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How to Get Pollen Out of Clothes

One of my favorite things about summertime is having a large bouquet of fresh flowers in my kitchen. Unfortunately, the downside of having flowers like lilies in your home is the inevitable pollen that comes with them. Pollen is a disaster when it gets on your clothes, leaving behind yellow stains that can be very difficult to remove.

You can get pollen out of your clothes by acting quickly and keeping it from setting in. Shake off as much pollen as you can without blotting or wiping it further into the fabric. Then, wash your clothing with regular laundry detergent, oxygenated bleach, or isopropyl alcohol.

As long as you act quickly, you can keep pollen from making a permanent mark on your clothing. Keep reading as I break down exactly how to get pollen out of clothes. We’ll talk about the six methods you can try and what not to do when it comes to this unwanted addition to your wardrobe.

How to Get Pollen Out of Clothes

Does Pollen Wash Out of Clothes?

Pollen can be washed out of clothes if you act quickly and use the correct methods. Fortunately, most common stain removers will work well on fresh pollen stains. You can even use your regular laundry detergent and your home washing machine if you follow certain steps.

The important thing is not to let the pollen stay on your clothing long. The more time it takes, the harder it will be to wash pollen out of the fabric it clings to.

Are Pollen Stains Permanent?

Pollen stains can be permanent if they are allowed to set in. However, quick action and careful handling can ensure that the stains are removed before they are allowed to become permanent. Just be sure to use one of my tried-and-true methods you’ll read about in a moment.

Part of what can make these untreated stains permanent are the tannins that pollen contains. Tannins are natural dyes that come from plant materials. They have been used throughout history as natural dyes and inks because of their powerful staining properties.

Some of the most notoriously difficult stains to remove are caused by tannins – things like coffee stains, red wine stains, or those caused by fruit juices. Tannins from trees are what typically turn freshwater lakes and rivers a murky brown color, which is almost impossible to remove. It’s no wonder that tannin stains from pollen can be permanent if left untreated.

Why is Pollen So Difficult to Remove?

Are Pollen Stains Permanent

The natural tannins in pollen are one of the main reasons these stains are so difficult to remove. However, this pesky powder has many other natural characteristics that make it a particularly stubborn stain once set in.

Our instinct when treating stains is to blot or wipe them with water to stop their spread. However, this is one reason why pollen stains can be so hard to treat. Pollen is a powder, and any rubbing or blotting pushes the granules between the fibers of your clothes, where they firmly cling.

Clinging is something that pollen does as part of the natural pollination process. Pollen has barbs and tendrils designed to attach to pollinators in the wild, carrying the pollen from flower to flower. The downside to this system is that the barbs on pollen can’t tell the difference between your clothes and a friendly bumblebee.

This means that, if given a chance, pollen will stick to you and hold tight. This makes it much more difficult to remove than most other stains you may encounter.

How to Get Pollen Out of Clothes: 6 Methods

There are many different methods you can use to get pollen out of your clothes. Whichever method you choose, always do your best to immediately remove as much of the pollen as you can and then treat the stain promptly to stop it from setting in.

1. Clear Tape

The first step to tackling pollen is to try to remove it from your clothes before it can fully cling to them. As soon as you notice you’ve brushed up against pollen, try to shake out your clothes or blow off the granules to remove as much as possible. Then, look for something sticky.

This is where clear tape comes in. You can carefully use the sticky side of clear tape to lift the pollen granules off your clothes. You’ll want to gently brush the tape over the fabric, avoiding pushing the pollen further or smearing it to other areas of your clothing.

Clear tape works best since you can see the fabric of your clothes through it and tell exactly where the stains are. But anything sticky should work, as long as it doesn’t leave residue behind. You can do this technique with any other tape you have on hand, or you could try a lint roller.

In a pinch, you could also try to use static cling to accomplish the same thing clear tape does. Styrofoam, pipe cleaners, or even plastic cling film from your kitchen may all have enough static to lift away pollen before it sets.

2. Regular Laundry Detergent

Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Clean Meadow, 75 Loads Liquid Laundry Detergent, 118.1 Fl ozIf the pollen sticks firmly and a stain forms, you’ll need to wash your clothes. Your best bet is to first soak your clothes in cold water for 30 minutes to try and lift as much of the stain as possible. Then, you’ll wash the clothes with your regular laundry detergent.

Most laundry detergents have built-in stain removers that can tackle small pollen stains. For an added boost, apply a small drop of your laundry detergent or a commercial stain remover directly to the spot on your clothing before washing as usual.

Even though you’ll soak the clothes in cold water first, you’ll want to use hot water when you wash them with detergent. This is because hot water makes stain removers more effective, which gives you a better chance of removing the stain. Always check the fabric to see what temperatures it can withstand before using high heat.

Before you dry your clothes, be sure to check that the stain has fully been removed. Drying your clothes too early can permanently set in stains, which is the opposite of what you want. If the stain isn’t fully gone, repeat this washing process or try one of the other methods listed here.

3. Oxygenated Bleach

BleachOxygenated bleaches are color-safe, meaning that you should be able to safely use them on most clothes. They can be excellent stain fighters and help lift even the most stubborn pollen marks.

To use these products, you’ll want to do an overnight soak. Follow the package directions on the product you use, and mix it with cold water only. Be sure to submerge the garment entirely in the water, leaving it for at least four hours – though overnight is best.

Oxiclean is probably the most famous oxygenated bleach product on the market and is a good choice to use. Before you try this method, you’ll want to be sure to test it in an inconspicuous spot to ensure no color bleeds.

You’ll also want to be sure the bleach is safe for the type of fabric you have as well. Many oxygenated bleaches aren’t recommended for silk, wool, leather, and other specialty fabrics.

