Title:
Loofah washcloth with varied areas of coarseness and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mitten-shaped washcloth with a very coarse usable surface and a generally rough usable surface and having an inside lining and reinforcing lining border around an outer perimeter made of fabric is made by cutting a cylindrical loofah piece off a gourd, shortening it, slicing it open lengthwise to remove the interior, flattening it into a sheet of loofah, shaping it, cutting open a cavity for the hand and sewing the border and lining on easily.



Inventors:
Harrison, Charlie (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/859628
Publication Date:
12/08/2005
Filing Date:
06/02/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
300/21
International Classes:
A41D19/01; A47K7/02; A47L13/18; (IPC1-7): A47L13/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GUIDOTTI, LAURA COLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STEVEN HOROWITZ, ESQ. (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A washcloth for scrubbing human skin, comprising: a loofah mitten having a substantially planar upper surface that is generally rough, the upper surface usable for scrubbing a wearer's human skin, and a usable substantially planar lower surface that is very coarse, the lower surface usable for scrubbing the wearer's human skin, the mitten also having an inside lining made of fabric, the mitten including an opening for insertion of the hand at a wrist portion of the mitten, a reinforcing lining border made of fabric around an outer perimeter of the mitten, the reinforcing lining border at the opening being divided into an upper edge and a lower edge, the upper surface and the lower surface together spanning an outer surface of the mitten except for the reinforcing lining border.

2. The washcloth of claim 1, wherein the fabric for the reinforcing lining border is cloth.

3. The washcloth of claim 1, wherein the fabric for the inside lining is smooth cloth.

4. The washcloth of claim 1, wherein the fabric for the inside lining is smooth cloth and wherein the fabric for the reinforcing lining border is cloth.

5. The washcloth of claim 1, wherein a substantially entire lower surface is usable and wherein a substantially entire upper surface is usable.

6. The washcloth of claim 5, wherein the fabric for the reinforcing lining border is cloth.

7. The washcloth of claim 5, wherein the fabric for the inside lining is smooth cloth.

8. The washcloth of claim 5, wherein the fabric for the inside lining is smooth cloth and wherein the fabric for the reinforcing lining border is cloth.

9. A method of making a loofah washcloth shaped like a mitten, comprising the steps of: cutting off a fruit of a loofah gourd to obtain a cylindrical piece of loofah, said cylindrical piece of loofah being generally rough on its outside, making a vertical incision through the cylindrical piece of loofah beginning from a top surface and continuing to approximately a bottom surface, or from a bottom surface and continuing to approximately a top surface, to expose a substantially full length of an interior of the cylindrical piece of loofah, cutting and removing a loofah interior from the cylindrical piece of loofah, leaving a hollow cylindrical piece of loofah whose interior wall is very coarse, flattening the hollow cylindrical piece of loofah to create a substantially planar loofah sheet having a usable upper surface that is generally rough and a usable lower surface that is very coarse, shaping the loofah sheet by cutting the loofah sheet to conform said loofah sheet to an outer perimter of a mitten, cutting through a thickness of the loofah sheet to split the thickness into two parts beginning at a wrist portion of the mitten so as to define a cavity for a hand of a user, and sewing an inside lining into the cavity and sewing a reinforcing border around an outer perimeter of the mitten, the outer perimeter being divided into an upper edge and a lower edge at the wrist portion of the mitten.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein after cutting off the fruit of the loofah gourd, a step of cutting horizontally across the cylindrical piece of loofah to reduce its height is performed.

Description:

The present invention relates to wash cloths for cleaning and washing the skin, and more particularly, to such washcloths that are made of loofah.

Washcloths for scrubbing, cleaning and/or washing the skin are very well known. Due to the process of exfoliation, perspiration and other ordinary exposure of the human body to external events, the skin of a human being needs to be not just cleaned but also scrubbed of scaly matter. For this scrubbing process, coarse materials are needed. However, if the materials are too coarse, they can damage the person's skin. There may be different degrees of coarseness that are suitable for different people at different times.

It is known to use loofah as a beneficial material in washcloths and sponges that are used to scrub, wash and clean the skin throughout the body. Existing loofah washcloths, however, have no convenient means of gripping. As a result, it is not easy to make full use of the washcloth and hence the portion of the washcloth available for use at any one time is restricted. This is because normal use of the washcloth entails having the thumb and four additional fingers (sometimes fewer) of the user's hand positioned on the washcloth to grip it. This kind of normal grip necessarily entails having a large number of fingers covering a significant portion of the washcloth or sponge. Furthermore, this kind of grip often involves bending and creasing the washcloth. Both the direct blocking and the creasing interferes with the application of the full surface area of the washcloth on the skin at any one time. The fact that by changing one's grip constantly it is possible to shift to previously unused portions of the washcloth does not eliminate the problem. It is cumbersome and inconvenient to constantly do so.

