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How to Take Care of Your Loved One's Memorial Stone

image of a memorial tombstone with a group of planted tulips infront

When a loved one passes, it can be comforting to have a special place to remember them. Often, this is a cemetery, where memorial stones and markers indicate our loved one’s resting place. These memorials pay homage to the deceased and provide can have invaluable familial and historical significance for generations if they are well maintained.


Types of Memorials


In order to maintain a memorial, it is important to know what kind you have and how to care for it. There are 4 main types of memorials and 3 common materials. 


Flat markers are installed flat on the ground and are generally plaque-sized.

Pillow markers are also horizontal, but the back edge is higher than the front, and they often sit on a granite base.

Upright monuments, sometimes called headstones, are vertical memorials of various sizes and shapes.

Grave ledgers are flat rectangular stones that cover the majority of a burial plot.


Memorial Material


Granite is a natural stone created by magma. It is extremely durable and resists extreme weather conditions. It is found in a variety of colours and patterns. It can be sculpted, polished, sandblasted, and hand or laser etched and engraved. It can be washed with non-ionic detergent, biocidal cleaning solution, or diluted dish soap (45-60 ml/4L water).


Caring for Memorial Stones


You can gently brush off dirt and debris from your loved one’s memorial stone anytime you visit, but it doesn’t need to be washed more than once or twice a year. Regular washing will prevent significant buildup of dirt and biological growth such as mould, mildew, algae, and lichens, especially if you use a biocide.


Materials Needed:

  • Soft brushes

  • Non-ionic detergent or diluted dish soap (45-60 ml/4L water)

  • Biocidal cleaning solution

  • Clean water

  • Soft cloths

Cleaning Process:

  1. Gently brush off dirt and debris.

  2. Mix a gentle cleaning solution using non-ionic detergent or diluted dish soap.

  3. Apply the solution with a soft cloth, using circular motions.

  4. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

  5. Use a biocidal cleaning solution to prevent biological growth.


  • be gentle

  • wash in circular motions

  • use appropriate cleaners including biocidal soaps

  • use clean water and soft cloths

  • rinse off all soap and chemicals

  • be careful while cutting grass and tending to other vegetation around the memorial

  • call a professional stone crafter if your efforts are unsuccessful or you notice cracks or chips

  • Ask your memorial provider about sealants, polishes, and other protective treatments to protect the memorial stone from weather-related wear


Do not:

  • use harsh chemical, including bleach or polish

  • use abrasive tools

  • rub aggressively

  • scrape off growth

  • clean in extreme heat or cold

  • use a power washer or sandblaster



Preventing and Removing Biological Growth

Identification: Common biological growths include moss, lichen, and algae, which appear as green, gray, or black patches on the stone.

Preventive Measures: Regular cleaning with biocidal soap can help prevent the growth of these organisms.

Safe Removal Techniques:

  • Use a biocidal cleaning solution specifically designed for stone surfaces.

  • Apply the solution gently and let it sit for the recommended time.

  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or scrubbing too hard to prevent damage.

Maintaining the Surrounding Area:

  • Keep the grass trimmed and remove weeds around the memorial.

  • Ensure that the area is tidy to maintain the overall appearance.


Maintaining the Memorial


For the lasting beauty of any memorial, always follow the cemetery's regulations and your stone supplier’s care suggestions. This will keep both the site and the stone beautiful and maintenance-friendly.


Perpetual Memorial


It only takes a small effort to maintain the beauty of a loved one’s memorial stone for generations to come. If you need help maintaining a memorial stone in Victoria, or would like to create a memorial for a loved one anywhere in Canada or the US, call Mortimer’s Monumental Works. We have over 145 years of experience helping people honour and remember their loved ones through granite memorials. 


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