Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR ENCLOSING SOAP
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus including a mesh portion having a bag structure with an open end and a closed end, and having an inner chamber enclosed within the bag structure is disclosed. The mesh portion may be made of a material which does not substantially absorb water and which is elastic. There is a large opening at the open end of the bag structure into which a bar of soap can be inserted to insert the bar of soap into the inner chamber of the bag structure. The mesh portion has a plurality of small openings through which parts of the bar of soap can escape from the inner chamber of the bag structure. The mesh portion may be configured so that the mesh portion automatically contracts to conform to the bar of soap as it diminishes in size with use. The mesh portion may be comprised of low density polyethylene extruded plastic.



Inventors:
Trusiak, Jeffrey J. (Laguna Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/210232
Publication Date:
03/19/2009
Filing Date:
09/15/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/117
International Classes:
A47K5/08; B65D30/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mr. Walter J. Teneza, Jr. (Suite 210 100 Menlo Park, Edison, NJ, 08837, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An apparatus comprising: a mesh portion having a bag structure with an open end and a closed end, and having an inner chamber enclosed within the bag structure; wherein the mesh portion is made of a material which does not substantially absorb water; wherein the material is elastic; and wherein there is a large opening at the open end of the bag structure into which a bar of soap can be inserted to insert the bar of soap into the inner chamber of the bag structure; wherein the mesh portion has a plurality of small openings through which parts of the bar of soap can escape from the inner chamber of the bag structure; and wherein the mesh portion is configured so that the mesh portion automatically contracts to conform to the bar of soap as it diminishes in size with use.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the bag structure has a substantially cylindrical structure forming a tube which is smaller at rest than an average bar of soap and expands upon insertion of a soap bar to envelop and tightly hug the soap bar.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the mesh portion is comprised of low density polyethylene extruded plastic.

4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the tube is seamless unilaterally and the tube is closed at the closed end of the bag structure by a heat seal; and further comprising an elastic cord weaved through the mesh portion near the open end of the bag structure; and wherein the elastic cord helps to self seal the open end of the bag structure.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the bag structure has a double layer mesh bag structure.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the bag structure has a double layer portion for part of the mesh portion near the top of the open end.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the large opening of the bag structure has an at rest diameter of about five eighths of an inch, and a maximum stretch diameter of about four and one half inches.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the mesh portion has attached thereto an indicia indicating the identity of an individual.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the material is recyclable.

10. A method comprising inserting a bar of soap into an inner chamber of a mesh portion; and using the mesh portion with the bar of soap in the inner chamber to wash an individual; wherein the mesh portion has a bag structure with an open end and a closed end, and the inner chamber is enclosed within the bag structure; wherein the mesh portion is made of a material which does not substantially absorb water; wherein the material is elastic; and wherein there is a large opening at the open end of the bag structure into which the bar of soap can be inserted to insert the bar of soap into the inner chamber of the bag structure; wherein the mesh portion has a plurality of small openings through which parts of the bar of soap can escape from the inner chamber of the bag structure; and wherein the mesh portion is configured so that the mesh portion automatically contracts to conform to the bar of soap as it diminishes in size with use.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein the bag structure has a substantially cylindrical structure forming a tube which is smaller at rest than an average bar of soap and expands upon insertion of a soap bar to envelop and tightly hug the soap bar.

12. The method of claim 10 wherein the mesh portion is comprised of low density polyethylene extruded plastic.

13. The method of claim 10 wherein the mesh portion has attached thereto an indicia indicating the identity of an individual.

14. The method of claim 10 wherein the material is recyclable.

15. The method of claim 10 wherein the large opening of the bag structure has an at rest diameter of about five eighths of an inch, and a maximum stretch diameter of about four and one half inches.

16. The method of claim 10 further comprising discarding the mesh portion when the soap bar is substantially used up.

17. The method of claim 10 wherein the mesh portion is attached to a cord; and further comprising hanging the mesh portion and the soap bar within the mesh portion, by the cord to a bathroom structure.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

The present application claims the priority of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/972,638 filed on Sep. 14, 2007, titled “SOAP SLIP DEVICE”, inventor and applicant Jeffrey J. Trusiak.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to improved methods and apparatus concerning soap containers and enhanced lathering applicators.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The bathing process affects every human being, regardless of age, ethnicity, sex, and/or geographic location. Generally, soap and water are used for bathing. Generally soap is applied to a person's skin directly from a soap bar or in combination with a washing element, such as a wash cloth, sponge, or loofa. There are many problems with the direct application of soap from a soap bar. For example, during the life of a soap bar and with repeated bathing cycles the soap bar is used up over time and melts away. This continual decrease in size and thus surface area of the soap bar does not allow the bather to achieve the same initial lathering results as when the soap bar is at its initial optimum size and state. The initial optimum size of a soap bar is generally proportional to the average human's hand size and grip. The agitation between the user's hand, skin (or washing element) and the surface area of the soap bar induces lathering. While the hand (or washing element) size is fixed, the soap bar's size is not. The gradual decrease in size of the soap bar during its life cycle makes it more difficult for the bather to achieve the same lathering affect.

