Title:
Soap bar holder
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Soap bar holders having a receiver with walls having inner surfaces which converge and include support features that engage with peripheral portions of a soap bar and hold it in a suspended position across the receiver interior chamber. The receiver is preferably provided with vents which allow air to dry a wet soap bar. The vents may also include multiple vent passages extending through the receiver walls thereby further facilitating drying of the soap bar. The receiver support features may be configured in different shapes. The soap holder may further include a drip catcher in a bottom wall of the receiver to hold any soap and water which may drip from the soap bar. There may also be a base upon to which the receiver sits and it may alternatively be integrated into a sink or other washing fixture.



Inventors:
Sines, Randy D. (Spokane, WA, US)
Application Number:
12/462400
Publication Date:
02/03/2011
Filing Date:
08/03/2009
Assignee:
DriBar, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/77.1
International Classes:
A47K5/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRANO, ERNESTO ARTURIO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Reidlaw, L.L.C. (1926 S. Valleyview Lane, Spokane, WA, 99212, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An apparatus for holding a soap bar, comprising: a receiver configured to receive at least portions of the soap bar, the receiver including at least one sidewall and a top opening through which the soap bar may be installed and removed from at least a portion of a receiver interior chamber; support features upon inner surfaces of the receiver adapted to engage with the soap bar along contact areas near a periphery of the soap bar to support the soap bar in a suspended position within the receiver; at least one vent formed in the receiver to facilitate air movement to dry the soap bar; at least one drip catcher positioned to receive drippage from a soap bar placed into the receiver.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one sidewall converges downwardly to hold soap bars of various sizes, such as when a soap bar reduces in size as it is used.

3. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one sidewall and support features converge downwardly to hold soap bars of various sizes.

4. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said support features converge downwardly to hold soap bars of various sizes.

5. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the support features include scallop-shaped features along the inner surfaces.

6. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the support features include protrusions along the inner surfaces.

7. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the support features include ridges along the inner surfaces.

8. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the support features include steps along the inner surfaces.

9. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the support features are formed upon a plurality of ridges extending down the at least one sidewall in a converging relationship.

10. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the support features are formed upon a plurality of ridges extending down the at least one sidewall in a converging relationship, said at least one vent includes a plurality of vents positioned between a plurality of said ridges.

11. An apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising a base connected at a low position relative to said receiver.

12. An apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising: a base connected at a low position relative to said receiver; a washing fixture adapted to receive the base therein and hold the apparatus.

13. An apparatus according to claim 1 and further comprising a stand adapted to receive the receiver therein.

14. An apparatus having the apparatus according to claim 1 mounted in a washing fixture.

15. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein at least a portion of the receptacle is a planar surface such that the apparatus can sit on said planar surface.

16. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein portions of the sidewall are recessed downward to form cutouts which facilitate air movement and handling of a soap bar being installed or removed from the receiver.

17. An apparatus for holding a soap bar, comprising: a receiver configured to receive a soap bar and having converging inner sidewalls with support features in opposing relationship, the support features being adapted to engage with corners of a soap bar placed therein; a plurality of vent passages formed in the receiver sidewalls to allow drying air to move about a soap bar held in the apparatus; at least one drip catcher positioned to receive drippage from a soap bar placed into the receiver.

18. An apparatus according to claim 17 wherein portions of the sidewalls are recessed downward to form cutouts which facilitate air movement and handling of a soap bar being installed or removed from the receiver.

19. A method for drying a soap bar, comprising: selecting a soap holder having a receiver configured to receive the soap bar in a receiver chamber, the receiver having sidewall portions which converge downwardly with a plurality of converging support features therein which engage peripheral parts of the soap bar; suspending the soap bar upon said support features between the engaged peripheral parts of the soap bar; ventilating the soap bar from a plurality of directions using a plurality of vent openings in at least one sidewall of said receiving apparatus; catching any drippage from the soap bar in at least one drip catcher to positioned below the receiver chamber.

20. A method according to claim 19 wherein the selecting step includes selecting a soap holder having at least one cutouts which provide an opening to allow handling of a soap bar positioned at least partly within the receiver.

Description:

BACKGROUND

In general, showers, bathtubs, sinks, and the like, have a soap dish or recessed ledge for holding a bar of soap when it is not being used. Soap dishes are usually utensils, but may be built in or integral with the shower, bath tub, sink or other fixture. Alternatively, the soap dish may be a separate component that is located near the shower, bath tub, sink, and be received or otherwise be adapted for engagement with the fixture.

