Title:
Sanitizing handle for cleaning tool
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cleaning implement with a handle and an antimicrobial surface can be used to clean hard surfaces and thereafter remain sanitary. The cleaning implement may be a manual tool or a motorized tool. The cleaning implement may have a disposable cleaning pad. Examples of suitable cleaning implements include a toilet cleaning device, a bathroom cleaning device, a shower cleaning device a hard surface floor mop, a carpet mop, and an auto cleaning device.



Inventors:
Minkler, Douglas J. (Pleasanton, CA, US)
Blum, Lisa (Pleasanton, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/842793
Publication Date:
11/10/2005
Filing Date:
05/10/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/143.1
International Classes:
A47L25/00; (IPC1-7): A47K11/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, GARY K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE CLOROX COMPANY (OAKLAND, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A cleaning implement comprising a handle, a. wherein said cleaning implement is used for cleaning hard surfaces; b. wherein said cleaning implement has an antimicrobial surface; and c. wherein said cleaning implement comprises an exterior finish corresponding to a SPI finish designation selected from the group consisting of A-1, A-2, A-3, B-1, B-2, B-3, and combinations thereof.

2. A cleaning implement comprising a handle, wherein said cleaning implement is used for cleaning hard surfaces; and wherein said cleaning implement has an antimicrobial surface.

3. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein the surface of said cleaning implement inhibits the growth of bacteria on said surface.

4. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein said cleaning implement comprises an attachment mechanism for a cleaning pad and said attachment mechanism inhibits the growth of bacteria on the surface of said attachment mechanism.

5. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein the surface of said cleaning implement is self-sanitizing.

6. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein said cleaning implement comprises a plastic that incorporates an antimicrobial material.

7. The cleaning implement of claim 6, wherein said antimicrobial material comprises an inorganic material or organometallic material.

8. The cleaning implement of claim 7, wherein said antimicrobial material is selected from the group consisting of silver metal, silver compounds, copper metal, copper compounds, zinc metal, zinc compounds, titanium metal, titanium compounds, and combinations thereof.

9. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein said cleaning implement comprises a film coating that is antimicrobial.

10. The cleaning implement of claim 9, wherein said antimicrobial material comprises an inorganic material or organometallic material.

11. The cleaning implement of claim 10, wherein said antimicrobial material is selected from the group consisting of silver metal, silver compounds, copper metal, copper compounds, zinc metal, zinc compounds, titanium metal, titanium compounds, and combinations thereof.

12. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein said cleaning implement remains sanitary after the cleaning process.

13. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein said cleaning implement additionally comprises a sensor that indicates the state selected from the group consisting of the presence of a significant amount of microorganisms, the absence of a significant amount of microorganisms, and combinations thereof.

14. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein said cleaning implement has reduced odor after the cleaning process compared to a cleaning implement without an antimicrobial surface.

15. The cleaning implement of claim 2, wherein said cleaning implement comprises a disposable cleaning pad.

16. A cleaning implement comprising a handle wherein said cleaning implement is used for cleaning toilets and wherein said cleaning implement inhibits the growth of microorganisms on the surface of said cleaning implement.

17. The cleaning implement of claim 16, wherein said cleaning implement comprises an exterior finish corresponding to a SPI finish designation selected from the group consisting of A-1, A-2, A-3, B-1, B-2, B-3, and combinations thereof.

18. The cleaning implement of claim 16, wherein said cleaning implement comprises a plastic that incorporates an antimicrobial material.

19. The cleaning implement of claim 16, wherein the surface of said cleaning implement is self-sanitizing.

20. The cleaning implement of claim 16, wherein said cleaning implement comprises a disposable cleaning pad.

21. The cleaning implement of claim 16, wherein said cleaning implement additionally comprises a sensor that indicates the state selected from group consisting of the presence of a significant amount of microorganisms, the absence of a significant amount of microorganisms, and combinations thereof.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to implements with antimicrobial handles for cleaning hard surfaces such as showers, bathrooms, kitchens, floors, walls, outdoor surfaces, and automobiles. The invention also relates to toilet cleaning implements with antimicrobial handles. The invention also relates to toilet cleaning implements with antimicrobial handles and disposable cleaning elements such as cleaning pads.

2. Description of the Related Art

Toilet brushes are typically housed in a special brush storage unit. This storage unit typically allows the brush to drip dry, while the drippings collect on a bottom section of the storage unit. It should be appreciated that the drippings, even upon drying, can present an additional concentration of bacterial contamination and odor. U.S. Pat. No. 5,941,379 to Barardo solves part of this problem by disclosing a toilet cleaning implement with a handle and a cleaning head. The cleaning head preferably soaks in a cleaning solution while not in use. A preferred cleaning solution comprises a disinfectant, deodorizer, fragrance, anti-bacterial, sanitizer, or combination thereof.

