Title:
Directional scrubbing and cleaning article
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to an abrasive article, an abrasive cleaning system, and a method for cleaning a hard surface, with improved versatility between maximum and minimum scrubbing capacity. The abrasive article may be used for a broad range of cleaning tasks because the scrubbing capacity of the abrasive article changes with the direction of motion. The abrasive article contains protrusions on at least one side of the abrasive article, which form a pattern of substantially parallel lines. When the direction of motion is perpendicular to the parallel lines, maximum scrubbing capacity is achieved. When the direction of motion is parallel to the parallel lines, minimum scrubbing capacity is achieved. The abrasive article may be used alone or as part of an abrasive cleaning system where it may be attached to a cleaning head that is in turn coupled to a handle by a yoke section.



Inventors:
Porticos, Richard (Pleasanton, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/092446
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/28/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/229.11, 15/231, 15/228
International Classes:
A47L13/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GUIDOTTI, LAURA COLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE CLOROX COMPANY (OAKLAND, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An abrasive article for cleaning hard surfaces comprising: one or more protrusions on at least one side of the abrasive article wherein the protrusions form a pattern of substantially parallel lines.

2. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the abrasive article has different scrubbing capacities depending on the direction of motion in which the abrasive article is moved.

3. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein a maximum scrubbing capacity occurs when the direction of motion of the abrasive article is perpendicular to the parallel lines.

4. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein a minimum scrubbing capacity occurs when the direction of motion of the abrasive article is parallel to the parallel lines.

5. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the abrasive article comprises a non-woven material.

6. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the protrusions comprise a material selected from the group consisting of: polymeric resin, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, filaments, open cell foam, particulates, mono-directional scrims, oriented fibers or combinations thereof.

7. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the abrasive article is disposable.

8. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein one or more of the protrusions are located on a surface of the abrasive article.

9. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the protrusions are woven through the abrasive article so that only portions of the protrusions are on the surface of the abrasive article.

10. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein one or more of the protrusions are located beneath the surface of the abrasive article.

11. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the protrusions are capable of retaining soil and dirt from the surface being cleaned.

12. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the protrusions have a height of less than about 0.5 mm.

13. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the protrusions have a width of less than about 0.5 mm.

14. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the abrasive article is absorbent.

15. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the protrusions are stiff enough to maintain their shape after vigorous scrubbing.

16. The abrasive article of claim 1, wherein the protrusions have a shape, which includes at least one pointed edge.

17. An abrasive cleaning system for cleaning hard surfaces comprising: a. an abrasive article with one or more protrusions on at least one side of the abrasive article and wherein the protrusions form a pattern of substantially parallel lines; b. a cleaning head where the abrasive article is attached to the cleaning head; and c. a handle coupled to the cleaning head with a yoke section.

18. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the abrasive article is removably attached to the cleaning head.

19. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the cleaning head is capable of rotation about a perpendicular axis.

20. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the abrasive article has different scrubbing capacities depending on the direction of motion in which the article is moved.

21. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein a maximum scrubbing capacity occurs when the direction of motion of the abrasive article is perpendicular to the parallel lines.

22. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein a minimum scrubbing capacity occurs when the direction of motion of the abrasive article is parallel to the parallel lines.

23. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the abrasive article comprises a non-woven material.

24. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the protrusions comprise a material selected from the group consisting of: polymeric resin, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, filaments, open cell foam, particulates, mono-directional scrims, oriented fibers or combinations thereof.

25. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the abrasive article is disposable.

26. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein one or more of the protrusions are located on a surface of the abrasive article.

27. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the protrusions are woven through the abrasive article so that only portions of the protrusions are on the surface of the abrasive article.

28. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein one or more of the protrusions are located beneath the surface of the abrasive article.

29. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the protrusions retain soil and dirt from the surface being cleaned.

30. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the protrusions have a height of less than about 0.5 mm.

31. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the protrusions have a width of less than about 0.5 mm.

32. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the abrasive article is absorbent.

33. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the protrusions are stiff enough to maintain their shape after vigorous scrubbing.

34. The abrasive cleaning system of claim 17, wherein the protrusions have a shape that includes at least one pointed edge.