Soap dishes have traditionally been rectangular in shape. The soap is placed in the soap dish and frequently contacts water and soap which drips therefrom. When a wet bar of soap is placed in a soap dish, water typically drips from the soap into the dish and forms a small pool of water in the bottom of the soap dish. The water softens and dissolves the soap, forming an unsightly mess in the bottom of the soap dish. As a result, a significant portion of the soap bar typically melts and is wasted. Moreover, a wet bar of soap is generally unpleasant to pickup and use.

One approach has been to use a grate upon which a bar of soap sits and a dish which supports the grate and catches drippings from the soap bar after use. Such approach is common and adds little benefit since the soap holder grate and dish still become frequently messy with soap drippings.

Another failure of soap holders having racks or grates is that the soap often becomes stuck to the grate and rarely dries between uses of the soap bar.

Although thousands of different soap holders have been designed, none seem to solve the need for a soap holder that facilitates drying, and reduces or prevents dripping and messiness. Also, there has long been a need for a soap bar holder that helps reduce melting and dripping that causes the soap bar to be significantly wasted.

The current inventions seek to successfully address the long-felt need for a soap bar holder that helps some or all of the above problems or other undesirable attributes of maintaining a bar of soap in a convenient position near a sink, bath tub or other lavatory fixtures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred forms, configurations, embodiments and/or diagrams relating to and helping to describe preferred aspects and versions of the inventions are explained and characterized herein, often with reference to the accompanying drawings. The drawings and features shown therein also serve as part of the disclosure of the inventions taught in the current document, whether described in text or merely by graphical disclosure alone. Such drawings are briefly described below.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment soap bar holder in accordance with preferred embodiments of the inventions with an exemplary bar of soap positioned therein.

FIG. 2 is a top view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 1 without the bar of soap shown therein.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 2 taken along line 3-3.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a second embodiment soap holder in accordance with aspects and features of the inventions hereof.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the soap holder illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5 taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a third embodiment soap holder in accordance with one or more inventions hereof.

FIG. 8 is a top view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a sectional view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 8 taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment soap holder in accordance with inventions hereof.

FIG. 11 is a top view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a sectional view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 11 taken along line 12-12 of FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a fifth preferred soap holder in accordance with one or more aspects of the inventions.

FIG. 14 is a top view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 13.

FIG. 15 is a sectional view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 14 taken along line 15-15 of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a sixth embodiment soap bar holder in accordance with one or more aspects of the inventions.

FIG. 17 is a top view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 16.

FIG. 18 is a sectional view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 17 taken along line 18-18 of FIG. 17.

FIG. 19 is a top view of a lavatory surface forming part of a sink, bath tub or other lavatory fixture which is adapted to receive a soap bar holder according to one or more aspects of the inventions hereof.

FIG. 20 is a seventh embodiment of the inventions in the form of an exploded sectional diagrammatic view of the surface illustrated in FIG. 19 taken along line 20-20 thereof, and with a soap holder according hereto illustrated to engage the surface.

FIG. 21 is a top view of a eighth embodiment soap holder in accordance with one or more aspects of the inventions.

FIG. 22 is a sectional view of the soap holder illustrated in FIG. 21 taken along line 22-22 of FIG. 21.

FIG. 23 is a diagrammatic exploded front elevational view of a ninth embodiment hereof with a soap holder and support stand combination.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A table of sections of this detailed description follows.

TABLE OF DETAILED DESCRIPTION SUBSECTIONS
INTRODUCTORY NOTES
OVERVIEW
FIRST EMBODIMENT
Soap Bar
Brim or Flange of Soap Holder
Receiver
Receiver Inner Wall Shape
Engagement and Suspension of Soap Bar Near Periphery of Bar
Support Features
Vents and Ventilation Features
Drip Catcher
Base
SECOND EMBODIMENT
Side Cutouts
Support Features
THIRD EMBODIMENT
Side Cutouts
Step Soap Bar Support Features
FOURTH EMBODIMENT
Projecting Bar Support Features
FIFTH EMBODIMENT
Cascade Soap Bar Support Features
SIXTH EMBODIMENT
Squared Support Features
Lateral Ventilation Openings
SEVENTH EMBODIMENT
Fixture Assembly With Removable Soap Holder
EIGHTH EMBODIMENT
Washing Fixture with Integrated Soap Holder
NINTH EMBODIMENT
Soap Holder Assembly with Stand
ADDITIONAL EMBODIMENTS
METHODS OF USE AND OPERATION
MANNER OF MAKING
INTERPRETATION NOTES

Introductory Notes

The readers of this document should understand that the embodiments described herein may rely on terminology used in any section of this document and other terms readily apparent from the drawings and the language common therefor as may be known in a particular art and such as known or indicated and provided by dictionaries. Dictionaries were used in the preparation of this document. Widely known and used in the preparation hereof are Webster's Third New International Dictionary (© 1993), The Oxford English 137 Dictionary (Second Edition, © 1989), and The New Century Dictionary (© 2001-2005), all of which are hereby incorporated by reference for interpretation of terms used herein and for application and use of words defined in such references to more adequately or aptly describe various features, aspects and concepts shown or otherwise described herein using more appropriate words having meanings applicable to such features, aspects and concepts.

