Title:
Liner for waste elimination systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Dispensers for liners and liners are provided wherein the liners are for use in a flush toilet having a bowl defining an interior area and holding water, wherein the water has an upper surface. The liners include an upper surface; a lower surface; a peripheral edge; a central portion, wherein the central portion of the flexible sheet is planar along the upper and lower surfaces of the liner; and a unitary edge portion surrounding the central portion, wherein the unitary edge portion is configured so as to bend flexibly upwardly and inwardly upon application of a force to the central portion of the liner. The peripheral edge is configured so as to fit within an interior area of a toilet bowl so that the central portion of the liner at least partially contacts an upper surface of water within an interior area of a toilet bowl. The liners provide prevent soiling of the interior of a toilet bowl and for efficient removal and flushing of human waste.



Inventors:
Kole, Janet S. (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/982896
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/06/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
4/661, 221/282
International Classes:
E03D9/00; B65H1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080172784BATH MAT BLOWER ASSEMBLY WITH CORD REELJuly, 2008Fung
20080134423BIDET WITH DUAL SOURCE WATER SUPPLYJune, 2008Ding
20060260032ANTI-SPLASH DEVICE FOR FIXTURESNovember, 2006Smartt
20080010732Deodorizing Toilet Bowl AttachmentJanuary, 2008Welchering
20030056283Female urinal structureMarch, 2003Wang
20070209979Urine diverter with end of life cycle indicatorSeptember, 2007Helbig et al.
20050166308Western-style flush toiletAugust, 2005Miwa et al.
20050138723Spa and whirlpool deviceJune, 2005Hind et al.
20080235856Bathroom odour elimination systemOctober, 2008Ineson et al.
20060096017Flush toilet unitMay, 2006Yamasaki et al.
20050204467Method and apparatus for bathing body partsSeptember, 2005Bean et al.



Primary Examiner:
TRAN, LEN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FLASTER/GREENBERG P.C. (1810 Chapel Avenue West, Cherry Hill, NJ, 08002, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A liner for use in a flush toilet having a bowl defining an interior area and holding water, wherein the water has an upper surface, comprising: an upper surface; a lower surface; a peripheral edge; a central portion, wherein the central portion of the flexible sheet is planar along the upper and lower surfaces of the liner; and a unitary edge portion surrounding the central portion, wherein the unitary edge portion is configured so as to bend flexibly upwardly and inwardly upon application of a force to the central portion of the liner, and wherein the peripheral edge is configured so as to fit within an interior area of a toilet bowl so that the central portion of the liner at least partially contacts an upper surface of water within an interior area of a toilet bowl.

2. The liner according to claim 1, wherein unitary edge portion has at least one of fluting, undulations, and corrugations.

3. The liner according to claim 1, wherein the unitary edge portion is configured so that it bends upwardly and extends outwardly from the central portion providing a frustoconical shape to the liner.

4. The liner according to claim 1, wherein the central portion is generally circular in shape.

5. The liner according to claim 4, wherein the central portion has a diameter of about 8 to about 14 centimeters.

6. The liner according to claim 4, wherein the central portion has a diameter of about 10 to about 12 centimeters.

7. The liner according to claim 1, wherein the unitary edge portion is generally annular in configuration having an inner annular diameter, defining the central portion of the liner, and an outer annular diameter, defining the peripheral edge of the liner, and a width measured transversely across the liner extending between the inner and outer annular diameters of the unitary edge portion.

8. The liner according to claim 7, wherein a ratio of the width of the unitary edge portion to the inner annular diameter is from about 1.5:1 to about 2.5:1.

9. The liner according to claim 8, wherein the ratio is about 2:1.

10. The liner according to claim 1, wherein the liner is configured such that the peripheral edge and the central portion are generally oval in shape.

11. The liner according to claim 1, wherein the liner is formed of a biodegradable material.

12. The liner according to claim 11, wherein the liner comprises a pigment and/or dye to provide color.

13. The liner according to claim 11, wherein the liner comprises a material that is capable of glowing in the dark after exposure to light.