Moreover, since washcloths made of loofah are superior for scrubbing and since scrubbing involves the application of a lot of force, it is particularly disadvantageous to be forced to change one's grip constantly when scrubbing with a loofah washcloth. It would be advantageous to have a loofah washcloth that can be gripped in a convenient manner that allows the user to make use of the full surface area of the washcloth. Furthermore it would be particularly useful to make full use of both sides of the washcloth without having to constantly change one's grip.

My previously filed application Ser. No. 09/962,491 for a Loofah Washcloth With Gripping Area, which has issued into U.S. Pat. No. 6,656,565 B2, solves the above problems by providing a loofah washcloth in which the full surface area of the washcloth can be gripped conveniently and used conveniently without having to change one's grip, which includes both sides of the washcloth as usable surfaces as well as other advantages. Applicant has found, however, that it is not that easy to manufacture a loofah washcloth in accordance with U.S. Pat. No. 6,656,565 B2. This is because the gripping area makes use of elongated openings traversing a portion of the breadth of the loofah sheet and being centered in a length and in a width of the sheet of loofah. In order to reinforce the parallel elongated openings a cloth lining border is provided. However, while a trimming machine can insert a cloth lining border around the outer edges of the loofah sheet, it is impossible for such a machine to insert the reinforcing cloth lining border around the elongated openings in the middle of the loofah sheet since access to the middle of the loofah sheet is not readily available. As a result, the reinforcing cloth lining around the elongated openings has to be put in by hand and this lengthens the manufacturing process and renders it more expensive.

What is needed is a loofah washcloth that solves the problems of the prior art but that is easy to manufacture and does not make use of gripping areas located beyond easy access of a trimming machine, i.e. in a center of a loofah sheet.

Furthermore, loofah has by its nature surfaces having two different textures, a very coarse texture and a generally rough texture. Both textures are very useful provided they are the actual texture that the loofah grows naturally in. It is believed that some washcloth users would prefer the very coarse texture whereas others would prefer the generally rough texture. In addition, other users may prefer one type of texture on some occasions and the other type on other occasions. To date, loofah washcloths only offer the generally rough texture that comes from an outside surface of a natural loofah plant. The very coarse texture that comes from the inside walls of this plant do not appear on washcloths and similar items. It would be advantageous to have a loofah washcloth that affords a user the possibility of having both types of textures available in the same washcloth and where both are substantially equally usable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A two-sided washcloth is made of a sheet of loofah that is lined on an outside perimeter with cloth. The washcloth is shaped as a mitten. One side of the mitten has a very coarse loofah and the other side has a generally rough loofah. By inserting one's hand in the mitten, the user has easy access to the full surface of each side, as desired permitting both sides of the sheet comprising the washcloth to be applied to the body conveniently, thereby assuring maximum use of the loofah and allowing a choice of textures. As explained below, the loofah washcloth is unadulterated and manufactured through a simple inexpensive process.

IMPORTANT OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

The following important objects and advantages of the present invention are:

    • (1) to provide a washcloth made of loofah which is especially beneficial for scrubbing, cleaning and washing human skin;
    • (2) to provide a washcloth made of loofah in which the full surface area of the washcloth can be used conveniently;
    • (3) to provide a washcloth made of loofah that can be gripped conveniently and held in a manner that allows use of the full surface area of the washcloth without having to constantly change one's grip;
    • (4) to provide a washcloth that has both sides as usable surfaces;
    • (5) to provide a loofah washcloth having the above features which is very simple to manufacture;
    • (6) to provide such a washcloth that does not have an area requiring reinforcement through sewing or trimming that is inaccessible to a trimming machine but rather wherein all areas requiring such reinforcement through trimming or sewing are on an outer border of the sheet;
    • (7) to provide such a loofah washcloth having the above features wherein the same washcloth has on one of its surfaces a very coarse loofah desired by some users and wherein the same washcloth has on its other surface a less coarse surface of loofah desired by other users or desired at different times, the less coarse surface referred generally to as merely generally rough loofah;
    • (8) to provide such a washcloth wherein the loofah material has not been corrupted through heat during the manufacturing process;
    • (9) to provide such a washcloth wherein the loofah is manufactured without dyes;
    • (10) to provide such a washcloth wherein the texture of the loofah material has not been altered by being made wavy, corrugated or otherwise different from its natural state;
    • (11) to provide a method of manufacturing a mitten-shaped loofah washcloth, which method can be performed manually;
    • (12) to provide such a method that is simple and requires only a loofah gourd and a knife; and
    • (13) to provide a loofah washcloth and a method of making the loofah washcloth, in which the loofah washcloth can be worn on either hand.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of the washcloth of the present invention on a very coarse side;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the washcloth of the present invention taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a rear view of the washcloth of the present invention on a generally rough side;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the washcloth of the present invention taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a cylindrical piece of loofah evidencing a vertical incision and showing a broken away portion revealing an interior of the loofah piece.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

In order to better understand the present invention in conjunction with the drawings of FIGS. 1-5, the overall washcloth of the present invention has been assigned reference numeral 10 and its elements are described and assigned the reference numerals identified below.