4. Isopropyl Alcohol

Rubbing AlcoholIf you find that stubborn stains linger after you’ve washed your clothes, isopropyl alcohol can help! You can apply the alcohol with a clean white cloth, trying not to wipe or spread the stain elsewhere on the fabric. After it sits for 5-10 minutes, you can rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove any alcohol.

It is important to mention that isopropyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol are not the same. Rubbing alcohol can be used on pollen but won’t be as effective as isopropyl alcohol. This is because rubbing alcohol is less concentrated and has water added to dilute its contents.

Always be careful to test the colorfastness of your clothing before you use isopropyl alcohol. Find an inconspicuous spot to dab with a small amount, and then wipe the area with a white cloth or paper towel. If the color stays where it should, you know it’s safe to use alcohol on your clothes.

5. Vinegar

VinegarVinegar is one of the best natural cleaners around, and it can also be used to help remove pesky pollen spots! Simply mix a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water, and apply to the stained area.

Try to blot as little as possible when you use this method to avoid accidentally spreading the stain to other areas of the clothing. Allow the vinegar to sit for several minutes, and then wash the clothes as usual. You can repeat this multiple times if the stain continues to linger.

You’ll want to use white vinegar for this method since other varieties like red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can stain light-colored clothing. Even though vinegar is generally safe for fabric, you should still do a spot test on your clothing to be sure.

6. Sunshine

After you wash your clothes using any of the methods I’ve discussed, don’t stick them in the dryer immediately! Drying your clothes with heat can set in any lingering stains, making them permanent.

Instead, you should always air dry your clothes so that you can check to ensure the stain is gone before you apply heat. As an added benefit, drying your clothes in direct sunshine can further help to lighten stains. Sunlight works especially well to remove stains from white clothes.

Simply lay your clothes as flat as possible in direct sunlight. As it dries, lingering yellow stains should lighten or be eliminated.

What Not To Do

If you use the methods I’ve talked about above, you should be able to treat any pollen stains you may encounter. However, there are still a few important things you should avoid when it comes to this pesky particle.

Don’t ever touch the stain with your bare hands. Your fingers contain natural oils that can cling to the normally dry particles, making them set into the fabric. Oily stains are a pain to remove, so avoid this by keeping your hands away.

Don’t wipe or blot the stain. It may be instinctual to try and rub off as much of the pollen as possible, but this will only make it cling tighter. Try to shake off as much pollen as you can while outside, and then head as quickly as possible to properly wash your clothing.

Don’t immediately apply water. If you wet the pollen right away, you’ll cause it to release its tannins and set into the fabric. Unless you can fully clean the fabric at that moment, your best bet is to wait until later to thoroughly rinse and wash the clothing with detergent.

Do not use regular soap. Regular soap doesn’t have the built-in stain removers that most laundry detergents have, which makes it less effective at removing stains. Additionally, many bar soaps and hand soaps contain added oils to help keep your skin feeling soft. These oils can worsen pollen stains and set them permanently into your clothing.

Do not use salt to scrub the stains. Salt is often used as a home cleaner, which is applied to wet fabrics and used as a scrub to lift stains. However, abrasive salt scrubs won’t lift pollen and will instead drive it deeper into the fabric. This is a bad idea if you want to remove the yellow marks from your clothing.

How to Prevent Pollen Stains

The best way to handle pollen on your clothes is to prevent it from getting there in the first place. As the old saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. It’s time to go on the offensive when it comes to pesky pollen.

To begin, you’ll want to avoid making direct contact with any pollen around you. You will probably want to keep your distance from outdoor plants when pollen is heavy. You can even check your outdoor weather forecasts to see how bad the pollen is on any given day.

If you enjoy having flowers like lilies in your home, you can remove the stamens that hold the pollen. Stamens are the inner antenna-like portions of the flower, which are usually yellow or orange from the pollen that they hold. Simply pull them off with a towel or gently cut them off before discarding them.

If you come into contact with pollen, you can reduce staining by immediately shaking it off outside your home. You can also blow gently on the pollen particles to help get them off of your clothing and use tape or a lint roller to remove any lingering traces.

You’ll want to do this outside to avoid tracking pollen into your home and potentially staining your carpet or furniture. If you know you can’t avoid pollen while out and about, consider wearing dark-colored clothing to reduce the chances of pollen leaving its mark.

How to Get Wet Pollen Stain Out of Carpet

When pollen is at its peak, it can easily cling to your shoes and make its way onto your carpets. Like with your clothing, your best chance at preventing stains is to remove the pollen immediately. Both tape and a lint roller can help with this.

If the pollen is wet, however, it will probably stick to your carpet. You can get this out by using the nozzle of your vacuum to suck up as much of the wet pollen as possible. You will not want to run the entire vacuum over the spot since its brushes could accidentally drive the stain in deeper.

Once you’ve used the vacuum, you’ll need to treat the stain. You can use a dry cleaning solvent to prevent the stain from spreading. Just be sure to avoid wiping or blotting as much as possible.

Otherwise, try an oxygenated bleach like Oxyclean to treat the spot. Most color-safe products you use in your washing machine are safe on your carpets. You should always do a test spot in an inconspicuous location first to be safe.

Isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar can also be used to treat stains on your carpet. Just let them dry completely before running your vacuum over the spot again to remove any lingering particles that might be present.


Pollen stains can be a pain to deal with, especially since they can be permanent if left untreated. However, if you act quickly and use one of the methods I’ve outlined here, you can tackle any pollen that may come your way. Keep this guide handy all summer long and you’ll never have to fear ugly yellow stains again!