CLEANING HEADSTONES

Cleaning Headstones

It is important to remember that the graves and monuments are part of a heritage-listed cemetery and should be treated with great care and respect, especially very old headstones. The golden rule is ‘Do No Harm’, either to the grave or yourself.
 
Be gentle with the monuments, do not lean on them, and do not dislodge any components.
 

Our mission is primarily to WASH monuments and clean and tidy thousands of graves at the cemetery. We do not aim to restore them to pristine condition. Many have stubborn staining that has been baked on over many years. We do what we can to clean grime from a monument but will leave deeply-stained stone ‘as is’ after washing. Aged monuments are part of the heritage character of the cemetery.

We use:

  • Soft cloths or soft bristle brushes with water only.
  • Plastic or wooden scrapers (not metal) to remove lichen and moss growth.

We acknowledge that graves are home to various forms of wildlife and so we take an environmentally-friendly approach and do not use cleaning chemicals.

The first step is to check that the headstone is safe to clean (marble or granite only, stable, no cracks). The stone is then saturated with water, and carefully scrubbed with a soft brush. The grime so then rinsed off, and any persistent stains are washed again. We also like to rake and sweep the grave top and surrounds.

We can provide most equipment, but to ensure adequate numbers, please bring these along if you can:

We do not: 

  • Use chemical cleaners as there are no long-term studies to show that they are safe for monument materials. Better safe than sorry.
  • Use equipment such as high-powered gernies or other sand-blasting or high-pressure water-blasting equipment because they can easily damage monument surfaces.
  • Use hard wire brushes, steel wool or other harsh abrasives as these can also damage monument surfaces. Scratches in the surfaces will encourage the growth of moss or lichen.
  • Brush sandstone monuments, which are easily damaged.
  • Touch leaning headstones as there is a risk that they could fall over, especially if touched.
  • Stand on unstable grave tops, which can collapse.
  • Interfere with plants purposely placed or planted on graves.