14. The liner according to claim 1, wherein the liner comprises a decorative design or pattern on at least the central portion of the liner.

15. A liner for use in a flush toilet having a bowl defining an interior area and holding water, wherein the water has an upper surface, comprising: an upper surface; a lower surface; a peripheral edge having a generally circular shape; a central portion having a generally circular shape, wherein the central portion of the flexible sheet is planar along the upper and lower surfaces of the liner; and a unitary edge portion surrounding the central portion, wherein the unitary edge portion is configured so as to bend flexibly upwardly and inwardly upon application of a force to the central portion of the liner, wherein the peripheral edge is configured so as to fit within an interior area of a toilet bowl so that the central portion of the liner at least partially contacts an upper surface of water within an interior area of a toilet bowl and wherein the unitary edge portion is generally annular in configuration having an inner annular diameter, defining the central portion of the liner, and an outer annular diameter, defining the peripheral edge of the liner, and a width measured transversely across the liner extending between the inner and outer annular diameters of the unitary edge portion such that a ratio of the width of the unitary edge portion to the inner annular diameter is from about 1.5:1 to about 2.5:1.

16. A dispenser for dispensing at least one liner having at least one liner therein, wherein the at least one liner is for use in a flush toilet having a bowl defining an interior area and holding water, wherein the water has an upper surface, comprising: a container configured to fully enclose at least one liner; wherein the at least one liner comprises an upper surface; a lower surface; a peripheral edge; a central portion, wherein the central portion of the flexible sheet is planar along the upper and lower surfaces of the liner; and a unitary edge portion surrounding the central portion, wherein the unitary edge portion is configured so as to bend flexibly upwardly and inwardly upon application of a force to the central portion of the liner, and wherein the peripheral edge is configured so as to fit within an interior area of a toilet bowl so that the central portion of the liner at least partially contacts an upper surface of water within an interior area of a toilet bowl.

17. The dispenser having at least one liner therein, according to claim 16, wherein the dispenser defines an interior space configured to hold a plurality of the liners laying in a stacked configuration and has an opening therein through which a user can remove at least one liner.

18. The dispenser having at least one liner therein according to claim 16, wherein the dispenser defines an interior space configured to hold a plurality of the liners when the liners are folded into at least four sections such that the dispenser has a size suitable for portable use.

19. The dispenser having at least one liner therein according to claim 18, wherein the dispenser has an upper portion and a lower portion, and the upper portion is releasably locked to the lower portion so that the dispenser may be opened to remove at least one liner.

20. The dispenser according to claim 16, wherein the dispenser comprises a pattern or decorative design out an outer surface thereof.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention concerns a liner for use in toilets and similar flush waste elimination devices for facilitating cleaner, more hygienic disposal of human waste.

2. Description of Related Art

Liners and inserts are known for assisting in disposal of human waste either for use in bed pans, potty chairs, toilets (water closets), commodes and other receptacles for disposal of human waste. Such liners are formed of a variety of materials, including biodegradable materials that dissolve upon contact with water, polymers that are more water resistant, but that dissolve over time, woven and nonwoven materials and the like.

One such liner for use in bedpans is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,778,458. In that patent, the liner is shaped so as to conform with the trapezoidal shape of the bedpan, being flat on the bottom, and having crimped sides so as to fit within the side walls of the bedpan. After use, the liner is removed and may be held closed around the waste to be disposed, and dropped in a toilet. The liner is formed of a biodegradable and flushable paper material.

While bedpans liners are specially configured to fit within a bedpan, forming such liners for use in flush toilets is not practical as a liner which takes the shape of the inside of the toilet bowl would be difficult to place and use.

Another example of a toilet seat cover, useful for placing on the upper surface of a toilet seat is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,745,640, which teaches a cover having microbiocidal capability. The sheet has a typical upper surface toilet seat liner configuration in which there is an outer peripheral portion configured to cover the toilet seat when in use to prevent contact between a human buttocks and the upper surface of the seat and a central, separable oval-shaped portion that separates upon moistening.

