Title:
Method for determining improved laundry washing conditions
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for determining improved washing conditions for a process of laundering textiles includes the steps of preparing one or more test loads; selecting various wash cycle variables; inserting test materials into test loads; washing the loads and materials pursuant to selected the variables; comparing the materials washed pursuant to the selected variables to generate comparison data; and using the comparison data to develop parameters for determining improved washing conditions for one or more textiles. Consumers may be instructed on how to achieve improved overall care of their clothes or other textiles using the improved washing conditions.



Inventors:
Haught, John Christian (West Chester, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/900572
Publication Date:
04/03/2008
Filing Date:
09/12/2007
Assignee:
The Procter & Gamble Company
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
73/865.8, 68/12.02
International Classes:
D06F33/00; D06H3/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
OSTERHOUT, BENJAMIN LEE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY (GLOBAL IP SERVICES CENTRAL BUILDING, C9 ONE PROCTER AND GAMBLE PLAZA, CINCINNATI, OH, 45202, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of achieving improved care of a load of textiles using improved washing conditions for a wash process, wherein the improved washing conditions comprise: (a) washing the textiles in a washing medium having: a volume; a density of from about 0.8 g/cc to about 1.5 g/cc; and a conductivity of from about 10 to about 4000 microsiemens/cm; (b) introducing the washing medium into a washing machine comprising a drum wherein the load of textiles has a size sufficient to provide a load size of from about 1.0 to about 4.0 lbs/ft3; and (c) setting a cycle time of the wash process is no more than about 60 minutes, wherein the cycle time includes time for washing, rinsing, and spinning functions of the wash process.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the washing medium comprises a fluid selected from: liquid; gas; and combinations thereof.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the washing medium has a density of from about 0.9 g/cc to about 1.1 g/cc.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the washing medium has a conductivity of from about 10 to about 1000 microsiemens/cm.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the load has a size of from about 1.5 to about 4.0 lbs/ft3.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the drum has a drum size and the ratio of the drum size to volume of the washing medium is from about 0.15 to about 60 ft3/gallon.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the drum is selected from a horizontal axis drum and a vertical axis drum, and further wherein the cycle time is no more than about 40 minutes for the horizontal axis drum and no more than 60 minutes for the vertical axis drum.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the improved washing conditions are determined by utilization of a mechanical energy swatch providing a value of about 15% or less thread removal.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein a user of the washing machine is instructed to set parameters to achieve garment care via label instructions on packaging for detergent or fabric softener.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein a user of the washing machine is instructed electronically or in print form to set parameters to achieve garment care.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein the washing machine is programmed to optimize fabric care.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the washing machine comprises a load weighing mechanism which enables the washing machine to assess the load weight and adjust the washing conditions.

13. The method of claim 1, wherein the washing conditions further include using a chemical additive to achieve benefits selected from: reduced pill formation; increased softness; improved color fidelity and/or whiteness; reduced chlorine damage to dyes of the textiles; and combinations thereof.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the chemical additive is selected from: detergent capable of removing stains as well as imparting care benefits to the textiles; fabric softening agent; fabric care formulation; and combinations thereof.

15. A method for determining improved washing conditions for a process of laundering textiles, comprising the steps of: (a) preparing one or more test load loads; (b) selecting first and second wash cycle variables; (c) inserting a first test material into each test load; (d) washing each test load and first test material using a selected wash cycle with the first selected wash cycle variables; (e) inserting a second test material into each test load; (f) washing each test load and second material using the selected wash cycle with the second selected wash cycle variables; (g) comparing the first and second test materials to generate comparison data; and (h) using the comparison data to develop parameters for determining improved washing conditions for one or more textiles.

16. The method according to claim 15, wherein the first and second wash cycle variables include different wash cycle times for each wash cycle.

17. The method according to claim 15, wherein the first and second wash cycle variables include different water levels for each wash cycle.

18. The method according to claim 15, wherein the parameters aid in the selection of improved washing conditions for a selected fabric or garment type based upon one or more selected washing goals.

19. The method according to claim 15, wherein the parameters further comprise a predictive model.

20. A textile washing machine for providing improved washing conditions, wherein the improved washing conditions are determined using the method of claim 15.

