Cleaning Gravestones

As part of Salem Congregations’ efforts to maintain and protect the gravestones in God’s Acre, we are adopting the national standards for cleaning of gravestones, which is best practice to preserve them for the future. The National Park Service has led the effort to research the best methods of cleaning gravestones which is both effective long term and doesn’t damage the stone. In addition it is very safe to handle. The recommended cleaner is call “D/2 Biological Solution.” There is more detailed information available on the process at the D2bio.com website as well as at the National Park Service NCPTT website. It only requires spraying on the D/2, then gentle scrubbing with soft plastic or natural bristle brush (don’t use a brush you wouldn’t use on your car!), and then a final rinsing. Once a year after then it just needs a reapplication. For any build-up, a wooden or plastic scraper can be used to loosen.

These images are a similar product tested last year by Home Church, that shows how effective this can be without significant scrubbing.

Before cleaning (wet) After 7 weeks After 6 months

We have the D/2 cleaner on hand and anyone wanting to clean a gravestone is welcome to stop by and borrow a pump sprayer of D/2 to use. It will eliminate the discoloration that forms over an extended period, but does not harm the stone. The only difference is that this method doesn’t immediately clean off all the discoloration but works over several months, leaving stones bright and clean.

Here are the steps in the process:

Wet stone with water

Spray stone with cleaner, let sit 5-10 minutes Scrub with soft brush, then rinse off with water

Since the cleaner needs significant time for best results, we highly recommend doing this well in advance of Easter weekend.

Please note that most ‘traditional’ methods damage the surface of the stone, such as most household cleaners (Comet, Ajax, Awesome, etc.), power spraying, acid, etc. by reacting with the stone, or introducing ‘salts’ into the stone which causes it to break apart. We have been noticing many stones are losing their polished finish and showing small chips from other cleaning methods.

We will provide sprayers with the recommended D/2 cleaner and brushes for anyone coming to clean gravestones in God’s Acre. Just come by the Salem Congregation office during regular office hours. If you want to come on a weekend to clean gravestones in the Graveyard, then let us know and we’ll arrange to leave some for you.