Many such flushable toilet seat covers exist in the art in various designs and are provided for use, for example, in public restrooms. The advantages of such seat covers are that they provide a barrier between the user and the seat and are flushable. However, there are many drawbacks associated with their use. If a user does not properly place the liner in the toilet, it is left behind on the toilet, discouraging use of the same toilet by the next user. Further, such liners shift during use, are bulky for flushing and do not always flush away cleanly in areas with lower water pressure or when low-pressure toilets (water-saving toilets) are in place. They also do not resolve the problem of providing cleaner flushing of human waste so as to avoid soiling of the toilet bowl, splashing of waste on the seat for the next user and/or requiring multiple flushing to remove stains left behind on the toilet bowl that occur due to lower water pressure either from more modern low-water pressure design flush toilets, toilets used in urban areas and/or in high rise buildings where water pressure may not be sufficient for a single and complete toilet flushing.

Commode linings are also known for use in portable toilets, potty chairs, bedpans and the like. One such liner is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,783,826, which liner may then be transported to a toilet for flushing therein. The liner in the '826 patent is formed of materials which can retain waste, without rupture during transport. The liner is shaped so as to have two trapezoidal pieces joined forming a bottom portion and having an open top portion. The liner sits in the commode, but extends above the surface of the commode for easy removal. While such commode liners help in providing a cleaner flush, they are configured to fit in a separate human waste receptacle and to be manually transported to the toilet. As such, they are not readily useful for initial placement directly in a toilet bowl.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,564,399 teaches liners for use in toilet bowls that may be dispensed from a dispenser shown in a wall-mounted configuration in FIG. 1 of that patent. The liners are flat sheets that have an oval, round or polygonal exterior peripheral edge, and have wedge-like slits along the periphery of the liners. The wedge-like slits are cut into the liner towards the center of the liner, with the wider portions of the wedges being located on the peripheral edge of the liner. The liners are configured so that they are flat when not in use, but may be placed in a toilet bowl, so that the slits allow the liner to conform to the shape of the bowl and to sit centrally located in the bowl but fully above the surface of the water, preventing contact with the water so as to avoid degradation between uses by different users of the toilet. When human waste contacts the liner, the slits also allow the liner to respond to the weight of the waste so as to envelop the waste in a pouch-like manner for flushing. The liners are described as useful for reducing the need to clean the toilet bowl. The liners are formed of material that retains its structural integrity while in use but disperses in contact with water.

While commode, toilet, potty chair and bedpan liners are available in the art, there is still a need in the art for a simply designed toilet liner, that is available for easy and/or portable use, that flushes easily, requires no special handling, avoids having to come into contact that is too close to the interior of a toilet bowl when in use, and that helps keep a toilet bowl clean from soiling due to excessive waste contact with the interior of the bowl or flushing having low water pressure and/or to avoid the need for multiple flushing.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Described herein is a liner for use in a flush toilet having a bowl defining an interior area and holding water, wherein the water has an upper surface, comprising: an upper surface; a lower surface; a peripheral edge; a central portion, wherein the central portion of the flexible sheet is planar along the upper and lower surfaces of the liner; and a unitary edge portion surrounding the central portion, wherein the unitary edge portion is configured so as to bend flexibly upwardly and inwardly upon application of a force to the central portion of the liner, and wherein the peripheral edge is configured so as to fit within an interior area of a toilet bowl so that the central portion of the liner at least partially contacts an upper surface of water within an interior area of a toilet bowl.