21. A detergent composition packaged with instructions for use in a process for laundering a discrete wash load of textiles, wherein the instructions provide for improved washing conditions that are determined using the method of claim 15.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/827,984, filed Oct. 3, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention generally relates to methods for determining improved washing conditions and other fabric treatments for selected fabrics, garments, or other textiles based upon selected washing goals, such as improved softness or overall care. The invention further generally relates to instructing consumers on how to achieve improved overall care of their clothes or other textiles using the improved washing conditions.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventional methods of washing fabrics, garments, and other textiles in automatic home-type washing machines and commercial laundry machines are carried out in either a top loading or a front loading machine. In top loaders, the wash basket is typically rotatable around a substantially vertical axis. In front loaders, the wash basket is rotatable around a substantially horizontal axis.

Both top loaders and front loaders may offer a variety of settings for use in washing textiles. For example, a user may be able to select water levels and/or water temperatures for one or more stages of the washing process. In addition or alternatively, the user may be able to select some variables of the washing process itself, for example by choosing a normal wash cycle, a delicate wash cycle, a permanent press wash cycle, etc., wherein each cycle is designed to provide a different washing process to accommodate textiles having different characteristics. Users also may be able to select additional wash options, such as a heavy-duty cycle, in which additional washing steps may be added to the normal cycle, more power may be employed, or the steps of the normal cycle are extended or additional rinse cycles are used.

In designing and testing the various wash cycle variables for front loaders and top loaders, traditional testing methods have been used to measure the amount of damage to a garment or fabric caused by a selected washing process. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,669,095 and 5,669,250 describe conventional testing methods.

It would be desirable to provide a method for assessing wear or damage to test swatches, and to fabric, garments, and textiles, by mechanical agitation, and also for assessing fabric care or washing conditions based upon mechanical agitation or other variables, such as load size, cycle time, water level, load composition, or a combination of these variables. Moreover, it would be desirable to instruct consumers as to how to achieve improved garment care by utilizing improved washing conditions identified by this method.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A method for determining improved washing conditions for a process of laundering a textiles may include one or more of the steps of preparing one or more test load loads; selecting first and second wash cycle variables; inserting a first test material into each test load load; washing each test load and first test material using a selected wash cycle with first selected wash cycle variables; inserting a second test material into each test load load; washing each test load and second material using a selected wash cycle with second selected wash cycle variables; comparing the first and second test materials to generate comparison data; and using the comparison data to aid in the development of parameters for determining improved washing conditions for one or more textiles.

Various implementations of a method for determining improved fabric or garment care during washing may be implemented to gather data concerning all aspects of the washing process using various machines, settings, wash parameters, fabrics/garments/textiles, and any other aspects relevant to the washing process or fabric/garment/textile care. The gathered data may be used to aid in the development of one or more parameters for improved washing conditions or improved care chemistry for any desired fabrics, garments, or textiles. Where a certain type of fabric, garment, or textile is to be washed with one or more objectives, such as improved fabric care, the parameters may be used to determine the appropriate washing conditions to achieve the goal with respect to the selected fabric/garment/textile. Appropriate washing parameters include a variety of variables, such as cycle selection, time, water level, fabric type, fabric condition, temperature, detergent type/amount, appropriate load weight, etc. The parameters may further include the user's selection of a single washing goal or compatible washing goals, or it may balance the user's washing goals to achieve the best compromise between the various washing goals.

The parameters described above for determining improved washing conditions also may be used to program a washing machine to enable the machine to provide improved washing conditions for various fabrics, garments, and other textiles for a variety of washing goals, such as improved softness or improved stain removal for example.

The parameters also may be used to develop instructions to be included on a packaged detergent or soap composition to instruct a user how to achieve improved washing conditions for selected fabrics, garments, or other textiles for a variety of washing goals.