As best seen in FIGS. 1-4, washcloth 10 is comprised of a two-sided sheet 20 of a fibrous scrubbing material, such as loofah, together with a cloth border 40 stitched to loofah sheet 20. Loofah sheet 20 has usable substantially planar upper surface 20a and usable substantially planar lower surface 20b. Reinforcing outer border 40 typically made of cloth is located around the outer perimeter of the washcloth and is for reinforcement and for maintaining smoothness. The border 40 forms the edge of the washcloth so it spans the thickness of sheet 20 from upper surface 20a to lower surface 20b of sheet 20. The present invention also contemplates eliminating cloth outer border 40 or replacing it with other suitable reinforcement materials.

The upper and lower surfaces 20a, 20b together span the entire outer surface of the mitten 10 except for the reinforcing lining border 40 which is around the outer perimeter of the mitten washcloth 10, said outer perimeter including at the wrist area. The reinforcing lining border 40 at the opening 30 is divided into an upper edge 41 and a lower edge 42.

In an alternative embodiment, the upper and lower surfaces 20a, 20b together span only virtually or substantially the entire outer surface of the mitten 10 except for the reinforcing lining border 40.

Washcloth 10 also has an inside lining 44 made of fabric, such as cloth, for the human hand to comfortably grasp the washcloth 10.

The loofah material, a sponge comprised of the fibrous skeleton of the fruit of a tropical plant of the gourd family, is especially beneficial for scrubbing, washing, cleaning and rubbing human skin. Loofah also stimulates the skin when used for these purposes. Besides these features, the loofah material also has the advantage of having the desired amount of stiffness needed. Sheet 20 of the present invention made of loofah is not so stiff that it is uncomfortable when applied to the human skin with force, as is done during scrubbing. On the other hand, the loofah sheet 20 is sufficiently stiff that sheet 20 maintains its shape when the hand is inserted into the mitten and used. A traditional cloth washcloth would not be stiff enough to maintain its shape under similar circumstances. When sheet 20 is wetted before use, it becomes slightly less stiff but still remains stiff enough so that it maintains its shape when used.

Although the present invention refers at times to a cloth lining border 40, and to cloth inside lining 44, the present invention is not limited to cloth as the material for the lining border 40 or the inside lining 44. The present invention contemplates other suitable materials. For example, lining border 40 can be made of any reinforcing fabric or material comfortable to the skin, besides cloth, that achieves the above reinforcement and comfort purposes.

Although this is not preferable, the present invention also contemplates omitting cloth lining border 40 altogether provided loofah sheet 20 is sufficiently comfortable to grasp by a person and provided the edges of the washcloth 10 are sufficiently uniform that loofah washcloth 10 can be used effectively.

The loofah mitten 10 of the present invention has an opening 30 at a wrist area thereof and this opening 30 should typically be greater than one handbreadth long to allow insertion of five fingers of one's hand. However, it is envisioned that different sized loofah washcloths for different people will be created, such as for children, an adult man, an adult woman, etc.

The method of the present invention will be described. The loofah mitten 10 can be manufactured mostly by hand using as a raw material natural growing loofah by conducting the following simple steps. First, as seen in FIG. 5, by first cutting off the fruit of the loofah gourd one obtains a cylindrical piece of loofah exactly in the form that it grows in except that instead of a flat top and flat bottom surface that forms part of a perfect cylinder, the cylindrical piece of loofah is typically closed at each end like the ends of a cucumber. In the method of the present invention the term “cylindrical piece of loofah” or “cylinder” refers to a piece of loofah that is shaped like a cylinder in that it has a substantially circular cross section like a cylinder but that is not necessarily flat at each end (the top and bottom surfaces) but rather may be closed at each end, for example in the form of an end of a cucumber, a dome or another shape.

In its natural state the cylindrical piece of loofah is generally rough on the outside. This outside surface will eventually form the outside surface of the loofah mitten.

In the second step, the height of the cylinder is reduced by a significant amount, for example by one half, by cutting across the cylindrical piece 90 of loofah as in a cross-sectional cut. This second step is not essential but is often necessary since the height of the cylinder 90 is too great.

In its form as a cylinder 90 of loofah, the top surface of the cylinder 90 shows a spider-like pattern 94 of edges 94a of the loofah interior that continue down to the bottom surface, which is not actually seen in FIG. 5.