In order to eliminate the need for soaking in a disinfectant solution, several patents describe toilet cleaning implements with disposable brushes or pads which eliminate bacteria growing in the brush or pad, for example, WO01/15587 to Trenz et al., U.S. Pat. Appl. 2002/0007527 to Hart, WO01/43618 to Lalli, U.S. Pat. No. 6,295,688 to Sayles, U.S. Pat. No. 5,488,748 to Koch, U.S. Pat. No. 6,094,771 to Egolf, U.S. Pat. No. 5,471,697 to Daconta, U.S. Pat. No. 5,888,002 to Fensterheib, U.S. Pat. No. 4,466,152 to Moss et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,642,836 to Bokmiller, and WO00/71012 to Belt et al.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,852,201 discloses a toilet bowl cleaning implement having a handle with a removable cleaning pad disposed on one end. The toilet bowl cleaning implement also includes a cleaning solution that is contained in the pad. Numerous types of cleaning compositions, as well as implements with disposable cleaning pads, are known in the art. Illustrative are the compositions and apparatus disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,523,347, 4,031,673, 3,413,673 and 3,383,158.

Prior art cleaning implements disclose sanitizing cleaning solutions and sanitary means of removing used cleaning pads. However, these cleaning implements often still require touching for attaching the cleaning pad. Additionally, these cleaning implements remain out and can generate odors and other microbiological problems. Maintaining a sanitary condition on handles and other parts of the cleaning implement are not disclosed. It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a cleaning implement with a sanitary handle that overcomes the disadvantages and shortcomings associated with prior art cleaning implements.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the above objects and those that will be mentioned and will become apparent below, one aspect of the present invention comprises a cleaning implement comprising a handle wherein said cleaning implement is used for cleaning hard surfaces and wherein said cleaning implement has an antimicrobial surface.

In accordance with the above objects and those that will be mentioned and will become apparent below, another aspect of the present invention comprises a cleaning implement comprising a handle wherein said cleaning implement is used for cleaning hard surfaces and wherein said cleaning implement has an antimicrobial surface and wherein said cleaning implement comprises a exterior finish corresponding to a SPI finish designation selected from the group consisting of A-1, A-2, A-3, B-1, B-2, B-3, and combinations thereof.

In accordance with the above objects and those that will be mentioned and will become apparent below, another aspect of the present invention comprises a cleaning implement comprising a handle wherein said cleaning implement is used for cleaning toilets and wherein said cleaning implement inhibits the growth of microorganisms on the surface of said cleaning implement.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Before describing the present invention in detail, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to particularly exemplified systems or process parameters that may, of course, vary. It is also to be understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments of the invention only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the invention in any manner.

All publications, patents and patent applications cited herein, whether supra or infra, are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety to the same extent as if each individual publication, patent or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.

It must be noted that, as used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an” and “the” include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to a “surfactant” includes two or more such surfactants.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention pertains. Although a number of methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice of the present invention, the preferred materials and methods are described herein.

For the purposes of this invention, the term “antimicrobial” includes limiting the presence of at least one virus, at least one bacterium, at least one fungus, or a combination thereof. Limiting the presence of microrganism includes limiting the growth of a microorganism. This term also includes retarding, inhibiting, inactivating, killing, or preventing the replication of or reducing the number of a microorganism. Different terms may be used for different microorganisms. A surface that has an antimicrobial effect is an antimicrobial surface.

The cleaning implement can be maintained on its surface as a disinfectant, sanitizer, and/or sterilizer. As used herein, the term “disinfect” shall mean the elimination of many or all pathogenic microorganisms on the surface with the exception of bacterial endospores. As used herein, the term “sanitize” shall mean the reduction of contaminants on the device surface to levels considered safe according to public health ordinance, or that reduces the bacterial population by significant numbers where public health requirements have not been established. A surface that has an antimicrobial effect such that it sanitizes the surface is “self-sanitizing”. And at least 99% reduction in bacterial population within a 24 hour time period is deemed “significant.” As used herein, the term “sterilize” shall mean the complete elimination or destruction of all forms of microbial life and which is authorized under the applicable regulatory laws to make legal claims as a “Sterilant” or to have sterilizing properties or qualities. Where microorganisms have been reduced by significant numbers, the surface can be designated as sanitary.

In the application, effective amounts are generally those amounts listed as the ranges or levels of ingredients in the descriptions, which follow hereto. Unless otherwise stated, amounts listed in percentage (“%'s”) are in weight percent (based on 100% active) of the cleaning composition alone, not accounting for the substrate weight. Each of the noted cleaner composition components and substrates is discussed in detail below.

As used herein, the term “substrate” is intended to include any material that is used to clean an article or a surface. Examples of cleaning substrates include, but are not limited to nonwovens, sponges, films and similar materials which can be attached to a cleaning implement, such as a floor mop, handle, or a hand held cleaning tool, such as a toilet cleaning device.

As used herein, “wiping” refers to any shearing action that the substrate undergoes while in contact with a target surface. This includes hand or body motion, substrate-implement motion over a surface, or any perturbation of the substrate via energy sources such as ultrasound, mechanical vibration, electromagnetism, and so forth.

The term “cleaning composition”, as used herein, is meant to mean and include a cleaning formulation having at least one surfactant.

The term “surfactant”, as used herein, is meant to mean and include a substance or compound that reduces surface tension when dissolved in water or water solutions, or that reduces interfacial tension between two liquids, or between a liquid and a solid. The term “surfactant” thus includes anionic, nonionic and/or amphoteric agents.

Cleaning Implement

In an embodiment of the invention, the cleaning implement comprises the tool assembly disclosed in Co-pending application Ser. No. 10/678,033, entitled “Cleaning Tool with Gripping Assembly for a Disposable Scrubbing Head”, filed Sep. 30, 2003 and incorporated herein.