For example, improved washing conditions for a textile may be provided to a consumer to achieve improved garment care, wherein the improved washing conditions are as follows:

    • The textiles are washed in a liquid or gas such that the density ranges from about 0.8 to about 1.5 g/cc, or about 0.9 to about 1.1 g/cc, wherein the liquid or gas is water or steam, and wherein the liquid or gas has conductivity in the range of about 10 to about 4000 microsiemens/cm.
    • The liquid or gas is introduced into an automatic or semi-automatic washing machine such that the size of the load of textiles is large enough to provide a load size in pounds to a drum size in cubic feet in the range of about 1.0 to about 4.0 lbs/ft3, and wherein the ratio of drum size to fluid (gas or liquid) volume is about 0.1 to about 80 ft3/gal.
    • The complete cycle time of the wash process, which includes the rinsing and spin out steps, is set to run for not more than about 60 minutes.

Additional features of the washing conditions may include use of a chemical additive that reduces pill formation on the textile, increases end of wash softness, improves color fidelity and whiteness, reduces chlorine damage to dyes of the textiles, and combinations of these. The textiles may be air-dried and/or dried in a dryer.

These and other features of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which shows and describes illustrative embodiments of the invention. As it will be realized, the invention is capable of modifications in various apparent aspects, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.

The articles “a”, “an” and “the” as used herein refer to “one or more”, unless otherwise indicated.

Markush language as used herein encompasses combinations of the individual Markush group members, unless otherwise indicated.

All numerical ranges disclosed herein, are meant to encompass each individual number within the range and to encompass any combination of the disclosed upper and lower limits of the ranges.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 provides a diagram of a method for determining improved washing conditions in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1A provides a diagram of factors that may be applicable to the method of FIG. 1.

FIG. 2 provides a diagram of another method for determining improved washing conditions in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 3A-D provide illustrations of exemplary implementations of the methods illustrated in FIG. 1 relating to, among other aspects, improved fabric care.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As used herein, the term “textiles” means any fabric or fabric-like item which is laundered, conditioned, or treated on a regular or irregular basis. Non-limiting examples of textiles include clothing, curtains, bed linens, wall hangings, textiles, cloth, etc. Typically, the textile is a woven article, and more typically, the textile is a woven article such as clothing. Additionally, when a textile is a woven article it typically comprises fibers woven together to form the article. The fibers may be of any suitable size and/or shape, such as, microfibers or nanomaterials for example. Furthermore, the textile may be made of natural and artificial materials, such as cotton, nylon, rayon, wool, and silk, as well as combinations of materials.

Methods for determining improved washing conditions and other fabric treatments for selected fabrics, garments, or other textiles based upon selected washing goals, such as improved softness or improved stain removal, are provided. Further, applications that implement improved washing conditions and other fabric treatments, as determined by the methods, are provided. For example, a detergent may be provided with label instructions that are based at least in part upon the improved washing conditions determined by the methods. In addition, a washing machine may be provided that offers washing cycle options based at least in part upon the improved washing conditions determined by the methods. The methods may be used in any suitable context or application.

One embodiment of the invention provides methods for determining improved washing conditions and other fabric treatments. Any suitable washing machine may be used with any of the methods of the present invention, as described herein. For example, the methods may be used with front load washing machines, top load washing machines, or any other washing machine. FIG. 1, for example, illustrates a method 100 for determining improved care of fabrics, garments, or any other type of textile washed in a washing machine. As shown in FIG. 1 for illustrative purposes only, the method includes selecting the composition of garments, fabrics, or other textiles in the load to be washed (step 101), where various selected washing variables, such as wash cycle time, may be varied. The test load may include any suitable materials, for example, T-shirts, towels such as terry towels, pillow cases, blue jeans, delicate fabrics or garments, pilling fabrics or garments, any other suitable fabric, garments, clothing, or textile, non-fabric materials (including but not limited to polymers and plastics), other materials, or any desired subset or combination of these. The materials used for the test load may comprise swatches, entire articles of clothing, pieces of clothing, segments of clothing (such as, for example, a sleeve), other fabric or textile components, or any combination of these. In one embodiment that is used for illustrative purposes only, T-shirts, terry towels, and pillow cases may be used as the test load. The test load may be used to determine improved wash conditions for the test load.

