How to Remove Lichens and Mosses From Cemetery Stones

Biological matter, such as lichens and moss, often flourish in cemeteries containing abundant vegetation. Gravestones situated in damp, shaded areas of cemeteries are susceptible to organic growth. Lichens and moss add biodiversity to landscapes and do not damage gravestones. Years of moss and lichen growth, however, can hide the carvings on gravestones. While some appreciate the natural beauty of lichens and moss, others consider biological growth unsightly. Regularly cleaning lichens and moss from a cemetery stone maintains its original beauty.

Cover any ceramic photographs on the gravestone with masking tape for protection. Lay plastic sheeting over the grass around the gravestone.

Saturate the entire gravestone with water. Using a natural bristle brush, scrub off as much lichens and moss as possible.

Rinse the gravestone with fresh water. If lingering lichens and moss remain, combine a gallon of water with 1/2 cup of liquid ammonia in a container.

Scrub the solution over the gravestone using the brush. Start at the base of the gravestone and work upward until all lichens and moss are removed. Use a toothbrush to dislodge lichens and moss from the engravings.

Rinse the gravestone with plenty of fresh water. Leaving any ammonia on the gravestone can cause stains.

Peel the masking tape off the ceramic photographs, if applicable. Let the gravestone air-dry.


Substitute a soft sponge for the natural bristle brush. Substitute a mixture of 28.4gr. calcium hypochlorite, also known as calcium salt, with 1-gallon hot water for the ammonia solution.


Metal brushes and abrasive pads scratch gravestones. Household soaps, acid-based cleaners, trisodium phosphate and all-purpose cleaners can damage gravestones. Cleaning a cracked, scaling, flaking or eroding gravestone can further destroy it.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Natural bristle brush
  • 1/2-cup liquid ammonia
  • Container
  • Fresh toothbrush
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About the Author

April Dowling first started writing in high school and has written many news articles for newspaper and yearbook publications. She is currently pursuing a career as an online writer and affiliate marketer. Dowling writes for several websites and keeps many blogs.