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Does Pollen Damage Car Paint?

Car dashboard with pollens.

Yes. Most people know it as a count that’s read off in the weather reports. It intrudes every spring and disappears just as soundlessly each winter. I, personally, should own stock in Benadryl, but I live with pollen just like you do.

Not only does it irritate or cause allergies, but it also damages the paint on our cars. You haven’t lived until you’ve parked your car under Southern pine trees.

The pollen from those jokers is vicious. You honestly need a professional car wash to remove the stuff safely. How in the world does an almost unseen fine powder cause so much damage? We’re glad you asked.

Everyone Knows The Word Pollen, But Where Does It Come From, And What Is It Exactly?

Closed shot of pollen from a flower.

Just like humans, birds, and animals fertilize eggs to bear young, so do plants. Seed plants produce a microscopic substance carried on bee feet and the wind to fertilize female plants.

The three types of pollen are tree pollen (think yellow pine pollen,) grass pollen such as Bermuda grass or Kentucky Blue Grass, and weed pollen, which you hear about mostly from ragweed.

The pollution in the world is so bad that every time we go out the front door, we’re assaulted. It’s a cascading assault of industrial emissions, automobile exhaust, and cigarette smoke, added to dust and dirt flying through the air. Now add pollen to the list of assault charges. These things are so microscopic that we can’t see them until they pile up on our cars (and, unfortunately, our lungs.)

Pollen can only be seen en masse on a car or the roof of a house. Individually, the microscopic specks are round or oval-shaped with tiny little spikes all around them. It’s their minute size that makes pollen so invasive and irritating.

Okay, We See The Pollen Is On The Car. Now, What Happens?

A car with pollens.

To understand why pollen sticks to a car so hard, you have to understand sex. Yeah, I said it. For the pollen to travel from the male portion or stamen of a seed plant to the female portion or pistil for fertilization, the pollen or sperm has to be sticky.

Now think of birds’  and bees’ feet and the wind carrying pollen to other plants of whatever type. If the pollen weren’t sticky, it would blow away entirely and not father any young.

Now let’s talk about paint. As a rule and on its own, paint isn’t a porous thing. Paint only becomes porous when it’s assaulted by some of those atmospheric things we discussed above. Even the clear coat on top of a car’s paint can have pinpoint pores or holes from atmospheric onslaughts. So it’s safe to say that, yes, car paint is porous. 

What Is It About A Fine Powder That Damages A Car’s Paint?

Water. Ordinarily, pollen just blows around, doing its thing. When it settles on a car, however, it can’t do much damage unless water is mixed with it. The pollen then becomes acidic, and as we all know, acid eats away at stuff.

It’s a good idea to have a car sealed with a protective coating twice a year, once in spring and once in winter. Then, any amount of rain can fall, and the pollen will wash off the vehicle before pitting and damaging the paint.

How Can You Safely Remove Pollen From A Car? What Scratches The Paint?

A car on washing station.

Those microscopic spikes on the pollen spore scratch paint. Thus, if you take a cleaning cloth and try to dust the pollen off your car, the spikes will scratch the paint. The best and only way to safely clean the pollen off a car is to take it to a professional car wash.

There, the water comes out of pressurized hoses. It blasts the pollen off the car before the addition of water can make the pollen acidic. If you want to do it at home, then use a water hose with a highly pressurized nozzle to blast the pollen away.

Has Pollen Always Been Here? Did Dinosaurs And Cavemen Have To Deal With Pollen?

Yes and yes. Since that’s a logical and really good question, I looked it up. The Smithsonian Magazine tells us that (a) the end of the last Ice Age was 11,000 years ago, (b) mankind was processing the forests of Asia at that time, and (c) pollen tells their story.

Yeah, you read that right: pollen tells us if mankind brought flora with him from another place, how or if it proliferated, and what survived and/or evolved over time. 

What pollen in Asia tells researchers is that the ancients manipulated forested areas in order to plant fruit trees and other food plants. That they did this in ancient rainforests fascinated the researchers. Pollen, they found, survives for thousands of years to tell the story of its beginnings with humans.

Boy, Have I Got Some Questions About This!

How Often Should A Car Be Washed In Pollen Season?

You should wash your car every other day. Get the pollen off the vehicle as soon as humanly possible to prevent damage to the paint. If you leave pollen on a car for any length of time, not only will it damage the paint, but it will be harder to remove.

Will Anything Dissolve Pollen?

A car on washing station.

No. The only effective pollen remover is high-pressure water and soap. Take your car to a professional car wash for proper and effective pollen removal.

Can Pollen Come In Different Colors?

Absolutely. When spring is just beginning, the blooming trees create green-colored pollen called Problematic Pollen. Plants and trees produce pollen to attract birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Bees can’t see red, for example, so plants produce yellow pollen for the bees.

Birds and butterflies, though, are attracted to plants producing red pollen. So, long story short, pollen can come in red, yellow, green, purple, white, and every now and then blue.

How Do You Clean Pollen Off Surfaces Like Decks and Deck Furniture, Car Seats, And The Dashboard?

You can hose off the deck along with its canvas-cushioned furnishings, tables, and any other deck things. Making up a solution of a couple of drops of Dawn and warm water will clean pollen off items that can’t be hosed down.

This includes the seats of the car, the dashboard, and the vents. In a house, pollen can settle on household furnishings and surfaces from windows being left open.

You can’t hose down these, so spray them with your soap solution and wipe them down. For a house, you can add up to 25 drops of your favorite essential oil to make it smell wonderful.

Does Pollen Get On People And/Or Animals?

Pollen gets on anything that walks the Earth. If it gets on cars, decks, roofs, and all else, then it gets on us, too. That little tidbit makes you want to take a shower, doesn’t it? Keep in mind that your dog licks the pollen off his feet and fur. Washing him more often would keep him healthier, too.

How Long Does Pollen Last?

A car windshield full of pollen.

We know pollen begins in spring with blossoming trees. This runs from March to May. Then the grass begins to get green again and grow. The pollen from this lasts from May to July. Lastly, pollen from weeds happens during the growing season, but mainly from June to September. 

Rain Makes Pollen Acidic, But What Does It Do For Pollen Allergies?

While anything from a light drizzle to a good steady downpour washes away the pollen, it also helps those of us with allergies. The humidity that usually follows rain isn’t good for keeping us cool, but it does keep the pollen from flying. So rain is a win-win for you and me.

Now We Know Which Months Are Bad For Pollen, What Time Of Day Should We Avoid Going Outside?

Zyrtec tells us that pollen is generally bad in the morning to mid-afternoon. This is when the wind or breeze blows, so pollen gets moved around. Allergies tend to get worse at this time, so avoid being out of doors until late afternoon or early evening.