This soap bar shrinkage problem is multifaceted. This process of soap size diminishment continues until the bather cannot effectively use the soap bar any longer. A residual piece of scrap soap remains and is generally thrown out and wasted. It is also time consumptive and somewhat frustrating to have to rub and agitate the soap bar more and more as it diminishes to ‘try’ to achieve the same lathering affect with a reduced smaller soap bar compared with a larger initial soap bar. This process takes time and effort. While an individual is making this effort, hot water is typically running and being wasted. This process of attempting to achieve the same lathering effect with a reduced soap bar wastes energy and water. Valuable resources are literally going down the drain unnecessarily: energy is wasted, water is wasted and soap is wasted. Besides resource wastage, time and money are also wasted. Although it may seem insignificant on a daily individual basis, the cumulative effects are readily apparent when you apply this ‘wastage’ on a family basis over a course of years or even more apparent when applied on a global basis over a long time span.

In addition used soap bars may carry bacteria, germs and bodily debris. The sharing of soap bars spread these bacteria, germs, and bodily debris. This is not only a factual hygienic issue but also a psychological mindset issue: it is just unappealing to use another individual's soap bar with the associated debris therein, shedded body hair and skin. Furthermore, washing implements, such as a washcloth or loofa, even if solely used by one individual, are a breeding ground for bacteria, due to their absorbent and retaining nature, and based on the wet and warm environment they are used and stored in. Hygienic drying of these implements takes considerable time, if even achievable. A solution would be to wash these implements after each individual use. However, washing after each use wastes considerable energy, water, time, detergent and other resources. This additional wastage adds to the above cited wastage. It takes time to lather with the soap alone and or even more time to lather an implement. This also increases wastage in all of the above cited factors and areas.

Additionally, a soap bar is slippery. Many bathers have been hurt in slip and fall accidents trying to grab a slipping soap bar or stepping and slipping on it. This also wastes time, water, and energy in searching and bending. This slip and fall scenario is more prevalent in individuals such as toddlers and the elderly. All individuals, but particularly elderly and handicapped individuals, may have difficulty gripping a soap bar due to its slippery nature.

As mentioned above, soap is often wasted due to slivers of soap bars which are difficult to use and/or difficult to locate. Pollution is caused due to excess scrap soap, excess soap residue and scum in water pipes and there is the cost of maintaining and cleaning these sewer pipes. Moreover, in many expanding third world countries, the luxury of a wash cloth and ample water doesn't exist. Anything to lessen these costs and save valuable resources is of great importance.

Various types of solutions have tried to address these problems but have failed. There are various devices known in the prior art for enclosing soap and applying soap while it is in an enclosure. For example, there is a product in the prior art called “Soap Cinch” (Trademarked) which includes a bag made of 100% hemp into which a bar of soap can be inserted. The bag can be pulled tight with a draw string, to hold the soap within the bag. An individual can apply soap to their skin while the soap is in the hemp bag. Suds and/or particles of the soap escape through pores or openings of the bag and are applied to the person's skin. The hemp material used for the Soap Cinch (trademarked), is not elastic, and is not water proof or water resistant. Thus this prior art device does not sufficiently adjust to a diminishing size of a bar of soap, and the hemp retains moisture and becomes stale, unhygienic, and/or may generate mildew. The hemp material is expensive and is meant to be reused over and over again which is also not hygienic.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,264,391 to Kroha discloses a soap bag 10 including a body 12 and a band 14. (Kroha, col. 2, Ins. 40-45; FIG. 2, FIG. 6). The body 12 includes a pouch for insertion of a bar soap through an open end 22. (Kroha, col. 2, Ins. 47-55; FIG. 2; FIG. 6). The body 12 and the band 14 are manufactured from flexible synthetic or organic material that is permeable to, yet not disintegrable in water, such as an Afgan mesh fabric or 100% polyester. (Kroha, col. 2, Ins. 38-45). There is no disclosure in Kroha that the body 12 is designed to hug a bar of soap tightly as the bar of soap diminishes. Kroha discloses inserting a hand into an area of the bag 10 in order to hold the bag 10 and the insertion of a hand for an individual (which would have a fixed size) would make it impossible for the body 12 to hug a bar of soap as it diminishes to a small size with use. (Kroha, FIG. 4 and FIG. 6).