In another embodiment of the invention, the cleaning implement comprises the tool assembly disclosed in Co-pending application Ser. No. 10/602,478, entitled “Cleaning Tool with Gripping Assembly for a Disposable Scrubbing Head”, filed Jun. 23, 2003 and incorporated herein.

In another embodiment of the invention, the cleaning implement comprises the tool assembly disclosed in Co-pending application Ser. No. 10/766,179, entitled “Interchangeable Tool Heads”, filed Jan. 27, 2004 and incorporated herein.

In another embodiment of the invention, the cleaning implement comprises the tool assembly disclosed in Co-pending application Ser. No. 10/758,722, entitled “Cleaning Composition for Disposable Cleaning Head”, filed Jan. 16, 2004, and incorporated herein.

The cleaning implement can comprise a non-removable cleaning pad or brush, for example PCT App. WO2003/082048 to Belansky et al. The cleaning implement can comprise a removable cleaning pad or brush, for example PCT App. WO2002/071915 to Truong et al. The cleaning implement can comprise a handle attached to a support, such as a cleaning head that comprises a cleaning surface. The cleaning surface can comprise a removeable cleaning pad. The handle can either form one single piece jointly with the cleaning head or cleaning surface, or it may be mounted also on an extension handle bar that can be connected to the cleaning head or surface in a detachable manner. The cleaning implement may be a manual tool or a motorized tool, for example U.S. Pat. No. 6,253,405 to Gutelius et al. and U.S. Pat. App. 2002/0129835 to Pieroni et al.

In another embodiment of the invention, the cleaning implement comprises an elongated shaft having a handle portion on one end thereof. The tool assembly further includes a gripping mechanism that is mounted to the shaft to engage the removable cleaning pad. Examples of suitable cleaning implements are found in US2003/0070246 to Cavalheiro; U.S. Pat. No. 4,455,705 to Graham; U.S. Pat. No. 5,003,659 to Paepke; U.S. Pat. No. 6,485,212 to Bomgaars et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,290,781 to Brouillet, Jr.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,862,565 to Lundstedt; U.S. Pat. No. 5,419,015 to Garcia; U.S. Pat. No. 5,140,717 to Castagliola; U.S. Pat. No. 6,611,986 to Seals; US2002/0007527 to Hart; U.S. Pat. No. 6,094,771 to Egolf et al.; U.S. Pat. App. 2003/0127108 to Policicchio et al.; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,540,424 to Hall et al. The cleaning implement may have a hook, hole, magnetic means, canister or other means to allow the cleaning implement to be conveniently stored when not in use. To ergonomically reach certain cleaning areas, the cleaning implement may be greater than 12 inches long and shorter than 36 inches long.

Cleaning Pad Attachment

The cleaning implement holding a removable cleaning pad may have a cleaning head with an attachment means, for example PCT App. WO2002/071915 to Truong et al., or the attachment means may be an integral part of the handle of the cleaning implement, for example U.S. Pat. No. 6,161,242 to Cabrero Gomez et al., or may be removably attached to the end of the handle, for example U.S. Pat. No. 5,625,918 to Kieson et al. The cleaning pad may be attached by a friction fit means for example PCT App. WO00/71012 to Belt et al., by a clamping means for example U.S. Pat. No. 6,611,986 to Seals, by a threaded screw means for example U.S. Pat. No. 5,673,455 to Per-Lee et al., by hook and loop attachment for example PCT App. WO2002/071915 to Truong et al., or by any other suitable attachment means. The cleaning pad may have a rigid or flexible plastic or metal fitment for attachment to the cleaning implement, for example U.S. Pat. No. 5,625,918 to Kieson et al., or the cleaning pad may be directly attached to the cleaning implement.

Cleaning Pad Substrate

The cleaning pad may comprise a substrate that is water-insoluble, water-dispersible, or water-soluble. A wide variety of materials can be used as the cleaning pad substrate. The substrate should have sufficient wet strength, abrasivity, loft and porosity. Examples of suitable substrates include, nonwoven substrates, wovens substrates, hydroentangled substrates, foams and sponges.

Melamine foams and composites of melamine foams, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,503,615 to Horii et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 6,608,118 to Kosaka et al. may be suitable as a substrate. Urethane foams and composites of urethane foams, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,375,964 to Cornelius and U.S. Pat. No. 5,650,450 to Lovette et al. may be suitable as a substrate. Cellulose foams are also suitable as substrate or part of a substrate composite and are described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,372,952 to Lash et al.

The cleaning pad substrate may comprise a water-soluble or water-dispersible foam. The foam component may comprise a mixture of a polymeric material and a cleaning composition, the foam component being stable upon contact with air and unstable upon contact with water. The foam component may release the cleaning composition or part thereof upon contact with water, the component preferably partially or completely disintegrating, dispersing, denaturing and/or dissolving upon contact with water.

The substrate may comprise a water-soluble or water dispersible pouch or container. Suitable containers are water-soluble or water-dispersible gelatin beads, comprising cleaning compositions completely surrounded by a coating made from gelatin. The substrate may comprise a water-soluble or water-dispersible pouch. The pouch is typically a closed structure, made of a water-soluble or water-dispersible film described herein, enclosing a volume space which comprises a composition. Said composition may be in solid, gel or paste form.

