How to Clean Pollen Off of Outdoor Chaise Cushions and Pillows


Cherri asked: How do I clean pollen off of outdoor chaise cushions and pillows? Our outdoor chaise is covered in yellow and green spring pollen. How do I clean them? Should I use a vacuum or a wet sponge?

Fresh pollen can simply be rinsed away with a garden hose, but for heavy layers or pollen mixed with dirt, dust or other messes, you’ll need to do a bit more work. For a deep down clean, follow these steps.

You Will Need:

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Warm water
  • Clean spray bottle
  • Scrub brush
  • Garden hose with running water

Steps to Remove the Pollen:

  1. Fill the spray bottle ¾ full of warm water. You can use hot water if you’re not concerned it will cause color run on your cushions.
  2. Add a good squirt or two of dishwashing liquid.
  3. Shake well until suds begin to form inside of the bottle.
  4. Remove the cushions from the chairs if possible. This will allow you to clean both sides thoroughly. If the cushions are attached to the frame, work with the surfaces you can see.
  5. Rinse loose pollen or debris off with the garden hose. This will prevent you from scrubbing the grime through the cover and into the cushions themselves.
  6. After rinsing, spray the entire surface heavily with the detergent solution.
  7. Follow with a good scrubbing with the brush. Use care around any ripped, torn or weakened areas.
  8. Continue until all surfaces have been cleaned.
  9. Rinse thoroughly with running water.
  10. Repeat with a second spray down and scrubbing if necessary. Rinse thoroughly once all of the grime has been removed.
  11. If cushions were removed from the chair, try standing them on their sides to dry. If you can’t do that, replace them on the chair only if there’s room for them to drip through. If they can’t be removed from the furniture, and the furniture has a solid bottom, turn the entire chair on its side to allow them to dry thoroughly. Water pooling under the cushion will cause mold or mildew to form.
  12. If possible, set the chair in the sun to speed up the drying process.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • To keep the mess to a minimum, wipe the exposed surface with a sponge soaked in warm soapy water at least once a week. Hose off to rinse.
  • Finish with a fabric protectant, if desired.
  • Always try to dry the cushions as quickly as possible. It may even help to press some of the water out. If moisture remains, it quickly becomes a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which is very difficult to remove from cushioning.


  1. Vickie says:

    I have dark stains on my patio cushions. I think it’s from the fallen leaves or something from the walnut trees. I’ve washed them and the black doesn’t come out. At first, I thought it was mold, but I used 1/4 cup of bleach in the water and it didn’t take it away. Help!

  2. JC in Georgia says:

    Wetting pollen makes pollen stick. It is best to blow the pollen off with a lawn/leaf blower between cleanings. Spraying with a hose will take off the fresh surface pollen, but only cleaning with soap will remove the pollen that has already bonded with the material. Heavy dew, rain or hosing off the fresh will actually help the “old” pollen stick worse.

  3. Carolyn says:

    JC from Georgia is correct. I used to live in Georgia, but have been in Oregon for about 45 years now and we do pollen in a big way!! The car, especially windows, will be a yellowish color for several weeks. Hosing it off as often as possible is highly recommended…cars, decks and patio furniture. If you wait, and especially if there is any sunshine, the pollen bonds with the material. You must use some kind of detergent so the pollen has something to bond to and it will take some gentle rubbing to get much of it off. And with big time allergies, we have some other things we do that time of year as well.

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