U.S. Pat. No. 6,659,669 to Nguyen discloses a mesh netting 26 for holding soap. (Nguyen, col. 3, Ins. 53-67; FIG. 5A). The soap is inserted through an opening 27 into netting 26. (Id.) The netting 26 is attached to a closure strap 28, having a loop material 29, which can be attached to a hook material patch 30. (Id.). As the soap diminishes with use, the closure strap 28 can be moved to a new location on the patch 30. (Nguyen, col. 4, Ins. 55-62). There is no disclosure in Nguyen that the netting 26 automatically adjusts to a diminishing bar of soap and the technique of pulling the strap 28 tighter is limited by the size of the loop material 29 and the patch 30. Also this technique of pulling the strap 28 does not appear to be very effective, since it cannot reduce the length of the netting 26 (i.e. pulling the netting 26 would make the netting longer and/or it would stay the same length). Thus the technique of Nguyen does not appear to hug tightly or tightly envelope a diminishing bar of soap.

U.S. Pat. No. 7,014,381 to Graham discloses a flexible bag 11 into which a bar of soap can be inserted. (Graham, col. 4, Ins. 6-15). The flexible bag 11 may be made of a mesh fabric. (Id.). Graham does not disclose that the flexible bag 11 will automatically adjust in size as a soap bar diminishes.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,462,378 to Webb discloses a soap holder 10 contracts around the surface of soap as it is dispensed thereby retaining even a small piece of soap and reducing wastage. (Webb, col. 3, Ins. 18-25). The soap holder 10 is made of a porous elastic cloth made of a terry cloth material. (Webb, col. 2, Ins. 49-54). The terry cloth is known in the prior art as a water absorbent material.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,048,407 to Schoch discloses a tulle fabric sheath or casing 10 into which a bar of soap can be placed. The tulle fabric is known in the prior art as a fine often starched net of silk, nylon, or rayon. Schoch does not disclose that the tulle fabric automatically adjusts in size as the soap bar diminishes.

U.S. patent application publication number US 2005/0095056 to King discloses a bag comprised of a polyester mesh material into which a bar of soap can be inserted. (King, paragraphs 29-30) The polyester mesh material may have 1/16 holes through soap may pass from within the bag and onto a person. (29-30). King does not disclose that the polyester mesh material automatically adjusts in size as the soap bar diminishes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment of the present invention an apparatus is disclosed comprising a mesh portion having a bag structure with an open end and a closed end, and having an inner chamber enclosed within the bag structure. The mesh portion may be made of a material which does not substantially absorb water. The material may be elastic. In at least one embodiment there is a large opening at the open end of the bag structure into which a bar of soap can be inserted to insert the bar of soap into the inner chamber of the bag structure. The mesh portion has a plurality of small openings through which parts of the bar of soap can escape from the inner chamber of the bag structure. The mesh portion may be configured so that the mesh portion automatically contracts to conform to the bar of soap as it diminishes in size with use. The mesh portion may be comprised of low density polyethylene extruded plastic. The mesh portion may have attached thereto indicia indicating the identity of an individual. The material may be recyclable.

In one embodiment of the present invention a method is disclosed including inserting a bar of soap into an inner chamber of a mesh portion, and using the mesh portion with the bar of soap in the inner chamber to wash an individual. The mesh portion may have a configuration as previously discussed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of an apparatus in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1B shows a perspective view of a portion of the apparatus of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2A shows a front view of a block of soap along with a perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1A; and

FIG. 2B shows a perspective view of the block of soap of FIG. 2A inserted into the apparatus of FIG. 1A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of an apparatus 1 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1B shows a perspective view of a portion of the apparatus 1 of FIG. 1A.

The apparatus 1 includes a cord 2 and a mesh portion 4. The cord 2 includes a loop portion 2a which lies outside of the mesh portion 4 and an attachment portion 2b which is attached to the mesh portion 4. The attachment portion 2b may be circular or elliptical and may be threaded inside of the mesh portion 4 at or near a top end 16 of the mesh portion 4.

The mesh portion 4 may be a tubular mesh. The mesh portion 4 may have a bag structure. The mesh portion 4 may be a single layer diamond slotted LDPE (low density polyethylene) extruded plastic material (“DSEP”—diamond slotted extruded plastic) with elasticity and memory).

