Title:
Multi-layered disposable shower curtain
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a shower curtain made of a backing sheet and several disposable layers. The backing sheet defines the overall size and shape of the shower curtain. The disposable layers are separably adhered to each other so as to be individually removable in sequence. At least one disposable layer is removably adhered to the backing sheet. The backing sheet and each disposable layer provide a barrier against water and are substantially aligned with each other, except for perhaps near one edge of the backing sheet for purposes of facilitating individual removal of disposable layers.



Inventors:
Erickson, Sandra K. (Shorewood, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/729307
Publication Date:
11/08/2007
Filing Date:
03/28/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/08; A47K3/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YOUNKINS, KAREN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATTERSON THUENTE PEDERSEN, P.A. (80 SOUTH 8TH STREET 4800 IDS CENTER, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402-2100, US)
Claims:
1. A shower curtain comprising: a flexible polymer backing sheet having a first side surface; a first layer of a polymer sheet having a first side surface and a second side surface, the first side surface manually separably adhered and coextensive to the first side surface of the backing sheet; a second layer of a polymer sheet having a first side surface and a second side surface, said first side surface of the second layer manually separably adhered to the second side surface of the first layer, and the layers having an unfolded rectangular shape with a margin portion adapted to receive a plurality of coupling members for hanging the shower curtain; wherein the first and second layers of polymer sheet are substantially impermeable to water.

2. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the flexible polymer backing sheet and the first layer of the polymer sheet have substantially the same area.

3. The shower curtain of claim 2, wherein the first layer of the polymer sheet is substantially aligned with the flexible polymer backing sheet.

4. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the margin portion adapted to receive the plurality of coupling members comprises a plurality of removable die-cut plugs.

5. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the edge region adapted to receive the plurality of coupling member comprises a plurality of apertures aligned substantially linearly.

6. The shower curtain of claim 5, wherein the flexible polymer backing sheet is formed of a water-impermeable polymer material.

7. The shower curtain of claim 5, wherein there are a plurality of additional impermeable polymer sheets separably adhered to the second layer.

8. The shower curtain of claim 7, wherein a space between a pair of the apertures when the shower curtain is flat and unfolded is in the range of between four and eight inches.

9. The shower curtain of claim 7, wherein the apertures are positioned in the range of approximately one half inch to two inches from a top edge of the shower curtain.

10. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the first layer of polymer is folded over an edge of the flexible polymer backing sheet and is coextensively disposed on a back surface of the flexible polymer backing sheet.

11. The shower curtain of claim 1, further comprising a first layer of adhesive intermediate a front surface of the flexible backing sheet and the first layer of polymer.

12. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the flexible backing sheet is substantially opaque.

13. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the first layer of polymer is substantially transparent.

14. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the first layer of polymer comprises a plurality of perforations that facilitate removal of the first layer of polymer from the flexible polymer backing sheet.

15. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the first layer and second layer are adhered without utilizing adhesives.

16. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the flexible backing sheet is of a polymer material has a thickness of about 0.0001 inch to about 0.010 inches.

17. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the first layer and second layers of polymer have a thickness of about 0.0001 inch to about 0.010 inches.

18. The shower curtain of claim 1, wherein the first layer and second layers of polymer have a thickness of about 0.0025 inches to about 0.005 inches.

19. A shower curtain comprising multiple layers of polymer sheets, the sheets manually separable for disposed of individual ones of said sheets, the shower curtain having a margin portion adapted for hanging the curtain.

20. The shower curtain of claim 19, wherein the multi-layers are adhered without utilizing any adhesives.

21. The shower curtain of claim 19, wherein an edge of a layer of polymer sheet is slightly offset from an adjacent parallel edge of an adjacent layer of polymer sheet for facilitating peeling.

22. The shower curtain of claim 19, wherein each of the layers has a thickness of about 0.001 inches to about 0.010 inches.

