Remove Pollen Stains from Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

Pink Lily close up
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There is little more lovely than a bouquet of lilies until you see those yellow pollen stains on your clothes or table linens. That pollen does more than make us sneeze, as it can really stain fabrics.

You can actually 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 actually eat away and shorten the life for your blooms. While you can’t 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.

How to Remove Yellow Pollen Stains from Washable Clothes

When you discover a pollen stain on fabric, NEVER rub or brush away the pollen with your hand or a cloth. You will only 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.

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 four hours, overnight is even better. Check the stained area. If the stain is still present, repeat the process with a fresh batch of oxygen bleach solution.

This process is safe for both white and colored fabrics. Do not use for silk, wool, or any garment trimmed with leather.

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.

Yellow Pollen Stains and Dry Clean Only Clothes

Follow the same advice as for washable clothes: never rub a pollen stain on dry clean only clothes. Blow, brush, or use sticky tape to lift away the pollen grains. 

Then, as soon as possible, head 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 dye will be removed with a home cleaning method.

How to Remove Yellow Pollen Stains from Carpet or Upholstery

As soon as possible, vacuum the pollen out of the carpet or upholstery or lift with sticky tape. Try not to push the pollen deeper in the carpet or fabric. 

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

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 one hour. Rinse by blotting with a cloth dipped in plain water. Repeat if necessary. Contact a professional about a complete cleaning or if you need more stain removal tips.