The method also may include the step of selecting wash cycle variables, as depicted in step 102. Any suitable variable or combination of variables may be selected. For illustrative purposes only, the variables to be selected in this step may include those illustrated in step 102 of FIG. 1A, such as cycle time, load weight, agitation profile, water level, load composition, whether a dryer is to be used after washing, water type, temperature, machine type, and chemical constituents (including characteristics of the detergent and/or other washing agents used), and any staining on the load items. Other suitable variables also may be varied, or additional or fewer variables may be selected, in any desired combination or in isolation. The cycle variables are selected for a given test conducted using the method 100 and may be varied each time the method 100 is performed to obtain results concerning improved care for a plurality of fabric, garment, and other textile types under a variety of wash conditions. Also, multiple washing machines may be tested to determine the relative quality of fabric care provided by the machines under similar wash conditions.

Step 103 depicts the selection of test load weights for testing. Any suitable load weight may be selected, from any weight greater than 0, up to 100 pounds or more, or any other desired weight within or above this range. In addition, any suitable number of load weights may be selected. For example, three load weights of 4 lbs., 9.5 lbs., and 15 lbs. may be selected. Alternatively, two load weights of 3 and 10 lbs. may be selected; four load weights of 4 lbs., 9.5 lbs., 13 lbs., and 18 lbs. may be selected; or any number and variety of load weights may be selected as desired to provide data sufficient to assess improved fabric care as described in further detail below.

In step 104, one or more test materials are inserted into each test load. The test materials may be any suitable material, including but not limited to EMPA Article 304 swatches, as used for illustrative purposes only in this example. Any suitable number of test materials may be used. For illustrative purposes only, between one and four EMPA Article 304 swatches may be inserted in each test load. Other types of mechanical energy test materials, such as DMA or Article 306 swatches, also may be used as desired by the tester. “Mechanical energy,” generally speaking, refers to damage pursuant to EMPA Article 304 to a garment, textile, or fabric, and relates to thread removal to a test material as determined by standardized test methods. Step 105 depicts the test load with the swatches being washed using the wash cycle with the variables selected in step 102 for the shortest wash cycle time. In step 106, the wash of step 105 is repeated for each test load selected in step 103. Step 107 includes wash step 105 being repeated for each test load at the next longer wash cycle time. In step 108, wash step 105 is repeated again for each test load with new swatches (as described in step 104). Though the method may include washing the swatches in a sequence of the shortest to progressively longer wash times, it is to be recognized that other sequences may be used, including longest wash time to shortest wash time, random, or any other prearranged grouping of wash times. Furthermore, the method may include varying another variable or other variables in combination with, or alternatively to, wash times. Step 109 includes all swatches being placed on a flat surface and allowed to air dry. Alternatively, the swatches may be dried using a dryer cycle to test the effects of washing and drying the load. Any other suitable drying method also may be used.

Step 110 includes assessing the test materials to determine the effects of the wash, including the wash's mechanical energy, that have been imparted on them. For Article 304 swatches, the remaining number of threads may be counted, or, in another variation, the number of remaining threads, such as those on swatches from washes with the same wash parameters, e.g., load size and cycle time, may be determined and averaged. Damage to other types of test materials, such as DMA or Article 306 swatches, also may be appropriately assessed. The data collected from assessing and comparing the swatches is comparison data. Mechanical agitation comparison data includes data concerning the amount of mechanical agitation comparatively imparted on the test swatches. In step 111, the comparison data collected in the swatch assessment of step 110 is used to develop parameters that enable selection of the improved washing conditions for achieving a selected washing goal, including but not limited to improved fabric care, improved washing, improved stain removal, softness, other goals, or any combination of these. These parameters may take the form of predictive models, and it is to be understood that references to parameters herein include predictive models. The goals also may be directed in part toward certain types of garments, fabrics, or other textiles, or combinations of these.

For example, to develop the parameters, test materials may be compared to assess the results of interest. Such results include, but are not limited to, mechanical agitation damage, color fastness, stain removal, pilling, texture differences, and any other characteristics that assist in identifying the most desirable washing conditions for a selected fabric, garment, or other textile. Multiple tests for a selected fabric, garment or other textile type may be conducted following the steps of method 100, wherein various variables, such as those selected in steps 101, 102, and 103, may be altered to provide multiple washing results for the selected fabric, garment, or other textile thereby providing comparison data for an analysis of the washing results to enable development of the improved washing conditions for a given fabric garment, or other textile type and given washing goal(s).

