Title:
Scrub shoe
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is provided a wearable cleaning implement or “scrub shoe” adapted to be worn on a user's foot that is useful for scrubbing surfaces that are lower than waist level. In certain embodiments, bristles extend from the undersurface of a shoe-like member, slipper, or flip-flop that is worn by the user. Scrub shoes according to certain embodiments of the invention are particularly useful in cleaning tile floors, shower stalls, bathtubs, boat bottoms, pool bottoms, coolers, and the like.



Inventors:
Mallatt, Marsha M. (Stuart, FL, US)
Mallatt, Philip R. (Stuart, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/138014
Publication Date:
11/30/2006
Filing Date:
05/26/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/136, 401/6
International Classes:
A47L13/282
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090288262Compact Portable ToothbrushNovember, 2009Hall
20040133999Underwater cleaning and scrubbing apparatusJuly, 2004Walton
20050015911Flocked foam lotion applicatorJanuary, 2005Harty
20080078048Thermoformed media for car wash equipment and methods of building and operating car wash equipment using such mediaApril, 2008Belanger
20080178901MOLDED MASCARA BRUSH WITH OVAL COREJuly, 2008Montoli
20040006843Wet and dry horizontal vacuum cleanerJanuary, 2004Cankurtaran
20090044824Mascara applicator and dispenserFebruary, 2009Stachowski
20080134463Rotation brush driving apparatus for vacuum cleanerJune, 2008Choi et al.
20060265828Scrub shoeNovember, 2006Mallatt et al.
20060026790Dustpan with miniature on-board vacuumFebruary, 2006Consilvio
20020134407Magnetic head cleaning tape and cleaning method for magnetic headsSeptember, 2002Urai



Primary Examiner:
KARLS, SHAY LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP - East Coast (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
1. A cleaning implement adapted to be worn on a user's foot as a scrub shoe, comprising: (a) an upper portion comprising a water shoe, a dive sock, or a water sock comprised of an at least partially water-resistant material having a strength that can withstand back-and-forth scrubbing action, the upper portion having an area adapted to directly receive a user's foot, (b) an undersurface comprising a sole that has a plurality of bristles extending therefrom.

2. The cleaning implement of claim 1, wherein the bristles are tufted into the undersurface.

3. (canceled)

4. (canceled)

5. The cleaning implement of claim 1, further comprising a toe portion, wherein a plurality of bristles extend from the toe portion and wherein the bristles are adapted to clean corners and crevices.

6. The cleaning implement of claim 1, wherein the upper portion is comprised of neoprene, mesh, rubber, plastic, Tri-Permalon™, latex, or a combination thereof.

7. (canceled)

8. (canceled)

9. The cleaning implement of claim 1, wherein the upper portion is adapted to slip onto a user's foot.

10. The cleaning implement of claim 1, wherein the bristles are comprised of polymers, plastic, wire, polyethylene terephthalate, nylon, animal hair, tampico, bassine, poled polymers, scouring brush material, or a combination thereof.

11. The cleaning implement of claim 1, wherein the bristles are removable and replaceable.

12. The cleaning implement of claim 11, wherein the undersurface has an attachment area of hook and loop material or a track and the bristles are provided on a platform that has corresponding hook and loop material or a corresponding track.

13. The cleaning implement of claim 1, further comprising a member adapted to hang the cleaning implement between uses.

14. The cleaning implement of claim 1, further comprising a bladder adapted to contain and dispense cleaning materials during use.

15. A method for manufacturing a cleaning implement adapted to be worn on a user's foot, comprising: (a) providing an undersurface sole portion of a piece of footwear having an underneath surface; (b) providing a plurality of bristles; and (c) attaching the bristles to the underneath portion of the undersurface.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising (d) attaching the undersurface portion to an upper portion that is adapted to slip or tie directly onto the user's foot in order to secure the cleaning implement to a user's foot.

17. (canceled)

18. The cleaning implement of claim 1, wherein the upper portion is adapted to tie onto a user's foot with shoelaces.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a cleaning implement adapted to be worn on a user's foot.

BACKGROUND

Cleaning hard surfaces, such as ceramic tile floors, shower stalls, bathtubs, boat decks, pool decks, pool bottoms, coolers, and the like, can be difficult work, particularly when that surface is lower than waist level. The work is multiplied when the surface needs to be scrubbed, and a light sweep or mopping will not suffice. Many items that leave stains or residues simply cannot be wiped up easily, which often necessitates scrubbing or heavy rubbing action.

For example, in most instances, scrubbing a heavily stained tile floor or shower stall means kneeling for an extended period of time. This causes fatigue to the knee joints, and the continued scrubbing motion can also tire the back and shoulders. This type of scrubbing is particularly difficult for those who have knee, elbow, shoulder, or other joint problems. It is also difficult for the elderly or disabled, who may be unable to sustain heavy pressure for the amount of time needed to achieve the desired result. Furthermore, the abrasive chemicals used to scrub floors or other surfaces often roughen hands or cause other skin irritations. The required pressure of the hand against the scrub brush can also irritate skin and break fingernails.

