What to Do When Your Car Is Covered With Pollen

Pollen can damage your car's paint job, so it's essential you clean it up the right way when you notice it. We have tips.

Published April 3, 2024
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Pollen on the hood of a car.

I have a dark blue car. Or at least I did until this week. I walked outside and my lovely dark blue car was distinctly yellow in spite of being parked in the carport. That's right... it's that time of year again. The time where the pollen fairies come out and sprinkle our cars with bright yellow dust. So what do you do about pollen on a car? We have some tips.

Pollen on Cars — What You Need to Know

Pollen can damage your car's paint. And the longer it is on the surface of the vehicle, the more opportunity it has to damage it. There are two issues with pollen. One is that even though it looks like dust, pollen actually has tiny spikes that can scratch your car if you buff or wipe it off. The second is that when mixed with water and allowed to sit on your car's surface (such as when it rains), it's acidic and etch your paint. Great.

Wash Your Car as Soon as You're Able

When you spot pollen, don't wipe it off or leave your car out in the rain to get rid of it. Wash your car as soon as you're able to. Either run it through a commercial car wash or get out your car washing equipment and give it a good, soapy wash in your driveway. To most effectively remove the pollen:

  1. Spray the car with the high-pressure hose attachment.
  2. Use a car wash foam gun and car shampoo to pre-wash the car. Let the soap solution sit in contact with the car for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Spray off the soap with the hose.
  4. Use a bucket of clean, soapy water, a bucket of fresh water (to rinse the mitt), and a microfiber mitt to wash your car as usual.
  5. Rinse thoroughly.
  6. Dry the car with a chamois.

Related: Here's How Often You Should Wash Your Car (Hint: It's More Often Than You Think)

If You Don't Have Time To Wash

If you can't make it to a car wash or don't have time to wash your car, rinse the pollen off with a high-pressure hose, making sure there aren't any yellow spots that remain when you're done. Notice we said high-pressure hose... not a pressure washer. Fit your hose with a nozzle, turn it to its highest pressure setting, and rinse the car. Rinse from top to bottom, and pay attention to all the tiny crevices where the pollen can hide. Wash your car as soon as you can.

How to Keep Pollen From Damaging Your Car

If you park outside in the spring, you're going to get pollen on your car. So your first step is always parking indoors in a closed garage and covering your car if you must park it outdoors. However, we know these things aren't feasible at all times, so we have some tips for minimizing any damage pollen might be able to do to your vehicle.

Wash Your Car 1-2 Times Per Week

I know this sounds like a lot. It's why I pay for a car wash club (I can drive through once a day if I want)... so I'm not spending all my time in my driveway washing the pollen off my car.

Wax Your Car

After washing, wax your car to protect your paint job. Be sure to wax the car away from pollen (so in a garage, etc.). 

Apply a Sealant

A sealant can also protect your paint job from pollen and all sorts of other stuff that can damage your paint. Our car has a ceramic coating that keeps it safe from pollen (and later in the season since I live in the Western US, wildfire ash). You can have this professionally done or purchase a DIY ceramic sealant and follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.

Keep a Pollen-Covered Car Out of Moisture

If your car sits covered with pollen and the pollen gets wet, the acid will start working at your paint. The only way to stop this is by washing it right away. That's why it's best to wash away the pollen as soon as you notice it so you don't risk the pollen getting wet. 

Clean Your Wiper Blades

When you're cleaning your car, don't forget your wiper blades. This is essential for visibility, as the yellow stuff can definitely block your clear view if you swipe it across your windshield. 

Don't Forget the Interior

Change your cabin air filter during pollen season so everyone can breathe more easily. If pollen gets inside the car, vacuum it out and then wipe any surfaces with a damp cloth. When driving, keep the windows up and recirculate the air rather than letting fresh air in. Your allergies will thank you.

Protect Your Car From Pollen

Pollen can be a real issue for your car, so taking steps to clean it the right way and protect your car to minimize the damage can go a long way toward protecting your paint job. The next time you notice your car is yellow, spring into action to keep the pollen from damaging your paint. 

What to Do When Your Car Is Covered With Pollen