The mesh portion 4 may have a large opening 10 at or near its top end 16. In one embodiment, the large opening 10 may have a diameter at rest of D2 shown in FIG. 1B, which may be 0.75 inches or less. The diameter D2 may also be about five eighths (⅝) of an inch in one embodiment, such as within a range of +/− 3/16 (three sixteenths) of an inch at rest, when the mesh portion 4 is not being stretched. At full stretch, the diameter D2 may be about 4.5 inches +/−1.25 inches. The mesh portion 4 may be closed (disregarding small mesh openings) at a bottom end 12. The bottom end 12 may be closed via a heat seal method. The heat seal may be hidden in an inner chamber 18. The mesh portion 4 (which has a bag configuration or structure) may be turned inside out after heat sealing is accomplished. The mesh portion 4 may be comprised of a plurality of small mesh openings 14. Each mesh opening of the plurality of small mesh openings 14, may be bordered by a horizontal top member, a horizontal bottom member, a vertical right side member, and a vertical left side member. In one embodiment, each of the small mesh openings 14 may be ⅛ (one eighth) of an inch wide at full stretch, +/− 1/16 (one sixteenth) of an inch. For example, a small mesh opening 14a shown in FIG. 1B may be bordered by horizontal top member 6a, horizontal bottom member 6b, vertical right side member 8b, and vertical left side member 8a. The small mesh opening 14a may have width of D1 and a length D1, where D1 may 1/32 of an inch or less when the mesh portion 4 is at rest, i.e. not being stretched. The small mesh opening 14b and the other mesh openings of the plurality of mesh openings 14 may be identical in size. Each of the small mesh openings, such as mesh opening 14a and 14b may be of a diamond configuration.

This joint structure and spot geometry of a diamond shape provides for exceptional elasticity. The mesh openings 14a and 14b may alternatively be of any other shape, such as but not limited to, rectangular, square, or elliptical. Additionally or alternatively, each of the small mesh openings, such as 14a and 14b may at rest be in one shape, such as diamond shaped, and when first stretched may become circular shaped and at the greatest expansion of mesh portion 4 may become elliptical shaped.

The mesh portion 4 may be made of an expandable or stretchable plastic material, such as low density polyethylene (LPDE). Disregarding the small mesh openings 14, the mesh portion 4 has the appearance of a bag which is sealed except for the larger opening 10, such that an object substantially larger than the area of an opening of the mesh openings 14 can be inserted through the large opening 10 and thereby placed in and held in an inner chamber 18 within the mesh portion 4. In one embodiment of the present invention the cord 2 is self-cinching and however, alternatively or additionally the cord 2 can be pulled tight to enclose the object within the inner chamber 18. However, in one embodiment, the cord 2 and the mesh portion 4, is effectively self-cinching by way of a low cost thin elastic cord provided for cord 2 and the elastic material (such as LDPE) provided for mesh portion 4 providing simplicity and convenience (i.e. in one embodiment no closure mechanism and cost thereof or user involvement is required.)

FIG. 2A shows a front view of a block of soap 100 along with a perspective view of the apparatus 1 of FIG. 1A. FIG. 2B shows a perspective view of the block of soap 100 of FIG. 2A inserted into the chamber 18 of the apparatus 1 of FIG. 1A. The large opening 10 of the apparatus 1 is stretched to an enlarged state which allows the block of soap 100 to be inserted into the opening 10 and into the chamber 18 of the mesh portion 4.

The apparatus 1 may be made from a 100% recyclable product such as LDPE.

The apparatus 1 may be made of an inexpensive, disposable material, such as LDPE. The apparatus 1 can be disposed of after the bar of soap 100 within chamber 18 has diminished to almost nothing from bathing use by an individual. Due to the proportionality of sizes and elasticity of the mesh portion 4, the soap bar 100 is dissolved one hundred percent by the agitation of the bar 100 against the mesh portion 4, thus eliminating any waste of soap. I.e. the mesh portion 4 surrounds the soap bar 100 tightly as the soap bar 100 diminishes. In contrast, prior art products, such as “Soap Cinch” (Trademarked), are made of non-elastic material, such as hemp, which does not continue to tightly surround a soap bar as the soap bar diminishes, and thus these prior art products do not allow enough contact between the soap bar and the material which encloses the soap bar as the soap bar decreases.

The apparatus 1 may have indicia and/or information relating to a specific individual so that the apparatus 1 is only used by one individual. For example, the mesh portion 4 may come in different colors, such as red, green, and blue, or any other color. In this way, for example, a father in a family can use red, a mother can use green, and a child can use blue. This keeps germs and bacterial from spreading from one member of a family or household to another by ensuring each person has his or her own clearly identified apparatus similar to or identical to apparatus 1. The apparatus 1 includes an indicia 20, which is shown as “S”. In this case “S” may stand for a first or last name of individual such as “Sam” or “Sandy” to clearly identify the individual to whom the apparatus 1 belongs. The indicia 20 or “S” can be replaced with a full name or two initials or a logo or symbol or any other identifying information for an individual to whom the apparatus 1 will belong and by whom it will be used. The indicia 20 or “S” is merely exemplary. In other embodiments, the indicia 20, such as a letter “S” may be inside the chamber 18 or bottom of the chamber 18 and may be attached by means of a header attached over a heat seal. The apparatus 1 can be hung on a conventional shower caddy using cord 2. The cord 2 can be made of elastic sewing thread, approximately 62% polyester and 38% rubber (or elastic rubber i.e. rubber band material) The apparatus 1, as used with a bar of soap 100 inside of the chamber 18 is hygienic and exfoliates and rejuvenates a person's skin. The apparatus 1 is waterproof and allows for quick air drying of the soap bar 100 when hung reducing bacterial growth and soap scum. If stored traditionally, as in a soap dish, the apparatus 1 allows for more spacing which reduces contact between the soap dish's surface and the soap bar 100 surface thereby facilitating drying and reduction of bacterial growth and soap scum.