Also described herein is a liner for use in a flush toilet having a bowl defining an interior area and holding water, wherein the water has an upper surface, comprising: an upper surface; a lower surface; a peripheral edge having a generally circular shape; a central portion having a generally circular shape, wherein the central portion of the flexible sheet is planar along the upper and lower surfaces of the liner; and a unitary edge portion surrounding the central portion, wherein the unitary edge portion is configured so as to bend flexibly upwardly and inwardly upon application of a force to the central portion of the liner, wherein the peripheral edge is configured so as to fit within an interior area of a toilet bowl so that the central portion of the liner at least partially contacts an upper surface of water within an interior area of a toilet bowl and wherein the unitary edge portion is generally annular in configuration having an inner annular diameter, defining the central portion of the liner, and an outer annular diameter, defining the peripheral edge of the liner, and a width measured transversely across the liner extending between the inner and outer annular diameters of the unitary edge portion such that a ratio of the width of the unitary edge portion to the inner annular diameter is from about 1.5:1 to about 2.5:1.

Also included herein is a dispenser for dispensing at least one liner having at least one liner therein, wherein the at least one liner is for use in a flush toilet having a bowl defining an interior area and holding water, wherein the water has an upper surface. The dispenser comprises a container configured to fully enclose at least one liner; wherein the at least one liner comprises an upper surface; a lower surface; a peripheral edge; a central portion, wherein the central portion of the flexible sheet is planar along the upper and lower surfaces of the liner; and a unitary edge portion surrounding the central portion, wherein the unitary edge portion is configured so as to bend flexibly upwardly and inwardly upon application of a force to the central portion of the liner, and wherein the peripheral edge is configured so as to fit within an interior area of a toilet bowl so that the central portion of the liner at least partially contacts an upper surface of water within an interior area of a toilet bowl.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there is shown in the drawings embodiments that are presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a liner according to an embodiment described herein;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational plan view of the liner of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an alternative top plan view of a liner according to a further embodiment described herein;

FIG. 3A is a side elevational view showing a liner according to yet a further embodiment described herein in a compressed state and as shown in phantom lines in a relaxed state;

FIG. 3B is a top elevational view showing a liner according to still yet another embodiment described herein having a decorative design imprinted on a central portion of the liner;

FIG. 4 is a partial enlarged side view of the area designated, FIG. 4, in FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a partial enlarged side view of an alternative embodiment of an area like the area designated by FIG. 4 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a partial enlarged side view of yet a further alternative embodiment of an area like the area designated by FIG. 4 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a toilet having a toilet bowl with the liner of FIG. 1 floating on a surface of water in the toilet bowl;

FIG. 8 is a side cross sectional view of the toilet and liner of FIG. 7 taken along line 8-8 in FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a side cross sectional view of the toilet and liner of FIGS. 7 and 8 after weight has been applied to the liner and it is in a compressed state;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a dispenser having at least one liner lying flat therein in accordance with an embodiment described herein; and

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a further dispenser described herein having a liner shown in phantom lines folded in quarters and enclosed therein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As used herein, words such as “upper” and “lower,” “inwardly” and “outwardly,” “central” and “outer” and words of a similar nature are intended for convenience use only with reference to directions for viewing in the drawings and are not intended to be limiting. Thus, for example, reference to an “upper” surface of the liner should not be considered limiting, as the liner may be viewed in a manner upsidedown or opposite to the manner shown in the drawings.

Liners and dispensers containing such liners are described herein for use in flush toilets having a toilet bowl or similar water pressure operated flushing devices for receiving solid human waste. As described herein for the purpose of describing a preferred embodiment, a typical toilet bowl is used for reference purposes in explaining operation of the liners herein. In use, however, the liners may be used in any toilet or similar device having a bowl, which may be of varying sizes and shapes, defining an interior area that holds liquid such as water (or chemically treated liquids) for flushing human waste such as human excrement. The water or other liquid in the bowls may be of varying depth and would have an upper surface, however, it is within the scope of the invention to adopt such liners for bowls such as those on airplanes or trains in which there is no liquid level, but liquid is dispensed into the bowl after actuation of a flushing mechanism, such as a flush handle or automatic flusher.