This document is premised upon using one or more terms with one embodiment that may also apply to other embodiments for similar structures, functions, features and aspects of the inventions. Wording used in the claims is also descriptive of the inventions, and the text and meaning of the claims and abstract are hereby incorporated by reference into the description in their entirety as originally filed.

Terminology used with one, some or all embodiments may be used for describing and defining the technology and exclusive rights associated herewith. The readers of this document should further understand that the specific embodiments described herein may incorporate features used in other embodiments shown in this document and other terms readily apparent from the drawings and language common or proper therefor. This document is premised upon using one or more terms or features shown in one embodiment that may also apply to or be combined with other embodiments for similar structures, functions, features and aspects of the inventions and provide additional embodiments of the inventions.

Overview

The inventor has recognized that there is a need for a soap holder that allows a wet bar of soap to dry quickly and to minimize soap loss. Also recognized is a need for a soap holder that tends to remain clean and minimizes and catches any drippage without making an unsightly mess as is typical using currently known soap holders.

This disclosure shows soap holders according to the inventions that allow drying air to circulate around a wet bar of soap, thereby drying the soap bar more quickly and effectively. By drying the bar of soap quickly, soap loss is minimized and the soap tends to maintain its shape, have a more desirable feel when used, and reduces mess.

This disclosure also shows preferred embodiments adapted to allow a bar of soap to be readily grasped and removed, or installed in the soap holder. The preferred soap holder supports a bar of soap by its corners, edges or other peripheral contact areas to reduce adsorption, such as occurs on grates, and causes large amounts of drippage and soap waste. Preferred embodiments allow a user to grasp a soap bar easily thus reducing it from being dropped from the user's hand or slid from the soap holder or some other type of resting place on a lavatory fixture.

The engagement between the bar of soap and soap holder is advantageously along an upstanding or upwardly sloped surface so that liquid present at the contact and support areas tends to flow around and beneath the soap bar and staying adhered thereto as drying occurs. The novel designs thus leave the soap of a soap-water mixture to remain mostly on the soap bar and not be wicked away, wasted or otherwise lost to create a mess that has to be routinely cleaned up by an unhappy housewife or janitor. The reduced dripping helps prevent not only a messy collection of soap and water in the bottom of the soap holder but also around the soap holder or around a soap bar placed in a recess formed in a sink, bath tub or other washing fixture such as commonly used in the past.

First Embodiment

Soap Bar

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first soap holder 100 in accordance with one or more implementations or aspects of the inventions hereof. Soap holder 100 may be located in a bathroom, a kitchen, laundry room, or any other location where soap is commonly used. In one or more embodiments, soap holder 100 is a stand-alone apparatus that may reside on a counter, a shelf, table, or adjacent a sink, bathtub, or shower, and other suitable places of use.

While the bar of soap 102 is depicted as being substantially rectangular in shape, the bar of soap 102 could be square, round, rectangular, or any other suitable shape and used with a suitably sized soap bar holder according to the inventions. In addition, the bar of soap 102 has a curved shape as illustrated in FIG. 1. Other shapes are also suitable for use as explained below.

—Brim or Flange of Soap Holder

FIGS. 1-3 show that soap holder 100 has a brim or flange 104 about the top edge. As shown for this embodiment, the top edge is widened and extends in a circular annular shape entirely about a top opening 110. The widened brim or flange extending annularly about the top helps to provide structural and handling advantages.

FIG. 1 shows the brim 104 includes a flattened center portion 133, an inner chamfer portion 134 and an outer chamfer portion 135. The outer edge 136 depends from the chamfered portion 135 and forms a recess 137 (FIG. 3). FIG. 3 also suggests that the chamfered portions can be rounded as an alternative brim construction.

—Receiver

Within the rim 104 is a receiver 101 for receiving all or most of a bar of soap 102 therein. Most shapes and sizes may be accommodated if the soap holder inside diametric size of the rim 104 is greater than the size of the soap bar 102. It is preferred that the soap bar not rest upon the receiver bottom wall 108 (FIG. 3). Between the bottom wall 108 and the opening 110 is a receiver sidewall 140. The inner surfaces of sidewall 140 are inner surfaces 103. The inner surfaces preferably converge downwardly toward the bottom wall 108. This facilitates holding of soap bars as they diminish in size. They also allow soap bars of various original sizes to be used.