The apparatus 1 is typically light in weight and would occupy very little shelf space in a store. The opening 10 may have a diameter of about one half to three quarters of an inch which it is not being stretched by soap bar 100. The apparatus 1 may have a length from the top 16 to the bottom 12 of about five inches, which is sufficient to accommodate most conventional soap bars.

The mesh portion 4 of the apparatus 1 may be made of, for example, a low density polyethylene extruded plastic, stretchable organza material, or elastic nylon (or other type) netting.

The elasticity of the mesh portion 4 of the apparatus 1 causes the mesh portion 4 to hold the soap bar 100 tightly in FIG. 2B. The mesh portion 4 forms a skin enveloping the soap bar 100. The apparatus 1 thus effectively self seals the soap bar 100 within the chamber 18 of the mesh portion 4. In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the apparatus or sack 1 should have a life designed to last as long as a typical soap bar, such as 100, would last with average usage by a single individual. The apparatus 1 would then be thrown away after the soap bar 100 has been completely or substantially used up. A new apparatus, similar to or identical to apparatus 1 would be used for each bar of soap. In addition, a remaining portion of soap bar 100 could be removed from the chamber 18 and placed in a similar or identical chamber of a similar or identical new apparatus 1. If a user prefers, the soap bar 100 will lather effectively until completely diminished.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention a user can meld the a new soap bar with a remaining sliver in the new apparatus similar to or identical to the apparatus 1, by slight compression of the individual's hand around both soap pieces while in the chamber of the new apparatus or skin. The two pieces will bond loosely together and adhere together as the soap is used (lathered and wetted).

The apparatus or skin 1 allows for the easy transport and drying of the soap bar 100 if carried by an individual, or if stored in a common area, such as a shower stall. The apparatus 1 can attach to any standard shower caddy or an optional suction type hook can be available for purchase.

The apparatus 1 may have different materials for the mesh portion 4, which may depend on the age or sex of the individual that it is intended for. The mesh portion 4 material may have different levels of abrasiveness depending upon who it is intended for, such as soft, regular, and coarse levels of abrasiveness.

The apparatus 1 may be water resistant or waterproof which helps it to hygienically exfoliate skin such that there will be less dead skin cells or germs on the apparatus 1, then on a bar of soap by itself. This gentle exfoliation and massage of skin allows for the rejuvenation of skin and improved circulation.

The apparatus 1 also allows for traditional use of soap with a wash cloth, or other vessel, while maintaining the personalization, and hygienic properties of use and storage.

The apparatus 1 allows for easy holding of the soap bar, thus accommodating the young (hand size) and elderly (arthritic or weakened grip) as well as the rest of the population. This reduces chances of slip/fall accidents looking for or slipping on a soap bar.

In one or more embodiments of the present invention the mesh portion 4 of the apparatus 1 may be a thin low density polyethylene extruded plastic (LDPE) (or other such type material) netting that houses the soap bar 100, inside the chamber 18 once inserted. Due to its expansive, yet simplistic and sleek design the mesh portion 4 allows for the correct balance of soap extrusion during application to an individual's skin. In one or more embodiments, the proportion of the netting of the mesh portion 4 in diamond pitch and strand diameter allows for just enough skin contact to quickly and effectively lather during bathing. The joint structure along with the proportions of this diamond pitch and strand diameter also allows for the correct elasticity of the use of the apparatus 1, thus providing memory.

At the beginning of the soap bar 100 life stage, the soap skin or mesh portion 4 is stretched to encompass the soap bar 100 upon insertion. The soap bar 100 is sealed in the chamber 18 of the mesh portion 4 or soap skin by way of a self cinching elastic closure and the enveloping of the soap bar 100 by the soap skin or mesh portion 4. The soap skin or mesh portion 4 hugs the soap bar 100. There is little room for the soap bar 100 to move and gyrate within the mesh portion 4 or the soap skin at this juncture during bathing and application to the user's skin (or washing element).

The stretched spot geometries (or spaces 14, such as spaces 14a and 14b of the mesh portion 4) allows for enough direct contact with the skin (or washing element) to achieve a sudsy and quick lathering, while the surface area of the soap bar 100 is at its peak. As previously cited, soap bars, such as soap bar 100 are self diminishing during normal use and application. Soap bars, such as soap bar 100, are consumptive products. The soap skin or mesh portion 4 takes advantage of this consumptive property of usage. The soap skin or mesh portion 4 is expansive at the onset of the soap bar 100 life cycle and shrinks relative to its original size as the soap bar 100 is used and melts away. As the soap bar 100 shrinks in normal usage the soap skin or mesh portion 4 continues to hug the soap bar 100 less and less proportionally. This design allows for increased room and the accompanying gyration of the soap bar 100 within the chamber 18 of the mesh portion 4 or soap skin to maintain and maximize quick and sudsy lathering while the soap bar 100 dissolves with usage. The mesh portion 4 or soap skin's properties allow for effective lathering due to the agitation between the soap skin or mesh portion 4 and diminishing surface area of the soap bar 100 during its application.