23. The shower curtain of claim 19, wherein the multi-layer are separably adhered by electrostatic attraction.

24. A multilaminate shower curtain having an rectangular shape with a plurality of manually peelable layers all substantially the same size, the layers individually peelable whereby they may be individually discarded.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/786,465 filed Mar. 28, 2006, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/793,165, filed Apr. 18, 2006, which are incorporated herein in their entirety by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to shower curtains. More specifically, this invention relates to a shower curtain lining having separably adhered disposable layers of polymer that can be individually removed.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The environment in which a shower may be located, such as a bathroom or locker room, serves a number of different purposes. Functionally, a showering environment can accommodate a showering area as well as a sink, cabinetry, drawers, a toilet, mirrors, and a variety of other features relating to personal hygiene and grooming. A shower environment also serve an aesthetic role. The choice of fixtures, colors, materials, and lighting, for example, may all contribute to creating an overall appearance or theme for the environment.

An important aspect of both the functional and aesthetic components of a shower environment is water usage and water management. The presence water is a vital component for a bathroom, locker room, or other shower environment to able to fulfill its intended purpose of allowing a user to bathe. In the absence of proper water management, however, water usage can be an extraordinarily destructive force. It can facilitate the growth of mold and other harmful of undesirable microorganisms, visibly mar exposed surface, and accelerate structural decay.

Showering areas, therefore, present unique dilemmas in water usage and management. A shower user commonly requires that water be continuously dispersed throughout a large showering area for bathing or other purposes. Since a readily accessible opening is necessary to enable the user to easily enter and exit the showering area, there is also a substantial opportunity for unintended and undesired loss of water due to splashing, spraying, and other forms of dispersion. Typically, this dispersion is contained by installing a movable physical barrier across the opening. For example, the barrier can be a substantially rigid structure, such as a glass or plastic door, or a flexible shower curtain.

Though a shower door or curtain may substantially contain water dispersion within the showering area, a number of problems may arise over time. For example, water residue may leave undesirable streaking on the surface of the barrier, a combination of prolonged exposure to water and high temperatures can foster rapid growth of mold, bacteria, or other harmful microorganisms, while excess or washed-away hygiene products can accumulate on the surface of the shower curtain or door. Therefore, without vigilant maintenance or periodic replacement, the barrier can quickly become an aesthetic detraction.

Shower curtains can be especially susceptible to prolonged deterioration because they are both difficult to clean and difficult to replace. Unlike shower doors, shower curtains are flexible. Though this flexibility can make installation easier and aesthetically enhance a shower environment, it effectively requires that the shower curtain be completely removed to be properly cleaned. Since most shower curtains cannot be removed without first detaching a mounting rod or a large number of coupling members (e.g., hooks)—steps that significantly increase the time and effort involved—most users simply discard a shower curtain after a certain point rather clean the shower curtain. Another aspect that adds to the difficulty of maintaining cleanliness is that shower curtains also commonly extend below the top of the outer shower or tub wall.

To preserve the aesthetic appeal of a shower curtain, a shower curtain liner can be used as an intermediate barrier between the showering area and the shower curtain. The following U.S. patents, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety, describe various types of shower curtain liners (which can also function as shower curtains): U.S. Pat. No. 6,896,155 to Jones, et. al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,546,571 to Samelson, et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,394,168 to Zoboski; U.S. Pat. No. 6,192,965 to Hinds; U.S. Pat. No. 5,974,603 to Frazier; U.S. Pat. No. 5,829,071 to Lavalle; U.S. Pat. No. 5,826,284 to Wren; U.S. Pat. No. 5,243,715 to Barmak; U.S. Pat. No. 5,231,708 to Hansen; U.S. Pat. No. 4,202,059 to Faragher, Jr.; U.S. Pat. No. 4,126,172 to Faragher, Jr.; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,120,343 to Wilson.

Shower curtain liners are typically made of thin sheets of polymer material. Relative to fabric and other non-polymeric materials, this tends to reduce costs and increase resistance to water damage. Making shower curtain liners from thin polymer sheets, however, is also disadvantageous for a number of reasons. For example, streams of water or associated air currents that are produced during shower usage can cause deflection of the shower curtain liner. Similarly, shower usage can lead to a build-up of static electricity that causes the shower curtain liner to cling to a user. This, in turn, reduces the space in the showering area available to the user for showering purposes and can result in undesirable contact between the user and the shower curtain liner. Both static electricity and deflection can also cause shower curtain liners to drape improperly. The thinness of the polymer sheets from which shower curtain liners are typically made also further exacerbates the effects of everyday wear-and-tear. Specifically, apertures located near the top of shower curtain liners that are designed to receive coupling members for hanging purposes can be particularly vulnerable to ripping or tearing.