In one embodiment, the cleaning pad of the present invention comprises a nonwoven substrate or web. The substrate is composed of nonwoven fibers or paper. The term nonwoven is to be defined according to the commonly known definition provided by the “Nonwoven Fabrics Handbook” published by the Association of the Nonwoven Fabric Industry. Methods of making nonwovens are well known in the art. Generally, these nonwovens can be made by air-laying, water-laying, meltblowing, coforming, spunbonding, or carding processes in which the fibers or filaments are first cut to desired lengths from long strands, passed into a water or air stream, and then deposited onto a screen through which the fiber-laden air or water is passed. In the present invention the nonwoven substrate can be prepared by a variety of processes including, but not limited to, air-entanglement, hydroentanglement, thermal bonding, and combinations of these processes.

Suitable cleaning pad substrates are disclosed in Co-pending application Ser. No. 10/663,496, entitled “Disposable Cleaning Head”, filed Sep. 12, 2003 and incorporated herein. Suitable cleaning pad substrates are disclosed in Co-pending application Ser. No. 10/758,744, entitled “Disposable Cleaning Substrate”, filed Jan. 16, 2004 and incorporated herein.

Cleaning Composition

In one embodiment, the cleaning device comprises a cleaning pad that is impregnated with a cleaning composition and is ‘wet-to-the-touch’. In another embodiment, the cleaning device comprises a cleaning pad that is impregnated with a cleaning composition that is ‘dry-to-the-touch’. By ‘dry-to-the-touch’, it is meant that the substrate is free of water or other solvents in an amount that would make them feel damp or wet-to-the-touch as compared to the touch of a wet substrate. In another embodiment, the cleaning device contains a removable attached vessel containing a cleaning composition and the cleaning substrate is free of the cleaning composition.

The cleaning composition may contain one or more surfactants selected from anionic, nonionic, cationic, ampholytic, amphoteric and zwitterionic surfactants and mixtures thereof. A typical listing of anionic, nonionic, ampholytic, and zwitterionic classes, and species of these surfactants, is given in U.S. Pat. No. 3,929,678 to Laughlin and Heuring. A list of suitable cationic surfactants is given in U.S. Pat. No. 4,259,217 to Murphy. Where present, ampholytic, amphotenic and zwitteronic surfactants are generally used in combination with one or more anionic and/or nonionic surfactants. The surfactants may be present at a level of from about 0% to 90%, or from about 0.001% to 50%, or from about 0.01% to 25% by weight.

Solvent

Suitable organic solvents include, but are not limited to, C1-6 alkanols, C1-6 diols, C1-10 alkyl ethers of alkylene glycols, C3-24 alkylene glycol ethers, polyalkylene glycols, short chain carboxylic acids, short chain esters, isoparafinic hydrocarbons, mineral spirits, alkylaromatics, terpenes, terpene derivatives, terpenoids, terpenoid derivatives, formaldehyde, and pyrrolidones. Alkanols include, but are not limited to, methanol, ethanol, n-propanol, isopropanol, butanol, pentanol, and hexanol, and isomers thereof. Diols include, but are not limited to, methylene, ethylene, propylene and butylene glycols. Alkylene glycol ethers include, but are not limited to, ethylene glycol monopropyl ether, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylene glycol monohexyl ether, diethylene glycol monopropyl ether, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether, diethylene glycol monohexyl ether, propylene glycol methyl ether, propylene glycol ethyl ether, propylene glycol n-propyl ether, propylene glycol monobutyl ether, propylene glycol t-butyl ether, di- or tri-polypropylene glycol methyl or ethyl or propyl or butyl ether, acetate and propionate esters of glycol ethers. Short chain carboxylic acids include, but are not limited to, acetic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid and propionic acid. Short chain esters include, but are not limited to, glycol acetate, and cyclic or linear volatile methylsiloxanes. Water insoluble solvents such as isoparafinic hydrocarbons, mineral spirits, alkylaromatics, terpenoids, terpenoid derivatives, terpenes, and terpenes derivatives can be mixed with a water-soluble solvent when employed.

The solvents are preferably present at a level of from 0.001% to 10%, more preferably from 0.01% to 10%, most preferably from 1% to 4% by weight.

Additional Adjuncts

The cleaning compositions optionally contain one or more of the following adjuncts: stain and soil repellants, lubricants, odor control agents, perfumes, fragrances and fragrance release agents, and bleaching agents. Other adjuncts include, but are not limited to, acids, electrolytes, dyes and/or colorants, solubilizing materials, stabilizers, thickeners, defoamers, hydrotropes, cloud point modifiers, preservatives, and other polymers. The solubilizing materials, when used, include, but are not limited to, hydrotropes (e.g. water soluble salts of low molecular weight organic acids such as the sodium and/or potassium salts of toluene, cumene, and xylene sulfonic acid). The acids, when used, include, but are not limited to, organic hydroxy acids, citric acids, keto acid, and the like. Electrolytes, when used, include, calcium, sodium and potassium chloride. Thickeners, when used, include, but are not limited to, polyacrylic acid, xanthan gum, calcium carbonate, aluminum oxide, alginates, guar gum, methyl, ethyl, clays, and/or propyl hydroxycelluloses. Defoamers, when used, include, but are not limited to, silicones, aminosilicones, silicone blends, and/or silicone/ hydrocarbon blends. Bleaching agents, when used, include, but are not limited to, peracids, hypohalite sources, hydrogen peroxide, and/or sources of hydrogen peroxide.

