Spring has sprung, and with it, lots and lots of pollen dust. The common plague for most people who come into contact with the soft, yellow powder is “hay fever”. But, another aggravation unrelated to health can be pollen dust on your clothes. If you happen to brush up against that beautiful hibiscus plant while walking through a restaurant patio, you may suddenly have extra decoration on your white linen pants. While pollen usually is dry and loose, brushing the particles with your hand can do more harm than good because the pressure from you palm, along with skin oils, can smear the dust further into your clothing. So, how do you remove the offensive dust with the least amount of residue on your fabric?
Try one of these three methods for immediate removal. And, if you do end up with pollen stains on your clothes, there are some remedies for stain removal as well.
Pollen Dust Removal
If you notice the pollen dust immediately, removal of loose particles can be done rather easily, particularly with coarser and less dense fabrics (e.g., tweed, linen). Some pollen is more granular and lighter in color as well making for simple removal. No matter the technique, however, a gentle touch is key.
Blow and Shake
Yep, you got it. The easiest method is to simply blow on the spot a few times. Really and truly the forced air can lift off most of the particles before they have time to set. So, lift the fabric on your sleeve and give it a good blow. You may also gently shake out the fabric. Of course, if the pollen dust happens to be on the back of your pant leg, these techniques may not be convenient (and they may get you a few funny looks).
Another relatively easy option is to use a brush with soft bristles, such as a makeup wand. Gently dust off the particles with a dry brush while trying not to apply too much pressure. In between brush strokes on your clothes, clean off the brush with a dry towel, or blow on the bristles, to keep from reattaching the same particles back on your clothes.
Using a dry paper towel or cloth can be effective as well for pollen dust removal. But, avoid rubbing the fabric with the towel. Instead, loosely crumple the towel with your hand, and then sweep over the fabric with light strokes. If you do not have a steady hand, however, this method could end up pushing the particles into fabric.
Pollen Stain Removal
While removal of loose pollen dust is easiest, sometimes you don’t observe the bright yellow patch until it’s too late for a gentle dusting. When the pollen has attached and stained your clothing, you likely will need a more aggressive approach. A few words of warning, however, before you attempt to use these methods – READ THE CARE LABEL ON YOUR CLOTHES FIRST! For fabrics with Dry Clean Only labels, consult your dry cleaners and inform them about the type of stain. Often, they apply stain specific solutions.
Rinse with Water
Try rinsing the spot with clean, cold water under a faucet for several minutes. If the pollen hasn’t been rubbed into the fabric too deeply, a good rinse may be all that is required. Flat drying the fabric afterwards is best in case you miss some particles (heat drying can further set the stain).
If rinsing with water alone is not enough, putting the item through a normal wash cycle may do the trick. Some flowers produce light, granular pollen, which tends to come out more easily.
After rinsing with water to remove loose particles, you may need to resort to the use of a bleaching agent. The pollen of tropical plants in particular tends to be more intensely colored 1. Dry or liquid oxygenated or non-chlorine bleaches work best for set-in stains, especially in colored fabrics. Although chlorine bleach can be effective for whitening, many fabrics will fade, white-out, or yellow with exposure to sodium hypochlorite. Some sources suggest that oxygen bleach is more effective for removal of a host of hard-to-clean stains from grass to red wine to, well, pollen dust 2. Still, you want to carefully read the manufacturer’s label to ensure that your fabric can tolerate oxygen bleach and that you are using the correct amount to effectively remove stains. Often, the manufacturer’s label includes recommendations of amounts for particular types of stains.