In another embodiment of the present invention, provided for illustrative purposes only, FIG. 2 depicts methods for determining improved washing conditions and other fabric treatments. Specifically, FIG. 2 shows an alternative method 200 for determining improved care of fabrics, garments, or any other type of textile washed in a washing machine. The method illustrated in FIG. 2 includes (step 201) selection of the composition garments, fabrics, or other textiles in the load to be washed using a washing machine in which various selected washing variables, such as water levels (as in a top-loading washing machine), may be selected. The test load may include any suitable materials, for example, T-shirts, towels such as terry towels, pillow cases, blue jeans, delicate fabrics or garments, pilling fabrics or garments, any other suitable fabric, garments, clothing, or other textile, non-fabric materials (including but not limited to polymers and plastics), other materials, or any desired subset or combination of these. The materials used for the test load may comprise swatches, entire articles of clothing, pieces of clothing, segments of clothing (such as, for example, a sleeve), other fabric or other textile components, or any combination of these. In one embodiment that is used for illustrative purposes only, T-shirts, terry towels, and pillow cases may be used as a test load. The test load may be used to determine improved wash conditions for the test load.

Once the test load composition has been selected, the wash cycle variables are selected (step 202). Any suitable variable or combination of variables may be selected. For illustrative purposes only, the variables to be selected in this step include those illustrated in FIG. 1A, such as cycle time, load weight, agitation profile, water level, load composition, whether a dryer is to be used after washing, water type, temperature, machine type, and chemical constituents (including characteristics of the detergent and/or other washing agents used), and any staining on the load items. Other suitable parameters also may be varied, or additional or fewer variables may be selected, in any desired combination or in isolation. The cycle variables are selected for a given test conducted using the method 200, and may be varied each time the method 200 is performed to obtain results concerning improved care for a plurality of fabric, garment, and other textile types under a variety of wash variables. Also, multiple washing machines may be tested to determine the relative quality of fabric care provided by multiple machines under similar wash conditions.

In step 203, test load weights are selected for testing. Any suitable load weight may be selected, from any weight greater than 0, up to 100 pounds or more, or any other desired weight within or above this range. In addition, any suitable number of load weights may be selected. For example, three load weights of 4 lbs., 9.5 lbs., and 15 lbs. may be selected. Alternatively, two load weights of 3 and 10 lbs. may be selected; four load weights of 4 lbs., 9.5 lbs., 13 lbs., and 18 lbs. may be selected; or any number and variety of load weights as desired to provide data sufficient to assess improved fabric care as described in further detail below.

In step 204, one or more test materials are inserted into each test load. The test materials may be any suitable material, including but not limited to Article 304 swatches, as used in this example. Any suitable number of swatches may be used. For illustrative purposes only, between one and four Article 304 swatches may be inserted in each test load. Other types of test materials, such as DMA or Article 306 swatches, also may be used as desired by the tester. In step 205, the test load with the swatches is washed using the wash cycle with the variables selected in step 202 for the lowest water level. In step 206, the wash of step 205 is repeated for each test load selected in step 203. In step 207, the wash step 205 is repeated for each test load at the next higher water level. In step 208, wash step 205 is repeated again for each test load with new swatches (as described in step 204). Though the method may include washing the swatches in a sequence of lowest to progressively higher water levels, it is to be recognized that other sequences may be used, including highest water level to lowest water level, a random arrangement of water levels, or any other prearranged grouping of water levels. Furthermore, the method may include varying another variable or other variables in combination with, or in alternative to, water level. Step 209 includes all swatches being placed on a flat surface and allowed to air dry. Alternatively, the swatches may be dried using a dryer cycle to test the effects of washing and drying the load. Any other suitable drying method also may be used.

