Exploring Almost Forgotten Gravesites in the Great State of Ohio

Dedicated to cemetery preservation in the great state of Ohio

"A cemetery may be considered as abandoned when all or practically all of the bodies have been Removed therefrom and no bodies have been buried therein for a great many years, and the cemetery has been so long neglected as entirely to lose its identity as such, and is no longer known, recognized and respected by the public as a cemetery. 1953 OAG 2978."

Cleaning a Stone Grave Marker with Orvus Soap

Cleaning a Stone Grave Marker or Monument with Orvus Soap

Supplies Needed:

·       Ensure there will be a sufficient supply of clean water on site
·       Bring soft white nylon bristle brushes only
·       A jar of Orvus Soap
1.     Stay safe by ensuring the grave marker you plan to work on is stable enough to withstand the pressure that will be applied to it during the cleaning process.

·       Many markers are leaning or loose on their base and could fall over on someone.  This is a crucial consideration as every year we read about people, including children, who have been killed by tombstones that have toppled over onto them.

·       Thus, if IN DOUBT DON’T CLEAN

2.     Assess the overall condition of the gravemarker --  taking into account if it is flaking, pealing, or “sugaring” -- meaning it is fragile to the touch, and thus, too fragile to apply any pressure on the surface.

·       A gravestone’s condition can be determined through a gentle touch and by rubbing your fingers or hand over the surface.

·     Take notice if any stone material rubs off onto your hand, then logically it will surely come off in greater amounts by using even a gentle nylon brush in a scrubbing type application.

·       If  your gravestone fails this testing, do not proceed and Leave the Stone Alone!

3.     The next step is to thoroughly soak down the gravestone with plain or distilled water.
·       A good rule to remember is that you can’t overuse water to wet down a  gravestone.

·     Stone is a porous material that needs to absorb water to be thoroughly and
     properly cleaned without being damaged.

4.     Pour water on your brush to sufficiently wet it down.

·       This will help when scrubbing the gravestone

5.     Apply Orvus Soap

·       Apply a small dab of Orvus Soap to the pre-wetted brush.

·        Orvus Soap is quite concentrated, and it lathers up rather quickly.

6.      Apply the Brush to the Gravestone

·       Work in a gentle circular scrubbing motion moving from the bottom of the gravestone to the top.

7.     Rinse the gravestone thoroughly

·       Rinse the gravestone starting from the top to the bottom.

8.     Wait for the gravestone to dry and assess its appearance

·       Allow the surface of the gravestone to dry sufficiently to see how it appears.

·       This Orvus Soap cleaning process can be completed one more time.

·       Gravestones should only be cleaned every 18 months.

Orvus soap is very gentle. It is on the list of approved products for cleaning grave markers.

Orvus soap is best used for cleaning off mud, dirt, and heavier amounts of moss and molds.

Please keep in mind that in order to clean a gravestone that has deeply embedded biological growths or staining from such growths, a bio-wash type product is recommended.

The gravestone conservation professional community safely recommends using “D/2 Biological Solution” and “Revive Bio-Wash”.  Both are products that have a long record of safety for you and stone grave markers and monuments.  Both products can be found for sale with a simple “Google” search.  They are not available for purchase in local retailers.

Links to additional references for proper cleaning of stone (limestone, sandstone, marble, etc.) grave markers: