Title:
Mop handle with sight window
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hollow mop handle adapted to be filled with, contain, and dispense a fluid wherein the handle includes at least one sight window positioned adjacent the upper end of the handle



Inventors:
Dyer, John J. (Shoreview, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/209872
Publication Date:
03/02/2006
Filing Date:
08/23/2005
Assignee:
3M Innovative Properties Company
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
401/195, 401/268
International Classes:
A47L13/12; A46B11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VARNUM, RYAN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
3M INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES COMPANY (ST. PAUL, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cleaning tool comprising a. a mop head; b. a handle attached to the mop head, the handle having an upper portion wherein the handle is adapted to be filled with, contain, and dispense a fluid; and c. at least one sight window disposed in the upper portion of the handle.

2. The cleaning tool of claim 1, wherein the mop head is selected from the group consisting of a string mop, flat mop, sponge, squeegee, and broom.

3. The tool of claim 1 wherein, the handle has a length-to-width ratio of at least 40:1.

4. The tool of claim 1, wherein the handle comprises an upper end and a lower end, the mop head being attached at the lower end and the at least one sight window being disposed adjacent the upper end of the handle.

5. The tool of claim 1, further comprising sight windows disposed on opposite sides of the handle.

6. The tool of claim 5, wherein the sight windows are disposed on diametrically opposite sides of the handle.

7. A cleaning tool comprising, a. a mop head; b. a handle having an upper portion and a length-to-width ratio of at least 40:1, the handle being adapted to be filled with, contain, and dispense a fluid attached to the mop head; and, c. at least one sight window disposed in the upper portion of the handle.

8. The tool of claim 7, further comprising sight windows disposed on opposite sides of the handle.

9. The tool of claim 8, wherein the sight windows are disposed on diametrically opposite sides of the handle.

10. The cleaning tool of claim 7, wherein the mop head is selected from the group consisting of string mop, flat mop, sponge, squeegee, and broom.

11. The tool of claim 7, wherein the handle comprises an upper end and a lower end, the mop head being attached at the lower end and the at least one sight window being disposed adjacent the upper end of the handle.

12. A liquid dispensing handle for a cleaning implement chosen from a mop, a squeegee, and a broom comprising: a. a tubular shaft defining an internal chamber and including a top portion and a bottom portion; b. means for connecting the floor cleaning implement to the bottom portion; c. an upper valve assembly sealably disposed in the top portion; d. means for actuating the upper valve assembly to allow air into the tubular shaft coupled to the upper valve assembly; e. a rod longitudinally disposed in the tubular shaft, the rod defining an internal rod chamber, and including a bottom portion, the bottom portion defining holes; f. a lower valve assembly sealably disposed in the bottom portion including an assembly outlet that allows a liquid to pass out from the internal chamber directly onto a surface to be cleaned when the actuating means is manually activated by a user; and, g. at least one sight window disposed in the top portion of the handle.

13. The tool of claim 1 wherein the at least one sight window is sealed with one of tape and heat-shrink material or a combination thereof.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/604,636, filed on Aug. 26, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a handle for a cleaning tool such as a mop. More particularly, it relates to a handle adapted to be a fluid reservoir wherein the handle comprises a sight window to permit observation of fluid level during refilling of the handle.

BACKGROUND

Mops and similar cleaning tools are commonly used for cleaning surfaces in a wide variety of environments. In its most basic form, the typical mop includes an elongated handle attached to a mop head. The handle has a sufficient length to width ratio so as to require two hands during typical use.

For most applications, the mop head is soaked with one or more liquids. For example, a user may employ the mop head to apply an appropriate liquid to a floor surface (for example cleaning liquid, disinfectant, wax and the like). Alternatively, or in addition, water may be used to periodically rinse or clean collected debris from the mop head. In this regard, the necessary liquid(s) are contained within one or more buckets that the user must transport while performing the finishing/cleaning task. This presents a distinct inconvenience for the user. Further, inadvertent liquid spillage may occur during the frequent dipping of the mop head into the bucket(s).