Step 210 includes assessing the swatches to determine the effects of the wash, including the wash's mechanical energy, that have been imparted on them. For Article 304 swatches, the remaining number of threads may be counted, or, in another variation, the number of remaining threads, such as those on swatches from washes with the same wash parameters, e.g., load size and water level, may be determined and averaged. Damage to other types of swatches, such as DMA or Article 306 swatches, also may be appropriately assessed. The data collected from assessing and comparing the swatches is comparison data. Mechanical agitation comparison data includes data concerning the amount of mechanical agitation comparatively imparted on the test swatches. In step 211, the comparison data collected in the swatch assessment of step 210 is used to develop parameters that enable selection of the improved washing conditions for achieving a selected washing goal, including but not limited to improved fabric care, improved washing, improved stain removal, softness, other goals, or any combination of these. These parameters may take the form of predictive models, and it is to be understood that references to parameters herein include predictive models. The goals also may be directed in part toward certain types of garments, fabrics, or other textiles, or combinations of these.

For example, to develop the parameters, test materials may be compared to assess the results of interest. Such results include, but are not limited to, mechanical agitation damage, color fastness, stain removal, pilling, texture differences, and any other characteristics that assist in identifying the most desirable washing conditions for a selected fabric, garment, or textile. Multiple tests for a selected fabric, garment, or other textile type may be conducted following the steps of method 200, wherein various variables, such as those selected in steps 201, 202, and 203, may be altered to provide multiple washing results for the selected fabric garment, or other textile, thereby providing comparison data for an analysis of the washing results to develop parameters for the improved washing parameters for a given fabric, garment or other textile type and given washing goal(s).

While many different combinations of variables may be used with the methods 100 and 200 of the present invention, the following examples with specific variable selection are provided for illustrative purposes only. These examples illustrate steps in the determination of improved fabric care washing conditions for a selected fabric, garment, or other textile during the wash process.

In one example, one step includes selecting the load, which in this example includes pillow cases, terrycloth towels, and T-shirts. Another step includes selecting the washing machine or washing machines. In this example, two washing machines, a Duet HE3 (front loading) (tested using method 100) and a Kenmore 80 Series (top loading) (tested using method 200), are selected. The wash variables for each machine for this example are 90° F. wash and rinse (2×); 120 g Tide HE (liquid), 8 gpg water hardness, and air dried.

In accordance with the steps of method 100, the wash variables for the Duet H3 front-loader are described in the table shown in FIG. 3A. As shown in FIG. 3A, three different wash cycles may be tested: heavy duty, normal, and hand wash. Each cycle may have three soil settings (cycle time settings): high, medium and low. Three test load weights may be used for testing each cycle: 15 lbs., 9.5 lbs., and 4 lbs. The measurable elements of each wash cycle tested may include two DMA swatches, two Article 304 swatches, the RPM of the wash cycle, the fabric-plus-water weight, the cycle time, and the power consumed during the wash cycle.

Aspects of the Duet wash cycle profiles are described in the table shown in FIG. 3B. For example, in the hand wash cycle, the wash time is approximately 5-7 minutes. The wash RPM for this example is approximately 31. There is no wash extraction (spin cycle to remove wash fluid from the fabric) in the hand wash cycle. The first rinse time is approximately 3 minutes. There is no rinse extraction after the first rinse cycle. The final rinse for this example is approximately 1 minute, and the final rinse extraction lasts for approximately 3 minutes at 400 RPM. The normal cycle has a wash time of approximately 7-20 minutes at approximately 40 RPM, a wash extraction cycle at 770 RPM for approximately 4.5 minutes, a first rinse for approximately 4 minutes, a first rinse extraction for approximately 3 minutes at 770 RPM, a final rinse of approximately 3 minutes, and a final rinse extraction of approximately 8 minutes at 960 RPM. The heavy duty cycle has a wash time of approximately 13-28 minutes at approximately 40 RPM, a wash extraction cycle at 770 RPM for approximately 8 minutes, a first rinse for approximately 4 minutes at 770 RPM, a first rinse extraction for approximately 4 minutes at 770 RPM, a final rinse of approximately 4 minutes, and a final rinse extraction of approximately 9 minutes at 1170 RPM. After the selections described in steps 101-104 of method 100 has been completed, each of the three cycles is run following steps 105-110 of method 100.

