Three years ago, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop organized by the Oak Hill Cemetery Preservation Society and led by Jason Church, a well-known cemetery advocate from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), a subdivision of the National Parks Service.
That is why I was absolutely horrified to see the Saturday story (Page 5A) about Mr. Dale Reich, who has been cleaning headstones with dish soap. This is simply wrong. Dish soap leaves a residue behind, which can damage the finish on stone or “clog” porous stone, which leads to cracks and breaks.
There are three things that should ever be used: water, Orvus and D/2 Biological Solution.
The cheap method: Water. Unless your goal is removing staining of some kind, a cleaning product of any kind is not necessary. Period.
If you need it, then use D/2. Unfortunately, D/2 is only sold online; you won’t find it at your local hardware store.
D/2 does not harm stone, grass or the creepy crawlies and other animals that call the cemetery home. It does inhibit growth of biomatter on the stone itself.
If your readers want to learn more about safely cleaning and maintaining headstones, visit the Cemetery Conservators for United Standards online or on Facebook, or the NCPTT website. Mr. Church has a variety of videos on YouTube all about his work. I am sure the Oak Hill Cemetery Preservation Society is also happy to answer questions for local folks.