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About bleach

A few people have talked about neutralising bleach. I belong to a couple of
lists related to dyeing and surface design on fabric. A currently popular
technique is discharge, where dye is removed from previously dyed fabric by
chemical means. I am not an expert on this and if you want more technical
information it might be worth joining one of the lists and accessing their

However, there is one point worth mentioning. The first is that vinegar does
not neutralise chlorine bleach. To neutralise chlorine bleach you need
sodium metabisulphite, sometimes sold in the US as anti-chlor and also used
to sterilise bottle when making home brew. There are chemists on the
DyersList who can explain the exact reaction that occurs. Other types of
bleach require different neutralising agents.

I'd also add that acetic acid (or vinegar) plays a part in the chemical
reaction that occurs when you dye protein fibres with acid dye - which is
perhaps why someone wrote that it stabilises dye. However, it is not used
with the dyes used on cellulose fibres because as we all know cellulose is
adversely affected by acid. So, there are two reasons NOT to use vinegar.

Presumably the original poster is using bleach to draw into previously
coloured paper, in which the suggestion to scan and reprint the art work in
a more archival form seems a good idea to me.

Sue Wood
Lecturer in Art History
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Charles Sturt University
Wagga Wagga  NSW
Telephone: 02 69 332 646

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