Title:
Sponge use identifier apparatus and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sponge includes at least one letter or visual identifier that is used to identify which component the sponge is to be used to clean. The letter or visual identifier is provided on either or both of a top surface and a bottom surface of the sponge. The letter or visual identifier is provided by way of indelible ink, recessed areas on a surface of the sponge, or raised areas on a surface of the sponge.



Inventors:
Brookes-weiss, Melanie (Falls Church, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/060446
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
02/18/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L13/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GUIDOTTI, LAURA COLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOLEY & LARDNER LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sponge, comprising: at least one letter identifier that is used to identify which component the sponge is to be used to clean.

2. The sponge according to claim 1, wherein the at least one letter identifier is provided on at least one of a top surface and a bottom surface of the sponge.

3. The sponge according to claim 1, wherein the at least one letter identifier is provided by way of indelible ink.

4. The sponge as recited in claim 1, wherein the at least one letter identifier is provided by way of recessed areas on a surface of the sponge.

5. The sponge as recited in claim 1, wherein the at least one letter identifier is provided by way of raised areas on a surface of the sponge.

6. The sponge as recited in claim 1, wherein the at least one letter identifier corresponds to a word or an abbreviation of a word that identifies the component that the sponge is to be used to clean.

7. A sponge, comprising: at least one visual identifier that is used to identify which components the sponge is to be used to clean.

8. The sponge as recited in claim 7, wherein the at least one visual identifier corresponds to a visual image of a fixture that the sponge is to be used to clean.

9. The sponge as recited in claim 7, wherein the at least one visual identifier corresponds to a sink.

10. The sponge as recited in claim 7, wherein the at least one visual identifier corresponds to a toilet shape.

11. The sponge as recited in claim 7, wherein the at least one visual identifier is provided on at least one of a top surface and a bottom surface of the sponge.

12. The sponge according to claim 7, wherein the at least one visual identifier is provided by way of indelible ink.

13. The sponge as recited in claim 7, wherein the at least one visual identifier is provided by way of recessed areas on a surface of the sponge.

14. The sponge as recited in claim 7, wherein the at least one visual identifier is provided by way of raised areas on a surface of the sponge.

15. A method of manufacturing a sponge that includes a use identifier, comprising: including the use identifier on at least one surface of the sponge, the use identifier corresponding to either at least one letter identifier or a visual identifier that identifies a component that the sponge is to be used to clean.

16. The method as recited in claim 15, wherein the including step is performed by a stamping machine that stamps either the at least one letter identifier or the visual identifier on the sponge.

17. The method as recited in claim 15, wherein the at least one letter identifier or the visual identifier is provided by way of indelible ink.

18. The method as recited in claim 15, wherein the at least one letter identifier or the visual identifier is provided by way of raised or recessed areas on a surface of the sponge.

19. The method as recited in claim 18, wherein the surface of the sponge corresponds to either a top surface or a bottom surface, or both, of the sponge.

20. The method as recited in claim 15, wherein the at least one letter identifier corresponds to a word or an abbreviation of a word that identifies the component that the sponge is to be used to clean.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Sponges are used for all kinds of things, such as for washing dishes, cleaning stovetops, kitchen countertops, kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, tubs and showers, and toilets, just to name a few of the uses of sponges.

When a sponge is used in a kitchen, for example, it is hard to remember the previous usages of that sponge. For example, if the kitchen area has two sponges, one for cleaning the kitchen sink and one for cleaning the kitchen floor, it is difficult to remember which sponge is to be used for which purpose. While sponges are typically sold in packs with sponges of differing colors, one can initially designate the “blue” sponge for cleaning the kitchen floors and the “yellow” sponge for cleaning the kitchen countertops and stovetops. However, at a later date, it is difficult if not impossible to remember which sponge is to be used for which purpose. Also, a guest of a residence may not know the designated use of each sponge if he or she were to be assisting with dish washing and other household cleaning.

This clearly leads to a problem, since one does not want to use his/her kitchen floor cleaning sponge for cleaning the kitchen countertop, due to the germs and such that are picked up by the kitchen floor sponge. Even if one cleans their sponges periodically (e.g., places them in a dishwasher along with the dishes), it is still not a good sanitary idea to use a toilet or floor sponge for cleaning kitchen areas.

The present invention has been developed with the above problem in mind.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A sponge according to one aspect of the invention herein comprises at least one letter identifier that is used to identify on which components the sponge is to be used to clean.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is described in further detail herein with reference to the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a first sponge according to a first embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use of the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

FIG. 2 illustrates a second sponge according to the first embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use indicator for the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

FIG. 3 illustrates a third sponge according to the first embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use indicator for the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

FIG. 4 illustrates a fourth sponge according to the first embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use indicator for the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

FIG. 5 illustrates a fifth sponge according to the first embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use indicator for the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

FIG. 6 illustrates a sixth sponge according to the first embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use indicator for the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

FIG. 7 illustrates a sponge according to either a second or third embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use indicator for the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

FIG. 8 illustrates a first sponge according to a fifth embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use indicator for the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

FIG. 9 illustrates a second sponge according to the fifth embodiment of the invention, whereby an intended use indicator for the sponge is provided on a surface of the sponge.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1-6 show sponges 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and 550 according to a first embodiment of the invention. Each of the sponges has an indelible identifier 110, 210, 310, 410, 510, and 560 placed on a conspicuous location, such as a top or bottom surface, or both, of the sponge. That way, when a person desires to use a sponge to clean something, that person need only to refer to the indelible identifier in order to know which things the sponge is to be used for (and/or has been previously used to clean). That way, the person can be assured that the sponge that he/she currently has in their hands is being used for the same things that it has previously been used to clean.