In addition to being susceptible to these functional drawbacks, shower curtain liners are also subject to aesthetic deterioration due to the accumulation of hygienic products and exposure to elevated temperature and moisture. As is often the case, soap scum and grime can accumulate on a shower curtain. The polymer material from which shower curtains are most often made also provides a medium on which mold and other organisms can grow. Given the cost and difficultly of cleaning shower curtain liners, most users simply discard a used shower curtain liner once it is no longer aesthetically or hygienically acceptable.

Therefore, there is a need for an improved shower curtain liner without the detriments described above. For purposes of the present invention, the terms “curtain” and “liner” are hereinafter used interchangeably such that the term “curtain” includes “liner,” and vice versa, without any intended limitation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a shower curtain, or shower curtain liner, made up of a plurality of separably adhered disposable layers that can be individually removed. The disposable layers may be removed one-at-a-time so that a user can expose a new surface of the shower curtain without having to replace the entire shower curtain. This enables the user to refresh the appearance and cleanliness of the shower curtain more frequently and at a reduced cost. This also enables the user to save time by eliminating the necessity of completely replacing an existing shower curtain each time a new shower curtain surface is desired.

In a certain embodiment, a multilaminate shower curtain has at least three layers of flexible sheet material all of a specific thickness and all of substantially the same dimensions, each layer impermeable to water, the layers adhered to one another and removably peelable from one another. The shower curtain is a rectangular when unflexed and unfolded and has a reinforced upper margin portion for facilitating hanging of the shower curtain. In certain embodiments the margin portion has a plurality of spaced holes.

The present invention has a first backing sheet that defines the overall size and shape of the shower curtain and serves as a backing for disposable layers. The disposable layers are adhered to each other and to the backing sheet in such a way as to allow the layers to minimize the likelihood of air gaps between the layers and so that each layer may be individually removed from the shower curtain and thereafter disposed. Examples of other applications in which stacks of individually separable disposable layers have been used are described in the following U.S. patents and patent applications, the disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety: U.S. Pat. No. 6,777,055 to Janssen, et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,482,488 to Janssen, et al; U.S. Pat. No. 6,461,709 to Janssen, et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,972,453 to Akiwa, et al; U.S. Pat. No. 5,607,737 to Blackwell, et al; U.S. Pat. No. 4,448,730 to Baus, et al.; Publication No. 2005/0200154 A1 to Barbee, et al.; Publication No. 2005/0106965 A1 to Wevers, et al.; Publication No. 2004/0050324 A1 to Copp; and Publication No. 2004/0001932 to Krause, et al. These patents and published applications disclose various suitable materials and thicknesses of layers, methods of manufacturing, and mechanisms of adherence of sheets that may be suitable herein.

The disposable layers are preferably peelable, but may be disposed in any manner that enables the layers to be individually separable, such as by electrostatic attraction. To facilitate peeling, the individually separable layers may be fused or adhered together and perforated at or near the top of the curtain or liner. Each layer provides a water barrier and may be aligned with the backing sheet and each of the other layers. The layers may cover one side or both sides of the backing sheet.

The disposable layers can have the same or different physical characteristics as the backing sheet. For example, the disposable layers and the first sheet may have the same thickness, size, shape, and decorative features. Alternatively, the disposable layers may be thinner than the backing sheet. The disposable layers may also be smaller area-wise than the first sheet, providing protective covering to only a selected portion of the shower curtain.

Just as the disposable layers may be different than the first layer, a single disposable layer may be slightly or substantially different than the other disposable layers. For example, one layer may be smaller or larger than an adjacent layer in one or more dimensions, such as length. Similarly, a tab or other functionality may be present near the top or upper side. The difference in dimensions and placement of tabs or other functionality may be incrementally offset so as to enable a user to more easily distinguish one individual layer from an adjacent layer and remove a layer.