35. A method for cleaning a hard surface comprising the steps of: a. placing an abrasive article, with protrusions forming a pattern of substantially parallel lines, in contact with the surface to be cleaned; b. moving the abrasive article in a direction perpendicular to the parallel lines for maximum scrubbing capacity; and c. moving the abrasive article in a direction parallel to the parallel lines for minimum scrubbing capacity.

36. The method for cleaning a hard surface of claim 35, further comprising the step of rotating the abrasive article 90 degrees to switch between maximum scrubbing capacity and minimum scrubbing capacity.

37. The method for cleaning a hard surface of claim 36, further comprising the step of maintaining contact between the abrasive article and the surface to be cleaned while switching from maximum scrubbing capacity to minimum scrubbing capacity.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to abrasive articles providing effective scrubbing and cleaning of hard surfaces. More particularly, it relates to the use of abrasive articles that can be used alone or used with an abrasive cleaning system. Abrasive scrubbing and cleaning articles are used to clean hard surfaces from various types of stains, dirt and soils, which are difficult to remove.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Abrasive cleaning and scrubbing tools and wipes are commonly found in the prior art for cleaning stubborn stains and soil on hard surfaces. The abrasive cleaning tool and wipes utilize abrasive netting, scrims, filaments, fibers, and particles, which are distributed homogenously within the x-y plane of the cleaning article. Consequently, the abrasive cleaning articles of the prior art are equally abrasive with any direction of motion because of the uniform distribution of abrasive areas.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,609,255 by Nichols describes a mop pad covered with a netting material for enhanced scrubbing. The netting material is a plastic scrim that has isotropic features in the x-y plane of the mop pad. The abrasive mop pad taught by Nichols has uniform netting material in both the x-direction and the y-direction.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,299,520 by Cheyne describes an abrasive scrub pad consisting of a non-woven web coated with uniformly dispersed abrasive particles. U.S. Pat. No. 5,786,065 by Annis teaches an abrasive non-woven web produced by melting thermoplastic fibers that are uniformly distributed within the web. Upon cooling the melted fibers form nodules that impart scrubbing. Both these patents are different because the abrasive particles or nodules are distributed isotropically in the x-y plane of the nonwoven web.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,087,279 by Laun, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,725,927 by Zilg, and patent application US200210648 by Hayase utilize velour fibers, filament loops and thermoplastic fibers, respectively, to provide scrubbing. The fibers or filament loops are distributed homogeneously in the x-y plane of the nonwoven web.

Patent application US20020146956 by Ngai describes a bi-functional, two-sided scrubbing wipe. Ngai differs from this invention because the transition from non-scrubbing to scrubbing requires breaking contact from the surface being cleaned and turning the wipe over.

There is a need in the field for an abrasive article that delivers differing degrees of scrubbing capacity depending upon whether the cleaning motion is in the x- or y-direction of the article. None of the above prior art provides a cleaning article that delivers a scrubbing benefit with the versatility and ease of use as this invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an abrasive article, an abrasive cleaning system, and a method for cleaning a hard surface, with improved versatility between maximum and minimum scrubbing capacity. The abrasive article may be used for a broad range of cleaning tasks because the scrubbing capacity of the abrasive article changes with the direction of motion. The abrasive article contains protrusions on at least one side of the abrasive article, which form a pattern of substantially parallel lines. When the direction of motion is perpendicular to the parallel lines, maximum scrubbing capacity is achieved. When the direction of motion is parallel to the parallel lines, minimum scrubbing capacity is achieved. The abrasive article may be used alone or as part of an abrasive cleaning system where it may be removably attached to a cleaning head for efficient use and easy disposal.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of an abrasive article with a pattern of linear protrusions.

FIG. 1B is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of an abrasive article with a pattern of woven protrusions.

FIG. 1C is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of an abrasive article with a pattern triangular shaped protrusions.

FIG. 2A is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of an abrasive article, which is compatible for use with a cleaning system.

FIG. 2B is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad of a cleaning system, such as taken along A-A.

FIG. 3 is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning system.

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 as such 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.

As used herein, the term “article” is intended to include any material that is used to clean an item or a surface. Examples of cleaning articles include, but are not limited to nonwovens, sponges, films and similar materials which can be used alone or 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, “protrusions” is used in its ordinary sense to mean elements where at least a portion of the element extends or protrudes from the surface of an article it is attached or adhered. Protrusions may also mean elements which are attached to an article just below the surface layer of an article, but which may be clearly felt through the surface layer of the article. Protrusions may be of any shape or size and may be comprised of a variety of different materials, which are suitable for cleaning and scrubbing.