There are outer surfaces 141 of sidewall 140. In alternative shapes of receivers there may be more than one sidewall. The sidewall or sidewalls are preferably provided with passages or openings to facilitate air movement and water vapor diffusion away from the soap holder when holding a wet bar of soap.

—Receiver Inner Wall Shape

Receiver 101 has interior or inner surfaces 103 which serve to receive and support the corners, edges and/or sides of a bar of soap 102 that has been placed in the soap holder 100. The receiver interior chamber tapers inward or converges downwardly. As shown, this is done as it transitions from the opening 110 to the bottom 108 to accommodate various sizes and shapes of soap bars as well as to account for the soap bars size as it is consumed. Although receiver 101 is shown as being a circular bowl shape, the recessed surfaces could be conical, elliptical, polygonal or other shapes found suitable.

—Engagement and Suspension of Soap Bar Near Periphery of Bar

The innovative soap holder 100 engages the corners, edges, ends, sides or other peripheral regions of the soap bar 102 at contact areas thereof, such as corner contact area 143 (FIG. 1). This causes the soap bar to be suspended, thereby providing a number of advantages.

The suspended positioning and condition of the bottom surface of the soap bar is substantially unobstructed and does not contact or minimally or insignificantly contacts the supporting interior surface. This increases the area for evaporation of water absorbed or adsorbed onto the bottom surface of the soap bar. The suspended condition also facilitates air movement or circulation and also allows faster diffusion of evaporated or unevaporated surface water on the bar into and through the air and away from the soap bar. This reduces drying time.

The same effects also apply to other surfaces of the soap bar such as the edges and top which are also preferably dried quickly for improved feel of the soap when next used and keeps the soap component of the soap-water mixture present upon the soap bar on the bar. This helps prevent soap loss which can be wasted to a significant degree when typical soap holder have many increased surface contacts and they adsorb the soap-water mixture and may wick the mixture away from the bar and onto surfaces of the utensil holding the soap. This is evidenced by the well-known build up of soap slime with any suspended dirt onto surfaces of the soap holder and adjacent countertops or other supporting surfaces.

Another apparent advantage is that by suspending the bar free of structures or supports that impede both movement of drying air and evaporation and diffusion of water into the air. Depending upon the specific construction of the soap holders according to the inventions hereof, the air may also be induced into circulating or otherwise moving across the bottom and almost all surfaces of the soap bar.

Since water and other liquids typically collect on the bottom of a wet bar of soap, exposing the bottom surface to drying air improves drying time. Movement of the absorbed and adsorbed soap-water mixture upon the soap bar is also arrested more quickly because water leaves the surfaces of the soap bar. This speeds drying and reduces soap waste. It also prevents soap waste mess.

Engaging the corners, edges, ends and/or sides of the bar of soap also helps ensure that the soap does not come into contact with any water or soap-water mixtures that may have collected in the soap holder. This is a very common problem with many different types of soap holders. For example, recesses often provided in sink, bath tub and shower fixtures frequently have a number of ribs extending upward to help keep standing or trapped water from further melting and to possibly help drying of the soap bar. However, the contacting ribs tend to pick up or remove soap from the bar. With most fixtures this quickly becomes a messy place and requires frequent cleaning if the occupant cares enough to do so. Even neat people get tired of the frequency at which this must be done and thus the soap holder becomes a maintenance problem or an unsightly mess.

Furthermore many current soap holders trap or allow standing water in such soap holders. This is exacerbated by the accumulation of soap waste which tends to retain the water or soap-water mixtures. The retained liquids soften and dissolve the soap, forming a mess in the bottom of a soap dish and this can spread further. This results in a significant portion of the soap being melted and rendered unusable or undesirable for use and causes an unsightly mess in the soap dish or soap rest. It further results in a bar of soap that is slippery and slimy when next used. Using such slippery and slimy soap bars is generally unpleasant, makes them more difficult to pickup and use because it is more difficult to grasp and handle the soap during washing.

Supporting the soap bar by peripherally engaging the corners, ends, edges and/or sides of the bar of soap may also help provide improved access by which to grasp the bar of soap. Specifically, the edges, bottom or underlying surface of the soap bar may be made more accessible, thereby providing additional modes of access by which to grasp the soap bar 102.

Engaging the corners edges and/or sides of the soap may also facilitate positioning the bar of soap in a horizontal position in the soap holder 100, which may reduce movement of surface water on the bar and may also aide in grasping and removal of the soap from the holder 100. These and other advantages are provided by preferred versions of the inventions and will be further discussed herein.

—Support Features

The receiver interior is also preferably provided one or more support features used to provide suspended support of the soap bars and minimize contact areas on the soap bar. The areas on the support features which engage with the soap bar are termed the support areas and these are also minimized in size but adapted to receive the soap bar in various positions and orientations.