The disposable layers may be completely transparent so as to allow an optionally decorative feature of the first layer to be seen. The disposable layers may also be partially transparent, opaque, contain their own decorative feature, or function with successive layers or the backing sheet to cooperatively create a decorative effect. When the outermost layer is sufficiently dirty or when a user so chooses, the user may remove the outermost layer. The presence of multiple disposable layers allows a user to keep the same curtain or liner for a period of time, such as several weeks or even more than a year, without having to painstakingly clean or replace the entire shower curtain. The duration that a curtain or liner remains hung in a shower environment, therefore, depends primarily upon how often the user chooses to remove a layer and the number of disposable layers included with the unit.

The present invention provides several features and advantages. It may be used alone or as a liner for a fabric shower curtain. In either use, the present invention reduces the amount of water that escapes from a showering area and into other areas of a shower environment. It also allows a user to quickly obtain a clean shower curtain surface without having to clean or replace the existing shower curtain. The present invention can also be configured so that the individual removal of disposable layers sequentially alters the appearance of the shower curtain and is optimized to correspond to an estimated or intended life-span of the backing sheet or the entire shower curtain.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a showering area having a shower curtain.

FIG. 2a is a top cross-sectional view of a portion of a shower curtain according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2b is a top cross-sectional view of a portion of a shower curtain according to an embodiment of the present invention without adhesive.

FIG. 3 is a top cross-sectional view of a portion of a shower curtain according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a side cross-sectional view of a portion of a shower curtain according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a front or rear view of a portion of a shower curtain with coupling members attached.

FIG. 6 is a side cross-sectional view of a portion of a shower curtain according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a side cross-sectional view of a portion of a shower curtain according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a side cross-sectional view of a portion of a shower curtain according to an embodiment of the present invention.

Please note that the figures are not drawn to scale, nor are the relative thicknesses indicative of any thickness ratios.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 depicts shower curtain 10 hanging from curtain rod 7 via coupling members 9 in a typical showering area 5. Curtain rod 7 is positioned between walls 8. Shower curtain 10 hangs down such that lower portion 6 hangs inside or outside bathtub 1. Shower curtain 10 reduces the amount of water dispersed from shower head 2 or from faucet 3 that leaves showering area 5. In an example embodiment, lower portion 6 hangs inside bathtub 1.

In general, shower curtain 10 has outer surface 25 and inner surface 26. Shower curtain 10 may be oriented such that either outer surface 25 or inner surface 26 faces toward the inside of showering area 5. Shower curtain 10 has at least one disposable layer disposed to a base layer. In an example embodiment, the base layer is backing sheet 20 that has different thickness than the disposable layer. Multiple disposable layers can be disposed on the same side of backing sheet 20, as in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 2. Multiple disposable layers can also be disposed on both sides of backing sheet 20, as in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 3. In yet another embodiment, which is not depicted, none of the individually separable layers is disposed on backing sheet 20. Various configurations in which a disposable layer is disposed on backing sheet 20 and on other disposable layers can be used to affect the manner in which the layers are sequentially removed.

A top view of a cross section of shower curtain 10 according to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 2. In accordance with FIG. 2, first, second, and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23 and optional additional layers may be disposed on either side of backing sheet 20 so as to be oriented toward outer surface 25 or inner surface 26. Backing sheet 20 has a first side surface 20.1 and a second side surface 20.2. First layer of polymer sheet 21 has a first side surface 21.1 and a second side surface 21.2. Second layer of polymer sheet 22 has a first side surface 22.1 and a second side surface 22.2. Although only first, second, and third disposable sheets 21, 22, 23 are depicted in FIG. 2, shower curtain 10 may contain a multiplicity of disposable layers. In an example embodiment, shower curtain 10 contains three or more disposable layers. In other embodiments, shower curtain 10 contains fewer than three disposable layers. Although shower curtain 10 be may installed in any number of ways, the advantages of shower curtain 10 having individually separable layers are most fully realized when the surface to which the disposable layers are attached, such as inner surface 26 as depicted in FIG. 2, faces the inside of showering area 5.

A top view of a cross section of shower curtain 10 according to another embodiment is depicted in FIG. 3. First, second and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23, and optional additional layers, are disposed on both sides of backing sheet 20. Although only first, second and third disposable sheets 21, 22, 23 are depicted in FIG. 3, shower curtain 10 may contain any number of disposable layers. In an example embodiment, shower curtain 10 contains three or more disposable layers disposed on one side of backing sheet 20 and three or more disposable layers disposed on the other side of backing sheet 20. In other embodiments, shower curtain 10 contains fewer than three disposable layers disposed on each side of backing sheet 20. The number of disposable layers disposed on each side of backing sheet 20 may be the same or may be different.

