How to Remove Pollen Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Pink Lily close up
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A bouquet of lilies is lovely but beware of its yellow pollen. The dusty pollen can do more than make you sneeze, it can destroy fabrics—permanently staining clothes, table linens, carpet, and upholstery. These stains can be difficult to remove if set in, but you can usually remove the stain at home if you have the appropriate laundry products. Avoid touching a pollen stain with your hands as oils from your fingers can cause it to be more difficult to remove.

Police the Pollen

You can prevent the stains and help the flowers last longer if you remove the stamens that hold the pollen. The pollen is important when the plant is growing but not once the flowers are cut. If the pollen falls on the petals, it can eat away at the petal and shorten the life of your blooms. While you cannot remove the stamens from every type of flower, many lilies have protruding stamens with pollen. Use a paper towel to pinch off the end of each stamen and get rid of the staining pollen.

Stain type Tannin-based
Detergent type Heavy-duty detergent and Oxygen-based bleach
Water temperature Cold

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 to 8 hours (depending on the severity of the stain)

Before You Begin

Test any detergent or cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.

Never try to rub out a pollen stain. Blow, shake, or use sticky tape to lift away the pollen grains. It is best to keep the pollen dry and remove as much as possible before moving on to wet cleaning methods.

If the item is labeled as dry clean only, take the garment to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain. If possible, share the type of flower that caused the stain. Lilies are usually the main culprit.

If you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, use a commercial dry cleaning solvent or the provided stain remover pen to treat the stain before putting the garment in the dryer bag. There is no guarantee that the pollen will be removed with a home dryer method.

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Sticky tape (optional)
  • Soaking basin or sink
  • Washing machine (optional)

How to Remove Yellow Pollen Stains From Clothes

  1. Remove the Pollen

    Do not rub or brush away the pollen with your hand or a cloth. If you do, it will push the pollen's yellow dye deeper into the fabric. Take the fabric outside and shake off the pollen. Or, use a piece of sticky tape to pick up the pollen grains. The trick is to keep the pollen from penetrating the fibers of the fabric.

  2. Soak in Oxygen-Based Bleach

    As soon as possible, fill a deep sink or plastic tub with a solution of cold water and oxygen-based bleach (such as OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener or OXO Brite). Follow the package directions for how much oxygen bleach to use per gallon of water and mix enough so that the entire garment can be submerged. Allow the pollen-stained item to soak for at least four hours; overnight is even better. Check the stained area.

    Oxygen-Based Bleach for Colorfast Garments

    Oxygen-based bleach is a color-safe bleach. This process is safe for both white and colored fabrics. If the stain is still present, repeat the process with a fresh batch of oxygen bleach solution. Never use oxygen-based bleach on silk, wool or any garment trimmed with leather.

  3. Machine Wash as Usual

After soaking, wash the garment as recommended on the fabric care label. Do not dry the fabric in a hot dryer until the stain is completely removed. If you need to take a break in the process, it is fine to let the fabric air-dry and then resume another oxygen bleach and water soak.

How to Remove Yellow Pollen Stains From Carpet or Upholstery

As with articles of clothing, do not push or press the pollen deeper into the carpet or furniture fabric. 

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Dry-cleaning solvent
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)

Tools

  • Sticky tape or vacuum
  • Sponge or clean, white cloth
  1. Remove Pollen From the Area

    As soon as possible, vacuum the pollen out of the carpet or upholstery or lift with sticky tape.

  2. Blot on Dry-Cleaning Solvent

    Treat the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent. Use a sponge or clean white cloth to blot the solvent onto the carpet. Work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent the stain from spreading and getting larger. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred.

  3. Air Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the carpet to air-dry. Vacuum the carpet to lift any matted fibers.

  4. Treat With Oxygen-Based Bleach

If dye remains, mix a solution of oxygen bleach and water (follow package directions) to treat the stain (except for wool and silk). Blot the solution onto the stain and let it remain for at least one hour. Rinse by blotting with a cloth dipped in plain water. Repeat the treatment if any color remains.