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A couple days ago, I decided to bleach a navy blue dress to create an acid-wash affect. The dress is a 65% polyester/35% cotton knit blend. I used a mixture of 2 parts chlorine bleach to 3 parts water to do the bleaching. I kept checking it every 10 minutes. With each check, I did not see a color change, so I kept it in longer than recommended. In total, I kept it soaked in the solution for around 6 hours. I rinsed it with two rinse cycles, and then washed it with detergent and a little bit of vinegar and dried it as normal.
After it was dried, it was lightened quite a lot, becoming more of a sage green. That was fine, but it smelled horribly of the bleach. So I washed it again, this time letting it soak for 20-30 minutes in 43 ounces of vinegar with 5 gallons of water, thinking the acidic vinegar would neutralize the basic bleach. Then, I put it through the wash cycle in that same mixture, then dried it on the low heat setting on the dryer. It still smells of strong bleach. I did learn after the fact to never use chlorine bleach on polyester (oops), as it would make the polyester fibers brittle. However, the fabric is not damaged and is actually quite soft. I read online that using hydrogen peroxide would help neutralize the bleach, but that's when it's wet. How do I remove the horribly strong bleach smell when it's dry? I really don't want to throw the dress out, as it's a vintage style that is hard to find, especially in my size. All suggestions are welcome. In your suggestions, though, please don't criticize me for making this mistake, as I already feel like an idiot for letting it soak in the bleach for 6 hours and not doing better research beforehand. But any help with this issue is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
You need to neutralize the effect of chlorine bleach, the hypochlorite and lye must be neutralized also. You can try Bisulfite/metabisulfite to neutralize the smell. The product is inexpensive and you will find it sold under the brand name of Anti-Chlor. If you can't find this product try Camden Tablets.
There are two other bleach neutralizers and they are Thiosulfate or Bleach Stop and this is found at photography supply stores. The second is hydrogen peroxide.
I would put it outside to air out.
Thank you for answering so quickly. I tried using hydrogen peroxide today and used the same ratio (3 parts water to 2 parts peroxide) as what I used of the bleach. It has been around 8 hours and is still soaking in the peroxide solution, but it still smells like the bleach. I think I will try the anti chlor that you suggested. Do you know where I could find it?
Soak in in plain water and change it a few times. Then air it outside.