Numerous efforts have been made to develop a combination mop assembly/liquid dispenser that overcomes the problems identified above. One approach entails a liquid container mounted directly onto the mop handle in conjunction with a valve system that provides control over liquid flow to the mop head. When filled with liquid, the attached container renders the mop handle quite cumbersome to maneuver. Alternatively, cleaning tools have been developed with handles adapted to contain and dispense a liquid are known. In some, the handle itself has been designed to contain the liquid internally. There are toilet brushes, for example, in which the handles are adapted to contain a reservoir of cleaning liquid or in which the handle itself is adapted to be the reservoir. In some instances, the handle has a sight window to allow the user to determine when the liquid contained within the handle reservoir is getting low or to allow the user to dispense measured doses of the cleaning liquid.

Mops having handles adapted to contain and dispense a liquid have also been developed. A mop head is attached at the lower end of the handle. Generally near the mop head is an orifice from which the cleaning liquid is dispensed from the handle reservoir onto the mop head or directly onto the floor adjacent the mop head. In proximity to the other end of the mop handle, the upper end, is typically an orifice adapted to receive the fresh cleaning liquid and perhaps a plug which the operator removes to refill the handle. The plug may be a simple stopper or may have some other function such as a removable valve assembly for example.

The typical mop handle can be described as a generally cylindrical shaft approximately one inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and 4.5-5 feet (135-150 cm) in length. The handle generally has a length-to-width ratio of at least 40:1 and more typically 60:1. A mop having a handle of such proportion is intended for two-handed operation. In comparison, cleaning tools such as toilet or dust brushes, which are intended for one-handed operation, have handles that are about 1-1.5 inch (2.5-3.7 cm) in diameter (or major cross-section dimension) and about 13-16 inches (34-40 cm) in length representing a length-to-width ratio of considerably less than 40:1 and more typically 15-20:1.

Because the length-to-width ratio of a typical mop handle is considerably greater than that of a cleaning tool such as a toilet brush, refilling the handle with the desired liquid may present a challenge to the user. To fill a hollow tubular handle, for example, with the desired cleaning liquid or other fluid, the operator removes or displaces the plug from the upper end of the handle. Liquid may then be poured into the tubular shaft. After the tubular shaft is filled, the operator replaces the plug thereby once again sealing the handle reservoir. The user, however, must use judgment to determine when the handle is full. This can be done by knowing how much liquid the handle holds and refilling with the proper amount once the handle is empty. If the user would like to add the liquid prior to the handle being empty, however, it is difficult to know how much liquid to add before the handle overfills. By pouring slowly or listening carefully, one can often determine when the handle is getting full. Sometimes, however, this requires more focused attention to the filling operation than the user has time to provide especially during periods of heavy workload, that is, a time when the mop handle would require more frequent filling.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the present invention provides a hollow mop handle adapted to be filled with, contain, and dispense a fluid wherein the handle includes at least one sight window positioned adjacent the upper end of the handle. In one embodiment of this aspect, the sight window includes one or more apertures in the exterior wall of the hollow mop handle, the apertures being covered or sealed with a transparent material. In another embodiment, the sight window includes a transparent collar adjoining an upper portion and a lower portion of the mop handle.

In another aspect, the invention is an improvement on the cleaning implement of U.S. Pat. No. 6,467,983 (“1893 patent”), incorporated herein fully by reference. Briefly, the 1983 patent describes a cleaning implement the handle of which generally is a tubular shaft which includes two valve assemblies; one at the top, or upper end, of the tubular shaft, the other at the bottom, or lower end, of the tubular shaft. Both valve assemblies include seals to create an air tight chamber within the tube. Accordingly, when the chamber has liquid in it, the liquid cannot escape onto the surface to be cleaned until air is introduced into the chamber. The top valve assembly includes a push button mechanism to allow air into the air tight chamber. By introducing air, an equal amount of liquid is dispensed out from the handle through the lower valve assembly. The improvement comprises adding one or more sight windows to the upper end of the handle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A and 1B depict schematic examples of sight window apertures according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 depicts a schematic example of a sight window collar in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention features a mop handle adapted to be filled with, contain and dispense a fluid wherein the mop handle has at least one sight window disposed adjacent the upper end of the handle. The sight window permits the user of the mop to determine when the handle is nearly full during the refilling procedure thereby helping to prevent inadvertent overfilling of the handle and spillage of the fluid.

