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Just a few hours ago, I had to deal with a mold problem on some untreated wood and was told by a hardware store worker that bleach was an effective way to deal with the problem, following up with some wood filler paste. I did as I was told and left the room airing out with a window open and two fans running for multiple hours. In fact, they are still running right now; I was surprised to find that the smell of bleach was still lingering in the room. I also noticed that some bleach had gotten onto my hands and they smelled of bleach even after multiple washings with soap and water.

What chemical(s) are causing the smell to linger, in the air as well as on surfaces? Are they particularly dangerous, or just relatively mild product(s) from the degradation? Is there a way to eliminate the smell without producing harmful products?

I used a spray bottle with undiluted bleach and did not wipe anything up with damp paper towels. Even so, I assume that it isn't really too dangerous, given that it is unlikely I used more than 10 mL of the stuff, and there is no way most of that 10 mL is still aerosolized and/or inside the room. Regardless, I have looked on other questions in this StackExchange, and a lot of them talk about the breakdown of bleach, but I just want to be certain the room is safe enough to sleep in tonight. Thanks!

EDIT: After removing the cloth used to clean the wood (I don't know why I left it in there), the smell is less pungent but still noticeable. Figured this might be useful information to include.

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Bleach is alkaline sodium hypochlorite solution, that eventually soaked inside the wood and is gradually releasing gaseous chlorine.

It is merely just disturbing and eventually irritating mucous tissues in longer term, not really dangerous. Some chlorinated public pools have strong chlorine smell as well, being smelled from swimming suit for long time until washed in the wash machine.

A countermeasure could by applying suitable diluted reducing solution, like ascorbic acid, pyrosulfite, thiosulphate ( big crystals from photo fixers ) or similar, that would react with hypochlorite and chlorine.

Questionable can be applicability on wood surface for estetic reasons. But if bleach was applied, this should not make things worse.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. It was quite irritating to sleep in but I am still alive so I take it you are correct. Gonna let it air out another day, though. $\endgroup$
    – ajent
    Mar 8 at 19:27

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