First, second and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23, and optional additional layers, may be disposed on backing sheet 20 in any number of ways to facilitate individual removal. In an example embodiment, first disposable layer 21 is adhered to backing sheet 20. Second disposable layer 22 is adhered to first disposable layer 21. Third disposable layer 23 is adhered to second disposable layer 22. Optional additional disposable layers may be sequentially disposed in a similar fashion to create shower curtain 10 having a desired number of disposable layers. In another embodiment, first, second, and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23 and optional additional layers may also be adhered to backing sheet 20 at or near edge 29 of backing sheet 20.

First, second, and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23, and optional additional layers, may or may not be folded over and around edge 29 of backing sheet 20. Disposable layers are not typically folded over and around edge 29 in the embodiment of shower curtain 10 depicted in FIG. 2 in which disposable layers are disposed on only one side of backing sheet 20. In the embodiment of shower curtain 10 depicted in FIG. 3, however, disposable layers are typically folded over and around edge of shower curtain 10, as depicted in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 5, edge 29 about which disposable layers are folder may be bottom edge 31, side edges 32, 33, or top edge 34. In an example embodiment, edge 29 is bottom edge 31.

In embodiments of shower curtain 10 in which disposable layers are folded over edge 29, first disposable layer 21 is typically folded over and around edge 29 of backing sheet 20. Similarly, second disposable layer 22 is folded over and around the edge of 29 of backing sheet 20. Since second disposable layer 22 is also folded over and around first disposable layer 21, second disposable layer 22 has a larger radius for the turn around edge 29 than first disposable layer 21 has. Although first and second disposable layers 21, 22, 23 and optional additional layers may be folded over and around different edges 31, 32, 33, 34, disposable layers are typically folded over and around the same edge 29 as, for example, bottom edge 31.

Disposable layers may also be secured over and around edge 29 by forming pinched-together edges 61, 62, as depicted in FIG. 6. Although only first and second disposable layers 21, 22 are depicted in FIG. 6, shower curtain 10 may contain any number of disposable layers that form pinched-together edges 61, 62. In this embodiment, two separate sheets of first disposable layer 21a, 21b are adhered to each other at or near edge 29 of backing sheet 20. The two separate sheets of first disposable layer 21a, 21b and first pinched-together edge 61 extend past edge 29 of backing sheet 20. Two additional separate sheets of second disposable layer 22a, 22b are adhered to each other at or near second pinched edge 62. The two separate sheets of second disposable layer 22a, 22b may also be adhered to the two separate sheets of first disposable layer 21a, 21b. The two separate sheets of second disposable layer 22a, 22b and second pinched-together edge 62 extend past the first pinched-together edge 61. Similarly, additional disposable layers can be adhered to each other to form a pinched-together edge extending past the pinched-together edge of the previous layer and adhered to surface of the previous layer. This approach allows first and second disposable layers 31, 32 and optional additional layers to be more easily removed in sequence. First and second disposable layers 31, 32, and optional additional layers, may have approximately the same size or may have different sizes.

To facilitate identification of the edge of the outer-most disposable layer and subsequent removal of the outer-most layer, the sizes of disposable layers can be incrementally changed in one dimension. As depicted in FIG. 7, this creates a stepped-configuration 70 of disposable layers at or near edge 29 of backing sheet 20. For example, if edge 29 of backing sheet 20 as shown in FIG. 7 is bottom edge 31, first disposable layer 21 may be disposed so that first disposable-layer edge 71 substantially aligns with bottom edge 31. Second disposable layer 22 may be disposed so that second disposable-layer edge 72 is slightly above first disposable-layer edge 71. Third disposable layer 23 may be disposed so that third disposable-layer edge 73 is slightly above second disposable-layer edge 72. Additional disposable layers may be disposed so that additional disposable-layer edges are slightly above previous disposable layer edges.

Identification and subsequent removal of the outer-most disposable layer can also be facilitated by folding different lengths of disposable layers over backing sheet 20. Specifically, disposable layers may be folded over and about edge 29 to form folded stepped-configuration 80, as depicted in FIG. 8. The sizes of disposable layers can also be incrementally enlarged such that disposable-layer edges extend beyond edge 29, such as bottom edge 31, to form a reverse folded stepped-configuration.