The support features used in the first embodiment will now be described. Other embodiments show different support features. Still others will be possible, given the teachings of the inventions contained in this document.

As shown in FIGS. 1-3 the support features are advantageously provided in the form of a series of ridges 111-114. The support ridges of the first embodiment are configured to engage the corners, edges surfaces and/or sides of a bar of soap with a relatively small amount of contact area. As shown, the support features comprise a series of horizontal features that are situated at various heights in the receiver 101. In this implementation, the ridges are formed by a series of scalloped intermediate surfaces 172-175 (FIG. 3). The scalloped shaped intermediate zones are configured to receive the rounded corners or edges of a bar of soap. Such scalloped-shaped intermediate zones also advantageously are shaped and constructed to provide a continuous downward slope along the receiver inner walls so that any liquids will tend to drain downward if produced and communicated to the inner wall of the receiver.

In the construction shown for the first embodiment any of the various ridges or scalloped shaped areas may provide support areas where the contact areas on the soap bar bear. The bar may be placed in the receiver interior chamber in a horizontal or at various sloped positions depending on the user's actions or disposition. In any of the various orientations the contact between the soap bar and receiver interior surfaces is minimized. The circular shape of the receiver chamber also allows the soap bar to be oriented at any compass orientation as well as the variously elevational orientations.

When a user places a bar of soap in the holder, a support feature engages or receives the soap's peripheral areas, such as near the corners or side and end edges depending upon the particular shape of the soap bar being held. As the bar of soap rests on one support feature, the opposing side of the soap bar engages another feature on the opposite side of the receiver, or otherwise and the bar of soap comes to rest for holding. Drying occurs relatively fast if the soap bar is not soon used thereafter.

—Vents and Ventilation Features

The receiver 101 may also include one or more passages 106 which allow drying air to move or circulate around the bar of soap and/or allow escape or efflux of water vapors by diffusion through the air. The relative importance of these two phenomenon will depend upon the degree of ambient air movement and the degree of air movement that may be generated as a result of temperature or water vapor concentration gradients which may also serve as motive forces for air movement surrounding the soap bar and within the receiver chamber.

Vents or passages 106 are preferably included and spaced around the receiver 101 at desired regular or irregular intervals depending on the particular design being used and the construction of the receiver. In some embodiments they may be reduced or possibly eliminated if the receiver walls are cutout (such as shown in other embodiments) to such a degree that drying occurs at a suitable rate such that air can enter and leave the receiver 101 from nearly any direction. For example, if the holder was placed next to an open bathroom window, drying air could travel in through a first passage, circulate around the wet soap, and exit through a second passage. Alternatively, if the holder was located near a sunny window, the sun could heat the air in the holder causing it to rise and pull drying air into the holder through the various passages 106, thereby drying the bar of soap.

FIG. 2 shows that the openings of soap holder 100 are beneficially provided in two different sets. A top or upper set 120 and a bottom or lower set 160. This arrangement is believed to be beneficial by helping to induce movement of air and water vapor by having a lower set of openings and an upper set of openings. Depending on conditions, a temperature gradient may cause air to move inward through the lower vents 160, then upward and out the top opening 110 and upper vents 120.

If vapor concentration gradients turn out to be more significant, then air more heavily laden with water will be more dense and tend to move in the direction opposite by corning in through the top 110 and upper vents 120 and then down and out through the lower vents 160. This dual functionality of the multiple or plural vent levels thus may have a surprising effect on drying times for the soap bar held in soap holder 100.

Vent passages 106 are illustrated as being elongated in shape and having tapered inside and outside openings or cross-sectional shapes. FIG. 1 in particular shows an interior passage opening having a curved top end 122, a tapered or rounded transition between the remaining parts of the inner wall surfaces. The passage opening 123 extends through the wall and the outer part of the passages may be of various configurations.

In addition, the passages can be arranged in various orientations. For example, while the passages 106 are depicted as being substantially vertical, they could be oriented horizontally, at an angle, helical, or other orientations and arrangements found suitable.

The passages 106 are also illustrated as being substantially equally spaced about the perimeter of the soap holder 100. While this may be a preferred embodiment, the passages 106 could be irregularly spaced or arranged in groups about the perimeter of the holder 100 to tailor the flow of drying air as it enters and leaves the holder 100.

The passages 106 may also be located at various heights in the soap holder 100 to accommodate the soaps various locations. For example, large bars of soap will generally be higher in the holder 100 than smaller bars of soap. Therefore, for large bars of soap the passages 106 could be located near the top of the holder 100 so that drying air directly contacts the bar of soap. Alternatively, for small bars of soap and partially used bars of soap, the passages 106 could be located near the bottom of the holder 100, again so that drying air directly contacts the bar of soap.