The data points from assessing mechanical energy imparted to Article 304 swatches are depicted in FIG. 3C. The results are plotted on a graph that illustrates load weight and percent thread loss from Article 304 swatches. For example, the percent thread loss from the hand wash cycle for each of the three loads are shown on the left side of the graph. One cycle time (25 minutes) is available for this cycle. As shown in FIG. 3C, the normal cycle percent thread loss is illustrated for cycle times of 35 minutes and 55 minutes. The heavy duty cycle percent thread loss results are plotted in FIG. 3C for cycle times of 40 minutes and 80 minutes. As is illustrated in FIG. 3C, this example demonstrates that greater load weight reduces the number of threads lost on the swatches, possibly owing to less mechanical agitation on the swatches. FIG. 3C further illustrates that, the greater the cycle time, the greater the percent thread loss. These observations, i.e., that thread loss is reduced with greater load weight and with shorter cycle times, may then be used to develop parameters for the improved washing conditions for this load of T-shirts, towels, and pillow cases to achieve improved fabric care (via reduced fabric damage and wear for example).

FIG. 3D illustrates the data from the tests of the example described above with reference to FIGS. 3A-C modeled statistically, such that the data points are used to create a model to predict the fabric care that results from selected wash variables.

Various implementations of the methods 100 and/or 200 for determining improved fabric or garment care during washing, for example, as described above, may be employed to gather data concerning all aspects of the washing process using various machines, settings, wash variables, fabrics/garments/textiles, and any other aspects relevant to the washing process or fabric/garment/textile care. The results of tests conducted using methods 100 and 200 may be gathered and used to create parameters, or one or more predictive models, to improve fabric care for any desired fabrics, garments, or other textiles under any washing conditions and parameters. Moreover, a person seeking to wash a certain type of fabric, garment, or other textile who has a certain goal, such as improved stain removal, improved fabric care, reduced pilling, etc., may use the parameters or model to determine the appropriate washing conditions (such as cycle selection, time, temperature, detergent type/amount, appropriate load weight, etc.) to achieve the goal with respect to the selected fabric/garment/textile.

Consumers may be provided with instructions to enable them to implement the washing conditions for improved garment or textile care as described above, for example, by providing instructions on laundry detergent packaging, a washing machine, an advertisement, or other media that enable the consumer to implement the washing conditions.

Washing conditions for improved garment care identified using the methods described above with reference to 100/200 may include the following conditions:

    • Washing the textiles in a washing medium comprising a fluid selected from liquid, gas and combinations thereof, such that the density ranges from about 0.8 to about 1.5 g/cc, about 0.9 to about 1.1 g/cc, or other suitable density, wherein the liquid or gas is water or steam.
    • The liquid or gas has conductivity in the range of about 10 to about 4000 microsiemens/cm, or about 10 to about 1000 microsiemens/cm, about 10 to about 300 microsiemens/cm, or other suitable conductivity.
    • The liquid or gas is introduced into an automatic or semi-automatic washing machine such that the size of the load of textiles is large enough to provide a load size in pounds to a drum size in cubic feet in the range of about 1.0 to about 4.0 lbs/ft3, about 1.5 to about 4.0 lbs/ft3, or other suitable load size.
    • The ratio of drum size to washing medium volume may be about 10 to about 40 ft3/gal, about 20 to about 32 ft3/gal, or other suitable ratio.
    • The complete cycle time of the wash process, which includes the rinsing and spin steps, is about 45 minutes or less, about 40 minutes or less, or other suitable time period.
    • Optionally, a chemical additive that reduces pill formation on the fibrous substance, increases end of wash softness, improves color fidelity and whiteness, and/or reduces chlorine damage to dyes of the textile may be used. The chemical additive may be, for example, a detergent capable of removing stains as well as imparting care benefits to the textile, a fabric softening agent, or a fabric care formulation.
    • Optionally, the textiles may be dried in a dryer or air dried. If an automatic dryer is used, the automatic dryer may be run on the minimal cycle necessary to eliminate wrinkles, and the textiles are subsequently removed and folded or hung. The automatic dryer may also have a humidity sensor to control the drying cycle to end as soon as dryness is achieved.

The chosen washing condition parameters, such as those described above, may be determined through the utilization of a mechanical energy swatch, such as the EMPA 304 swatch, providing a value of about 15% or less thread removal as described above with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2.