First, second, and third disposable layers, 21, 22, 23 and optional additional layers may be secured around multiple edges 29 of backing sheet 20 using one or any combination of the described configurations. For example, disposable layers may be folded over and about top edge 34 of backing sheet 20 and form pinched-together edges over and about bottom edge 31 of backing sheet 20. Similarly, disposable layers may be folded or form pinched-together edges over and about top edge 34 of backing sheet 20 and form stepped-configuration 70 at or near bottom edge 31 of backing sheet 20. One skilled in the art can readily discern that the attachment configurations and edges can be mixed and matched to form a number of different embodiments of shower curtain 10.

Backing sheet 20, first, second, and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23, and optional additional layers can be adhered in any number of ways. Generally, all layers should be adhered in a way that minimizes air gaps between disposable layers. In an example embodiment, backing sheet 20, first, second, and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23, and optional additional layers are adhered by electro-static attraction between the materials from which they are made. In other embodiments, such as depicted in FIGS. 2-8, disposable layers and backing sheet 20 can be adhered with adhesive layer 24. Adhesive layer 24 may comprise a bonding material such as glue or epoxy.

Backing sheet 20, first, second, and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23, and optional additional layers may be made of the same material or different materials. In an example embodiment, backing sheet 20 and disposable layers are made from a polymer material, such as polyethylene, polyurethane, vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, or any suitable material, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,777,055 to Janssen. The polymer material may itself hinder or prevent the growth of mold or be coated with a material that hinders or prevents the growth of mold. If adhesive layer 24 is also used, adhesive layer 24 may be a glue, an epoxy, or any other suitable bonding material, such as those mentioned in U.S. Pat. No. 6,777,055 to Janssen.

Backing sheet 20, first, second, and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23, and optional additional layers may have the same thickness or have different thicknesses. The thickness of backing sheet 20 may be in a range of about one-tenth of one mil (1 mil=0.001 inches) to about 10 mils. In a preferred embodiment the thickness may be in a range of about 2.5 mils to about 5 mils. In an example embodiment, the thickness of backing sheet 20 is about 1 mil. The thickness of disposable layers is in a range of about one-tenth of one mil (1 mil=0.001 inches) to about 10 mils. In a preferred embodiment the thickness may be in a range of about 2.5 mils to about 5 mils. In an example embodiment, the thicknesses of first, second, and third disposable layers 21, 22, 23 and optional additional layers are substantially similar or identical and are in one embodiment between about two-and-one-half mils and about five mils.

To minimize unintended water dispersion within the shower environment, shower curtain 10 is generally suspended so that lower portion 6 of shower curtain 10 hangs down within or outside bathtub 1. As depicted in FIG. 1, shower curtain 10 is suspended from shower curtain rod 12 with coupling members 9. Shower curtain 10 has a plurality of apertures 11 through which coupling members 9 can be removably attached. Generally, apertures 11 are pre-formed in shower curtain 10. Alternatively, a user may be required to punch out die-cut plugs from shower curtain 10 to form apertures 11 through which coupling members 9 can be attached. Coupling members 9 are typically made of a resilient material, such as plastic of metal. Small gaps in coupling members 9 can be temporarily expanded or deformed so that hook is made to fit around shower curtain rod 12. Resiliency of coupling members 9 allows coupling members 9 to substantially return to their original shape once fitted around shower curtain rod 12. The gaps in coupling members 9 is small enough so that coupling members 9 cannot be removed from or fall off of shower curtain rod 12 without further expansion or deformation of coupling members 9. The gaps in coupling members 9 are also large enough to fit around edge 29 of shower curtain 10 where apertures 11 may be located.

Although apertures 11 may be any number of sizes and shapes, apertures 11 are ideally circular and sized to receive any number readily available coupling members 9, such as circular suspension hooks, designed to suspend shower curtain 10 from shower curtain rod 12. The diameter of apertures 11 may be in the range of about one-sixteenth of one inch to about one-and-one-half inches. The diameter of apertures 11 may also be in the range of about one-eighth of one inch to about three-quarters of one-inch. In an example embodiment, the diameter of apertures 11 is about one-quarter of one inch.