Preservatives, when used, include, but are not limited to, mildewstat or bacteriostat, methyl, ethyl and propyl parabens, short chain organic acids (e.g. acetic, lactic and/or glycolic acids), bisguanidine compounds (e.g. Dantagard and/or Glydant) and/or short chain alcohols (e.g. ethanol and/or IPA). The mildewstat or bacteriostat includes, but is not limited to, mildewstats (including non-isothiazolone compounds) include Kathon GC, a 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one, KATHON ICP, a 2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one, and a blend thereof, and KATHON 886, a 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one, all available from Rohm and Haas Company; BRONOPOL, a 2-bromo-2-nitropropane 1,3 diol, from Boots Company Ltd., PROXEL CRL, a propyl-p-hydroxybenzoate, from ICI PLC; NIPASOL M, an o-phenyl-phenol, Na+ salt, from Nipa Laboratories Ltd., DOWICIDE A, a 1,2-Benzoisothiazolin-3-one, from Dow Chemical Co., and IRGASAN DP 200, a 2,4,4′-trichloro-2-hydroxydiphenylether, from Ciba-Geigy A.G.

Antimicrobial agents include quaternary ammonium compounds and phenolics. Non-limiting examples of these quaternary compounds include benzalkonium chlorides and/or substituted benzalkonium chlorides, di(C6-C14)alkyl di short chain (C1-4 alkyl and/or hydroxyalkl) quaternaryammonium salts, N-(3-chloroallyl) hexaminium chlorides, benzethonium chloride, methylbenzethonium chloride, and cetylpyridinium chloride. Other quaternary compounds include the group consisting of dialkyldimethyl ammonium chlorides, alkyl dimethylbenzylammonium chlorides, dialkylmethylbenzylammonium chlorides, and mixtures thereof. Biguanide antimicrobial actives including, but not limited to polyhexamethylene biguanide hydrochloride, p-chlorophenyl biguanide; 4-chlorobenzhydryl biguanide, halogenated hexidine such as, but not limited to, chlorhexidine (1,1′-hexamethylene-bis-5-(4-chlorophenyl biguanide) and its salts are also in this class.

The cleaning composition may include a builder or buffer, which increase the effectiveness of the surfactant. The builder or buffer can also function as a softener and/or a sequestering agent in the cleaning composition. A variety of builders or buffers can be used and they include, but are not limited to, phosphate-silicate compounds, zeolites, alkali metal, ammonium and substituted ammonium polyacetates, trialkali salts of nitrilotriacetic acid, carboxylates, polycarboxylates, carbonates, bicarbonates, polyphosphates, aminopolycarboxylates, polyhydroxysulfonates, and starch derivatives.

Buffering and pH adjusting agents, when used, include, but are not limited to, organic acids, mineral acids, alkali metal and alkaline earth salts of silicate, metasilicate, polysilicate, borate, hydroxide, carbonate, carbamate, phosphate, polyphosphate, pyrophosphates, triphosphates, tetraphosphates, ammonia, hydroxide, monoethanolamine, monopropanolamine, diethanolamine, dipropanolamine, triethanolamine, and 2-amino-2methylpropanol. Other suitable buffers include ammonium carbamate, citric acid, acetic acid. Mixtures of any of the above are also acceptable. Useful inorganic buffers/alkalinity sources include ammonia, the alkali metal carbonates and alkali metal phosphates, e.g., sodium carbonate, sodium polyphosphate. For additional buffers see WO 95/07971, which is incorporated herein by reference. Other preferred pH adjusting agents include sodium or potassium hydroxide. When employed, the builder, buffer, or pH adjusting agent comprises at least about 0.001% and typically about 0.01-50% of the cleaning composition.

When the composition is an aqueous composition, water can be, along with the solvent, a predominant ingredient. The water should be present at a level of less than 99.9%, more preferably less than about 99%, and most preferably, less than about 98%. Deionized water is preferred. Where the cleaning composition is concentrated, the water may be present in the composition at a concentration of less than about 85 wt. %.

Sensors for Microbial Detection

The cleaning implement can have a sensor that indicates the presence of a significant amount of microorganisms or allergens or the absence of a significant amount of microorganisms or allergens. The sensor can be part of the cleaning pad, the cleaning head, the handle, any other part of the cleaning implement, or can be remotely connected to the cleaning implement. The sensor can indicate the presence or absence of microorganisms or allergens on the cleaning implement, including the cleaning pad, or on the cleaning surface or other part of the environment, such as the air. A “significant amount of microorganisms or allergens” can vary according to the potential health effects. Where the microorganisms or allergens are highly toxic, the significant amount may be quite small.

The cleaning implement can monitor microorganisms or allergens during the cleaning process. The cleaning implement can monitor microorganisms or allergens separate from the cleaning process. The cleaning implement can monitor microorganisms or allergens and respond by signaling for the initiation of the cleaning process. The cleaning implement can monitor microorganisms or allergens and indicate that the cleaning process is not necessary. The cleaning implement can be a manual cleaning device, a manual cleaning device with a handle, a cleaning substate such as a wipe, a cleaning dispenser such as an air-sanitizing device, or a motorized cleaning device such as a cleaning robot. The cleaning implement can physically or chemically remove the microorganisms or allergens.