An example of a typical toilet for use in explaining operation of the liners herein is shown schematically in FIGS. 7-9. The toilet 100 has a base 116 and a bowl 102 that encloses an interior space 110 holding water 108. The toilet has a seat 106, a flush handle 114 as an actuator for a flushing mechanism (not shown) enclosed within a tank 104. The water 108 has a surface 112. It will be understood from the disclosure herein that the toilet 100 is an example of a toilet only and that other toilets of varying designs and operation may benefit from use of the liner described herein. For example, the liner may be used in toilets having older designs wherein the tank is suspended high above the bowl, or in new and unique designs where the seat is not oval, but elongated or round, the base is different, there is no tank (only a wall-mounted and/or electronic flushing mechanism), liquids are providing only after flushing actuation and the like.

A liner as described herein, referred to generally with respect to reference number 10, has an upper surface 12, a lower surface 14 and a peripheral edge 16. The liners 10 are preferably flexible sheets which each have a central portion 18 that is flexible, but planar in its relaxed state (i.e., wherein the relaxed state means not subject to bending or other forces or weight) along both the upper and lower surfaces 12, 14 of the liner 10.

The liner 10, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 has a unitary edge portion 20 which extends peripherally around the liner 10 and surrounds the central portion 18. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the separation between the unitary edge portion 20 and the central portion 18 is a dotted line L. This line L does not actually appear on the liner, and the separation is a rough, transition area that is not a hard crease. Thus, measurements herein with respect to the central portion 18 and the unitary edge portion 20 have some small variation as the transition area around line L need not be consistent around the central portion 18. It is shown here for convenience and explanation only as a line L. The dotted line L also does not imply any perforation or tear away feature in the liners herein.

The unitary edge portion is “unitary” in that it is one piece and unitary with the central portion. It is also preferably solid and does not have perforations or cuts for tearing or shaping. Such solid configuration connected with the central portion, while flexible, allows for more structural integrity, and resistance to tearing and separation. The unitary edge portion is preferably configured so that in a relaxed state it can be compressed flat for storage, but when sitting alone without application of force or weight, the unitary edge portion will slightly bend upwards due to bending features described further hereinbelow and as shown for example in FIG. 2.

In addition, the unitary edge portion 20 is also preferably configured so that upon application of weight or a downward application of force (such as by a dropping of the liner due to gravity) driving the liner 10 into the bowl and/or into water within the bowl, it is able to bend flexibly upwardly and inwardly upon application of a force acting on the central portion 18 of the liner 10. By doing do, it is able to provide a preferred curved or cupped shape to facilitate flushing of human waste while acting as a guard and/or shielding an interior surface 118 of a toilet bowl 100. This is shown with reference to FIGS. 7-9. As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, prior to contact with human waste, the liner 10 sits on the surface 112 of water 108 and bends slightly upward along its peripheral edge 16. It should be understood however, that contact with water 108 along the water surface 112, may also cause the slightly upward bend of the liner 10 to be flattened out due to water tension and wetting. After contact with human waste, as shown in FIG. 9, the weight of the waste and the downward force of gravity forces the central portion 18 and the lower surface 14 downwardly into the water, while the unitary edge portion 20 bends upwardly and inwardly to at least partially enclosing the waste to facilitate its flushing down the bowl without contacting and soiling the interior surface 118 of the bowl. When the liner is used in a bowl without liquid until flushing actuation, after flushing the downward action of gravity as the waste passes through the elimination hole at the bottom of the bowl, will also cause a curving upward of the unitary edge portion and the liner will still shield the bottom of the bowl from human waste.

The peripheral edge 16 of the liner 10 is preferably configured so as to fit within an interior area 110 of a toilet bowl so that the central portion 18 of the liner 10 at least partially contacts an upper surface 112 of water 108 within an interior area 110 of a toilet bowl. It is preferred that at least a section of the central portion 16, and more preferably substantially, if not all, of the central portion 18 contacts the upper surface of the water. However, it should be understood that due to the flexible nature of the material used to make the liner 10, it may slightly fold or bend such that some sections or areas of the central portion do not fully contact the water surface. In addition, if the water tension sufficiently wets the unitary edge portion, sections of the edge portion or the entire edge portion may be drawn down to contact the surface of the water. The material should be selected so that the liner initially floats on the surface of the water for at least 10 minutes and preferably longer, i.e., longer than 30 minutes, prior to absorbing enough water to begin deteriorating in structural integrity and/or sufficiently wetted so as to sink into the water. When a bowl without liquid therein is initially used, such deterioration is not an issue, and the liner would merely sit so that its central portion is at least partially contacting the interior surface of the bowl, preferably at the bottom and centrally located so as to receive human waste.

