How To Get Rid Of A Bleach Smell (Quickly & Easily!)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

While bleach can work wonders at cleaning and disinfecting, its odor is often less pleasing to most people. The overwhelming and unpleasant smell of bleach can even last for days. These fumes are invasive, trapping themselves in your walls, carpet, and furniture, so how can you get rid of a bleach smell?

You can get rid of bleach smell on clothes, your skin, or in the air using household products. Proper ventilation will also help eliminate the smell of bleach in your house. To help target the smell faster, use deodorizing sprays. Do not use products like ammonia, vinegar, and certain other cleaning solutions with bleach as the mixture can create toxic gasses.

Whether the bleach is on your clothes, your hands, or simply in the air, several things can effectively remove the smell, allowing you and your family to breathe easy again.

How To Get Rid Of Bleach Smells In A Room

It is a common misconception that the strong odor that bleach produces is created by chlorine. While the smell is chlorine-like, it is caused by a chemical reaction that occurs when bleach breaks down proteins. The more that you clean using bleach, the less powerful the scent will be over time.

If this is your first time using bleach as a cleaning tool, the scent is likely going to be very strong due to a substantial amount of protein buildup on the surfaces in your home.

Use Proper Ventilation To Get Rid Of A Bleach Smell

When odors from bleach start to form, one of the best first steps to combating them is to provide proper ventilation. This can be done by opening windows and/or doors to let fresh air in and strategically placing fans throughout the space.

If possible, place the fans in a spot where it can push the odors out of the window. Once you’ve achieved proper ventilation, here are some other steps you can take to eliminate bleach smells in a room.

Extra Tips For Getting Rid Of The Bleach Smell

  • Use a room deodorizer. Various odor removers can be a quick and effective way to get rid of unwanted bleach smells. However, make sure you opt for a deodorizer that won’t simply replace the bleach smell with other chemical odors from artificial fragrances. Instead, use a proprietary formula that contains only natural ingredients.
  • Light a candle. A light, odor-eliminating candle is another great way to mask harsh smells from bleach in the air. If you do choose to light a candle, make sure that you remain in the room while its lit. Leaving a burning candled unattended creates a risk of fire.
  • Try plug-in air fresheners. Pretty much any product that releases a constant scent can be used to remove bleach odors, such as incense or plug-in air fresheners.
  • Spray a nice-smelling cleanser. If you have a cleanser that you prefer the smell of over bleach, you can use it to mask the bleach odors. Simply spray the cleaners on your surfaces and wait for the smell to work its magic.
  • Use activated charcoal or baking soda. Place either baking soda or activated charcoal on a plate or dish and place it somewhere in the affected area. This will help to absorb the smell and can be used in conjunction with any other methods to rid the room of the awful bleach odors.
  • Clean with bleach more often. Since the smell that bleach produces happens as a result of the chemicals breaking down pathogens on your counters, cleaning with bleach more often will mean that there’s less to break down. As a result, each time you clean with bleach, there will be less of an odor.

How To Get Rid Of Bleach Smell On Your Clothes

If you recently washed your clothing with bleach and they still have that tell-tale smell, you can try running them through the wash again. However, this time, only wash the clothes with detergent.

In some cases, the bleach simply didn’t get washed out the first time. Another quick run through the washing machine will have them smelling much better.

Quick Tip: If you need your clothes done as quickly as possible, you can use a quarter of the amount of laundry detergent you typically use. Plus, choose a quick wash cycle. This should be sufficient to remove the bleach smell.

If your clothes still smell of bleach, even after running them through the wash an additional time, you can try adding baking soda into the washing machine. Pour about a ¼ cup of baking soda into the washer, same as you would add your laundry detergent. Then, run another full cycle to allow the baking soda to fully deodorize your clothing.

In some cases, simply putting your clothes in a well-ventilated space can help to dissipate the bleach smell quicker. Hang them up on a clothesline outside so they can get fully aired out.

If you don’t have a clothesline, you can place the clothing items on individual hangers and hang them outside. However, you’ll want to make sure that they are hung from a secure spot, such as a piece of furniture or a railing.

