Dirty and Mossy Grave marker

Best Headstone Cleaners – Review & Guide to Cleaning Monuments

Introduction

Over time, a headstone may weather and accumulate stains. While some feel this adds to the charm of the gravestone, many people would prefer its pristine condition.

The good news is that you don’t have to hire professional cleaners or replace the headstone. You can do this yourself using some materials that are accessible and easy to buy.

The article offers an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide the headstone cleaning process.

What Is the Beast Headstone Cleaner?

Headstone clean and dirty

There are many ways to clean a headstone, Power washers, elbow grease, and general cleaners will all work. But the best solution (especially for biological stains), is with D/2 Biological Solution. This solution can clean stains that sit deep beneath the surface of the stone.

A similar but more readily available alternative is the Wet and Forget Moss Mold Mildew & Algae Stain Remover. While D/2 is more commonly used for headstones, Wet and Forget is a general-purpose outdoor lichen/algae remover that is available on Amazon. You have to find D/2 at local stores.

Families want to preserve the beauty and dignity of the headstone as much as possible, so they try to keep it clean. But they any find that water and scrubbing are not enough to bring back the pristine condition of the headstone.

The quickest way to do so is with a D/2 biological solution that is powerful in removing stains. You may see quick results even after a short contact time.

The appearance will continually improve days after you clean the stone. After just a few applications of this cleaning solution, your headstone can look new again. 

This product has been trusted for years since it was introduced in 1995. Many customers, whether professional or not, have relied on the fast results of this solution.

D/2 Biological Solution For Cleaning Headstones

As stated, this product is highly recommended in cleaning headstones and monuments. Many professionals also use this solution because it is proven to effectively clean tombstones made from various materials.

“It is effective on marble, granite, limestone, brownstone, travertine, masonry, terra cotta, concrete, stucco, wood, and other architectural surfaces including monuments, sculpture, and headstones.”

D/2 Biological Solution

There are few disadvantages to using D/2. It is safe to use. You do not have to prepare any special handling or protection in using the solution. And it will not damage plantings that surround the grave.

The solution only needs 10 to 15 minutes contact time, making it a fast-acting product with impressive results. After that, you can simply scrub the headstone with a soft nylon or natural bristle brush to clean the entire surface.

D2 has the power to remove stains brought by mold, algae, mildew, lichens, and air pollutants that cannot be countered by general cleaning with water. This solution does not contain any acid, salt, or bleach. With a pH level of 9.5, this solution also does not etch metals or glass.

Best Headstone Cleaner – Backed By Research

In a study conducted by the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) in 2011, the D/2 biological solution is found to be the best performing cleaner for headstones among other products evaluated. 

The NCA looked for effective ways to maintain headstones because of the rising costs of maintenance at national cemeteries. Many headstones are not readable anymore due to deterioration and weathering. 

To find the best way to address this problem, the NCA conducted a research study to evaluate the cleaning methods for headstones. They wanted to find the best way to clean tombstones while minimizing the need to repeat the process. 

They also wanted to ensure that headstones would not be damaged by cleaning and maintenance.

Out of 30 products, the NCA narrowed the list down to five commercially available cleaners that were being used by national and historic cemeteries. 

Based on three phases of the study, they found out that the D/2 Biological Solution is the best among the five cleaners evaluated. They findings were based on:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Environmental safety
  • Ability to clean stones and inhibit biological regrowth
  • Ease of use
  • Potential to lower stone damage

D/2 biological solution was highly effective in removing bacterial growth. It was also effective in inhibiting the regrowth of organisms on the headstone.

Because of these findings, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) developed a best practice recommendation in cleaning government-issued headstones. 

The NCPTT recommends using cleaners similar to D/2 in cleaning marble headstones. The biological solution is found to be effective in getting rid of biological growth and soiling in the headstone. This cleaner also does not harm the stone, as long as proper dilution ratios and dwell rates are used. 

What is soiling? Soiling agents accumulate on the headstone and change its appearance and cause damage. Soiling agents include dirt, air pollution, biological organisms, bird droppings, and plant or tree sap.

Safety

As taken from the D/2 data sheet, here is some information about safety and benefits:

  • Fast acting: 10 to 15 minutes contact time for great results.
  • Biodegradable
  • Contains no acids, salts, or chlorine
  • pH neutral
  • Will not etch metals or glass
  • Safer to use around plantings
  • Is not a hazardous material and requires no special handling or protection
  • Use full strength, no in-field mixing required
  • Shelf life of 5 years

“D/2 Biological Solution is non-mutagenic, and contains no carcinogenic compounds as defined by NTP, IARC, or OSHA. It is considered essentially non-toxic by swallowing, as it has an oral LD50 of 2.0 g/kg of body weight. No special ventilation is required during use.”

