Cleaning – Or Not…

Should I remove “stuff” from a headstone?

While you may want to remove nothing, and photograph the marker exactly “As is, where is” I see no problem with removing leaves and twigs, particularly when they cover any of the writing. Nothing is more frustrating than spend a day hunting and to arrive home, look at the photographs and not be able to read the dates…

How can I remove the tougher “stuff?”

I have used everything from a whisk brush to a full-size broom to remove leaves and twigs. I must admit that I have been tempted to use a leaf blower to clear away leaves in the Fall when I am looking along a row of markers that are flush with the ground.

I have found that light strokes with a plastic ice scraper can peel away moss and lichen obscuring the writing on a flat faced granite or other hard stone, never on limestone or other softer stones. I use a selection of bristle brushes that can get down into the engraved writing to make it stand out better. Sometimes, to remove more stubborn stuff I have used toothpicks and chopsticks.

How much “stuff” should I remove?

I may just remove only a leaf or two when that is all that is blocking the writing. For other markers, particularly those set flush with the ground that have sunken over time, I use bristle brushes to remove the collection of dirt and debris. In such cases, I brush away everything that I can.

If you have time, let the marker dry after brushing, since wet streaks may not be flattering in the photograph.

Every rose has its thorn

I recommend that you wear gloves to wipe and prune. I have found that some rather sharp and picky things, including rose stems, that have blown onto a flush monument and just can’t wait to bite when you remove them.

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