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How to Remove Pollen Stains Easily: A Practical Guide

How to remove pollen stains

Have you ever walked outside and seen pollen blowing around and were just in the wrong place at the wrong time? It happened to me, I was wearing white, and I wasn’t even in the garden at the time. My first instinct was to brush the pollen off. It turned out, I was making the stain removal process much harder on myself. I know now how to remove pollen stains before they become stubborn and before they spread to other clothing or fabrics. If you treat your pollen stain with my method, I guarantee you won’t have to call in any professional help. 

Does Pollen Permanently Stain?

Pollen can permanently stain your clothing and carpet. The yellow dye in the pollen is a powder, and it can get lodged in the fibers of the clothes. If you have ever dealt with a difficult stain from a turmeric powder, you will be well prepared for what it takes to remove pollen stains. 

Precautions: Before You Begin

Remember my first instinct was to brush off the pollen stain? At least I was correct in the fact that the sooner you act, the better it is. But, follow these precautions carefully before you begin. 

  • Always act sooner rather than later, and don’t put the pollen stained clothing in the washing machine without a pre-treatment
  • Check the care label of your garment to ensure you are not doing anything to damage it
  • Don’t rub or wipe the stain; it will push it further into the material it is sitting on
  • Lily pollen stains can be particularly difficult. To remove lily pollen stains, you can use my step-by-step process below

How To Remove Pollen Stains

This step-by-step process for removing pollen stains is something I developed through trial and error. Follow these steps carefully, learn from the mistakes I’ve made, and you can reclaim your clothing without any pollen on it. 

1. Shake off the Pollen

Don’t brush or wipe the pollen on your clothing. Instead, take the clothing off, take it outside, and shake it.

2. Lift the Pollen With Tape

Cut a piece of Scotch tape a little larger than the stain itself. I like to use Scotch tape as it’s not all that sticky and doesn’t seem to damage the fibers on my clothing. Make a ring with the tape, wrap it around a finger or two, and use it to pull the pollen off. 

You can repeat this process a few times, but I would continually change out the tape. You don’t want pollen to transfer from tape to clothing. 

3. Use Sunlight To Eliminate Pollen Stains 

Take the pollen stained clothing and let it sit out in the direct sunlight for about an hour. The sunlight won’t always remove the pollen stain, but it can fade it, making the rest of this process easier. 

4. Rinse and Soak With Cold Water 

Put a bowl of cold water in your kitchen sink, add the pollen stained clothing, and let it soak. At this point in the process, you won’t be dealing with loose pollen, just a stained area. 

5. Apply Stain Remover 

Now you will need to treat the stained garment before putting it in the washing machine. The stain remover I find to be best for pollen removal is Shout It Out Advanced Gel. Many people ask, will vinegar remove pollen stains? I have used a combination of vinegar and baking soda on difficult to remove pollen stains, but the commercial stain removers work well if you have them around. 

6. Wash With a Liquid Laundry Detergent (Cold Wash)

Now that you have gotten as much pollen as possible out, it’s time to put the clothing through the washing machine on a cold cycle with like colored clothes. Use a liquid laundry detergent like Arm and Hammer with OxiClean. For something more eco-friendly; you can use Seventh Generation Free and Clear.  

7. Air Dry and Repeat

Don’t put your pollen stained clothing in the dryer; it will set the stain. Instead, inspect your garment when it comes out of the washing machine and start back at step 3 if you are still dealing with a stain.

8. Use Rubbing Alcohol for Stubborn Stains 

Pollen stains can be permanent. If you have reached a position where you think you may be dealing with a fabric’s surface that is ruined, try rubbing alcohol to see if it releases. I would test a small inconspicuous area of the fabric first, as rubbing alcohol can damage the coloring of certain fabrics. 

How To Remove Pollen Stains From Carpet

Stubborn stains on clothing sometimes find their way to the carpet as well. I’ve seen more homeowners dealing with pollen stains on carpets after leaving windows and doors open in the early spring. 

The removal process is similar when working with carpet, but you will want to start by vacuuming the area. I use an attachment and hold it just above the pollen so as not to push the pollen deeper with the weight of the vacuum. 

Use a dry cleaning solvent which is a powdery substance that I use to completely cover the area on the carpet. Let that sit for a good hour or so, and then vacuum the solvent up. (Again, I would use the vacuum attachments). 

Finally, if the stain persists, gently blot the area with a carpet stain remover

How To Remove Pollen Stains From Wood

My wood deck gets covered in pollen stains in the early spring. Every time I walk outside, there is more pollen to deal with. I tried spraying the pollen with a hose and hoping for the best. When my deck dried, it was a neon green color!

I’ve since found what I think is a perfect method. I take a soft brush and a bucket of water mixed with Dawn dish soap and a little baking soda. If you are not working on a large outdoor area (like a dining room table that got stained from fresh flowers), you can use a clean cloth with soap and water on it. 

Many pollen stains seem to get worse over time as they sink into the wood. You may have to put in a little elbow grease to get these out.  

When To Seek Professional Help

If you have followed my complete method from the sticky tape to the machine wash to the repeat if necessary, and you still have a pollen stain, it may be time to call in the professionals. If your stain is on clothing, take it to a dry cleaner but explain how you have treated the affected area so they know what to do. 

A carpet cleaning company would have to be called in if your stain persists on the carpet. This will depend on the size of the affected area and how obvious the pollen stain is. 

How To Prevent Pollen Stains Around the Home

I’ll admit treating a pollen stain often takes several treatments, and it’s a bit time-consuming. If you want to avoid the time spent, follow these tips: 

  • Remove the stamen from a cut flower so that pollen is not released in your home
  • In the spring, be careful when you open your windows and doors, as pollen can blow in
  • If you run into pollen when working outside, try not to touch it; avoid the tendency to start rubbing it off. It may not stain; sometimes, pollen will just shake off
  • Wear clothing that can be stained when working in the garden, cutting lilies, or working with any flowers that can stain

Frequently asked questions (faq)

Are There Any Specific Types of Fabric That Are More Prone to Pollen Stains?

Cotton tends to be a little less stain resistant than polyester fabric. However, how you treat the initial pollen stain is what truly determines what the stain removal process will be like. 

How Do You Get Pollen off Outdoor Cushions?

To get pollen off of outdoor cushions, use a leaf blower to blow it off. If you have additional stains, you can use a dawn dish soap and water method to lightly scrub the pollen away and leave the cushions to dry. 

Final Thoughts

Pollen stains can be permanent, but they don’t have to be. Think of the pollen as wanting to attach to the clothing, and you will start your stain removal process the right way. Start your pollen stain removal right away, and don’t skip any steps on the list, and you should only need to do it once.


Britt Olizarowicz