How to Remove Pollen Stains From Clothes & Carpet

How to Remove Pollen Stains

The Spruce / Joules Garcia

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 4 hrs, 10 mins - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to 20

A bouquet of flowers is lovely, but beware of its yellow pollen, which is especially a problem with lilies. That 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.

person touching pollen
The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu
Stain type Tannin-based
Detergent type Heavy-duty detergent and oxygen-based bleach
Water temperature As recommended on fabric care tag

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Clothes

  • Soaking basin or sink
  • Sticky tape (Optional)
  • Washing machine (Optional)
  • Blow dryer (Optional)

Carpet and Upholstery

  • Sticky tape or vacuum cleaner
  • Sponge or clean, white cloth

Materials

Clothes

  • Water
  • Heavy-duty detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach

Carpet and Upholstery

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

Instructions

detergent, tape, and bleach
The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu 

Before You Begin

Never try to rub out a pollen stain, as this will only push the stain deeper into the fabric. Instead, blow, shake, or use sticky tape to lift away the pollen grains as much as possible. It is best to keep the pollen dry and remove as much as you can 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 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.

person checking garment for care label
The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu 

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 blow dryer on the cool setting to blow it away. 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.

    person using tape to remove pollen
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu
  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.

    person soaking the garment in a sink
    ​The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

    Oxygen-Based Bleach for Colorfast Garments

    Oxygen-based bleach is a color-safe bleach, unlike chlorine bleach, which will remove fabric color. 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. However, 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 if necessary.

    person laundering the affected garment
    ​The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

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. Blow or vacuum it away, or use sticky tape to carefully lift as much pollen as possible. Before using dry-cleaning solvent, test an inconspicuous area of the stained material to be sure it does not discolor.

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Click Play to Learn How to Easily Remove Pollen Stains From Carpet

tools for removing pollen from fabric
The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu
  1. Remove Pollen From the Area

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

    person using tape to remove pollen
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu
  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 white cloth as the stain is transferred.

    person blotting rug with solvent
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu 
  3. Air Dry and Vacuum

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

    person using a vacuum on a carpet
    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu
  4. Treat With Oxygen-Based Bleach

    If the pollen stain remains, mix a solution of oxygen-bleach and water, following package directions for amounts. Blot the solution onto the stain with a sponge or clean cloth, 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. Note that silk, wool, or leather cannot be cleaned with oxygen-bleach.

    person using bleach on a rug
    ​The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

When to Call a Professional

If you've followed the guidelines here, but the pollen stain remains on your fabric, carpet, or upholstery despite your best efforts, it's time to call in a professional. Carpet-cleaning services (they often clean upholstery as well) have access to stronger chemicals and cleaning machines than you are likely to have at home, as do dry-cleaners for clothing. Explain the nature of the stain, as well as what steps you have already taken to try and remove it.

Additional Tips for Handling Pollen Stains

The best way to handle a pollen stain is to prevent it in the first place. You can prevent stains and help cut flowers last longer if you remove the pollen-laden stamens as soon as you bring the flowers into the house.

The stamens are the small tendrils in the center of the blooms. Their 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, most lilies have protruding stamens heavily loaded with pollen. Use a paper towel to pinch off the end of each stamen and get rid of the staining pollen.