FIGS. 1-3 depict two rows of vent passages 106 as shown. Other soap holders of lesser or greater number of rows, sets or other configurations of passages 106 may be found desirable for any particular model or size. For example, soap holder 100 could contain several rows of smaller passages or a single row of larger passages.

In soap holder 100 the wall segments between the passages effectively form vertical ribs 116 which are spaced periodically around the receiver 101. Ribs 116 tend to engage the bar of soap, however corners may become positioned in the tapered passage sections 121 thereby helping to stabilize positioning of the soap bar against rotation in angular compass position.

—Drip Catcher

Soap holder 100 also advantageously contains an area or receptacle 108 at the bottom for collecting water, soap-water mixtures and any other liquids that may drip from the bar of soap. The drip catcher 108 is generally positioned below the receiver such that any liquids which drip from the soap are collected. While the receptacle 108 is illustrated as being a substantially planar surface with curved edges, in other embodiments the receptacle 108 could be concave to a greater degree for added capacity. Experiments to date indicate that so little liquids drip from the soap that a very shallow receptacle 108 is sufficient.

—Base

FIG. 1 shows that the receiver and brim are preferably supported by a base 150. FIG. 3 shows that the base 150 as shown is integrally formed, such as by molding the entire soap holder as a single unit from a suitable polymer or other preferably moldable material, e.g. metals. Other materials which may be used include wood, glass, ceramic, various synthetic materials, or paper, coated paper, cellulose with binder composites, and other suitable materials. These alternative materials may be most advantageous if disposal is expected in a relatively short time.

Second Embodiment

FIGS. 4-6 show a preferred second embodiment soap holder 200 according to some or all of the various aspects of the inventions described herein. Soap holder 200 shares many features which are the same or similar to soap holder 100. Similar features are numbered similarly except the hundred's column is changed to the 200 series versus the 100 series of reference numbers. Notable differences will now be described in greater detail.

FIG. 4 shows that the rim 204 of soap holder 200 is not provided with a flange or widened brim similar to holder 100. Instead, it merely has an upstanding rim that extends across two sidewall portions 240 of the holder 200.

—Side Cutouts

FIGS. 4-6 indicate in particular a difference with soap holder 200 is the provision of two cutout portions 260. The cutout or cutouts may be open at opposing sides or arranged otherwise in a suitable manner. Cutouts 260 provide good cross ventilation and greater general ventilation, particularly under the bar, for drying a bar of soap placed therein in a rapid manner.

FIG. 5 further shows that the plan view profile of the soap holder 200 is less wide than a full circle thus making it more suitable for placement in areas where the space occupied by the soap holder is desirably less.

As shown, cutout portions 260 are substantially opposite to allow a user to pick up a bar of soap (not shown in FIGS. 5 and 6) by grasping the left and right sides of the soap with their thumb and forefingers. This facilitates easy installation and removal of the soap bar.

—Support Features

The support features of soap holder 200 are similar to those of holder 100 except scalloped portions 271-274 have associated scalloped cutout edges 261-264. Similarly, the ridges 211-213 come to the edge of the cutouts. Ridge 214 extends about the soap holder hear the lower set of openings 260.

Third Embodiment

FIGS. 7-9 show a preferred third embodiment soap holder 300 according to some or all of the various aspects of the inventions described herein. Soap holder 300 shares many features which are the same or similar to soap holders 100 and 200. Similar features are numbered similarly except the hundred's column is changed to the 300 series of reference numbers. Notable differences will now be described in greater detail.

—Side Cutouts

Soap holder 300 has side cutouts 360 similar to cutouts 260 of soap holder 200. The side cutouts provide improved ventilation and drying while allowing easy access when grasping and removing the soap bar.

—Step Soap Bar Support Features

Soap holder 300 has a different configuration of support features within the receiver interior. As FIG. 9 best illustrates there are a series of steps 371-377 which provide more available features over the height or depth of the receiver interior chamber. The step support features have nearly vertical sections 362-366 associated with steps 372-376. Bottom cutout edge 367 is curved for convenience and appearance. The top section of the receiver 371 and a cutout edge 361 which is curved convexly for convenience and appearance.

The noses of the steps are preferably rounded to facilitate minimal contact area and to help prevent the steps from becoming embedded into the soap bar.

Fourth Embodiment

FIGS. 10-12 show a preferred fourth embodiment soap holder 400 according to some or all of the various aspects of the inventions described herein. Soap holder 400 shares many features which are the same or similar to soap holder 100. Similar features are numbered similarly except the hundred's column is changed to the 400 series of reference numbers. Notable differences will now be described in greater detail.