As used herein, “disposable” is used in its ordinary sense to mean an article that is disposed or discarded after a limited number of usage events, preferably less than 25, more preferably less than about 10, and most preferably less than about 2 entire usage events.

As used herein, “scrubbing” refers to any shearing action that the article 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.

As used herein, the terms “nonwoven” or “nonwoven web” means a web having a structure of individual fibers or threads which are interlaid, but not in an identifiable manner as in a knitted web. Nonwoven webs have been formed from many processes, such as, for example, meltblowing processes, spunbonding processes, and bonded carded web processes.

The abrasive articles of the present invention have two main portions a base layer and one or more protrusions forming a pattern of substantially parallel lines. The base layer of the abrasive article may be provided by a variety of sources, including woven and non-woven webs, fabrics, foams, sponges and similar material constructs capable of abrasion, soil retention, and/or absorption the liquid soils or cleaning compositions. The material used for the protrusions can be selected from the group consisting of: polymeric resin, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, filaments, open cell foam, particulates, mono-directional scrims, oriented fibers or combinations thereof. The protrusions may have a variety of shapes and formations such as continuous lines, woven lines, and other small shapes of any kind provided in a parallel line pattern, or combinations thereof.

FIG. 1A shows a preferred embodiment of the scrubbing article with the base layer 100 and linear protrusions 102 substantially parallel to the y-axis of the article. For enhanced abrasion, the protrusions should have a height of less than about 2 mm and more preferably the height of the protrusions is less than about 0.5 mm. The width of the protrusions should be less than about 1 mm and more preferably less than about 0.5 mm. The linear protrusions 102 are shown as parallel to the y-axis in FIG. 1A, but alternatively the protrusions may be formed parallel to the x-axis or in any other direction. The exact direction of the protrusions is not important as long as the protrusions are formed in lines, which are substantially parallel to one another.

FIG. 1B shows another preferred embodiment of the present invention with base layer 100 and woven protrusions 104. The woven protrusions 104 are positioned on the base layer in a substantially parallel formation to one another. The woven protrusions 104 are woven through the surface of the base layer 100 so that only portions of the protrusions are on the surface of the abrasive article. In FIG. 1B the surface protrusions 106 are the portions of the woven protrusions that are one the surface of the abrasive article. The subsurface protrusions 108 are the portions of the woven protrusions that are beneath the surface of the base layer 100. The woven protrusions 104 are preferably made of a material such as filament, natural fibers, synthetic fibers or combinations thereof, which can easily be woven into the surface of the base, layer 100.

FIG. 1C shows a third preferred embodiment of the present invention with base layer 100 and shaped protrusions 110. The shaped protrusions 110 form a pattern of substantially parallel lines along the surface of the base layer 100. In FIG. 1C, the shaped protrusions 110 are in the form of isosceles triangles, but the protrusions may be in the form of any shape such as squares, rectangles, circles, half-circles, etc. It is preferred that the shapes of the protrusions have at least one pointed edge to provide added abrasion to the surface being cleaned. In FIG. 1C, the top point 112 of the shaped protrusions would come in contact the surface being cleaned to aid in the removal of stubborn dirt or soil.

The protrusions do not have to be exactly parallel, but they must be close enough to parallel that the abrasive article has different scrubbing capacities depending on the direction of motion in which the abrasive article is moved. The abrasive article has a maximum scrubbing capacity when the direction of motion of the abrasive article is perpendicular to the parallel lines of protrusions. The minimum scrubbing capacity is achieved when the direction of motion is parallel to that of the parallel lines of protrusions. For example, in FIG. 1A the maximum scrubbing capacity would be achieved when the abrasive article is moved in the x-direction and the minimum scrubbing capacity would be achieved when the article is moved in the y-direction.