The textile may include garments worn by humans or animals, for which care of the garments is desired in terms of the look and longevity of the garments. The textile may further include materials made of naturally occurring fibers and man-made fibers woven into a substance used as clothing, drapery, rugs, linen, or table coverings.

The user of the washing machine may be instructed on how to set these parameters to achieve improved garment care, for example by prolonging the life, look, feel, and smell of the textile, as communicated via label instructions on packaging for detergent, fabric softener, etc. For example, the temperature of the wash fluid may be set such that minimal dye loss occurs, within the range of about 50 to about 120° F., or about 60 to about 100° F., or about 70 to about 90° F., which may correlate to the cold water or warm water setting on the washing machine. The user of the washing machine may also be instructed on how to set these parameters to achieve garment care, for example by prolonging the long life, look, feel, and smell of the textile, as communicated electronically or in print form, including television and webvision advertisements, magazine advertisements, reality TV shows, selective use or product placement in TV shows or print form, Internet advertisements, cell phone advertisements, handheld PDA advertisements, radio advertisements, billboard advertisements, paid sponsors or actors used to communicate the instructions, kiosks, instant or text messaging, etc.

Moreover, parameters needed to implement washing conditions for improved garment care identified by the methods 100/200 such as via the washing conditions described above may be provided to a washing machine user, for example, in digital form (accessed, for example, via television, hardwired or wireless computer, digital handheld device, etc.) or via hard copy, or programmed into a conventional washing machine, for example, using a processor or other electronic control mechanism. When the washing condition parameters are programmed into a computer, in one embodiment of the present invention, the user may be permitted to select various combinations of textiles and goals, such as blue jeans stained with blueberry that is to be removed via the wash. The user may be permitted to inform the machine as to load weight, or the machine may take the information inputted by the user and advise the user as to an appropriate load weight. Any relevant variables, such as wash temperature, cycle time, stain type, fabric type or condition, etc., may be inputted by the user or determined by the washing machine pursuant to the parameters, as appropriate.

According to another implementation of the washing conditions identified using methods 100 and/or 200, the washing condition parameters are programmed into a washing machine controller (such as a processor or other electronic control device), such that the user of the washing machine may enter information including but not limited to fabric type or condition, garment or textile type, load amount, and one or more washing goals (such as improved stain removal, reduced abrasion, improved fabric care, improved softness, color fastness, etc.) using buttons, knobs, levers, keypads, touch screens, or other selection mechanisms provided on the machine. The machine then adjusts its wash cycle variables in accordance with the parameters to provide the washing conditions that will most closely achieve the goal(s) inputted by the user. The washing machine may further be provided with a load weighing mechanism, for example, a weight sensor device positioned within the washing machine, to enable the machine to assess the load weight and adjust washing conditions accordingly using the parameters. Any number or combination of variables may be provided by the user to the washing machine, with the washing machine using that inputted information to provide direction to the user to achieve improved washing results for the given information that has been inputted.

In another implementation of the parameters developed using methods 100 and/or 200, the parameters may be provided to the user via computer or digital handheld device, enabling the user to enter washing machine model, a fabric, garment or other textile type, and one or more washing goals (such as improved stain removal, reduced abrasion, improved fabric care, improved fabric softness, color fastness, etc.). The device, using the parameters, then calculates and displays the appropriate wash cycle conditions that the user should enter into the washing machine to most closely achieve the goal(s) inputted by the user. Alternatively, the device may communicate the appropriate conditions directly to the washing machine.

In yet another implementation of the parameters developed by using methods 100 and/or 200, a detergent product, e.g., a granular, paste, gel, liquid, or other detergent or soap composition that is packaged with instructions for use in a process for laundering a discrete wash load of textiles, may be provided in which the instructions for use of the detergent are designed based upon the parameters to improve fabric or garment care during the washing process. For example, a detergent for delicate fabrics may include washing instructions for improved care of such textiles as indicated by the parameters created using data gathered in testing in accordance with method 100. Similarly, a detergent for removing stains may include washing instructions for improved stain removal as indicated by the parameters. Other textile types and washing goals may be similarly incorporated into washing instructions provided on detergent packaging.

From the above description and drawings, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the particular embodiments shown and described are for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. References to details of particular embodiments and examples are not to be taken or construed as a limitation on the scope of the invention.