--Always be as gentle as possible--

Wire brushes, metal instruments and abrasive pads may give you instant satisfaction but, if you clean with anything that is harder than the stone, you risk scratching the face of the stone and causing more damage in the long run. The same goes for acidic cleaners, which include most household cleaners, even ammonia. Using bleach may give you instant brightness but it will cause the stone to change in pallor and most often become rough to the touch. This rough texture gives lichen even MORE surface to grow on and attach to, making it even harder to clean the next time. 
And there WILL be a next time!   Ideally, clean the stone twice a year in temperatures ranging between 55° - 85°.

Tools you will need:
1) CLEAN WATER - Lots. There are nearby water spigots where you MAY attach a hose; if it will reach the location.
2) TOOTH BRUSH - new or old
3) NAIL BRUSH or other new soft bristle cleaning brush.
4) WOOD SCRAPERS such as paint stir sticks. (Tongue depressors/cuticle pushers/craft sticks work well to clean grooves.) 
5) DAWN DISH DETERGENT(other brands are less effective), that can be diluted to ½ water and ½ cleaner.
6) GLASS CLEANER (ammonia-free) is optional. See below *

Things to remember:


Make SURE the stone is stable. You don't want it to accidentally tip over, fall or break during the cleaning process.
Do not apply overly exertive pressure.   BE GENTLE!    BE SAFE!

use anything metal! Begin the cleaning process with the softest brush you have to see if it will get the job done.  Move on to a stiffer brush ONLY if absolutely necessary, not just because you want quick results.   BE PATIENT!

Clean the back and sides of the headstone first. If you don’t clean them first, you may not clean them at all.
Once the inscription on the front can be read, many people don’t spend the time required to finish the job by doing the back and sides.

Clean from the bottom up!  This will help you to avoid leaving streaks.  See below *
Don't allow dirty water to drip down or dry on the headstone. It will stain the porous material.

How to begin:
Completely saturate the stone with CLEAN tap water; front, back, top and sides.
When the stone is thoroughly wet, squirt DAWN dish detergent (diluted or full strength) all over the stone; front, back, top and sides.
Spread it all around with your hand or a SOFT brush.
Wait 4-5 minutes for the detergent to work.  (While you wait, spray the next stone to be cleaned; wetting it thoroughly.)
Now, using the paint stir sticks, GENTLY scrape off the moss, lichen etc. (Unfortunately, many lichens will, once removed, leave a scaring affect on the stone because the waste product they give off is an acid that works with the stone's own salts and chemistry to erode it. There is nothing you can do to prevent this.)
Use the SOFT brush in a circular motion to clean off the debris that has been loosened. Use the tooth brush, tongue depressors, cuticle pushers and / or craft sticks to clean out the names, dates and other grooves.
Thoroughly rinse the headstone again and inspect your work.    If needed, repeat steps A) - F).



Always flush the stone well when done; and then flush once MORE!

Most cleaners will leave streaks if the headstone is not thoroughly rinsed.
* F.Y.I. Use an ammonia-free glass cleaner and a CLEAN soft rag (microfiber works best)
to buff granite or bronze headstones to add extra shine and get rid of any leftover cleaning streaks.

Over the past decade or so there have been a number of newer products developed that will effectively remove all biological activity from stone and masonry without any risk of harming the stone itself. These types of cleaning products are known as biological cleaners. The first material created in this capacity is called D/2 Biological Cleaning Solution. Although the cemetery staff has not found it locally, it is available on-line at    Reports indicate that D/2 is the least invasive of the biological cleaners but it sometimes leaves a pinkish / purplish hue to the stone, that usually disappears in 3 – 7 days and even quicker when the product is liberally washed off the stone 12 hours after application.

developed by Beth Knickerbocker - 2013