How To Clean Headstones and Graves

Clean Moss Lichen & Black Fungi Off Headstones & Graves

Wet & Forget is the Best Cleaner for Headstones and GravesVisiting your loved one’s grave is a significant way to show respect and keep their memory alive. With important details inscribed in the headstone, such as their name and birth date, the last thing you’d want is moss or mould taking over.

To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to do a regular clean. Before rushing over with a bucket of harsh chemicals, it’s essential to take great caution when dealing with such a sentimental stone. Ideally, that means, using a bleach-free solution such as Wet & Forget Outdoor.

What Growths to Look Out For

Any grave is susceptible to various growths - regardless of whether it’s made from limestone, marble, or granite. All they need is some sunshine and moisture before they begin to grow.

Typically, there are four main types of growths that you’ll find on a headstone; lichen, moss, mould + mildew, and algae.


Lichen takes the form of a flat-leaf like structure firmly attached to the surface. It’s hard, crusty-like appearance ranges in colour, typically displayed as either red, yellow, brown, or green. If this growth becomes thick, it can start to fill up all engravings, making the headstone unreadable. 


Next, we have moss. This growth is identifiable by its carpet-like green aesthetic. While it may not look as hardy as lichen, it can also quickly begin to dominate the engravings as well as start to cause the headstone to crack or crumble. 

Mould + Mildew

If you see headstones covered in dark patches, you can often thank mould for that. This slippery, foul-smelling growth is usually accompanied by white or grey mildew. Both of which are commonly found on graves positioned in the shade.


Lastly, we have algae, which is generally caused by high moisture levels and exposure to sunlight. Green algae can be slippery or smooth while black algae resemble a soot-like substance.

Removing the Growths using Wet & Forget

With the risk of lichen, moss, mould, or algae ruining the appearance of your loved one’s headstone, these growths must be adequately removed.

To do so effectively, we suggest using Wet & Forget. This non-caustic, non-acidic, and bleach-free solution, is the perfect product to eliminate these growths without damaging the stone or surrounding area.  With a safe and efficient formula, you’ll be able to say goodbye to these awful growths by following a few simple steps.

Cleaning Moss Mould and Lichen Off Headstones and Graves - is a Job for Wet & Forget

Wet & Forget and Rapid Application

  • Trusted to clean up cemeteries
  • Safe on historic and fragile surfaces on headstones and graves
  • Just spray the surface and let Mother Nature do the rest for you
  • No harsh chemicals to damage the surface

Cleaning Moss Mould and Lichen Off Headstones and Graves is a Job for Wet & Forget

You can see by these results that Wet & Forget has done its job well in removing Black Mould and Lichen off Headstones especially when they not been maintained for many years.

This does not happen overnight but the advantage of using Wet & Forget for Moss and Lichen Removal is that it doesn't do any damage to the surface of headstones or graves.  Many of these are made from sandstone so it is important that you use a gentle cleaning process.  Wet & Forget kills the growth immediately and then, as the contamination dies off and breaks down, Mother Nature takes over and cleans the 'break away' debris off the surface ever so gently.

How to Clean Headstones and Graves
Using Wet & Forget Concentrate

  1. Mix it up 1 to 5 in your garden sprayer. Choose a cool, dry day to apply it. (where no rain is predicted for the first five hours).
  2. Remove any debris covering the headstone such as leaves.
  3. Mix one part Wet & Forget to five parts water in a garden sprayer - e.g. 1L Wet & Forget to 5L water or use the 2L Ready To Use bottle.
  4. Saturate the DRY surface you are cleaning with the Wet & Forget.
  5. Remember - NO rain for the first 5 hours - Then, just watch it come cleaner - bit by bit.
  6. Let mother nature do its thing.
  7. Only one application! (except in extreme cases of heavy contamination)
  8. You can use it safely on ANY exterior surface because there is NO BLEACH in our product. NO BLEACH means an unlimited shelf life.
  9. Wet & Forget contains a special surfactant to help the product grip onto vertical surfaces.
  10. Treat in a year or at first sight of regrowth.
  11. And that’s it!  No scrubbing or water blasting required.

Clean Headstones and Graves with Wet & Forget

How to Remove Lichen off Headstones and Graves
Using Wet & Forget Concentrate or Ready To Use

  1. Spot spray the lichen.
  2. Leave for 15-20 mins.
  3. While it is still damp, respray the lichen and the entire grave to ensure the lichen absorbs the Wet & Forget thoroughly.
The first application is to dissolve the waxy surface of the lichen. The 2nd spray will then penetrate into the roots and give you a much quicker overall result.

    Ready to Clean?

    We hope this article has given you a better idea about how to keep your loved one’s grave clean. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to contact us using our online forum.  If you’ve spotted some growths and are ready to clean, find your closest retailer using our Store Locator or buy online today.

    Why You Shouldn’t Use Bleach and A Scrubbing Brush

    Using bleach and a scrubbing brush can destroy your loved one’s headstone. Although your intentions will be good, the harsh intensity of all these tools will ultimately remove the outer layer of the stone, cause staining, or weaken the stone from within.

    Even if you use a scrubbing brush with soapy water, the harsh, direct contact may still lead to similar damage. That is why it’s best to use a biodegradable product such as Wet & Forget to clean the grave safely.

    In addition to the potential damage on the stone itself, using bleach can additionally kill the surrounding grass and plants - which will not only disrupt your loved one’s resting place but can also disturb the neighbouring graves. With that in mind, it becomes even more essential to remove any growths in the safest and most efficient way possible.

    Tips for Application

    As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to choose a cool, dry day to apply the product. That means checking the weather forecast and selecting a day that has little wind and no prediction of rain (or at least not for the first five hours after application). Many people find that it’s easiest to apply the product in the morning or evening when the temperature is at its lowest. Ensuring these cooler temperatures will prevent the product from evaporating too quickly.

    Once you’ve applied the product, it’s a good idea to take a note of the date of application. Keeping a record will help to ensure that you repeat the process in a year to ensure that the stone remains growth-free.

    Another useful tip is to remove debris such as leaves from the headstone. Doing so helps to ensure that the product will go directly on the growth.

    How Long Does it Take to Work?

    Depending on the growth, it will take varying amounts of time until the headstone becomes clean. Generally, light green growths such as algae will take up to a week while large amounts of mould can take up to three months.

    If the growths have been developing for several years, you may want to re-apply the product after six months to help speed up the process.

    As the product begins to work, you’ll sometimes start to see a visible reaction take place. For instance, before moss detaches from the surface, it usually will go brown and curly.

    Decorating the Grave

    After the grave is free from nasty growths, you may become more inspired to decorate the area. Possible ideas include:

    • Leaving flowers (real or fake) near the headstone.
    • Placing a wind chime by the grave.
    • Leaving special photos or notes - but make sure to pin them down.
    • Adding seasonal flags.

    Before adding any decorations, it’s crucial to check with the regulations relevant to that particular cemetery.