How To Get Rid Of Bleach Smell After Cleaning

For some people, the smell of bleach is the smell of cleanliness, so they don’t mind the lingering scent after they scrub their kitchen and bathroom. I am not one of those people. Although I like to use bleach in hard-to-clean areas, I hate the strong odor it leaves behind.

The last time I used bleach to clean, the smell was overwhelming, and I needed it gone- yesterday. So I searched the internet for the best way to get that odor out of my house ASAP.

How To Get Rid of Bleach Smell After Cleaning

In this article, I’ll pass along the tips and tricks I learned to make the smell of bleach dissipate quickly. I’ll also explain why bleach smells so strongly in the first place and how long it takes for the odor to go away on its own. 

As if the bleach smell in the house isn’t bad enough, I’ve gotten too close to the bottle before and had it burn my nostrils. After a quick Google search, I discovered this is a common problem, so I’ll pass along my remedy for getting that awful smell out of your nose or off your hands if you accidentally get some bleach on them.

Why Does Bleach Smell So Much?

The strong chlorine smell in bleach is a chemical reaction to the proteins in the dirt in your home. That’s why it smells so strongly, especially if you don’t use it often. The more frequently you clean with bleach, the weaker the odor will be because there’s not as much dirt to break down.

How Long Does Bleach Smell Last After Cleaning?

Bleach smells can last up to 24 hours, depending on how much you use. To decrease that time, you should consider rinsing surfaces after letting the bleach sit for 10 minutes to ensure that your surfaces are properly sanitized.

How To Get Rid of Bleach Smell In Your House

Many people enjoy cleaning with bleach because they know it’s an excellent disinfectant. If you’ve recently cleaned with bleach but hate the lingering smell in your home, here are a few things you can try to make that odor dissipate quickly.

Opening a window to air out room

Air It Out

If the weather is nice, you can leave the windows open while you clean. Not only will you get rid of the bleach smell quicker, but the fresh air will also make your house smell lovely.

If leaving the windows open isn’t an option, you can still turn on a fan to keep the air moving and help the bleach odor disappear.

Better yet, turn on your kitchen and bathroom fans to remove the bleach-scented air from your home.

Use Baking Soda

You know baking soda is excellent at getting bad odors out of your refrigerator, so it only makes sense that you can use it on a larger scale to remove the smell of bleach after you clean.

Just pour baking soda into a few small bowls, set them around the house, and let the baking soda absorb the odor.

Use Vinegar

Vinegar is another great agent for absorbing bad smells around the house. Just fill a spray bottle ¼ of the way with white vinegar, then fill it the rest of the way with water.

Spritz on surfaces you’ve cleaned with bleach and wait for the smell to resolve. Make sure you’ve rinsed any surface you want to spray with vinegar to avoid mixing with the bleach and creating toxic fumes.

Use an Air Purifier

If you have an air purifier, you can put it on the Purify or Ventilation setting to help remove bleach fumes from your home.

If you run the purifier for half an hour, you should notice a significant decrease in the bleach odor. Do this in each room of your house, and it will smell fresh again in no time.

Use Activated Charcoal

Much like baking soda, activated charcoal is excellent at absorbing odors, but it also has the added benefit of absorbing toxins.

If your house smells strongly of bleach, pour a little bit of activated charcoal powder into a few bowls, place them around your home, and wait for the bleach odor to disappear.

Mask It With Room Fresheners

If you’re having guests over before any of the options listed above have time to work their magic, you can light a candle or diffuse essential oils to help cover the odor of the bleach.

If you combine this option with one of the others from the list, you’ll have a refreshing scent left behind when the bleach smell is gone.

How To Remove The Smell of Bleach From Your Hands

Even if you use gloves, you’re bound to get bleach on your hands at some point, whether it’s when you’re putting your cleaner away or touching a recently cleaned surface before it’s dry.

If the smell of bleach on your hands is driving you crazy, here are a few ways to remove it or at least make it more tolerable.

washing hands with dish soap

Wash Them With Dish Soap

Since dish soap is good at breaking down residue, it is a good option for removing the smell of bleach from your hands.

Be sure to wash thoroughly and get under your nails to remove all the bleach. Dish soap is harsher than hand soap, and it might take a few washes to get the odor off your hands, so you should follow up with a good moisturizer.

Rub Them With Lemon Juice

It may be a bit messy, but lemon juice should do the trick if you’re desperate to get the smell of bleach off your hands. It’s good at neutralizing odors, and bleach is no exception.

You can either cut a fresh lemon in half and squeeze out the juice onto your hands or pour some lemon juice concentrate straight from the bottle.

Mask It With Lotion

If you don’t want to dry out your hands with dish soap or mess around with lemon juice, you can always mask the bleach smell with lotion.

This won’t take the odor away, but if you cover it with something more pleasant, it might make the scent more manageable.

How To Get The Smell of Bleach Out of Your Nose

If you’ve gotten too close to a surface you’ve cleaned with bleach, sometimes the scent can permeate the air so much that it burns your nostrils.

If you feel like the smell of bleach will be stuck in your nose forever, here are a few things you can do to try to get it to go away quickly or at least reduce the smell to a manageable level.

fresh air

Breathe In Some Fresh Air

The best way to get the smell of bleach out of your nose is to step outside and get some fresh air. It will help your nose to stop burning and will alleviate any headache you may have gotten from being cooped up with bleach for too long.