How To Clean a Headstone or Monument

US Navy Sailor Cleaning Headstones

Now that you are familiar with the best cleaner to use for headstones, it is time to learn the step-by-step process of cleaning using the D/2 biological solution. These are recommendations based on the NCPTT. 

Equipment

  • Personal protective equipment

Special equipment is not required to clean a headstone, but it is recommended to use gloves and eye protection. Avoid eye contact. 

  • Brushes

You’ll want to use bristled brushes when cleaning headstones. It may have natural or synthetic bristles. You probably have a few brushes for cleaning around your house. Nothing strange here.

  • Water

One of the most important things to prepare is water because you will need a lot of it to properly clean a headstone. Make sure to locate the nearest source of water in a cemetery. If a cemetery does not have a hose or running water, make sure to bring barreled or bucketed water to the gravesite.

Step-by-Step Process for Cleaning a Headstone

Jason Church demonstrating how to clean a monument

Follow these steps using the D/2 biological solution for cleaning your headstone:

  1. Pre-wet the headstone

    Before applying the cleaner, you must first soak the headstone liberally with water. Stone is porous so it will easily absorb the cleaner. By soaking it first, the cleaner will not penetrate the headstone and just remain on the surface.
    This will minimize some potential effects of the cleaner such as crystallization of salt in the stone. It also makes it easier to rinse the cleaner from the surface of the headstone.

  2. Apply the cleaner

    Apply D/2 evenly on the surface using a brush, roller, or sprayer and let it stay for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure that you do not let the cleaner dry on the headstone.
    Also, always see to it that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, especially the dilution ratio and dwell time. If you change these instructions, the effectiveness of the cleaning method may be affected. Just apply the cleaner evenly on the surface.

  3. Scrub the surface

    After waiting for 10 to 15 minutes, gently scrub the surface of the headstone using a soft bristle brush. Do this in a circular motion.
    It is best to work in a small area, starting from the bottom then moving up. The work of scrubbing will loosen soiling from the surface of the stone.

  4. Rinse the headstone

    The last step is rinsing. Remember to rinse each area thoroughly after cleaning and make sure that no cleaner is left behind.
    Even if the staining has not been removed after cleaning with D/2, you may see better results after several days. Over time the solution is working its way into the pores to kill biological growth that had grown inside the headstone. 

If you see that the stone has changed its color in a certain area, do not worry. This is how D/2 works. The headstone will return to its normal color after a few days.

Important Reminders

  • Test the cleaner first

It is best practice test your cleaner first. If you’re using D/2, you can skip this step; it’s reliable. Do the test using the recommended procedure on a small, less-visible section of the headstone.

After application, let the area you have tested to dry thoroughly so you can inspect it after some time. When using some biocidal cleaners, it may take days before you can see the full cleaning effect. 

  • Follow directions as specified by the manufacturer

When using a solution, the two most important features for you to know are the dilution ratio and dwell time.

Dilution Ratio

D/2 does not require dilution. However, other headstone cleaners have certain dilution ratios depending on the type of stone, etc. Add a small amount of solution to water so you can meet the required ratio. If you do not follow the prescribed ratio, too much may increase the risk of damage to your headstone and too little may prevent it from having any affect at all.

Dwell Time

Dwell time, on the other hand, is the amount of time that the cleaner is left on the surface of the stone before you can scrub and rinse it. The dwell time recommended for D/2 is 10 to 15 minutes.

FAQ

What should I use to clean headstones?

For headstones with deep-seated biological staining that cannot be cleaned by water and scrubbing alone, it is best to use a biological solution to counter the issue. Powerful cleaners such as D/2 can do the job.

What is the best cleaner for headstones?

The best cleaner for headstones is the D/2 biological solution because of its power to deeply clean stains. In addition to effectively cleaning headstones without causing any damaging effects, it is also effective in removing bacterial growth. After a headstone is cleaned with D/2 cleaner, it will take a long time for bacteria to regrow.

Where can I buy a D/2 headstone cleaner?

You may purchase D/2 biological solution from authorized online retailers. Because D/2 is a premium product, is not available on big-box store shelves. You may visit their website to check their distributors.

What is soiling in headstones?

Soiling is the accumulation in a headstone that changes its appearance and cause damage. Soiling agents include dirt, air pollution, biological organisms, bird droppings, and plant or tree sap.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading! We hope you find this helpful. If you have suggestions, or feedback, send us an email at info@in-valhalla.com.

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