Cleaning Grave Markers

Here are some photos of a marker we recently cleaned.

Before Cleaning
Before Cleaning

This is the before photo of the marker showing all of the biological growth that has attacked this marker.

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Cleaning Begins
Cleaning Begins

Cleaning begins

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Day 20
Day 20

Day 20: Almost as good as new. The dead biological growth will continue to fall out of the pores over the coming weeks.

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Before Cleaning
Before Cleaning

This is the before photo of the marker showing all of the biological growth that has attacked this marker.

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Double click to enlarge slides

We have plans to clean all of the markers in Selma's three cemeteries as donations become available to purchase the D/2 Biological Cleaner. We expect this to take 3 to 5 years to complete. 

 

4. You will need plenty of running water and a a soft-bristle brush. First rinse the marker and your brush well. ​Gently scrub the marker with very light pressure in a circular motion using your soft-bristle brush to dislodge soil/biological growth from the stone. Work from the bottom of the stone up toward the top -- this prevents staining and streaking as clean water drains downward. Do not use a dry brush! A dry brush can damage the gravestone by removing the upper layers of the stone, causing it to deteriorate faster or by opening small holes or pores for future biological growth. Constantly dip your brush in a bucket of clean water, or better, allow a water hose to run on the stone as you brush. Remember, less abrasion on the stone surface is best.


5. D/2 can be utilized to safely resolve the problems listed above on all granite, marble, stone, concrete, masonry surfaces and wrought iron fences. The D/2 can be applied to the stone using a brush, roller, or pump sprayer. Scrub the surface thoroughly with your clean soft-bristle brush and allow the D/2 to remain on the surface of the stone for 5 to 10 minutes for optimal results. Keep the surface moist during this time by applying additional D2 as needed. Lightly mist with water and continue light scrubbing. Complete cleaning may require multiple applications which can be done days apart.

 

6. DO NOT clean a marker if freezing temperatures are anticipated within the next 24 hours. D/2 works best when used at 45 degrees F or above.

Here are two cleaning methods:

Immediate Result Method

  1. Apply D/2 Biological Solution with a brush, roller, hand pump sprayer (garden style pump sprayer) or low pressure power sprayer.

  2. Allow undiluted D/2 to remain on the surface 10-15 minutes.

  3. Apply additional D/2 as necessary to maintain a wet surface.

  4. Scrub with soft nylon or natural bristle brush. DO NOT USE METAL BRUSH.

  5. Lightly mist with water and continue scrubbing.

  6. Rinse thoroughly with clean, potable water.

Reapply if rain occurs within 12 hours of application.

No Scrub/No Rinse Method

  1. Using a sprayer (pump-up, low pressure, or other,) wet the entire surface with D/2.

  2. Allow to air dry.

D/2 works with the elements and results occur within one week to one month, depending on severity of soil. Reapply if rain occurs within 12 hours of application.

 

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If you plan to clean your loved ones marker please remember these tips:

1. Never use any household cleaners or pressure washers to clean grave markers. Stone is much like wood when it comes to taking in moisture. Softer stones can be like giant sponges and that is the biggest danger and concern over what to apply on them. Common everyday soaps, bleach or harsh chemicals will travel deep into the stones and cause damage from the inside out. This is the type of damage that can’t be detected until it’s too late. The only cleaners we recommend are first water and then D/2 Biological Solution if needed. Here is a link to a study conducted by The National Park Service - U.S. Department of the Interior - National Center for Preservation Technology and Training or NCPTT.

2. If at any time you feel that the stone you are working on is unstable -- it flakes, spalls, or sugars (produces lots of grit) -- STOP IMMEDIATELY and get assistance.


3. Staining and soiling caused by mold, mildew, algae, lichens and air pollutants contribute significantly to the degradation of grave marker surfaces because they trap moisture on and under the surface of the stone. They also secrete acids that can dissolve limestone, marble, sandstone, concrete, and mortar. They also may insert their "roots" into the pores of the stone. These growths will swell and shrink in response to moisture, leading to cracking and spalling of the stone.

Sep 29, 2019 - Notice the two clean markers in this aerial photo. Look closely at the others which have various shades of gray and black caused by biological growth. Please see our cleaning instructions above.

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Sunday Oct 27, 2019 was a beautiful day and we had about a dozen people turnout for our first class on Cleaning Grave Markers. The class was free and presented in Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, AL. I appreciate everyone taking time to learn the proper techniques for cleaning these granite and marble markers. Several people mentioned volunteering to help clean markers now that the weather is not so hot. In addition to cleaning markers in our three Selma cemeteries, some talked about cleaning markers in the Summerfield and Plantersville areas also.

It is great to know that all of these cemeteries are going to get some long overdue attention that they desperately need and deserve.

Note: We are not posting an “After” photo yet as the D/2 solution will continue to work over the coming weeks.

Please remember never use bleach, vinegar, any other household cleaners, or pressure washers to clean grave markers. This can cause damage to the stones that may not be visible for several years.