Over the life cycle of the soap bar 100 it continues to melt and the mesh portion 4 spot geometries (such as the spot geometries of spaces 14, such as 14a and 14b) become more gathered and taut. This tightening is proportional to the increased movement and accompanying agitation within the soap skin or mesh portion 4. Although the surface area of the soap bar 100 has decreased so have the spot geometries or space geometries of spaces or spots 14 (such as 14a and 14b) of the mesh portion 4 or soap skin. This design allows for increased agitation because there is now more contact and agitation between the mesh portion 4 (or soap skin) and the diminished surface area of the soap bar 100. The spots or spaces 14 (such as 14a and 14b) within the structure of the mesh portion 4 (or soap skin) have closed in on themselves and the spacing has become more dense, thus there is more abrasion of the soap bar 100 by the mesh portion inducing effective lathering (as when the soap bar 100 was at it beginning).

When the soap bar 100's life cycle is nearing completion (typically when most users discard the nearly depleted residual bar as soap scrap) the soap skin or mesh portion 4 allows the bather to effectively grip and compress (during normal application) the remaining soap bar 100. The penetration of the soap skin's strands (such as horizontal members 6a and 6b and vertical members 8a and 8b) into the soap bar 100 allows for total use and disintegration of the soap bar 100 thus eliminating any wastage. The lathering efficacy remains constant during the life cycle of the soap bar 100 without sacrificing any additional resources as outlined in the preceding section. The soap skin or mesh portion 4 is designed to last the life cycle of the soap bar 100. Due again to the simplicity of its design, and the economics thereof, it is intended as a disposable product. Each new soap bar 100 should be inserted into a new soap skin or new apparatus 1 (including new mesh portion 4) and used until the soap bar 100 is completely used up. The soap skin (apparatus 1 and mesh portion 4) should then be discarded. The apparatus 1, including mesh portion 4, is 100% recyclable and should then be disposed of for recycling.

The apparatus 1, mesh portion 4 (or soap skin) also allows for soap personalization. The term “soap skin” may be used for the entire apparatus 1 or just the mesh portion 4. Soap, like a toothbrush, is a personal toiletry. However, most individuals do not use it as such. Whether in a traditional nuclear family, extended family, roommate environment, or a more community central environment (i.e. gym shower rooms, college dorms, assisted living facilities) soap should not be shared. The sharing of soap allows for the spreading of bacteria, germs, fungus, possible blood borne pathogens and/or other communicable diseases that thrive in dark, warm, wet environments. Due to these health risks and other concerns in today's ever complex and litigation prone environment soap bars should be individualized. Beyond these health risks and concerns, the sharing of soap is unpleasant due to visible hair and skin residue. The soap skin or apparatus 1 provides soap personalization. Each soap skin or apparatus 1 may be color coded by means of a waterproof header within the soap skin such as the indicia “S” shown in FIG. 2B. Alternatively, or additionally the indicia may be blank with room for writing of name with an indelible marker. The soap skin or the apparatus 1 may be further personalized via color coding of the soap skin (mesh portion 4) itself and, or cinch/hang cord (cord 2). This feature allows the user to quickly identify their individualized soap bar.

Additionally, the soap skin or apparatus 1 supplies a method for the effective gripping of the soap bar 100. This feature provides for ease of use as well as safety and hygiene. The elderly population, especially those with arthritic or other health conditions evoking a weakened state, the toddlers and school aged population, due to a smaller hand size and under developed motor coordination, as well as the rest of the populace at times find it difficult to effectively hold and/or grip soap due its inherently slippery nature. The mesh portion 4 as previously stated, hugs and envelops the soap bar 100. The LDPE extruded plastic used in the manufacture of the mesh portion 4 in one embodiment of the present invention acts as natural grip. Plastics are commonly used in a variety of widely found grips. The holes, such as small holes 14, within the mesh portion 4 allow for a greater surface tension when gripped than plastic alone. The use of LDPE plastic for mesh portion 4 encompasses the soap bar 100 and allows for hands of all sizes and strengths to more easily wrap their hand around and squeeze the soap bar 100 and hold it without it becoming loose and/or slipping out of the hand. This reduction in slippage and disengagement out of the user's hand's and the associated dropping of the soap bar 100 will lessen the number of ‘slip and fall’ accidents due to looking for and/or ‘slipping’ on the dropped piece of soap.