In a typical use mode, a mop handle is held in a generally upright position. With this in mind, the mop handle can be described as having an upper portion, a middle portion and a lower portion, the upper portion and the lower portion having ends: the upper portion having an upper end, and the lower portion, a lower end. A mop head is attached at the lower end of the handle. As used herein, the term “mop head” refers to a number of known applicator and/or cleaning heads, including a string-type mop, flat mop, sponge, squeegee, broom, etc. When the mop is being used on a horizontal surface such as a floor, the user generally grasps the upper portion of the mop handle with one hand and the middle portion, that is, somewhere between the lower and the upper portions of the handle, with the other hand.

FIGS. 1A and 1B depict the upper portion 120 of a hollow, generally tubular mop handle 100. At or near the upper end 125 of the handle 100 is provided a filling orifice 110 and plug (not shown), the filling orifice 110 adapted to receive fresh fluid for filling the hollow mop handle 100 and the plug adapted to seal the filling orifice 110 to prevent spillage of the fluid during use and storage of the mop. In proximity to the filling orifice 110 and disposed between the filling orifice 110 and the lower portion of the mop handle (not shown) is provided at least one sight window. In FIG. 1A, an exemplary sight window is depicted as an elongated oval aperture 140 and in FIG. 1B, as a generally circular aperture 150. In one variation of this embodiment, sight windows 140 or 150 may be covered with a transparent, typically chemically impervious, adhesive tape or heat-shrink material to seal the aperture and permit viewing of at least a portion of the liquid in the interior of the handle. A particularly suitable tape, for example, is 3M™ Polyester Film Tape #8417 sold by 3M, St Paul, Minn. Exemplary heat shrinkable materials are flexible polyolefin tubing FP-301 sold by Electro Insulation Company, Arlington Heights, Ill., and adhesive lined polyolefin tubing NP-321 sold by Nelco Products Inc, Pembroke, Mass.

As used herein, the term “transparent” includes the usual meanings of both “transparent” and “translucent”, that is, a “transparent” material permits sufficient passage of light there through such that an object on one side of the material may be seen, if only dimly, from the other side.

The sight window apertures may also be fitted with transparent inlays which seal the aperture and make it leak-proof. Inlays may be made of polymeric materials, also known as engineering plastics or engineering resins, such as (meth)acrylates, polyesters, polycarbonates, silicone polymers and the like. Specific examples include polymethyl methacrylate, polycarbonate, polyethylene terephthalate, polybutylene terephthalate, and silicone polymers all available commercially from General Electric, Pittsfield, Mass., and other suppliers. The skilled artisan can determine which engineering plastic is most suitable based on the composition and properties of the handle and the fluid(s) to be used therein.

Inlays may be machined, molded, or otherwise formed to fit into the dimensions of the aperture and may be held in place in the aperture by adhesive means or by mechanical means such as snap or pressure fitting which are well-known techniques to those of ordinary skill in the art. Typical adhesives are water and chemical resistant and provide suitable mechanical strength during use to prevent the sight windows from detaching from the wall of the handle. Examples of suitable adhesives are silicone rubber adhesives and epoxy adhesives, both being well-known and commonly available. However, choice of most suitable adhesive will depend on the physical and chemical properties of the inlay material, the handle material, and the fluid to be contained within the handle.

