Ask The Beaverton Car Guy: How to clean pollen off your car

By Larry “The Car Guy“ Ferguson

Hello loyal Beaverton Readers,

In the past couple of weeks I have received a lot of questions regarding the huge amount of pollen accumulating on all of our vehicles. This month I have gathered some information about proper removal of pollen with the least amount of damage to our vehicle’s paint.

It seems as though as soon as you finish washing a car in the spring, the pollen you couldn’t see floating by has started to lay itself down on your smooth, silky, shiny paint. But believe or not, aside from looking bad, that really isn’t a problem. The problem comes from trying to remove it by just wiping it away with or without water.


The two popular forms of pollen around this time of year are flower pollen (like Morning Glory) and tree pollen (like pine).

Although it is mighty small, a single pollen grain can cling to the various pores of your paint. Once there, it’s the acidity of the grain that can cause damage and this occurs when the pollen gets wet causing staining and premature oxidation over time.

So how does it cling and how do I avoid damage when removing it?

Both questions could be answered by taking a microscopic look at pollen.

Yes, that pointy round looking thing is pollen. It uses the prongs to hold on tight to bees, mites, and your car’s paint in hopes of doing its job. Those same prongs are the reasons you should avoid two popular pollen removal techniques: The Wipe and The Rinse.

The Wipe

Using the wipe seems “okay” at first, but even one swipe on dry paint with no lubricant could start the viral streaks and light scratches that ruin your perfect paint. Think it’s too light to do damage? Maybe, but that spiked ball is just one at a microscopic level. Multiply that one times a lot, add some pressure, and dry paint…now that is a disaster waiting to happen.

The Rinse

Another popular technique is simply “hosing” the car at the house or spraying it off at the carwash. While you do in fact remove much of the pollen this way, it’s difficult to get it all. Even with hot water and a pressure washer, the pollen is still there, hanging tight. Not only is it not gone, but you have now activated some of its acidic qualities.

So what to do?

The solution is to do it right and take your time using good old soapy water, gentle agitation. The soap will encapsulate the pollen and loosen its grip on the paint. Light agitation will move it out of the pores and leave you with a glossy, scratch free finish. While you may not be able to wash your car every night, when you do take the time you’ll end up with one that allows you to enjoy the love that’s in the air and not hate the scratches in your paint.

Hidden pollen

From personal experience, I have noticed that pollen will settle in all of the nooks and cranny’s on our vehicles such as around the windshield, the side view mirrors, and where all of the body panels meet. Once the pollen gets wet it tends to stick better so I have been using the high pressure spray at the carwash using soap when I can.

I certainly hope this information was of help to all of you who have inquired. Please keep me in mind in the event you are in search of a new, or used vehicle, or if you would like to streamline the process of purchasing or selling a vehicle of any kind.

Larry’s specialty is locating cars, even hard to find cars, for everyday folk. He has been in the automotive industry for over 35 years and has several degrees in automotive technology. Email him at or call 503-930-1493