How to clean white marble gravestones

Updated February 21, 2017

Maintaining a grave site can be an emotionally important activity for the family of those who have passed on. Gravestones can become covered in moss and lichen and the carved words can become obscured with dirt and grime. Cleaning a white marble gravestone requires care and some special tools, but it is a relatively easy task that can be accomplished in one afternoon.

Remove as much of the lichen and moss with your hands as possible.

Soak the gravestone with clear water and use a plastic spoon or wooden Popsicle stick to remove the lichen from the crevices of the gravestone. If the lichen and moss has been on the stone for several months it may leave a permanent scar on the stone.

Brush the stone with a soft bristle, non-metal brush to remove the dirt and grime. Keep the gravestone soaked as you work. Use care to not damage the stone.

Mix one cup of ammonia with one gallon of water if marks are still visible. Pour half of the mixture over the stains and use a soft bristled brush to clean the stains away.

Brush the remaining half of the ammonia mixture into the stone if necessary.

Rinse the entire area with clear water to prevent streaks from developing when the gravestone dries.


Remember to clean the back of the gravestone as well as the front.


Never use abrasive metal cleaning pads or bleach on marble gravestones. Marble is porous and relatively soft and will scratch and disintegrate if bleach and abrasive cleaning pads are used. Never use power washers to clean white marble gravestones as the force can destroy the patina.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Plastic spoon
  • Popsicle stick
  • Soft bristled brush
  • Ammonia
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About the Author

Kaye Wagner has been working in the fields of journalism and public relations since 2006 and is a recipient of a National Hearst Award. She is particularly interested in home-and-garden projects, as well as beauty and fashion writing. An avid traveler, she also writes travel reviews and guides. Wagner earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University.