filled with fresh water (a minimum of five gallons) or a garden hose. You’ll also want an additional small bucket to fill with water and a cleaning solution.

You’ll want a soft-bristled brush and a sponge to wipe the stone. Be careful not to use dyed sponges, as the dye can transfer to the stone.

If moss or mould is growing on the stone, you’ll also need a delicate scraping tool. Again, use wood or plastic, not metal, as that may scratch the stone.

You’ll need a towel to wipe down the stone after rinsing, and rubber gloves to wear when cleaning.

Cleaning Marble Headstones

Cleaning a marble headstone begins by soaking the headstone either by spraying it with a hose or dumping a bucket of water over it. Marble is porous, so it soaks up the water. This allows the cleaning solution to clean the stone without damaging it.

You’ll then want to use one part ammonium hydroxide with four parts water as a cleaning solution. It’s effective not only in cleaning the stone but also in removing mould and other growth. Test the mixture on a small area to ensure it doesn’t cause discolouration.

Apply the mixture using a brush and scrub the headstone from bottom to top. Don’t hit any cracks or flakes in the headstone and instead leave them alone. Rinse the stone from top to bottom with clean water.

Marble may seem like a strong stone, and it is relatively strong, but you should never pressure wash it.

Cleaning a Granite Headstone

Granite headstone care is simple. Start by once again soaking the granite stone with water. It’s best to use a non-ionic detergent on granite and only use a single ounce of detergent to five gallons of water.

How to maintain a granite headstone? Use the brush to apply the solution and scrub from bottom to top. Once again, do not clean in cracks or flakes on the headstone.

How to protect a granite headstone? Rinse the stone from bottom to top, so there is no streaking. Keep rinsing the stone until there is no sign of the cleaning solution.

How to repair a granite headstone? It’s best to contact a professional, so you don’t cause further damage. 

How to Shine Up a Bronze Headstone

What do you clean a bronze headstone with? You can clean a bronze headstone the same way as a granite headstone using a non-ionic detergent. You’ll also want a toothbrush to clean the nooks and crannies of the bronze lettering or any graphics.

Use a paste wax on the headstone to give it protection from the elements. This also goes for any restoration you want to do to the headstone. Do not be too rough when applying the soap or water. Instead of using standard water, it’s best to use distilled water on bronze headstones.

Restoration is needed if the headstone isn’t cleaned every few years. This causes oxidation on the surface and creates a grey film. Restore the stone on a dry day to avoid issues with moisture.

How to polish a bronze headstone? Scrub the headstone gently with a stainless steel brush and a toothbrush for difficult-to-reach areas. Use 220-grit sandpaper on the lettering and the rest of the surface.

Follow the instructions for cleaning the headstone and ensure the solution is completely gone when finished. Dry off the headstone and remove any dust from sanding.

Finally, spray a coat of lacquer on it to protect it from the elements and cover it in plastic wrap until the lacquer dries.

How Maintaining Headstones Can Provide You Comfort

You might not think cleaning a tombstone can be cathartic for the grieving process, but it is. While cleaning, you can talk to the loved one and have a sense of pride in your work.

It makes it easier to deal with grief if the headstone is always in pristine condition and you feel like you are caring for your loved one.

Importance of High-Quality Stonemasonry for Headstones

Cleaning headstones is essential, but only the best materials stand the test of time. Lesser quality materials will degrade over time, and cleaning can hasten the process.

This is why granite, marble, and bronze are some of the best choices for headstones.

Keep Your Loved One’s Stone Pristine

Stones should be cleaned every few years to keep mould and moss from growing. Natural wear and tear will happen, so be careful to avoid cracks. Headstone care keeps your loved one’s burial location looking great for every visit.

If you want to learn more about types of headstones, then check out our products.