Additionally, a hygienic benefit is achieved by reducing the number of droppings of the soap bar 100. Soap in combination with water becomes soft and is retentive and impressionable. Debris is easily retained and embedded in this softened state. The shower floor is a breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and other debris that the soap bar 100 picks up on contact with it when dropped. This shower floor contact is eliminated and or substantially reduced when the soap bar 100 is inside the chamber 18 of the mesh portion 4. If the soap bar 100 does land on the shower floor it is protected by the soap skin (mesh portion 4) due to a softer landing and in at least two additional ways, which are further explained below.

The apparatus 1 provides for a quick and an effective ambient air drying of the soap bar 100. This eliminates the unhygienic and unpleasant conditions that the soap bar 100, is traditionally stored in. Normally the soap bar 100 is stored by itself in a soap dish or other receptacle. Typically these receptacles retain water. More often, the soap bar 100 begins to dissolve in part, or in whole, due to the excess water over the time length of storage and the associated disintegration. A soap stew or mush results that can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. This ‘soap mush’ is not only a health concern but also unpleasant in usage and objectionable aesthetically. The soap stew is also another wastage factor, as previously mentioned, associated with flaws of the soap bar without the apparatus 1. The apparatus 1 eliminates this distasteful and wasteful affect. The apparatus 1 houses the soap bar 100 and allows it to hang dry quickly, un-encompassed by any receptacle and associated pudding of water. The LDPE plastic used in one embodiment in the manufacture of the mesh portion 4 of the apparatus 1 is water proof. The geometries of the spots, or openings 14, such as small openings 14a and 14b, and the opening or hole spacing of the openings 14 within the mesh portion 4 do not allow for retention of water within the mesh portion 4. The soap bar 100 dries as quickly and completely as naturally possible.

Another hygienic benefit of the apparatus 1 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention is a reduction in the retaining of debris by the soap bar 100. When the soap bar 100 is used individually it holds onto body debris. Also, as specified above, if the soap bar 100 is dropped onto any surface it retains debris. In one embodiment of the present invention, the LDPE plastic of the mesh portion 4 reduces this retention in at least two ways. First, the strands, such as members 6a-b, 8a-b, of the soap skin's material or mesh portion 4, create a spacing between the soap bar 100's surface and the most outer part of the strands or such as members 6a-b, and 8a-b. This spacing diminishes retention of any bodily debris by the soap bar 100 within the chamber 18 of the mesh portion 4. The strands or members 6a-b and 8a-b also act as an exfoliant to the soap bar 100 by the abrasion created during movement. Thus rubbing off a great degree of debris. The LDPE plastic by nature is waterproof and also much less retentive than the soap bar 100 itself, and allows for a washing away of this debris. The debris thus flows down the drain with the water. In addition, the size and geometries of the spots or small openings 14, such as 14a and 14b, are large enough as not to retain any debris between them.

In addition to the above benefits, the apparatus 1 provides the bather with a gentle smoothing and exfoliation of the bather's skin. Soap, in general, has a natural lubricating property. The LDPE plastic used in the manufacture of the mesh portion 4, in one embodiment of the present invention, takes advantage of this property as plastic in combination with a lubricant is slick. While the spots, or small openings 14, such as 14a and 14b, provide the needed tension for effective gripping, this break in uniformity allows for enough drag to soothingly scrub, cleanse, and massage the bather's skin. The skin is rejuvenated, shows an increased smoothness, and has improved circulation.

The apparatus 1 can also be utilized with any traditional washing element or implement such as a wash cloth or loofa. However, this defeats many of the reduced wastage advantages and attributes mentioned in the previous sections.

Furthermore, the soap skin or apparatus 1 provides for easy transport of the soap bar 100. As previously cited, the soap skin or apparatus 1 allows for the most effective drying and storage of the soap bar 100. This attribute also lends to the transport of the soap bar 100 as an easy to hold carrier. The soap skin or apparatus 1 also permits storage of the soap bar 100 in unconventional or nontraditional areas, such as the garden hose areas, swimming pool environments, and outside basins to promote more hand (or otherwise) washing and hygiene, especially where children are concerned.

In further embodiments, the mesh portion 4 may be made of sewn elastic and stretchable organza, threaded elastic and stretchable netting (both of nylon, polyester, or other type material) or of a heavier weight LDPE, (or a medium to high density polyethylene) with a much larger strand diameter and slightly larger spot sizes) for lathering hands for face/hand washing.

Different abrasive levels can be used for mesh portion 4. The LDPE material can be altered by varying the specifics in regard to strand diameter, spot geometry, spot size and other components. It can alternatively be replaced with medium density poly ethylene or some other plastic elastic material. The strand sizes (such as members 6a-b and 8a-b) and spot (or openings 14) geometries and other specific components may differ slightly and proportionally depending on a grade of softness and/or abrasiveness desired and can be used in further embodiments of the present invention.

