Cave Cleanup Efforts
Invariably any cave that receives traffic sustains damage from human visitation. This ranges from things as simple and unavoidable as contamination of the environment as a result of our body heat, breathing and shedding skin and hair to things very much avoidable such as trash and spraypaint. Often, cavers spend considerable time and effort cleaning up they caves they love during dedicated cleanup trips. Trash cleanups and graffiti removal trips to some of the heaviest visited caves are common. Some caves require that lint, mud and oil sometimes be cleaned from formations and walls.
There is much disagreement among the caving community as to methods, tools and chemical use during such cleanups, so you should try to find out what is acceptable in your neck of the woods before you take after a formation with some acid and a wire brush (not acceptable in my book.) Often, you can hop a cleanup trip planned by someone else who knows what they are doing and can show you. Many states have a conservation association af some sort that should be able to help.
Even if you are not involved in a dedicated cleanup trip, you can still do your part. First of all, take care to leave nothing you brought with you inside the cave. This includes spent carbide, trash, food crumbs, clothing (I've seen it), urine and feces. Don't smoke in the cave (besides, it smells really annoying to any cavers who come after you.) Do I even have to say don't spray paint the walls or formations? To me, that goes a step beyond vandalism to utter disrespect for the cave owner. I once saw a really nice flowstone drapery that someone thought would look better if it were painted green! Leave your spray paint at home. Please don't stop with hauling out your own trash, though. If some caver before you has carelessly left his trash behind, pick it up and haul it out!
Graffiti removal trip report. Trapdoor Cave, Monroe County Indiana.