Smell Some Coffee

If you can’t go outside, try making a cup of coffee and holding it under your nose to smell it. If you have fresh ground coffee or coffee beans, you don’t even need to make the cup; you can just open the container and take a deep breath through your nose.

It might not stop the burning sensation, but the strong smell of the coffee should knock out the horrible smell of the bleach.

Use Nasal Spray

If you’re struggling with the smell of bleach in your nose, try using a saline nasal spray to get rid of it. After you spray the saline solution, blow your nose to help get the smell out.

You may have to repeat the process two or three times, but it should eventually rid you of the foul odor. 

Smell Some Peppermint Essential Oil

Along the same lines as coffee, sniffing some peppermint essential oil can help to displace the pungent odor of bleach with an equally strong scent that’s much more pleasant.

Just be careful not to touch it to your nose because it will leave an unbearable tingling sensation where it touches the skin.

And whatever you do, keep it away from your eyes.

Mask It With Lotion

If the bleach smell isn’t actually up your nose, but you still can’t stand to smell it in the house while you clean, you could put a little bit of scented lotion under your nose to mask the smell.

Reapply as needed until the odor of bleach leaves your home.

Tips For Cleaning With Bleach

  • Protect yourself: Bleach is a strong irritant that can affect your skin, eyes, and lungs. When cleaning with bleach, make sure you wear rubber cleaning gloves to protect your hands and open a window or turn on a fan for ventilation to protect your lungs. If you think there’s a chance that the bleach will get into your eyes, you might also want to wear a pair of wraparound safety glasses. 
  • Use the right dilution: Straight bleach is powerful and can easily ruin your surfaces, so you should always dilute it before cleaning. The CDC recommends making a solution of ⅓ cup of bleach and a gallon of water. Make sure the water is warm but not hot; using hot water with bleach can create chlorine gas that’s harmful to inhale.
  • Remove heavy dirt before using bleach: Bleach is an excellent disinfectant, but it’s not a cleaner, so you should sweep up loose dirt and scrub sticky spills from your surfaces before using it. If you’d rather have a one-step cleaning and disinfecting process, you can purchase a cleaner that contains bleach to get everything done at once.
  • Use a bucket and sponge or cloth: If you’re making a bleach solution on your own, you should mix it in a plastic bucket and use a sponge or cloth instead of using a spray bottle. The empty spray bottles you buy at the store have metal pieces inside that will erode with the continuous use of bleach. If you buy a cleaner with bleach added to it, the manufacturer will have chosen specific bottles without metal pieces during production, so you won’t have to worry about those products.
  • Only use on nonporous surfaces: Bleach is a strong corrosive agent, so using it on porous surfaces like fabric, unsealed stone, or unsealed wood can cause permanent damage to the material. When you need to disinfect porous surfaces, choose a color-safe product, like disinfectant spray without bleach.
  • Don’t mix it with other cleaners: The only thing you can safely mix with bleach is warm or cold water. Adding anything else to it, like vinegar, ammonia, or rubbing alcohol, can create toxic fumes that will irritate the lungs. This irritation can lead to serious conditions, including chest pains, shortness of breath, and pneumonia.
  • Dispose of it safely after use.

FAQ

Should you wear a mask while cleaning with bleach?

Yes, protective eyewear, face masks, and gloves are recommended when cleaning with bleach.

What happens if you smell bleach while cleaning?

If you inhale too much chlorine gas (the toxic fumes released when bleach combines with proteins in the dirt on your surfaces), it can cause fluid to build up in your lungs. Your lungs can be irritated by the fumes immediately or a few hours after the exposure, leading to a coughing fit and shortness of breath.

How long does it take for bleach to air out?

Depending on how well you dilute it and rinse the surfaces, it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour for the smell of bleach to air out.

Why do I feel sick after cleaning with bleach?

When chlorine gas and water combine, it makes hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids. Any time you’re exposed to chlorine gas, it will irritate the mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, and throat. This irritation can lead to coughing, breathing problems, burning and watery eyes, and a runny nose.

Is bleach still active after drying?

Yes. If bleach is left to air dry on surfaces, it can leave bleach crystals behind after it evaporates. This is why it’s essential to rinse bleach from surfaces after you clean. 

Conclusion

Bleach is an excellent disinfectant, so it’s no surprise that lots of people enjoy using it to clean their kitchens and bathrooms. Unfortunately, with that intense disinfectant power comes to an equally strong smell that many people, myself included, feel is too strong.

If you like to clean with bleach but hate the smell it leaves behind, you can mitigate that odor by:

  • Increasing ventilation throughout your home
  • Setting out bowls of baking soda or activated charcoal to absorb the odor
  • Spraying a vinegar mixture on rinsed surfaces to remove the odor
  • Run an air purifier
  • Cover up the smell with room fresheners like candles or essential oils

When cleaning with bleach, remember to wear protective gear like rubber gloves, protective eyewear, and face masks to mitigate exposure to chlorine gas.

Never mix bleach with any other cleaning products, including natural ones like vinegar or baking soda. The only thing you should ever mix with bleach is cold or warm water; even using hot water can increase the levels of chlorine gas in the air.

Shauna Stone