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Cleaning Headstones, Gravestones, and Tombstones

Women cleaning headstone

Women cleaning headstone

Headstones, gravestones and tombstones weather the harshest of conditions and although they are designed to be an immortalizing reminder, of those that have come and gone before us, they do require a little care every now and again. Overtime exposure to the elements, pollution, and other contaminates can cause some wear and tear to the stone. Mold, mildew, moss, and/or lichen may develop on the stone, causing the inscription and insignias to become obscured and difficult to read. This biological growth often traps moisture on the stone, accelerating erosion and corrosion.

  Caution: Cleaning a headstone too frequently or improperly can do more harm than good


With proper cleaning, the stones original beauty can be maintained or restored. Improperly performed cleanings, as well as excessive gravestone cleanings, will result in the stone wearing down at an increased rate. So before cleaning a headstone, ask yourself: Does this stone really need cleaned? If the inscription is no longer legible and/or there is a large amount of biological growth, then the answer is probably yes. Otherwise you many consider leaving the stone as it is.

Is the headstone or gravestone safe to clean?

Before attempting to clean the headstone or gravestone, you will want to inspect it for any defects. If you find any signs of deterioration including cracks, fractures, chips, or flaking, DO NOT attempt to clean the stone.

If you find that the headstone is showing signs of deterioration it is best advised to call your local monument company and have them come inspect and clean it. However, you can spray the stone with a biological cleaner, such as D2, and simply leave it. Do not attempt to scrub or scrape the stone, as this will cause more damage to the stone.

Determine the type of stone

If you have determined that the condition of the headstone, gravestone, or tombstone is favorable for cleaning you will want to take into consideration the type of stone. There are numerous possible materials a headstone may be made from; however, we will not get into all of them today. Instead we will focus on the most common natural stones which are granite, marble, sandstone, and limestone.

Tools and supplies needed for cleaning a headstone made from natural stone

If the headstone you wish to clean is a natural stone, there are a tools and products you will want to use:

  • Pump sprayer or bucket of water
  • Natural or soft bristled brush
  • Plastic scraper
  • A biological cleaner, such as D2 Solution, or a non-ionic soap/detergent

1-Gallon Sprayer


For the best results, and to avoid re-contamination, we recommend using a pump sprayer. You can find a pump sprayer at most any home store, for as low as $7.



Gravestone cleaning methods, using D2 Solution

Spray and Set

  1. Using a sprayer, wet the entire surface with clean water.
  2. Spray the entire surface with D2 Solution.
  3. No need to scrub or rinse, simply leave the headstone to air dry. The D2 solution starts working right away to clean the headstone and, depending on how dirty the stone is, you can expect to see results within a week to one month.
 Quick Tip: If it rains within 12 hours of application, reapply the D2


For Immediate Results

  1. Using a sprayer, wet the entire surface with clean water.
  2. Spray the entire surface with D2 Solution and let set for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Gently scrub the surface using your natural or soft bristled brush.
  4. Continue to spray the surface with water, to keep it wet, while you scrub.
  5. Use your plastic scraper to gently remove heavy growth.
  6. When you are satisfied, rinse the surface thoroughly with clean water using your sprayer.

This concludes our brief overview on how to clean a headstone, gravestone or tombstone. We hope you have found this post useful, please feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comments section below.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to have a headstone, monument or gravestone cleaned in the Arlington, VA area give Columbia Gardens Memorials friendly staff a call at 703-527-7774  or visit our main website for additional products and services.


COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to practice social distancing and following CDC guidelines, to protect our community and staff. However, we are open and available to serve you. Todd and our engravers are back on premises working and we are accepting appointments during our normal operating hours. To schedule an appointment with us please call our office at (703) 527-7774 or email us at

Thank you for your understanding during this time. – The Columbia Gardens Memorials Staff