Different Urn Materials and Care

Memorial urns serve as the final resting place of your loved one. It is the eternal home for their ashes and a lasting symbol of their memory and what they meant to you and your family. This is why it is so important to properly care for and clean the urn. This will keep it looking its best and eliminates surface level deterioration over time.

Urn care can seem tricky to follow – some urn materials are more durable, while others more corrosive, and some can be more prone to damage by environmental factors. Urn materials can also vary in the degree of care needed; some are easier to care for and others require regular maintenance. This guide helps to serve as the ultimate understanding of how to clean and care for various urn materials.


Caring for Wood Urns

Wood urns are a popular choice because of the authentic and rustic feel of their designs, plus the fact that they’re made from natural materials in the earth. However, they can also require specific maintenance. Here are the important aspects to consider when it comes to preserving and tending to an urn made from wood.

  • Regular cleaning:The best and most simple way to provide regular cleaning for your wooden urns for ashes is to give it a gentle wipe down on the outer surface. This outermost layer will typically generate the most buildup of dust, which can be eliminated once or twice a month with a wipe down. Be sure to use a soft, dry cloth to pick up all the tiny particles without damaging the wooden surface.
  • Maintenance and upkeep: Once or twice a year, a polishing of the surface is recommended on wooden urns. This polishing helps to restore the shine and sheen of the wood, preserving and protecting its exterior and keeping it in peak condition. Make sure you’re using the right polish for the type of wood you have and be gentle with the rubbing and placement. If the urn has any special carvings or engravings, be particularly careful with regards to where you place any polish or the effect the color of the polish might have on the
  • What to avoid:Always avoid harsh chemicals and substances when cleaning or polishing a wooden urn. Wood is far more susceptible to damage from chemicals because of the porous nature of the wood, which can easily take in these chemicals and quickly deteriorate. Some chemicals can even cause a warping of the wood. Similarly, water should never be used to clean or wipe down wooden urns, as the water can sink into the grains of the wood, causing irreparable damage and expansion of the wood.
  • Placement: Because wood can be more susceptible to the weather and environmental factors, wooden urns should never be placed outside the home where it may be exposed to the harsh elements. Rain, snow, wind, and even the sun can cause permanent damage to the surface of the wood. Since the sun can cause fading when the urn is frequently exposed to it, be sure that the urn is placed somewhere in your home where it remains protected from the sun so that it doesn’t fade as a result.


Caring for Metal Urns

Metal is possibly the most popular material for urns, as metal offer a wide range of styles and versatility in colors, engraving options, and more. However, with metal also comes somewhat strict recommendations for keeping the urn in the best condition for the longest time possible. When caring for an urn made of metal, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Regular cleaning:The best and easiest way to apply regular cleaning to your metal urn is to is give it a gentle wipe-down once or twice a week. The metal material is more likely to attract dust particles because of the potential for small static, so it can collect dust more quickly than its wooden counterpart. A simple wipe down with a gentle cloth should be sufficient to remove any excess dust or particles, but never apply water or wet the urn to get it clean and shiny. Water can easily remain in the engravings or other small parts of the urn and cause rusting.
  • Maintenance: An urn that has been well-maintained will not only last for far longer, but it will also be more visually stunning and appear well-cared for. When it comes to the long-term maintenance of your metal urn, one tip is to apply a standard car cleaner or polish to the surface and wipe it down. This should only be needed a few times a year, as the urn isn’t exposed to the same environmental factors as a car is. This helps add a protective barrier and give added shine to the urn. Avoid using too much product and consider how the polish might get into the cracks of any engravings.
  • What to avoid: Avoid using harsh chemicals or traditional cleaning compounds. Using an abrasive substance like chemical cleaners or cleaners for stainless steel might seem like they can help provide added shine, but they can cause corrosion on the surface of the metal and may interact negatively with the colors or paints that have been applied. Similarly, avoid using any abrasive scrubs, like bristle brushes or steel wool to clean a metal urn, as this can cause scratches and other damage.
  • Placement: The metal urns are typically more durable than the wooden urns, but exposure to the elements can still cause the paint and metals to break down and deteriorate. Avoid placing a metal urn in direct sunlight, which can not only warp the metal but can also cause fading of the paint. Additionally, humid environments can cause rust or corrosion of the metal, so be careful with where you place it if you live in a more humid environment. Lastly, particularly salty environments like near the beach, can cause the metal to break down more quickly.


Caring for Stone Urns

Stone urns tend to be the least common between metal and wooden urns, both because of the density of stone urns as well as the more fragile nature. However, they are stunning, elegant, and exquisite when used as a final resting place for the ashes of a loved one. When it comes to caring for your stone urn, remember the following guidelines:

  • Regular cleaning: The urn should be consistently cleaned so that dust particles don’t come to rest on the urn. This cleaning can be done as a gentle wipe-down using a dry cloth, or a slightly damp one. Since the stone is less porous and more resistant to water than the wood and metal urns are, it is safe to use a little bit of water and then dry off the urn afterwards.
  • Maintenance:The maintenance of stone cremation urns is pretty basic. Most people prefer to use a standard glass cleaner to give added shine and polish the surface of the urn once every few months. Most stone urns are made from marble, so it’s important to be careful with using acid-based chemicals to clean the surface. Avoid them entirely and opt for natural cleaners instead.
  • What to avoid: Although stone urns are dense and durable, they are also fragile when dropped from a high surface. For this reason, avoid storing them near ledges or edges, or in areas with high foot traffic. This will eliminate the danger of it being knocked over, which can lead to chipping and breaking when it happens.
  • Placement: With stone urns, they’re typically going to be more durable when it comes to the environment, but it’s always important to keep them indoors and away from harsh elements like the sun or excessive humidity to help preserve the condition of the urn.


When your urn is well cared for, not only will it stay protected for years to come but it will also proudly serve as a respectable resting place for your loved one for years.

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