Allergens promote allergic reactions, which range from rhinitis, nasal congestion, conjunctival inflammation, and urticaria to asthma. Notable triggers for these diseases are allergens derived from house dust mites; arthropods, including cockroaches; pets (cats, dogs, birds, rodents); molds; pollen; chemicals; and protein-containing furnishings, including feathers, kapok, etc.

The cleaning implement can include at least one sensor, which can be a biosensor. As used herein, the term “biosensor” is defined as a component comprising one or more biologically reactive means being adapted to detect one or more target pathogenic microorganisms or related biomolecules (e.g., an enzyme sensor, organella sensor, tissue sensor, microorganism sensor, immunosensor or electrochemical sensor), additionally having the capability to provide a signal of said detection to the consumer. The term “biologically reactive” is defined as having the capability to selectively interact with, and preferably bind, target pathogenic microorganisms and/or related biomolecules as described herein.

The biosensor of the present invention comprises a bio-recognition element, or molecular recognition element, that provides the highly specific binding or detection selectivity for a particular analyte. The bio-recognition element, or system, may be a biologically derived material such as an enzyme or sequence of enzymes; an antibody; a membrane receptor protein; DNA; an organelle, a natural or synthetic cell membrane; an intact or partial viable or nonviable bacterial, plant or animal cell; or a piece of plant or mammalian tissues, and generally functions to interact specifically with a target biological analyte. The bio-recognition element is responsible for the selective recognition of the analyte and the physico-chemical signal that provides the basis for the output signal.

Biosensors may include biocatalytic biosensors, and bioaffinity biosensors. In biocatalytic biosensor embodiments, the bio-recognition element is “biocatalytic” and may comprise an enzyme, organelle, piece of plant or mammalian tissue, or whole cells, the selective binding sites “turn over” (i.e., can be used again during the detection process), resulting in a significant amplification of the input signal. Biocatalytic sensors such as these are generally useful for real-time, continuous sensing.

Bioaffinity sensors are generally applicable to bacteria, viruses, and toxins and include chemoreceptor-based biosensors and/or immunological sensors (i.e. immunosensors). Chemoreceptors are complex biomolecular macroassemblies responsible, in part, for a viable organism's ability to sense chemicals in its environment with high selectivity. Chemoreceptor-based biosensors comprise one or more natural or synthetic chemoreceptors associated with a means to provide a signal (visual, electrical, etc.) of the presence or concentration of a target biological analyte. In certain embodiments, the chemoreceptor may be associated with an electrode (i.e., an electrical transducer) so as to provide a detectable electrical signal. Chemoreceptors may include whole or partial nerve bundles (e.g., from antennae or other sensing organs) and/or whole or partial natural or synthetic cell membranes. On the other hand, the bio-recognition elements of immunosensors are generally antibodies. Antibodies are highly specific and can be made toward bacteria, viruses, fragments of microorganisms (e.g., bacterial cell walls, parasite eggs or portions thereof, etc.), and large biomolecules. Suitable antibodies may be monoclonal or polyclonal. In any case, bioaffinity biosensors are generally irreversible because the receptor sites of the biosensor become saturated when exposed to the target biological analyte.

In certain embodiments, biocatalytic bioaffinity biosensors may be combined, such as RNA/DNA probes or other high-affinity binding systems wherein the initial bio-recognition event is followed by biological amplification of the signal. For example, a specific bacteria may be detected by a biosensor comprising genetic material, such as DNA, as a bio-recognition element and PCR (i.e., polymerase chain reaction) amplification to detect small numbers of organisms, preferably less than or equal to about 500. Biocatalytic and bioaffinity biosensor systems are described in more detail in Journal of Chromatography, 510 (1990) 347-354 and in the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 4th ed. (1992), John Wiley & Sons, NY, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein.

The biosensors of the present invention preferably detect biologically active analytes related to impending (i.e., future presentation of symptoms is likely) or current human systemic disease states, including, but not limited to, pathogenic bacteria, parasites (e.g., any stage of the life cycle, including eggs or portions thereof, cysts, or mature organisms), viruses, fungi such as Candida albicans, antibodies to pathogens, and/or microbially produced toxins.

The physico-chemical signal generated by the bio-recognition element or elements may be communicated visually to the consumer (i.e., via a color change visible to the human eye). Other embodiments may produce optical signals, which may require other instrumentation to enhance the signal. These include flourescence, bioluminesence, total internal reflectance resonance, surface plasmon resonance, Raman methods and other laser-based methods. Exemplary surface plasmon resonance biosensors which may comprise bioconjugate surfaces as bio-recognition elements are available as IBIS I and IBIS II from XanTec Analysensysteme of Muenster, Germany. Alternatively, the signal may be processed via an associated transducer which, for example, may produce an electrical signal (e.g., current, potential, inductance, or impedance) that may be displayed (e.g., on a readout such as an LED or LCD display) or which triggers an audible or tactile (e.g., vibration) signal or which may trigger an actuator, as described herein. The signal may be qualitative (e.g., indicating the presence of the target biological analyte) or quantitative (i.e., a measurement of the amount or concentration of the target biological analyte). In such embodiments, the transducer may optionally produce an optical, thermal or acoustic signal.

In any case, the signal may also be durable (i.e., stable and readable over a length of time typically at least of the same magnitude as the usage life of the article) or transient (i.e., registering a real-time measurement). Additionally, the signal may be transmitted to a remote indicator site (e.g., via a wire, or transmitter, such as an infrared or rf transmitter) including other locations within or on the cleaning device or remote devices. Further, the biosensor, or any of its components, may be adapted to detect and/or signal only concentrations of the target biological analyte above a predefined threshold level (e.g., in cases wherein the target biological analyte is normally present in the environment.

