Life's Dirty. Clean Easy.

Use a Gentle Headstone Cleaner to Honor Memorial Day

By Wet & Forget
before and after gravestone

Memorial Day is a somber day of remembrance. What it shouldn’t be, though, is a day of cleaning.
Instead of using a harsh headstone cleaner like bleach or power washers, try Wet & Forget. It’ll help preserve headstones by gently removing stains caused by organic growth.

It’s hard to give back to those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice, but cleaning and preserving their memorials is one way to honor them.

Why Do Gravestones Attract Moss, Mildew, Algae, and Lichen?

While many materials, from boulders to wood, can be used to create headstones, most tend to be made from one of four natural stones: granite, limestone, marble, and slate.

These four stones are popular options due to their durability and ability to be manipulated by craftspeople. However, they’re also porous — though slate tends to be the least so.

And because they’re porous, it is easy for moisture and dirt to reach beneath the natural stone’s surface. There they can mingle with spores and allow organic growth to establish a foothold.

At that point, it’s only a matter of time before you notice the green or black stains caused by organic growth. You may even spot lichen, a complex organism that sprouts to life when algae or certain bacteria combine with fungi.

So, it’s common for headstones to need cleaning every now and then. And when it’s time to do so, the right approach is one that’s gentle, safe, and effective.

What’s Wrong With Other Headstone Cleaners?

Instinctively, many people reach for bleach and power washers to clean headstones. However, both headstone cleaners can cause damage to natural stone.

Even diluted bleach solutions can be harmful to natural stones. Because it’s heavily alkaline, it can permanently stain granite, limestone, marble, and slate.

Even worse, bleach can cause tiny fissures in the stone’s surface, making it even easier for organic growth to infest the headstone. In fact, sometimes, all it takes is a single application of diluted bleach to cause natural stone to lose its luster.

Perhaps the worst part is bleach isn’t always particularly effective in removing the stains caused by organic growth. One of our customers tried harsh bleach and intense scrubbing, and the only result was a lot of physical work without any reward.

When bleach fails, you may be frustrated enough to pull out all the stops in your attempt to clean the headstone. That means employing a power or pressure washer.

Unfortunately, power washers are also harmful to natural stone. Even at low or medium pressure, they can mark the headstone’s surface or chip away at it.

Again, this leaves the stone more susceptible to organic growth, as there are now more avenues for moisture and dirt to work their way below its surface. And, once there, all they need is a single spore for mold, mildew, algae, or lichen to re-establish its presence.

Even worse, if you’re not careful when wielding the pressure washer, you may damage nearby headstones. In worst-case scenarios, you could injure yourself or people honoring their lost loved ones.

Gravestone before and after photos

What’s a Headstone Cleaning Solution That’s Safe and Effective?

To safely and effectively clean headstones, you need a solution that works gently and over time. Wet & Forget Ready-to-Use is such a headstone cleaner.

Not only is it safe on virtually all outdoor surfaces, but it is also mentioned in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs guidelines for cleaning headstones.

Wet & Forget is free of bleach and phosphates. It has a pH level of 8, which is far closer to neutral than bleach or other harsh cleaning agents.

It works with the wind and rain to lift stains and clean surfaces over time. Simple green stains caused by algae are usually gone within a few days or weeks of application. Black stains caused by mold and mildew may take between one and a few months.

Worst-case scenario or heavy black stains may need between six months and a year to fully dissipate.
Additionally, Wet & Forget requires no scrubbing. Not only will this give your joints and muscles a rest, it means that the headstone’s surface won’t be damaged or scratched by wire brushes or other scrubbing tools.

Wet & Forget has helped 100-year-old headstones look good as new. And it solved the problem of how to remove heavy black algae stains.

By cleaning headstones safely and gently, Wet & Forget also helped some of our customers reconnect with their community by honoring those who died during the Civil War.

Wet & Forget works with the rain and wind to clean gravestones

How to Use Wet & Forget to Gently and Effectively Clean Headstones

Using Wet & Forget as a headstone cleaner couldn’t be easier.

Before getting started, though, wait for a day that’s at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit and without rain or wind in the immediate forecast. Mild, not-too-sunny days work best to avoid rapid evaporation, which can lessen Wet & Forget’s impact.

Once you’ve found a suitable day for application, simply bring the Wet & Forget bottle with you to the gravesite. Then thoroughly spray the headstone until it’s fully saturated.

In most scenarios, that’s all you have to do. There’s no need to scrub or rinse.

In the case of particularly pesky lichens, you should thoroughly soak them with the product. After waiting 15 minutes, apply Wet & Forget again.

The initial application will help loosen up the outer layer of lichen. Then the second application will help penetrate the organic growth further.

If you’re dealing with long-establish stains caused by mold, mildew, algae, or lichen, consider a second application a month or so after your first.

Otherwise, though, and depending on your local climate and weather, a single application of Wet & Forget may be all you need to remove stains and prevent their recurrence. In most cases, that means a minute or two of work of active headstone cleaning is all you need to help preserve the memory of your loved ones.

Note: If you’re looking to treat many gravestones, we recommend using the Wet & Forget Concentrate. This product should be mixed with water using a 1 part Wet & Forget to 5 parts water dilution ratio in a garden pump sprayer to apply the product.

Use a Gentle and Safe Headstone Cleaner to Honor Memorial Day

Wet & Forget Outdoor products make cleaning headstones as easy and effective as possible. It can help you honor family members, connect to your community, and turn Memorial Day into a day of remembrance instead of a day of cleaning.

Pick up Wet & Forget today by heading to your local retailer or browsing our online store.