In the third step, as seen in FIG. 5, an incision (see incision line 99) is made by the knife or other suitable cutting device at either the top surface or bottom surface of the cylinder 90. The remainder of this step is described in terms of an incision made at the top surface. One places the knife so that its point is at approximately the center of the circular surface and its blade is adjacent a radius of the circular surface and one then presses the knife down to make a vertical cut in the loofah cylinder 90, the cut being a vertical straight line through a center of the cylinder 90. By beginning at the top surface and continuing to approximately the bottom surface (or vice-versa), one exposes substantially the full length of the loofah interior.

Although FIG. 5 depicts the cylinder 90 as having a flat top surface, this is to help one see the spider like pattern 94 of edges at the top (and bottom) portion of the cylinder 90 that exist before the step of gutting the interior loofah is performed. If one were chop off the dome on the top surface of the cylinder 90 of loofah one would see the view depicted in FIG. 5. Such a step is not really necessary, however, since one can make the vertical incision without doing this. In addition, although the above step of making a vertical incision has been described from the top surface, the cut can be made from the top or from the bottom of the cylindrical piece 90 of loofah.

In the fourth step the loofah interior 98, the interior of the cylindrical piece of loofah is cut or removed. This leaves a hollow substantially cylindrical piece of loofah whose outer walls are generally rough in terms of coarseness and whose interior walls have a higher level of coarseness that is described as “very coarse”. This step is akin to removing the inside of a fruit.

The next step involves placing the gutted cylinder on its long side 93 and flattening it into a substantially planar object by further separating and opening the piece 90 along the vertical cut. One is left with a substantially planar piece of loofah, one side of which has a very coarse surface and the other side of which has a “generally rough” surface which is less coarse than the other side.

In the next step, the flattened substantially planar “page” or “sheet” of loofah is shaped in accordance with the outer perimeter or shape of a mitten by trimming it “around one's fingers”. This can do be done in any suitable way well known in the art. The simplest way is to place one's hand on the “page” and cutting away loofah that the hand does not cover. It is noted that a separate “thumb” is created in this step.

At this point an incision is made through the thickness of the “page” or “sheet” of loofah to split its thickness into two parts and this cut is made beginning at the wrist portion of the mitten thus creating a mitten interior for insertion of the hand. In certain versions, the cut is not extended so far as to cut through the other end of the “page” (where the tops of the fingers would be situated) to reduce the amount of sewing needed in the final step.

The final step is embedding a reinforcing border 32 into the cavity of the loofah mitten, such as by sewing. Although this step too can be done by hand, a machine is typically used for increased efficiency during mass production of loofah mittens. Note that the sewing/trimming machine performing this final step can easily add the border 32 since it has access to the border easily because no portion of the border 32 is in the middle of a sheet of loofah. Rather all portions of the border are at an exposed edge of the loofah sheet.

It should be understood that although the steps of the method of the present invention have been described in a certain sequence, a different sequence may be employed to carry out the method of the present invention so long as the purpose of the method, creating the desired end product, a loofah mitten, is accomplished.

The term “generally rough” as used in this patent application means being as coarse as the outside of a loofah plant is. The term “very coarse” as used in this patent application means being as coarse as the inside wall of a hollow cylindrical piece of loofah is (after the interior loofah has been removed), which is the high degree of coarseness displayed by an inside vertical wall of a cylindrical loofah plant is after such loofah plant has had its interior section removed, as described in the process above.

Let us assume that the user wishes to apply lower surface 20b to the skin to remove dirt, scales, skin cells or matter that has accumulated on the user's skin. One simply inserts the hand into the mitten 10 at the wrist portion 11 so that the thumb is in the thumb section of the mitten 10 and applies either surface to the skin for scrubbing.

Washcloth 10 of the present invention can be worn on a person's left hand or alternatively on that person's right hand. When worn on either hand both surfaces 20, 20b of loofah mitten 10 can be used. However, the fact that a person can wear the loofah mitten on either hand makes it that much easier to make good use of both surfaces 20a, 20b of the washcloth sheet 20. With the grip afforded by the mitten-shaped washcloth 10 of the present invention, the user can wear the washcloth 10 on the right hand and apply all of the generally rough upper surface 20a of loofah sheet 20 and/or all of the very coarse lower surface 20b to the skin and scrub the skin with force. He or she can also wear washcloth 10 on the left hand and apply all of the very coarse lower surface 20b of loofah sheet 20 and/or all of the generally rough upper surface 20a to the skin and scrub with force. The mitten is intended to be loose enough so that it does not fit on only one hand but not on another hand.

It is to be understood that while the apparatus and method of this invention have been described and illustrated in detail, the above-described embodiments are simply illustrative of the principles of the invention. It is to be understood also that various other modifications and changes may be devised by those skilled in the art which will embody the principles of the invention and fall within the spirit and scope thereof. It is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described. The spirit and scope of this invention are limited only by the spirit and scope of the following claims.