Natural stone on outdoor spaces such as courtyards, garden paths, and entryways will always add a touch of elegance to a home. However, this kind of upgrade requires a certain level of maintenance to protect your investment from being damaged by the elements. Environmental stains caused by dust and acid rain are major concerns in this regard, but they’re generally easier to manage when compared to bird droppings.
Bird droppings tend to have a high acidic content because of uric acid. Since birds don’t have to consume as much water as other animal species, their biological processes generate a lot of uric acid that results in concentrated fecal matter. Cemetery groundskeepers are very familiar with the issues caused by bird droppings falling on elaborate headstones and religious artifacts made of marble and other types of natural stone. Bird feces can penetrate the surface through the pores, thus resulting in a yellow stain and a damaging chemical reaction caused by the uric acid. If you’d like to learn how to clean outdoor stone that has bird droppings on it, here are a few tips.
1. Act Quickly
Even if frequent cleaning and sealing are already part of your outdoor stone maintenance routine (and they should be), you’ll still need to act quickly if you notice birds left droppings on your stone. The ideal approach is to not let the fecal matter build up or solidify. Use paper towels or a soft cloth to blot up fresh droppings and keep them from being absorbed through the pores. Never use metal, sharp objects, or steel wool to scrape off droppings that have had time to dry because such tools will scratch the finish. Instead, use a gentle stone-safe pad on your stone, such as Granite Gold Scrub Sponge®, or Granite Gold Grout Brush® to agitate dirt and grime. Don’t worry about removing everything at this time. Just focus on getting rid of the matter that sticks above the surface.
Here’s a short video explaining how to clean outdoor stone:
2. Clean the Affected Surface
Clean the surface with an outdoor stone cleaner to loosen the droppings. Use a paper towel or lint-free cloth to clean and wipe down the surface as often as needed, and don’t forget to seal the surface after cleaning. If you want to use a pressure washer when cleaning, it must be used from a safe distance to prevent leaving patterns in the stone. Use the 64-ounce container of Granite Gold Outdoor Stone Cleaner®, which can be attached to a hose.
3. Remove Stubborn Stains
If yellow staining from the bird droppings remains after washing, you can soak a paper towel, cotton balls, or a white terrycloth towel with bleach and let it sit on the spot for 24 hours before rinsing with water, then seal immediately after. Bleach doesn’t harm natural stone as long as the stone is rinsed each time and sealed and maintained properly. Frequent staining could be a sign your outdoor stone surfaces require a fresh application of sealant.
For additional tips on caring for outdoor stone, reach out to the Stone Care Experts at Granite Gold®. All of our products are safe to use on granite, slate, travertine, and all other types of natural stone. To speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives, give us a call at 1-800-475-STONE (7866). Also make sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive even more tips on caring for natural-stone and quartz surfaces.
Lenny Sciarrino (aka Lenny S) and Lenny Pellegrino (aka Lenny P) grew up in the family business and are co-founders of Granite Gold®.