The number of the protrusions may vary based on the desired level of abrasion for the article. Similarly, the spacing between protrusions may also vary depending on the desired level of abrasion. The protrusions may be on one or more surfaces of the article and the pattern of the protrusions may be the same or different on each of the surfaces. The protrusions may be uniform or non-uniformly spaced along the base layer. By way of example and not by way of limitation, one end of the abrasive article may have protrusions that are closer together to provide a stronger scrubbing capacity at one end of the article than at the other end. In addition, the protrusions on one part of the abrasive article may have different shapes, sizes or materials than protrusions on another part of the abrasive article. These variations in the pattern and types of protrusions and materials will allow some portions of abrasive article to have a stronger scrubbing capacity than other areas.

The abrasive articles may be formed of a solid material or a material having a series of apertures. Generally, the abrasive article is preferred to be in sheet form. The cross-sectional thickness of the abrasive article may be uniform or varied. Preferably, the cross-sectional thickness dimension of the abrasive article is proportionally smaller than either its approximate width or length dimension in order to provide at least one surface whose surface area is sized appropriately with respect to the intended surface to be treated with the abrasive article. The abrasive article may be formed into individual sheets or wipes or pads or as a continuous sheet. In continuous sheet form, it is preferred to provide means, such as partial tears or perforations across at least one dimension of the sheet, such that the continuous sheet may be subdivided prior to use to a suitable size for the particular need at hand.

The abrasive article may comprise a single layer or multiple layers of one or more materials. The abrasive article may also comprise a combination of one or more materials and/or one or more forms of materials. The multiple layers or multiple forms of materials are bonded to each other by suitable means to prevent separation. For example, a sheet of one material may be combined with a second sheet of a second material and bonded together by suitable means. Suitable means of bonding sheets together includes, by way of example and not by way of limitation, adhesion and heat or sonic welding. As a further example, a non-woven sheet of one material may be combined with a second material formed into deformable and compressible foam, and bound together by a suitable means. In this manner, all conceivable combinations of materials may be combined to provide useful articles for a variety of abrasion and cleaning requirements.

Furthermore, the abrasive article may be used either wet or dry. The abrasive article can be used dry to absorb liquid soils and retain dirt. Alternatively, the abrasive article may be used in conjunction with a liquid cleaner or water to help break up stains and remove them from the surface being cleaned. The abrasive article may be impregnated with a cleaning solution or a cleaning solution may be used in conjunction with the abrasive article at the time of use. The abrasive article and the protrusions must be sufficiently stiff to provide adequate abrasion whether the abrasive article is used wet or dry. In addition the protrusions must be stiff enough to maintain their shape after vigorous scrubbing. The abrasive article can contain non-absorbent materials, preferably in the form of films, sheets or blocks. Preferably, the non-absorbent materials are liquid impervious, which allows the user to handle the layered abrasive article without direct contact with the wetted side of the abrasive layered article.

FIG. 2A is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of an abrasive article 200, which is compatible for use with cleaning system 300 of the present invention. FIG. 2B is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad 200 of a cleaning system 300 of the present invention, such as taken along A-A.

With regard to FIGS. 2A and 2B, the abrasive article 200 consists of a base layer 202, which is the portion of the abrasive article 200, which comes into direct contact with dirt and debris on the surface being cleaned. The base layer 202 lifts and locks dirt, dust, debris, hair, fluid, liquid, powder and other spills and materials and any other unwanted matter into itself. On one side of the base layer 202 there is a narrow strip of absorbent material 204 which has roughly the equivalent, or somewhat larger or somewhat smaller than, length and the width as the cleaning head sub-assembly 380. Along the surface of the absorbent material 204 there are substantially parallel lines of protrusions 212. It will be understood that this absorbent material may be any known material which has the ability to absorb fluid, including superabsorbent materials.

In a preferred embodiment, the absorbent material 204 is also an unbonded region of the base layer 202 are be placed in contact with the surface to be cleaned. These unbonded regions, laminated or pressed onto the layer of fibers which is opposite the unbonded region, are highly effective at lifting and locking the dirt, dust, debris, hair, spilled or applied fluids, cleaning solutions, etc. The unbonded areas of base layer 202 contain lines of parallel protrusions 212 on the surface. The protrusions 212 help remove dirt and debris by scrubbing while the absorbent material retains the dirt and debris.

The material used for the protrusions can be selected from the group consisting of: polymeric resin, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, filaments, open cell foam, particulates, mono-directional scrims, oriented fibers or combinations thereof. The protrusions may have a variety of shapes and formations such as continuous lines, woven lines, and other small shapes of any kind provided in a parallel line pattern, or combinations thereof.