As described above, the target analytes that the biosensors of the present invention are adapted to detect may be pathogenic microorganisms. A non-limiting list of pathogenic bacteria that the biosensor may detect include any of the various pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli (commonly known as E Coli); Salmonella strains, including S. typhi, S. paratyphi, S. enteriditis, S. typhimurium, and S. heidelberg; Shigella strains such as Shigella sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Shigella boydii, and Shigella dysenteriae; Vibrio cholerae; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Yersinia enterocolitica; Aeromonas hydrophila; Plesiomonas shigelloides; Campylobacter strains such as C. jejuni and C. coli; Bacteroides fragilis; and Clostridia strains, including C. septicum, C. perfringens, C. botulinum, and C. difficile. A non-limiting example of a commercially available biosensor adapted to detect E. coli is available from AndCare, Inc. of Durham, N.C., as test kit #4001. ABTECH, Scientific, Inc., of Yardley, Pa. offers “bioanalytical biotransducers”, available as BB Au-1050.5-FD-X, which may be rendered biospecific (for microorganisms or other target biological analytes as described herein) by covalently immobilizing polypeptides, enzymes, antibodies, or DNA fragments to their surfaces. Other suitable microbial biosensors are described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,869,272 (gram negative organisms); U.S. Pat. No. 5,795,717 (Shigella); U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,830,341; 5,795,453; 5,354,661; 5,783,399; 5,840,488; 5,827,651; 5,723,330; and 5,496,700, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.

The target analytes that the biosensors of the present invention are adapted to detect may also be viruses. These may include viruses such as rotavirus, rhinovirus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). An exemplary biosensor adapted to detect HIV is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,830,341 and 5,795,453, referenced above. The disclosure of each of these patents is incorporated by reference herein.

In yet other embodiments, the target analytes the biosensors of the present invention are adapted to detect may fungi such as Candida albicans. In addition to pathogenic bacteria, certain beneficial colonic bacteria may be detected and/or measured as a health indicator, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus strains.

The biosensors of the present invention may also comprise bio-recognition systems, including enzymes or binding proteins such as antibodies immobilized onto the surface of physico-chemical transducers. For example, a specific strain of bacteria may be detected via biosensors employing antibodies raised against that bacterial strain. Alternatively, a target bacteria may be detected by a bio-recognition element (including antibodies and synthetic or natural molecular receptors) specific to extracellular products of the target bacteria, such as toxins produced by that strain (e.g., E. coli). Exemplary enzyme electrodes include those described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,676,820 entitled “Remote Electrochemical Sensor,” issued to Joseph Wang et al. on Oct. 14, 1997 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,091,299 entitled “An Enzyme Electrode For Use In Organic Solvents,” issued to Anthony P. F. Turner et al. on Feb. 25, 1992, respectively. Both of these patents are incorporated by reference herein.

In any of the foregoing examples, the specific microorganism may be directly detected or may be detected by binding a toxin, enzyme, or other protein produced by the organism or an antibody, such as a monoclonal antibody, specific to the organism. Exemplary biosensors adapted to detect proteolytic enzymes described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,607,567 and toxins in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,496,452; 5,521,101; and 5,567,301.

The biosensor of the present invention may comprise one or more “proactive sensors”. This is especially useful in embodiments where the detection of the target biologically reactive analyte precedes the onset of clinically observable health symptoms. A proactive sensor may detect an impending event or detect a parameter that directly relates, or at a minimum correlates to the occurrence of an impending event. A parameter that correlates to an event is any measurable input, signal such as one or more of the potential inputs listed above, that correlates with the occurrence of the event within the frame of reference of the system. Proactive sensors in a cleaning implement may measure one or more different inputs in order to predict an event.

In biosensor embodiments wherein the bio-recognition element does not produce an easily visible signal (e.g., a color change), the biosensor may include a transducer in communication with the bio-recognition element in order to convert the physico chemical signal from the bio-recognition element into a usable signal to the consumer or component of the article (e.g., and actuator). Exemplary transducers may include electrochemical transducers (including potentiometric, amperometric, and conductimetric transducers), optical transducers (including flourescence, bioluminesence, total internal reflective resonance, and surface plasmon resonance), thermal transducers, and acoustic transducers, as known in the art. A power source, such as a miniature 3 volt watch battery or printed thin film lithium battery, may be connected with the biosensor to provide any required power.

If microorganisms are incorporated into a biosensor, they may be immobilized in the biosensor by techniques known in the art such as entrapment, adsorption, crosslinking, encapsulation, covalent attachment, any combination thereof, or the like. Further, the immobilization can be carried out on many different substrates such as known the art. In certain preferred embodiments, the immobilization substrate may be selected from the group of polymer-based materials, hydrogels, tissues, nonwoven materials, woven materials.

In certain embodiments, the sensor, including any biosensor embodiments, may comprise, be disposed on, or be operatively associated with a microchip, such as a silicon chip, MEMs (i.e., micro electromechanical system) device, or an integrated circuit. Microchip-based biosensors may be known as “biochips”. Regardless of the type of sensor, the microchip may comprise a multiplicity of sensor components having similar or different sensitivities, kinetics, and/or target analytes (i.e., markers) in an array adapted to detect differing levels or combinations of said analyte(s). Further, each sensor in such an array may provide a different type of signal, including those types disclosed herein, and may be associated with different actuators and/or controllers. Also, each sensor in an array may operate independently or in association with (e.g., in parallel, combination, or series) any number of other sensors in the array.

