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 its yellow pollen. The pollen can do more than make you sneeze, it can destroy fabrics—permanently staining clothes, table linens, carpet, and upholstery. Look at a couple of home remedies for removing these stains right away.

Pollen Police

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 Protein-based 
Detergent Type Oxygen-based bleach
Water Temperature Cold

Project Metrics

There are a few factors to keep in mind before removing the stain.

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

Before You Begin

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

Never try to rub out a pollen stain. Blow, brush, or use sticky tape to lift away the pollen grains. 

If the item is 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 cleaning 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 (brand names are: 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 4 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 push or press the pollen deeper into the carpet or furniture fabric. 

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Dry-cleaning solvent

Tools

  • Sticky tape or vacuum
  • Sponge or clean, white cloth
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)
  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

    Allow the carpet to air dry. Repeat the treatment if any color remains.

  4. Treat With Oxygen-Based Bleach

If dye remains, for all types of carpet and upholstery, except wool and silk, you can mix a solution of oxygen bleach and water (follow package directions) to treat the stain. Blot the solution onto the stain and let it remain for at least 1 hour. Rinse by blotting with a cloth dipped in plain water. Repeat if necessary.

These methods should remove the stain, but if not, contact a professional for deeper cleaning.

For more stain removal tips, consult our stain removal guide.