A young girl sniffing a purple flower.

How to Remove Pollen Stains

Image by Katie Thomas

Lilies are beautiful flowers to have in the home, but they can be a bit messy! The pollen produced by lilies can create vibrant yellow pollen stains on anything they touch, including your clothes, so florists recommend removing the pollen-containing anthers from the stamen as soon as the lilies begin to open. Even once the anthers have started to produce pollen you can still remove them gently using a tissue, but be sure to dispose of carefully and keep away from pets.

Of course, sometimes removing the anthers doesn’t quite go the way we planned, and we can end up with a yellow, powdery mess on our clothing. If this happens, don’t worry! Here’s everything you need to know about how to remove lily pollen stains quickly and easily, leaving you with clothes that look and feel clean and fresh.  


What Not to Do

Many of us have learned how to remove stains through experience, and know that flushing stains away with water often does the trick. However, when it comes to pollen stain removal, it’s best to take a slightly different approach.

Most stains are caused by liquids – oils, greases, tomato sauces, inks, and so on – but pollen stains are caused by a dusty powder. It’s best to think of pollen as being like talcum powder or baking soda. If you spill baking soda on your apron when you’re making cakes, what do you do? You don’t throw water on it, you shake it, and that’s exactly what you should do for pollen. Here’s some other great advice for what NOT to do:  


  • Don’t touch the stain. The natural oils found on your fingertips will help the pollen set into the fabric, making the stain more difficult to remove.
  • Don’t blot the stain. Blotting and pressing on the fabric will press the pollen further down into the fibres. The trick is to try and keep the pollen right on the surface. 
  • Don’t wipe the stain. Wiping the powder across the surface of the clothing will spread the yellow marks, leaving you with a bigger area to deal with.
  • Don’t add water. Rinsing and washing is an important part of the cleaning process, but this should come much later. If you add water immediately, you’ll dissolve the powder and encourage the stain to spread.


Removing Lily Pollen Stains: Small Stains

The good news is that, for small pollen stains, you may be able to remove most of the discolouration simply by shaking the fabric vigorously. If some of the stain remains, the pollen may be a little deeper down from the surface, but it should still be simple to remove.

Hover a small, handheld vacuum cleaner about one centimetre from the clothing to suck up any loose pollen, then gently place a piece of sticky tape to the stain and rip off – most of the pollen should attach to the tape, leaving your clothes looking much cleaner. Wash as normal in the washing machine with Persil small & mighty, and then dry in direct sunlight to naturally bleach away any remaining marks.  


Removing Pollen Stains: Large Stains

Removing large stains will take a lot of shaking, and if your arms start to feel like they’re about to fall off, it’s time to look at some other options. For large stains, rubbing alcohol can be a very effective stain remover. You can buy rubbing alcohol from chemists, and all you have to do is apply to the stain and blot gently.

Remember to keep the windows open for good ventilation and to test the solution on a hidden area of the garment first. You can also use laundry detergents such as Persil small & mighty as a pre-treatment before washing. Use the dosing ball to apply the detergent directly to the stain, and allow to soak for 30 minutes – this will give the detergent time to penetrate deep down and tackle any pollen that’s been pushed further into the fibres. Rinse and wash at the highest temperature the clothing will allow (check the care labels for specific instructions).

Now that you know all the secrets to removing pollen stains from your clothes, you can welcome lilies into your home once again!  

Check out our stain removal section for more handy advice – from paint stains to mud stains, we’ve got you covered!

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