—Projecting Bar Support Features

Soap holder 400 is largely like soap holder 100 except the soap bar support features are provided in a different form. The cross-sectional shape of the projections is semicircular. This shape retains any liquids flowing from the peripheral areas of the soap bar if any should flow thereto. This may or may not turn out to be desirable depending on experimentation and/or use.

In other embodiments the constantly draining inner surfaces of the receiver are believed to facilitate the flow of surface water or surface mixture around to the bottom of the bar which retains it on the bar and reduces waste. The projections 411-417 may be advantageous by providing minimal contact area engaging the soap bar. Other benefits may also be found.

It should also be appreciated that rather than semicircular the projections may be formed in a semi-elliptical or other shapes over part or all of the receiver for which surface support features are desired.

Fifth Embodiment

FIGS. 13-15 show a preferred fifth embodiment soap holder 500 according to some or all of the various aspects of the inventions described herein. Soap holder 500 shares many features which are the same or similar to soap holders 100 and 300. Similar features are numbered similarly except the hundred's column is changed to the 500 series of reference numbers. Notable differences will now be described in greater detail.

—Cascade Soap Bar Support Features

FIGS. 13-15 illustrate a soap holder 500 similar to soap holder 100 with the cascade of support features 571-578 having rounded knees 561-567.

Sixth Embodiment

FIGS. 16-18 show a preferred sixth embodiment soap holder 600 according to some or all of the various aspects of the inventions described herein. Soap holder 600 shares many features which are the same or similar to soap holder 100. Similar features are numbered similarly except the hundred's column is changed to the 600 series of reference numbers. Notable differences will now be described in greater detail.

—Squared Support Features

The interior chamber of the soap holder 600 is provided with horizontal projections having a relatively squared interior end. These may be provided in the form of annular ring portions 661-668. The ring portions are separated by vertical or other suitably shaped upstanding connection members 603 which extend up the side of the receiver wall to maintain vertical spacing of the annular ring portions and support the top brim 604.

—Lateral Ventilation Openings

Soap holder 600 has lateral openings between the annular ring portions 661-668 separated by the upright supports 603. This is in contrast to other embodiments which show vent passages which are vertical or otherwise oriented as explained above.

Soap holder 600 may comprise a greater or lesser number of rectangular and vertical features depending on the specific application. Furthermore, the rectangular features 1602 are illustrated as having a substantially square cross-sectional corner shape, however it should be recognized that the features could have a circular, rectangular, or triangular cross section, to name a few.

It should also be noted that although the upper vents 620 of soap holder 600 are lateral or horizontal, the lower set of vents 660 are radial and similar to those in soap holder 100. It is also possible that lateral vents may be defined by angled pieces acting similar to louvers to direct air in different patterns toward or away from the bar of soap.

Seventh Embodiment

FIGS. 19-20 show a preferred seventh embodiment soap holder assembly 700 according to some or all of the various aspects of the inventions described herein. Soap holder assembly 700 shares many features which are the same or similar to soap holder 100. Similar features are numbered similarly except the hundred's column is changed to the 700 series of reference numbers. Notable differences will now be described in greater detail.

—Fixture Assembly with Removable Soap Holder

FIGS. 19 and 20 show an assembly comprising a washing fixture 790 and a removable soap holder 100 as described above or others having a suitable base shape to be received in the fixture mounting receptacle 791. Fixture mounting receptacle has a first cylindrical sections 792 that receives the base 150 therein. The closeness of fit may vary depending on the materials used and the degree of securement desired in the mounting of the soap holder into the fixture mounting receptacle.

Below the base receiving section 792 is a funnel portion 793 which drains as needed to a downward passage 794. The soap holder in general does not drain liquids at any appreciate rate, so it is preferred that no other catch basin be needed below the fixture passage 794. However, it is alternatively possible to mount a catch basin (not shown) there-below and prevent any drippage.

The assembly of FIGS. 19 and 20 allow a person to remove the soap holder for cleaning at the sink or other washing or lavatory fixture and easily return it to use mounted in the fixture.

Eighth Embodiment

FIGS. 21-22 show a preferred sixth embodiment which is a soap holder assembly 600 according to some or all of the various aspects of the inventions described herein. Soap holder assembly 600 shares many features which are the same or similar to soap holder 100. Similar features are numbered similarly except the hundred's column is changed to the 600 series of reference numbers. Notable differences will now be described in greater detail.

—Washing Fixture with Integrated Soap Holder

FIGS. 21 and 22 show another version wherein a washing or other lavatory fixture is integrated with a soap holder 800 similar to soap holder 100. The washing fixture 890 may be a sink as an example. The corner of the sink is provided with an aperture 891 if the fixture is made from a cast iron or other material which is not easy to integrally mold the soap holder 890. In some washing fixtures of light duty or thin design the soap holder portion may be molded directed into the fixture.