How To Get Rid Of Bleach Smell On Your Hands

If you’ve been using bleach to clean your house and you can’t seem to get the smell off of your hands, there is hope. Here are some methods you can try to get rid of bleach odors when they are concentrated on your hands:

  • Dish soap and warm water: If your usual hand soap isn’t working, you can try using a dishwashing liquid. Dish soaps are designed to remove a wide variety of smells and substances, making it much more likely to get rid of bleach smell than conventional hand soap. Simply lather up your hands, scrub well, and make sure you get underneath your fingernails. Then, rinse with warm water. You may need to wash your hands several times to fully remove the bleach odor.
  • Lemon juice: If the dish soap method doesn’t work, you may find success with using lemon juice to neutralize the smell. You can squeeze a few drops of bottled lemon juice from your fridge onto your hands or use fresh juice straight from the source. Rub your hands together for a minute or so and then rinse with warm water. If you don’t have lemons or lemon juice on hands, any type of citrus can work.
  • Scented lotions: If the bleach smell is still detectable, scented lotion can mask it. Make sure you use a scent that you love and apply a pea-sized amount onto each hand. Rub it in thoroughly so that it’s evenly distributed. Choosing a strong-smelling lotion will be most effective. As an added bonus, using lotion will help your hands feel softer, especially since bleach is known to dry out skin.

Don’t Mix Vinegar And Bleach

Vinegar is a common household staple that has a variety of purposes, including cleaning and deodorizing. However, you need to exercise caution when using it with bleach. When vinegar and bleach mix, it can potentially create chlorine gas which can be lethal.

However, you might still be able to use vinegar to get rid of the lingering odor of bleach.

Get Rid Of Bleach Smell With Vinegar

  • Removing bleach smell from an entire batch of clothing. Wash your clothes as you normally would but add in ¼ cup of vinegar to the machine. Vinegar is also a wonderful, natural fabric softener. If the bleach smell lingers afterward, repeat the process again.
  • Removing bleach smell from small articles of clothing. If you just have one t-shirt or a towel that reeks of bleach, place it into a bowl with a mixture of vinegar and water. Let it soak for at least an hour, then rinse it with cold water.
  • Removing bleach smell from hands. First, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area. Then, wash your hands using a splash of vinegar. Scrub thoroughly, until the greasy feeling is no longer on your hands and the odor is gone. At this point, simply rinse your hands with warm water to remove all odors.
  • Removing bleach smell from a room. If the bleach smell is in your kitchen, place a small pot of vinegar on the stove to boil. This will remove the odors from the space. Or, if the smell is in a different room, fill a bowl with vinegar and leave it in the room with the door closed and the windows shut tight. Leave the bowl in the room for at least 24 hours to completely remove the bleach smell.

Quick Tip: NEVER mix vinegar and chlorine together. It’s not only dangerous, but it also produces an odor that is much more unpleasant than bleach.

Safety Considerations

Bleach is a very powerful cleaning agent, but it’s not without risks – unpleasant odors being one of them. If you’re going to use bleach to clean, it’s crucial that you are aware of what other household cleaning products do not mix well with bleach. For instance, combining ammonia with bleach results in a toxic chloramine vapor that is dangerous to inhale. Therefore, ammonia and bleach should never be mixed to clean or sanitize.

Additionally, it can also be dangerous to combine bleach with a variety of household cleaners. In addition to vinegar, toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaners, and multi-purpose cleaners should be used with caution. Some of these cleaners contain acid and when acid combines with bleach, it creates chlorine gas. Chlorine gas is dangerous to inhale and cause nose and eye irritation.

Related Questions

Can lingering bleach odors be harmful?

Although not pleasant, the lingering odor of bleach is not a cause for concern in regard to health issues.

Is it okay to clean my refrigerator with bleach?

You could use diluted bleach, but pure bleach is not recommended. In fact, if you can opt for an alternative cleaner for your fridge that’s even better.Although bleach is great for killing bacteria and mold, it can be toxic. You don’t want it to come into contact with your food.

Does vinegar disinfect as well as bleach? 

Vinegar does have sanitizing and disinfecting properties, however, it won’t work as strongly as bleach and other cleaners. Still, the combination of vinegar and baking soda is still very effective against many bacterial pathogens and is safe to use if you prefer to not use harsher chemicals.

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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