Apertures 11 may be positioned in any arrangement near edge 29 of shower curtain 10. Each aperture, however, is generally located substantially the same distance from top edge 34 of shower curtain 10 as all other apertures 11. Apertures 11 may be located a distance in the range of about one-half of one inch to about eight inches from top edge 34 of shower curtain 11. In an example embodiment, apertures are located approximately one inch from top edge 34 on the top edge region or margin portion 34.1 of shower curtain 10. To discourage ripping or tearing of shower curtain 10 at or near apertures 11, apertures 11 may be reinforced in any number of ways. For example, the shower curtain material around apertures 11 may be reinforced by additional layers of shower curtain material, a heat sealing process, metal grommets, or a combination thereof.

Although the spacing between apertures 11 does not need to be uniform, apertures 36 are generally spaced at equidistant intervals. Ideally, apertures 11 in a shower curtain 10 with lower portion 6 that hangs inside bathtub 1 (e.g., an inner “liner”) are spaced apart so as to be compatible with apertures 11 of shower curtain 10 with lower portion 6 that hangs outside bathtub 1 (e.g., an outer “curtain”). The distance between two apertures 11 may be in the range of about one inch to about eighteen inches. In an example embodiment, the distance between two apertures is approximately six and three-eighths inches. Aperture 11 closest to side edges 31, 32 of shower curtain 10 may be located from side edges 31, 32 a distance of approximately one-half of the inter-aperture spacing. In an example embodiment, aperture 11 is located approximately three and three-sixteenths inches from side edge 31 and another aperture 11 is located approximately three and three-sixteenths inches from side edge 32. The spacing of apertures 11 can also serve to facilitate and maintain pleating of shower curtain 10, as depicted in FIG. 1. Pleating of shower curtain 10 generally occurs when the width of shower curtain 10 exceeds the length of shower curtain rod 12. Pleating of shower curtain 11 may also occur when shower curtain 10 is forced to one side shower wall 8, such as when a user enters or exits bathtub 1. Shower curtain 10 typically folds, or pleats, such that shower curtain 11 has a convex shape at or near apertures 11 and a concave shape at or near the midpoint of apertures 11, or vice versa.

Shower curtain 10 may be any suitable shape that discourages unintended dispersion of water from showering area 5. Top edge 34, bottom edge 31, and side edges 32, 33 may all be substantially similar such that shower curtain 10 has a substantially square unfolded shape. Top edge 34, bottom edge 31, and side edges 32, 33 may also have any number of different dimensions such that the shape of shower curtain is a rhombus, a trapezoid, or a parallelogram. In an example embodiment, shower curtain 10 is rectangular in shape such that top edge 34 and bottom edge 31 (which define the width of shower curtain 10) have substantially similar lengths and side edges 32, 33 (which define the height of shower curtain 10) have substantially similar lengths.

Shower curtain 10 should be sized to substantially span the area between walls 8 of showering area 10 and between shower curtain rod 12 and top of bathtub 1. Ideally, shower curtain 10 has lower portion 6 that extends below top of bathtub 1 or other water-containment basin and can extend coextensively between walls 8. Because showering areas 5 may vary in size, it is anticipated that shower curtain 10 will also vary in size. Therefore, shower curtain 10 may have a width (unfolded and unpleated) in the range of about twenty-four inches to about two-hundred twenty inches and a height in the range of about twenty-four inches to about one-hundred twenty inches. In an example embodiment, shower curtain 10 has dimensions of about seventy to seventy-two inches wide by about seventy-two inches high. This embodiment may correspond to shower curtains and shower curtain liners characterized in the art as “full size.” Full-size embodiments typically comprise twelve grommets. In another example embodiment, shower curtain 10 has dimensions of about fifty to fifty-four inches wide by about seventy-two inches high. This embodiment may correspond to shower curtains and shower curtain liners characterized in the art as “wide stall size.” Wide stall-size embodiments typically comprise nine grommets. In another example embodiment, shower curtain 10 has dimensions of about forty to forty-two inches wide by about seventy-two inches high. This embodiment may correspond to shower curtains and shower curtain liners characterized in the art as “stall size.” Stall-size embodiments typically comprise eight grommets.