As shown the assembly of FIGS. 21 and 22 have soap holder 800 which has a slight different brim which causes the soap holder insert to lock into place. Alternatively, the soap holder insert may be adhered into a permanent 602 position. This construction may be desired in public facilities or elsewhere that the fixture assembly is to be more robust and designed to prevent dislodgement of the soap holder insert by vandals or thieves. Alternatively, it may be desired wherever a flush look is desired and could be made removable if so desired.

Ninth Embodiment

FIG. 23 shows a preferred ninth embodiment soap holder assembly 900 according to some of the various aspects of the inventions described herein. Soap holder assembly 900 shares many features which are the same or similar to soap holder 100. As shown, the assembly includes a soap holder 100 as described above. Combined therewith is a stand 990. Similar features are numbered similarly except the hundred's column is changed to the 900 series of reference numbers. Notable differences will now be described in greater detail.

—Soap Holder Assembly with Stand

Soap holder stand 990 includes one or more left or first parts 991 and one or more second parts 992. The upper parts of the first and second parts have mounting bows which extend upwardly in a shape designed to accommodate the soap holder 100. At the upper end of the bow parts 991 and 992 are flanges 996 which support the flange on the soap holder.

In preferred embodiments there are plural first and second parts which are pivotally connected at pivot joint or joints 995. A flexible fabric or other sheet 997 extends between the upper portions 991 and 992 and allows the stand to be folded if flexible. In alternative versions the floor 997 may be relatively rigid.

In use the soap holder insert is placed in the stand 990 and a decorative and useful assembly is formed for holding soap bars as explained herein.

It should further be appreciated that other designs of stands may be operative and other forms of the novel soap holders may be combined with the desired stands to provide assemblies according to aspects of this inventions.

Additional Embodiments

In further embodiments (not illustrated), the soap holders 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 can be made in two parts divided along a vertical plane or otherwise into two parts. The two parts can then be adapted by a slidable connection which allow the soap holder halves to be expanded or contracted to accommodate various sizes of soap bars. The slidable connection (not illustrated) can be of any suitable type and preferably provides a drip catcher in the slidable connection.

Methods of Use and Operation

In operation, a wet bar of soap is placed in a soap holder. The soap holder supports the bar of soap by engaging the corners, edges and/or sides of the bar of soap. In another embodiment, the soap holder employs one or more features to engage the soaps corners, edges and/or sides. In a further embodiment, the soap holder employs one or more vertical ribs to engage the soaps corners, edges and/or sides and position the soap in the center of the holder.

Drying air is then allowed to circulate through various passages in the soap holder and around the bar of soap, thereby drying the wet bar of soap. The drying air can enter one side of the holder, flow across the bar of soap or move otherwise, and exit via another vent of the holder. Alternatively, drying air can enter from one or more sides of the soap holder, flow across the bar of soap, and exit through the top of the holder. Vapors of water also may diffuse through air whether the air is moving or not because of the water vapor gradient existing near the soap bar when wet.

In addition, water droplets or dissolved soap which drips from the soap is collected in a receptacle located below the soap. The collected water and dissolved soap then dries without leaving unsightly soap marks in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room or location where washing is performed using soap.

Manner of Making

The current preferred manner of making of the preferred modes of soap holders described herein is by injection molding of a suitable plastic. A variety of common plastics are suitable. The molded product can then be painted or coated with a suitable paint or coating to achieve a desired pallette of colors which may appeal to purchasers. Other coatings may be used to achieve other benefits not currently known, such as greater or less friction for engaging the soap bar, easier cleaning of the soap holder or due to other various considerations which become evident in the future.

Another suitable manner of making may be to mold by a variety of molding techniques using metal materials if such are found desirable from an ascetic or quality appearance standpoint or durability standpoint. Metal may be preferred where luxury or durability is sought. In such cases then a variety of possibilities are available, such as chrome plated, nickle plated, gold plated, brass plated over a suitable substrate material metal or nonmetal. Solid metals, such as brass, copper, bronze, stainless steel and other various types may be used to achieve the ascetic appearances desired by consumers.

Interpretation Notes

The above description has set out various features, functions, methods and other aspects of the inventions. This has been done with regard to the currently preferred embodiments thereof. Time and further development may change the manner in which the various aspects are implemented. Such aspects may further be added to by the language of the claims which are incorporated by reference hereinto as originally filed.

The scope of protection accorded the inventions as defined by the claims is not intended to be necessarily limited to the specific sizes, shapes, features or other aspects of the currently preferred embodiments shown and described. The claimed inventions may be implemented or embodied in other forms while still being within the concepts shown, described and claimed herein. Also included are equivalents of the inventions which can be made without departing from the scope of concepts properly protected hereby.