LDPE material for use as the mesh portion 4 of the apparatus 1 is preferred. LDPE material is less expensive than for example tulle which has been used in general soap bags in the prior art. In addition tulle is not elastic and will not conform to the bar of soap as the bar of soap diminishes.

The cord 2 may be an inexpensive elastic thread or gum rubber of no more than about five inches in length.

The inexpensiveness of the apparatus 1 and/or mesh portion 4 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention apparatus 1 and mesh portion 4 to be utilized as a disposable, yet recyclable, product. This disposability accounts for an additional hygienic function of the soap skin, apparatus 1 and/or mesh portion 4, as well as increasing the reduction in accumulative wastage. In contrast, textile manufacturers have indicated that ‘tulles’ are not recyclable.

Furthermore, tulle can be a very ‘sharp’ in nature; it has a cutting feeling when rubbed against the skin. Proper exfoliating bath products must have the correct blend of hardness and suppleness providing gentleness in use. This is a difficult combination to obtain while maintaining water impenetrability. The attributes of the LDPE material for the mesh portion 4 is a perfect fit for this application. In combination with soap and water, a mesh portion 4 made of LDPE glides over an individual's skin, while gently exfoliating. The smoothness of the LDPE plastic and the elasticity of the LDPE material used in one embodiment for mesh portion 4 as well as the spot geometries (such as a diamond geometry at rest for spaces or small openings 14, such as 14a and 14b) and other attributes account for this effect. In contrast, tulle has no give, it is inflexible, and during extreme tension it breaks. Either the tulle material or bather's skin will tear. The soft touch, suppleness in nature, glide and tensile strength while maintaining give and flexibility of an LDPE material making mesh portion 4 presents the most suitable material for use in at least one embodiment of the present invention.

The mesh portion 4 may have a bag structure which may be a substantially cylindrical structure forming a tube which is smaller at rest than an average bar of soap and expands upon insertion of a soap bar to envelop and tightly hug the soap bar. The tube may be seamless unilaterally and the tube may be closed at the closed end of the bag structure by a heat seal. The cord 2 may be an elastic cord weaved through the mesh portion 4 near the open end of the bag structure. An elastic cord for the cord 2 helps to self seal the large opening 10 at the open top end 16 of the bag structure. The bag structure may have a double layer mesh bag structure, i.e. mesh portion 4 may have two layers on all sides of the bag structure, such that two layers of mesh surround the soap bar 100. The mesh portion 4 may be double layered only at the top of the bag structure near large opening 10. This double layer accomplishes two purposes: it first provides for a finished and flush (not jagged) texture and appearance at the outermost top part (large opening 10) of the bag (the mesh portion 4 is folded over on itself). The double layering at the top of the mesh portion 4, near large opening 10 also allows for greater stability and durability of the mesh portion 4 during the soap skin (mesh portion 4) and soap bar 100 storage. During storage (see below-hanging on a structure) the added weight of the soap bar 100 exerts increased pressure on the strands of the mesh portion 4 by the hanging or cinching cord 2. The double layering of the mesh portion 4 at the lip of the bag structure or near large opening 10, provides for a more secure and uniform threading structure thereby enhancing safety and aesthetic features. In one embodiment, a double layering portion of mesh portion 4 near the large opening 10 would overhang not more than approximately ½ inch in length. The bag structure, such as mesh portion 4, may be turned in on itself to hide this overhang and also the heat seal near the bottom end 12.

The large opening 10 of the bag structure and mesh portion 4 may have an at rest diameter of about five eighths of an inch, and a maximum stretch diameter of about four and one half inches. The spaces (or spot geometries) 14, although shown as square or rectangular, may be diamond shaped in one embodiment. The diamonds may be about ⅛ inch wide at full stretch of the mesh portion 4. Indicia identifying an individual on mesh portion 4 may have a particular color which identifies the individual or the mesh portion 4 may itself be a particular color to identify an individual. A plurality of colors can be provided for a corresponding plurality of mesh portions 4 for a corresponding plurality of individuals in a family in a single household, to distinguish between members of a family.

The cord 2 can be hung on a bathroom structure, such as a shower caddy or a bathroom faucet in order to hang up the mesh portion 4 and the soap bar 100 within the chamber 18 of the mesh portion 4 and to allow mesh portion 4 and soap bar 100 to dry. In at least one embodiment of the present invention the mesh portion 4 (and cord 2) would be discarded when the soap bar 100 is used up, i.e. it is intended that the mesh portion 4 (and cord 2) only be used for one bar of soap and then be thrown out, disposed of, or recycled.

Although the invention has been described by reference to particular illustrative embodiments thereof, many changes and modifications of the invention may become apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to include within this patent all such changes and modifications as may reasonably and properly be included within the scope of the present invention's contribution to the art.