Cleaning Garden Sculptures: What To Clean Garden Statues With

Dirty Garden Statue
cleaning statues
(Image credit: Kimbra Ritchie)

Garden statuary, bird baths, and fountains are fun and decorative additions to the landscape but just like the garden, they require maintenance. How do you clean a garden statue? Cleaning garden sculptures requires ingredients found in your kitchen, some elbow grease, and little else. Begin by washing sculptures in the garden with plain tap water, a gentle spray from the hose should do it. Read on to find out what to clean garden statues with.

What to Clean Garden Statues With?

For items such as fountains, chlorine tabs make quick work of cleaning, but cleaning garden sculptures is going to require a bit more effort. First of all, there is no need to purchase expensive cleansers when cleaning garden decorations. You will find everything you need in your household cleaning closet.

Whether the statue is made of bronze, concrete, wood, or marble, all you should need are a few drops of liquid dish soap mixed with water. Be sure that the soap is nontoxic so it doesn’t kill your plants. Some sites recommend using vinegar and water, but acidic vinegar can ruin some materials, such as marble, so it’s best to stick with the soap and water when cleaning garden sculptures.

Avoid using chemical cleansers when washing sculptures in the garden, as they may damage or kill surrounding plants and/or tarnish the sculpture.

How Do You Clean a Garden Statue?

Don’t attempt to clean statuary, especially concrete sculptures, if temperatures are near or below freezing. Concrete absorbs moisture and is likely to crack as it expands. Start by spraying the garden statue with a sprayer nozzle attached to a garden hose. Don’t get out the power washer! The forceful spray may damage the statue, especially if it is small or painted. If the sculpture is small and delicate, dispense with the hosing and use a soft paint brush to gently remove dust and debris.

Once you have rinsed off the largest debris and grime, mix up a batch of dish soap and water. Just a few drops of environmentally friendly soap to a bucket of water will be sufficient. Depending upon the level of grime, use either a soft cloth or a scrub brush to remove stains and dirt. Gently rinse the soap from the statue and either wipe dry with a soft cloth or allow to air dry.

For the most part, cleaning your garden statues is just that simple, although there are a few limitations depending upon material. If the statue is made of wood, be sure to wash with the grain of the wood and raise the statue off the ground so it can dry thoroughly. If a statue is made of iron, scrape the metal with sandpaper and then, using a wire brush, wash with soap and water.

Lastly, if your garden statuary is made from bronze, you may need to apply a thin coat of wax after the statue has been washed and dried. Use a clear wax, not car wax, and buff it once the wax has dried to make your statue shine.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.