Suitable absorbent materials are generally selected from man-made and synthetic construction materials or substrates, preferably including synthetic polymers. For good cleaning, absorption, handling and loading characteristics, it is desirable that the absorbent materials be in the form of fiber, webs or foams of the suitable construction materials.

Additionally, a fluid impervious film backing layer 206 is bonded at points 208 to the base layer 202. The film backing layer 206 can be formed of polyethylene or any suitable plastic, rubber, other elastomeric, polymeric or other flexible or otherwise suitable and desirable material which may be available. An advantage of using a fluid impervious material for the backing layer 206 is to prevent fluid leakage into and onto the cleaning head sub-assembly 380. Therefore, the use of any essentially fluid or dirt impermeable or impervious material would be useful in this application as backing layer 206 and will, therefore, be claimed within the scope of this patent. It will be known to those skilled in the art that the bonding 208 may be formed by heat sealing or thermo-sealing, various adhesives, any suitable bonding or sealing method, stitching, etc. Thus, absorbent material 204 is retained in a fixed position relative to the base layer 202 by bonded points 208.

When the cleaning pad 200 is positioned such that the pad portion 304 of the head sub-assembly 300 is aligned with the absorbent material 204, and the film backing 206 is adjacent the lower surface of the pad portion 304 of the head subassembly 380, it will be known to those skilled in the art that the rectangular sections 210 can be removably attached to the cleaning head 380. In this manner, the cleaning pad 200 will be retained on the head portion or assembly 380 in a desired position.

In a preferred embodiment, one or two sections of the base layer 202 are removed, resulting in one or more notches 360 in the cleaning pad which makes it possible for the user to orient the cleaning pad in at least two different configurations without obstructing flow of cleaning solution or fluid 502 (shown in FIG. 3). As best shown in FIG. 2A, notch 360 located on one or two side panels 210 such as indicated is particularly adapted for use when the contour of the head sub-assembly 380 and the position of the nozzle assembly 700 thereon requires clearance for delivery of cleaning fluid 502 therefrom (shown in FIG. 3). This cleaning fluid delivery notch 360 can be shaped or otherwise formed as desired, including perforated section which is torn out by the consumer, a slit portion, various shaped section cut-out, etc. Any way the abrasive article 200 is shaped it should fit neatly and removably with the cleaning head sub-assembly 380.

FIG. 3 is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning system 300 of the present invention. The cleaning system 300 consists of a preferred embodiment of an absorbent cleaning pad or sheet 200, which is removably mounted onto a cleaning head assembly 380. The head sub-assembly 300 is attached via universal joint 302 to a handle sub-assembly 400 with ergonomic grip 501. The universal joint 302 is important in this embodiment of the invention because it allows the user to rotate to change the direction of motion for cleaning pad 200 to achieve maximum scrubbing capacity or minimum scrubbing capacity without having to remove the pad from the surface being cleaned. Easily alternating between different scrubbing capacities makes the abrasive article and cleaning system easy and efficient for the user.

The handle sub-assembly 400 can be disassembled for easy storage. A fluid reservoir 500, which is intended to carry a liquid cleaning solution 502, can be mounted on the handle sub-assembly 400 within a suitably designed holster sub-assembly 600. The fluid reservoir 500 has a flow delivery tube 504 which leads through a yoke portion on the handle sub-assembly to an fluid nozzle sub-assembly 700 which is mounted on the cleaning head sub-assembly 380 near the leading edge of the absorbent pad or sheet 200. A trigger mechanism 402 located on the proximal end of the handle sub-assembly 400 actuates a valve system for providing flow of fluid from the fluid reservoir 500 through the nozzle sub-assembly 700.

The abrasive article of the present invention may have many forms. The abrasive article may be used alone or in conjunction with simple short or elongated handle or as part of a more complex cleaning system. The abrasive article may be used for numerous applications including cleaning floors, countertops, bathroom surfaces, pots and pans, or other hard surfaces. The foregoing description and preferred embodiments are meant to be illustrative and not limiting. Various changes, modifications and addition may become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading this specification and such changes should be considered within the scope and spirit of the invention as defined in the claims.