The biosensor may be disposed in and/or operatively connected to any portion of a cleaning implement that will be exposed to the input that the biosensor is designed to detect. For the purposes of the present invention, the term “operatively connected” refers to a means of communication such that the biosensor may signal some portion of the implement when the biosensor detects an input. The biosensor may be separate from and operatively connected to another portion of the biosensor, another biosensor, an actuator, a controller or some other portion or component of the implement. “Operatively connected” may, for example, include a means of communication such as an electrical connection via a conductive wire or member, via a transmitted signal such as radio frequency, infrared or another transmitted frequency communication. Alternatively, the biosensor may be operatively connected via a mechanical connection such as a pneumatic or a hydraulic connection.

In cleaning implement embodiments, the biosensor may be located on the cleaning head, the cleaning pad, the handle or some other part of the cleaning implement. The biosensor may be integral with the cleaning implement, or may be installed by the consumer. In some embodiments, the biosensor may be separate from the cleaning implement, e.g., separately applied to a surface via adhesive or other means as known in the art, and/or may have one or more components separate from the cleaning implement.

EXAMPLES

Cleaning Implement Materials

The cleaning implement can comprise one or more thermoplastic material such as polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, ABS, acetal, NOREL™, polyester including PET and PBT, etc. The cleaning implement can comprise a thermoset material. The cleaning implement can comprise an elastomeric material, for example U.S. Pat. No. 6,638,993 to Patel et al. The exterior portion of the cleaning implement can comprise a thermoplastic or other material that incorporates an antimicrobial. The exterior portion of the cleaning implement can comprise a thermoplastic or other material that incorporates a material that interacts with the environment, for example air or light, to produce an antimicrobial effect. The exterior portion of the cleaning implement can comprise a thermoplastic or other material that naturally has an antimicrobial effect, for example U.S. Pat. No. 6,194,530 to Klesse et al. The exterior portion of the cleaning implement can comprise a film that incorporates an antimicrobial, for example U.S. Pat. App. 2004/0076674 to Ottersback et al. The exterior portion of the cleaning implement may show a consumer cue, for example color, which indicates that the exterior portion is sanitary, for example U.S. Pat. No. 6,333,093 to Burrell et al. This consumer cue may incorporate a sensor or biosensor.

The cleaning implement can comprise a plastic that incorporates an antimicrobial material, for example, as in U. S. Pat. No. 6,627,676 to George et al., EP1400334 to Zelli, EP1044139 to Stahl et al., WO00/53413 to Sarangapani, WO99/60297 to Beckett et al., WO00/26100 to Stahl et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,976,562 to Krall, U.S. Pat. Appl. 2003/0049295 to Guggenbichler et al., and U.S. Pat. No. 6,187,456 to Lever.

The antibacterial material may be a metal such as copper, zinc and silver including nanosilver particles, an organic acid such as benzoic acid and salicyclic acid, a preservative such as propyl paraben, a N-halo compounds such as N-chlorotoluenesulfonamide, Triclosan®, a photosensitizer, or other antimicrobial agent.

The cleaning implement can comprise a smooth finish in order to reduce irregularities that could promote the growth of microbiological organisms. The smoothness of the finish can be measured by the industry standard finish produced on a 420 stainless steel cavity by a buff Grade #3 diamond buff, a Grade No. 6 diamond buff, a Grade #15 diamond buff, 800 grit sandpaper, 400 grit sandpaper, 320 grit sandpaper or 600 stone; these finishes have been designated by the Society of the Plastics Industry as an SPI finish A-1, A-2, A-3, B-1, B-2, B-3, and C-1, respectively. A finish corresponding to SPI A-1 to B-3 can have reduced finish irregularities that might promote the growth of microbiological organisms.

Where the cleaning implement comprises a removeable cleaning pad, the pad gripping mechanism often contains irregular surfaces such as ridges, hooks, a Velcro® hook mechanism, cross-hatches, etc. An example of such an irregular surfaces is also described in Co-pending application Ser. No. 10/678,033, entitled “Cleaning Tool with Gripping Assembly for a Disposable Scrubbing Head”, filed Sep. 30, 2003 and incorporated herein. These irregular surfaces can promote the growth of microbiological organisms. The pad gripping mechanism can comprise a thermoplastic or other material that incorporates an antimicrobial to limit the growth of microbiological organisms.

The handle grip area can also contain an irregular surface to aid in gripping with the hand, for example to provide a non-slip surface. This handle grip area can also incorporate an antimicrobial to limit the growth of microbiological organisms.

In one embodiment of the invention, the exterior of the cleaning implement may support no growth of bacteria or other organisms. In another embodiment of the invention, the exterior of the cleaning implement may support reduced growth of bacteria or other organisms. In another embodiment of the invention, the exterior of the cleaning implement may reduce odors caused by the growth of bacteria or other organisms.

Without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention, one of ordinary skill can make various changes and modifications to the invention to adapt it to various usages and conditions. As such, these changes and modifications are properly, equitably, and intended to be, within the full range of equivalence of the following claims.