In accordance with the first embodiment, the sponges 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and 550 are preferably sold in one package. The sponges 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and 550 may be of different colors, or of the same color. Since there is no worry about misusing a sponge, the color distinctions provided on the sponges are purely for ornamental purposes. In an alternative implementation, there may be more of certain sponges in a sponge package than other sponges, due to the fact that certain things are cleaned more frequently than other things. By way of example and not by way of limitation, there may be a plurality of SINK sponges and only one TOILET sponge in a package, since sinks are typically cleaned more often than toilets (and thus sink sponges wear out faster than toilet sponges).

In the first embodiment, the indelible identifier 110, 210, 310, 410, 510, and 560 is preferably an ink-based identifier, that does not wear off when exposed to water or other liquids. The indelible identifier 110, 210, 310, 410, 510, and 560 is preferably of a large size that takes up most of a top or bottom surface, or both, of the sponge. The indelible identifier 110, 210, 310, 410, 510, and 560 is preferably provided in all capital lettering, but some or all of the letters may alternatively be provided in lower-case lettering, if desired. The lettering is preferably provided in English, but it may also be provided in another language, such as Spanish or German, depending upon where the sponges are to be sold and the prevalent nationality of the persons who are to be using the sponges. The identifier may be fully spelled out, or it may be abbreviated, whereby the abbreviation has enough lettering for one to determine the purpose of the sponge (e.g., TLT for toilet, KIT-CNT for kitchen countertop, SNK for sink, etc.). The size of the lettering may be modified based on the size of the sponges, in order to provide enough lettering on the sponges so as to identify the things the sponges are to be used to clean. Thus, a large sponge may have large lettering (e.g., 14 point lettering), whereby a smaller sponge may have smaller lettering (e.g., 12 point or 10 point) to include the same identifier with the same number of letters.

In a second embodiment of the invention, instead of providing an ink-based indelible identifier on the sponge, the identifier is provided by way of recesses on the sponge surface itself, whereby, during manufacturing of the sponges, a top or bottom surface, or both, of the sponges are “etched” so as to provide the lettering used to identify the particular use of the sponges. In this case, areas on the top or bottom surfaces of the sponge that correspond to the letters are etched down by a certain amount, such as by ⅛″ to ¼″. Of course, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other etch amounts may be contemplated, while remaining within the spirit and scope of the invention. A stamping machine may be utilized during a manufacturing process to achieve the recessed lettering on the sponges.

FIG. 7 shows a side view of a sponge 600 in accordance with the second embodiment of the invention, whereby the top surface of the sponge 600 includes recessed regions 610 and non-recessed regions 620. The recessed regions 610 form the letters that indicate the items that the sponge 600 is to be used to clean.

In a third embodiment of the invention, instead of providing an ink-based indelible identifier on the sponge, the identifier is provided by way of raised areas on the sponge itself, whereby, during manufacturing of the sponges, a top or bottom surface, or both, of the sponges are “etched” so as to provide the lettering used to identify the particular use of the sponges. In this case, the areas outside the letters are etched away, such as by an amount of ⅛″ to ¼″. Of course, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other etch amounts may be contemplated, while remaining within the spirit and scope of the invention. A stamping machine may be utilized during a manufacturing process to achieve the raised lettering on the sponges.

Thus, referring again to FIG. 7, for the third embodiment, the raised regions 620 form the letters on the top surface of the sponge 600 that indicate the items that the sponge 600 is to be used to clean, while the non-raised regions 610 form the non-letter areas on the top surface of the sponge 600.

In a fourth embodiment of the invention, a sponge is provided that has either recessed lettering or raised lettering, as in the second and third embodiments, along with indelible print on the recessed or raised lettering.

In a fifth embodiment of the invention, a sponge is provided that a visual indicator on a surface thereof, in which the visual indicator indicates the things the sponge is to be used to clean. FIG. 8 shows a sponge 700 with a visual indicator on a top surface of the sponge 700, whereby the visual indicator shows dishes, to indicate that the sponge 700 is to be used for washing dishes and other kitchen utensils. FIG. 9 shows a sponge 800 with a visual indicator on a top surface of the sponge 800, whereby the visual indicator shows a bathtub, to indicate that the sponge 800 is to be used for cleaning the bathtub. A first sponge may have a toilet shape on its top or bottom surface, or both, whereby the toilet shape may be provided by way of indelible ink, recessed areas or raised areas on a surface (e.g., top surface or bottom surface, or both) of the sponge. A second sponge may have a kitchen sink shape on its top or bottom surface, or both. Thus, the first sponge will not be used for cleaning kitchen appliances, due to a cleaning person noticing the toilet shape on the first sponge and realizing that the first sponge is only to be used in the bathroom. Also, the second sponge will not be used for cleaning bathroom fixtures, due to a cleaning person noticing the kitchen sink shape on the second sponge.

Those of ordinary skill will recognize that variations in the shape, size and other aspects of the elements according to the invention can be utilized without departing from the scope of the invention as recited in the claims herein. For example, while the embodiments described above are with respect to a standard sponge, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other types of sponges, such as a sponge having an abrasive surface on one side, are contemplated while remaining within the spirit and scope of the invention. The lettering indicators may be provided on either the abrasive side or the spongy side, in that case.





 
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