A sight window can be of any desired shape and/or size consistent with maintenance of the structural integrity of the handle. For example, FIG. 2 depicts the upper portion 210 of a mop handle 200 in which a sight window 250 circumscribes the perimeter of the handle. In this configuration, the sight window 250 is adapted to join the upper end 220 of the handle to the upper portion 210 of the handle. For example, a sight window 250 can comprise threaded or tapered structures which mate with corresponding threaded or tapered structures in the interior portions of the adjoining sections of mop handle. Alternatively, or additionally, a sight window 250 can be adhesively connected to the adjoining portions of the handle. As stated previously, choice of adhesive will depend on the physical and chemical properties of the inlay material, the handle material, and the fluid to be contained within the handle, all of which will be understood by the artisan.

The sight window permits the user to view the level of liquid inside the hollow handle as the handle is being filled. Both the dimension and position on the handle of the sight window will likely be determined by the manufacturer of the handle based, at least in part, on the size of the filling orifice. That is, a large filling orifice permits more rapid filling of the handle than does a smaller orifice. In a handle that can be filled rapidly, one might desire a sight window to be larger or be positioned somewhat further away from the filling orifice in order to provide sufficient visual warning of the handle being nearly full well in advance of possible overflow. A larger sight window may permit easier viewing of the fluid level within the handle by virtue of larger viewing area or because a larger window permits more light within the handle interior thereby making it easier to see the contents. Increased visibility of the liquid level within the handle may also be obtained by disposing sight windows on diametric opposite sides of the handle thereby permitting transmission of light through one sight window, through the interior of the handle, and out the opposite sight window.

In some instances, it may provide comfort to the user of the mop to have the handle wrapped with a soft, compressible material to cushion the grip and make it easier to hold and use the mop. Various fabrics and polymeric materials are known to be used for this purpose, in particular a closed or open cell polymeric foam wrap. It is contemplated to provide on the mop handle a cushion grip having a sight window. This may be achieved by providing at least one sight window aperture in the wall of the hollow mop handle, providing a cushion grip adapted to fit around the handle wherein the cushion grip has at least one aperture corresponding to the at least one sight window aperture, and affixing the cushion grip onto the mop handle such that at least one cushion grip apertures aligns with the at least one sight window apertures. It is also contemplated that the cushion grip material may be a heat-shrink polymer such as denoted previously wherein the heat-shrink material is generally opaque except for a transparent portion corresponding to the sight window aperture in the handle.

The 1983 patent describes in part a liquid dispensing handle for a cleaning implement chosen from a mop, a squeegee, and a broom comprising: a tubular shaft defining an internal chamber and including a top portion and a bottom portion; means for connecting the floor cleaning implement to the bottom portion; an upper valve assembly sealably disposed in the top portion; means for actuating the upper valve assembly to allow air into the tubular shaft coupled to the upper valve assembly; a rod longitudinally disposed in the tubular shaft, the rod defining an internal rod chamber, and including a bottom portion, the bottom portion defining holes; and a lower valve assembly sealably disposed in the bottom portion including an assembly outlet that allows a liquid to pass out from the internal chamber directly onto a surface to be cleaned when said actuating means is manually activated by a user.

To refill the handle, one removes the upper valve assembly thereby opening the top portion of the tubular shaft and permitting introduction of liquid into the hollow interior. The handle, however, is not transparent. As described previously, it is difficult to know when the handle is nearly full, and often during the filling process, the filling liquid overflows the handle. Addition of one or more sight windows to this handle solves the indicated problem by permitting the user to see the liquid level in advance of the handle being full and thereby knowing when to stop adding liquid to the handle.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that changes may be made in the embodiments described without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, a sight window can be external to the handle as when a clear tubing is attached to the handle such that the interior of the tubing communicates with the interior of the handle. When liquid in the handle is at the same height as at least a portion of the tubing, liquid will be visible in the tubing at the same height. Thus, the scope of the present invention should not be limited to the structures and methods described in this application, but only by the structures and methods described by the language of the claims and the equivalents thereof.