Removing Strong Bleach Smell from Clothing

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.


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August 17, 20171 found this helpful
Best Answer

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 Anit-Chlor. If you can't find this product try Camden Tablets. They are sold at most wine brewing supply centers. When using these two products you don't need a lot. A cap full is more than enough.

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.

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August 17, 20170 found this helpful

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?

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August 18, 20170 found this helpful

Normally you can buy this at any supermarket, Target, or Wallgreen stores.

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September 1, 20170 found this helpful

Thank you for your info on this. I did buy 3 pounds of anti-chlor powder from an arts and crafts website, but it came with no instructions. I tried contacting the people on the website about how to use it, but they haven't replied to me. So based on how long the dress had been soaking in the bleach solution, and all the washing that was done with it before, how much anti-chlor powder and water do I use, and how long should the dress soak in it?


Since I wrote about the last washings with peroxide I had done, the dress has just been sitting dry, but the bleach smell is ever increasing. Thank you for your help. It is really appreciated.

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August 17, 20170 found this helpful

I would put it outside to air out.

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August 18, 20170 found this helpful

Soak in in plain water and change it a few times. Then air it outside.

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August 20, 20170 found this helpful

what i always use to neutralize bleach (especially if for some reason i get it on my hands) is white vinegar

i feel like soaking it in a vinegar solution would cure the problem

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November 1, 20170 found this helpful

let's try baking soda....

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