The peripheral edge 16 of the liners should be configured also so as to have an outer dimension that preferably fits within the bowl and allows at least partial contact with the water (or in the absence of water or other liquid prior to flush actuation, allows for the central portion to contact the lower surface of the bowl in a central area). Thus, the outer dimension of the peripheral edge may be smaller than the interior dimensions of the bowl into which it will be used, or slightly larger (since the unitary edge portion can curve upwardly), but should not be so large that the entire liner, when placed in the bowl, sits above the water surface (or the bottom of the bowl when liquid is absent prior to flushing), as it is preferred that some of the liner, particularly the central portion 18 contacts the water surface (or the bottom of the bowl if liquid is absent) in order to provide stability and avoid the user having to “place” the liner in a suspended configuration. By contacting the surface of the water, for example, the liner need not be “placed” in the bowl and/or situated by a user; instead, the liner can be dropped in at a distance from the bowl and will fall centrally on the water. Once at least partially contacting the water, it will float along the surface and the curvature of the bowl working with the peripheral edge design of the liner 10 will cause the liner to float towards and stay reasonably within the central area of the surface of the water in the bowl. Thus, while it may move slightly on the surface of the water, while the user of the toilet is sitting above the liner, it will stay reasonably centrally located below the user to receive human waste therefrom.

In one embodiment, the peripheral edge 16 has a generally circular shape as shown in FIG. 1 with a generally circular central portion 18. Preferably the outer dimension of the liner in such as case is measured in a largest dimension as a diameter d1 that is about 15 to about 30 cm, preferably about 18 to about 27 cm and most preferably about 24 to about 25 cm. The central portion 18, when generally circular in shape would also have a diameter d2 of about 8 to about 14 centimeters, and preferably about 10 to about 12 centimeters. In this embodiment, the unitary edge portion 20 is generally annular in configuration and has an inner annular diameter defining the central portion of the liner and corresponding to diameter d2, and an outer annular diameter, defining the peripheral edge of the liner and corresponding to d1. The width w1 of the unitary edge portion 20 is measured transversely across the liner extending between the inner and outer annular diameters d2, d1 of the unitary edge portion. The inner and outer diameters may be varied, however it is preferred that the ratio of the width w1 of the unitary edge portion to the inner annular diameter d2 is from about 1.5:1 to about 2.5:1, and more preferably the ratio is about 2:1.

While the above provides a preferred configuration and dimensions, it should be understood that the size and configuration of the liner, as well as the relationship between the sizes of the inner and outer diameters and the width of the unitary edge portion may be varied to accommodate various bowl configurations and/or for manufacturing convenience. For example, it may be convenient to form the liners having a flattened section(s) around portions of the periphery such that multiple liners could be manufactured using a frangible and/or perforated edging that tears to provide multiple liners in series for ease of manufacture, but for later separation for sale, packaging and/or use. In addition, the outer shape of the liner and the shape of the central portion may be varied to be more generally oval or generally elliptical in outer peripheral shape, similar to the overall shape of some toilet bowls. An example of this may be found in the embodiment shown in FIG. 3 in which a liner 510 has an upper surface 512 as shown which provides an elongated generally elliptical configuration having a more generally oval central portion 518. While square or polygonal shapes are also contemplated as within the invention, it is preferred that a more rounded shape be used for best performance.

