big ben hero w gradient story large

How To Clean a Monument

Grab a mop and bucket—and some scaffolding.

Eiffel Scour Popperfoto/Popperfoto/Getty Images Eiffel Scour Fearless workers freshen up the wrought-iron girders of the Eiffel Tower, circa 1950. We're Going to Need a Bigger Scaffold George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images We're Going to Need a Bigger Scaffold Scaffolding climbs the sides of the Washington Monument in advance of its first-ever cleaning, in 1934. Time for a Scrub BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images Time for a Scrub Cleaners rappel down Big Ben in London in 2014. For more on Big Ben, check out "Beautiful Clock Towers That Stand the Test of Time." Call the Fire Department! Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images Call the Fire Department! Washington, D.C. firemen hose down the U.S. Capitol in 1928. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness Fox Photos/Getty Images Cleanliness is Next to Godliness Workers clean the 18-foot-tall statue of Achilles in Hyde Park, London in 1930. No More Ring Around the Tub Matt Cardy/Getty Images No More Ring Around the Tub Cleaners scrub the floor of the historic Roman baths in Bath, England in 2018. Riding High Hulton Deutsch/Corbis via Getty Images Riding High Intrepid cleaners mount the statue of the "quadrigia," a four-horse chariot, atop Wellington Arch in Hyde Park, London in 1932. Nose Goes Photoshot/Getty Images Nose Goes Steeplejack Mike O'Meara hangs off the front of Abraham Lincoln's granite visage on Mount Rushmore during a 1962 cleaning. Scrubbing Expedition Imagno/Getty Images Scrubbing Expedition A cleaning crew outfitted with ladder, hammer, and rope troops through the Roman Colosseum, circa 1930. Window Washer JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images Window Washer A worker wipes down I.M. Pei's Louvre Pyramid in Paris. Fine Brushwork Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Fine Brushwork A worker dusts a bas-relief on the Arch of Constantine in Rome in 1955. Clean Energy? Keystone/Getty Images Clean Energy? In preparation for the U.S. bicentennial, a crew burnishes the flame in the Statue of Liberty's torch. Hose Your Horses Sergei Fadeichev Hose Your Horses In Moscow's Victory Park, workers blast a statue of St. George on horseback with pressure washers. Open Wide ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images Open Wide Cleaners' scaffolding surrounds the 125-foot-tall statue of Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro. Swabbing on the Shoulders of Giants Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Swabbing on the Shoulders of Giants A worker pauses to take in a sweeping view of London during the 2006 cleaning and restoration of Admiral Nelson's column. Clean Sweep Marka/UIG via Getty Images Clean Sweep A worker spruces up the Ludus Magnus, ancient Rome's gladiatorial school, circa 1960. Make It Sparkle JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images Make It Sparkle High above Tinseltown, a crew cleans the corrugated-steel-and-baked-enamel "O" of the Hollywood sign.