sil_diam.gif - 0.9 K  How to Safely Clean Cemetery Monuments  sil_diam.gif - 0.9 K
Information Submitted by & Copyright 2012, Karen Johnson-Heber
Ohio laws pertaining to cemeteries under the jurisdiction of townships can be found in Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Chapter 517; ORC Chapter 759 pertains to cemeteries under the jurisdiction of municipalities (cities, villages and joint municipal/township cemeteries); ORC Chapter 1721 pertains to cemeteries under the jurisdiction of (private) cemetery associations. The ORC is available

According to ORC Chapter 2909.05, vandalism and other offenses against burial places is a fourth degree felony. Defacing a military monument is a 3rd degree felony.

NOTES: (1) My instructions to clean a bronze monument. I provided this to the cemetery townships caretakers for bronze monuments which are normally military monuments.

(2) First thing before doing any cemetery monument cleaning is first get written permission to do any cemetery monument cleaning or preservation in a cemetery. The 2nd rule of thumb is to make sure you have access to water. The 3rd rule of thumb is to “DO NO HARM”.

(3) Remember above all else desecrating a military monument is a 3rd degree felony.

(4) Non-military monuments belong to the families of the interred ones, not the cemetery. These are private property even though they are located in a public cemetery. Both can press charges for desecrating any monument for any reason.

(5) I went to a Memorial Monument company here in Georgia and asked how I should go about cleaning monuments to clean them and what should I use. I am sure you can contact any memorial monument company and see what they say.

How to Clean Bronze Cemetery Monuments
#1: Manufacturers seal the bronze during the construction process with a protective coating that often deteriorates after years of exposure to wind, rain and natural elements. Once the sealant wears off, monuments begin to develop a natural grayish-green patina which makes them to look dull and the gold tint begins to flake off.
#2: Things I take with me to clean a bronze monument:
  1. Soft cloths
  2. Nylon brush
  3. Toothbrush
  4. Water-access to water (I use a large pump lawn sprayer with clear water)
  5. Bucket
  6. Terrycloth towels
  7. Mineral oil
  8. WD-40
#3: Steps to Clean A Bronze Monument:
  1. Remove any leaves or debris lying on top of monument before cleaning.
  2. Lightly use soft bristle brush to remove surface dirt and grime with clear water (no chemicals) and a soft nylon brush on large flat areas of the monument. Get in between lettering and decorations with a toothbrush to remove embedded grime.
  3. Rinse monument with water and dry with a soft terrycloth towel.
  4. Dampen a soft cloth with mineral oil and apply to the surface of the monument. Carefully and evenly applying to the surface of the monument.
  5. Remove residual oil with a clean cloth, taking special care around the lettering.
  6. Finish with a light application of WD-40 to put a sheen on the monument to protect it from the elements. Periodic re-application of a protectant with a soft cloth is recommended to keep the monument looking bright
How to Clean Other Cemetery Monuments
#1: I use a 1 part shock (can be purchased at a pool supply store) to 4 parts water. I use a 2 gallon sprayer like you find in the garden center. I also have one with clear water, Most cemeteries have a water faucet. Do not use shock on the white limestone monuments, it will disinigrate them.
#2: I spray it on the monument and let it set on the monument for a minute, then use a soft bristle brush to scrub away the moss and lichens. Then I rinse and let dry.
#3: For copper military monuments I use mineral oil. This does not change the color of the monument. I have a small spray bottle. I spray a little on the monument and use a cloth to wipe the monument off. I do not rinse this off. Mineral oil keeps the monument protected.
#4: The white limestone monuments are more difficult. They are poreous and need to breath so putting anything on them and leaving it will cause the stone to deteriorate faster. So I usually on spray only on the area I need to read.
EXAMPLES: Snapp, William - Before | Snapp, William - After

Wert, Hiram - Before | Wert, Hiram - After

Many Thanks to Karen Johnson-Heber for her time and expertise!

oakleaf2.gif - 1.7 K Let's work together in this endeavor!oakleaf3.gif - 2.2 K

This Project is about remembering our dead and preserving our history!!

If you would like to transcribe data for this Project, or you have already done cemetery surveys and would like to share that work with the world, please let us hear from you.

All Cemetery Surveys, Gravestone Inscriptions, Tombstone Photos and other files related to cemeteries are posted in the OHGenWeb Archives. It is not necessary to submit files to both the Tombstone Transcription Project and the OH Archives.

Please understand, I am unable to respond to queries about ancestors, cemeteries, or do lookups! If a cemetery is not listed, we do not have any information available.

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National Tombstone Transcription Project Manager is Rebecca Maloney 

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