In order to provide the slightly upwardly shaped unitary edge portion of the liner, it is preferred that the unitary edge portion be sized so as to have a “folding” or pre-configured design including as the folding, at least one of fluting, undulations, and/or corrugations which will assist the liner edge in extending upwardly. Thus, one may envision the design described herein as a weaker, less upwardly folded version of a paper basket coffee filter. The folds are provided to give some upward shaping without significant rigidity. As shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, folding along the peripheral edge portion may provide a slightly fluted edge as shown best in FIG. 4. Folding may also be used along with edging to create a harder edge, similar to a “fan” design having repeat folded undulations as shown by peripheral edge 216 in liner 210 in FIG. 5. FIG. 6 shows a further embodiment in which curved folds along peripheral edge 316 are provided to a liner 310 creating a more corrugated configuration. Alternatively, the unitary edge portion may have no folding but simply be shaped in more of an upwardly and outwardly extending design shown in liner 410 of FIG. 3A. In that Figure, in a relaxed state, shown in phantom lines, the liner appears as a flattened cone, which is configured with the unitary edge portion 420 extending upwardly and outwardly from the central portion. In a compressed state, i.e., upon contact with a downward force or weight acting on the lower or upper surface in the central portion 418, the unitary edge portion bends further upwardly and inwardly towards the central portion as shown by solid lines in FIG. 3A, thereby providing an overall frustoconical shape to the liner 410.

It is preferred that the liner be formed of a biodegradable and/or flushable material. Such material is also preferably approved for septic use; however, a separate and/or septic proof material may be used for some embodiments while other embodiments may be intended more specifically for use in municipal waste disposal systems. Suitable materials are those already used for disposable toilet seat covers as are well known in the art as well as other disposable and flushable materials. Most such materials are formed of a fiber matrix comprising cellulosic fibers (such as cellulose or various alkylated cellulose materials such as methyl cellulose, ethyl cellulose and the like), wherein the fibers are connected and/or bonded in the matrix using an adhesive that dissolves and/or disperses in water after a period of time and/or after flushing is complete. However, it is preferred that the matrix have a higher concentration of fibers such that it does not dissolve very quickly but somewhat more slowly upon action of flushing and complete wetting. Fibers that may be used for such degradable tissue-like sheets may also be formed of dissolvable loosely woven or nonwoven fabric matrices formed of polymeric materials such as rayon, polyolefins (polypropylene, polyethylene and copolymers thereof) polyesters, polyamides, polyaramids, polyols, polyethers, polyester polyols, and the like, as well as copolymers, mixtures and derivatives of these polymers. Such disposable and flushable materials are available in various forms and are known in the field of toilet liners, disposable commode and potty-chair liners, diapers and feminine napkins. Optional water resistant, but dissolvable and biodegradable films may also be applied to form a laminated structure if desired, however, it is preferred that the liners be formed so as to have sufficient structural integrity to float on top of the water for several minutes, and preferably for at least 10 minutes and more preferably for at least 30 minutes in a manner described herein, and to temporarily hold and wrap around human waste prior to flushing so as to help avoid soiling of the toilet bowl and efficient flushing of human waste, even in circumstances where water levels and/or water pressure are lower than normal.

It is also within the scope of the invention to provide optional additives to the material forming the liner. While such additives are optional, they may include things such as water-absorbing materials (polyacrylates and copolymers thereof), strengthening fibers or powder fillers, odor-absorbing agents (such as baking soda, charcoal and the like), perfuming or scenting agents, bowl cleaning agents (such as chlorine or bleach), microbiocidal or germicidal agents, and pigments and/or dyes to provide color. Color may be particularly useful for assisting elderly people and/or those having difficulty seeing to discern the placement of the liner and/or may be desirable for decorative purposes, such as matching a bathroom décor.

Similarly, the liner may include a material (such as fluorescing powder or fibers) that is capable of allowing the liner to glow in the dark after exposure to light for aiding the user in placing the liners when little light is available in the room having the toilet bowl. Liners may also have decorative designs or patterns included on at least the central portion of the liner or on the entire liner surface (on one or both sides) as shown in FIG. 3B. Such decorative patterns may be desirable for matching bathroom décor, making use of the liner more attractive to children (including novelty characters and the like) and/or for providing the liners as novelty items for users (including the ability to have liners incorporating comical and/or entertaining images or wherein such liners may be pre-manufactured and/or specially imprinted with digitally applied designs based on digital photographic images).

The liners may be provided to consumers and/or available in single sheet form or multisheet packaging. It is also preferred that the liners be provided in common bathroom settings, such as public restrooms or for use in common residential bathrooms in a wall-mounted or flat, shelf-lying dispenser. Thus also described herein are dispensers for liners having at least one liner enclosed therein. The at least one liner should be intended for use in a flush toilet having a bowl defining an interior area and holding water, wherein the water has an upper surface. The liners may be any of those liners described hereinabove. The dispensers should include a container configured to enclose at least one liner. The at least one liner may be any of the liners described herein.

A dispenser in accordance with the invention herein may have varied configurations, but is preferably of a size suitable to hold at least one portable liner therein. The dispenser should define an interior space configured to hold a plurality of the liners laying in a stacked configuration and having an opening in the dispenser from its exterior surface to its interior surface through which a user can remove at least one liner. In some instances, the liners may be folded in half or folded along a portion so that when a user pulls out one liner from the opening, the next liner is pulled into place for the next user, similar to the stacking of tissues in a tissue box. As shown in FIG. 10, an exemplary dispenser 1000 is shown having an exterior surface 1002 and interior surface 1004 defining an interior space 1006 therein. At least one liner 10, and preferably a plurality of liners 10 are stacked within the interior space and may be removed from the interior for use through a slot such as slot 1007. Preferably, the liners are laid flat for economical packing in a compressed state.

The dispenser may be wall mountable if mounting fixtures, e.g., exemplary hook holders 1010 are provided. However, any mounting method may be used, including bolt holes for receiving wall mounting bolts, adhesive pads and the like. Such a dispenser may also be configured to lie flat on a table or shelf or to be hung or stuck to the side of a toilet bowl for convenient and discreet access. They may also be hung and/or stuck to the wall of the interior of a public restroom stall. Manufacturing information, advertising, instructional and/or trademark information may be placed on a location on the exterior surface 1002, such as design 1008 shown in FIG. 10, along a front face and/or on any of the side surfaces. Such information may include product use or source information, materials of construction information and the like.

By folding the liners in half, in quarters or smaller for storage within a dispenser, a further embodiment provides that smaller, more portable and/or more discreet dispensers can be provided. FIG. 11 shows an exemplary smaller, more portable dispenser 2000 having an upper portion 2016 and a lower portion 2018 which are releasably attached in a closed position by a releasable lock 2014. The end of the lower and upper portions 2016, 2018 opposed to the side having lock 2014 may be hinged or have a commonly joined, but bendable edge 2020. The upper and lower portions 2016, 2018 come together along a common edge 2012. In use the upper and lower portions may be closed so that they form a dispenser having an exterior surface 2002 that defines an interior space 2006 configured to hold liners 10 (shown in phantom) in a folded configuration. When opened, the portions 2016, 2018 move away from each other but stay connected along the end 2020 so that the dispenser is open to expose interior space 2006 and so that at least one liner 10 may be removed from the interior space for use. Such smaller dispensers may be useful for travel, enclosing in briefcases, or handbags for personal use. It will be understood that portable dispensers may also allow access to liners within the dispenser through a slit, pop-top or other dispenser configuration and that the shape and size of such dispensers may vary from that shown for illustrative purposes herein.

Such dispensers may also include patterns, decorative designs, writing, advertising, source designations, instructions and other information on at least one area of the exterior surface of the dispensers.

The liners and dispensers of the invention herein provide a simply designed toilet liner, that is available for easy and/or portable use, that flushes easily, requires no special handling, avoids having to come into contact that is too close to the interior of a toilet bowl when in use, and that helps keep a toilet bowl clean from soiling due to excessive waste contact with the interior of the bowl or flushing having low water pressure and/or to avoid the need for multiple flushing.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but it is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.