Some of the foot-worn cleaning devices for cleaning kitchen floors provided by the art are insufficient for heavy scrubbing. A light piece of material or sponge pushed around by the foot will not achieve the desired result. Additionally, devices that have interchangeable sponges and scrub pads at the toe are also insufficient. Scrub pads attached to the toe portion of a sock by a hook and loop (or Velcro®) material are not sturdy enough for scrubbing, nor are they located in an optimal position for a true scrubbing action. Moreover, a sock includes fabric layers that are not useful for scrubbing a shower, a boat, a pool, or any other use where the sock will be partially or completely submerged in water.

Additionally, although there are alternatives to scrubbing by kneeling, the alternatives are often insufficient to remove heavy stains. For example, scrub brushes with long handles can be difficult to maneuver. It is also difficult for the user to achieve the desired amount of pressure due to the extended length of the handle.

One instance in which handled scrub brushes are often used is to clean the inside of a boating vessel. The user will typically spray the boat down with water, apply soap, and then scrub the boat desk, which is typically made of fiberglass, aluminum, wood, glass, or resin. Again, there are many instances when the length of the handle of the scrub brush prevents achievement of the desired pressure or friction to remove a difficult stain, such as fish scales, dried blood, mud, spilled beverages, food crumbs, and so forth. In addition, it may be difficult for the scrub brush, which typically has a square head, to reach corners and crevices for a complete scrub, particularly near the boat's engine and/or transom area. Extendable handles can also prevent the scrub brush from being easily stored on the vessel, making them cumbersome, and preventing easy access when a stain or spill is fresh and the easiest to clean.

Similar scrubbing challenges may also be faced with cleaning debris (e.g., fish scales and blood) off of a dock or concrete surface, cleaning a pool bottom to remove algae growth, cleaning a cooler that has mildewed, and so forth. Anytime a surface lower than waist level needs to be scrubbed, there is hard work involved for the knees, hands, elbows, back, and shoulders. Accordingly, there is a need in the art for a controlled way to use a scrub brush, without having to kneel or use a long scrub brush handle.

SUMMARY

There is provided a wearable cleaning implement or “scrub shoe” adapted to be worn on a user's foot that is useful for scrubbing surfaces that are lower than waist level. In certain embodiments, bristles extend from the undersurface of a shoe-like member, slipper, or flip-flop that is worn by the user. Scrub shoes according to certain embodiments of the invention are particularly useful in cleaning tile floors, shower stalls, bathtubs, boat decks, pool decks and pool bottoms, coolers, and the like.

Certain embodiments of the invention provide a cleaning implement adapted to be worn on a user's foot, comprising an upper portion having an area adapted to receive a user's foot, and an undersurface comprising a plurality of bristles extending therefrom.

Other embodiments of the invention are directed to methods of manufacturing such cleaning implements.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a top view of a scrub shoe according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 shows a side view of the scrub shoe of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows a front perspective view of the front of a scrub shoe according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 shows a front perspective view of a scrub shoe according to a further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 shows a side perspective view of a scrub shoe according to a further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 shows a front perspective view of a scrub shoe according to a further embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 7 and 8 show bottom views of scrub shoes and bristle placements according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 9A and 9B show top plan views of scrub shoe embodiments according to further embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 10 shows a side view of a scrub shoe according to an even further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 shows alternate scrub bristles and scrub pads that may be used according to various embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1 and 2 show a wearable cleaning implement 10 (also referred to as a scrub shoe 10) according to certain embodiments of the present invention. As shown, scrub shoe 10 has an upper portion 12 and a lower portion, or undersurface 14. In some embodiments, upper portion has an opening or area 16 for insertion of the user's foot. The undersurface 14 has a plurality of bristles 18 that extend therefrom.

If upper portion 12 of scrub shoe 10 is provided as a structural portion, it may be made from neoprene, mesh, rubber, plastic, Tri-Permalon™, latex, a combination thereof, or any other material that is durable enough to withstand back-and-forth cleaning movement and that is at least partially water resistant. It is also preferable for the material to have sufficient flexibility that it will not wear on the user's heel or toes, causing chaffing during use. In some embodiments, there may be an inner cushion (not shown) that facilitates wearer comfort.

Examples of particularly useful scrub shoe 10 upper portions 12 include commercially-available dive shoes, water shoes, or water socks, examples of which are shown in FIG. 1 and 2. Other embodiments of upper portions 12 useable in connection with the present invention include lightweight athletic shoes (some versions of which are also made for wearing during water sports), as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. Further upper portions 12 may be flip-flops (shown in FIG. 5) or water-resistant slippers (e.g., surgical clogs or plastic athletic shoes), one embodiment of which is shown in FIG. 6. FIGS. 5 and 6 also show optional strap 50 that can be used to secure scrub shoe 10 onto the user's foot. Optional strap 50 may be provided to secure flip-flop or slipper embodiment on the user's foot during the backward motion of the scrubbing action. FIGS. 9A and 9B show upper portion as being platform 70 with straps 72 extending therefrom.

In any event, if a structured upper portion 12 is provided, it is desirable for opening 16 of upper portion 12 to be flexible enough to allow the user to slip scrub shoe 10 onto the foot without needing any other securing mechanism, although securing mechanisms may be used. Optional securing mechanisms, such as laces 30 (shown in FIG. 4), straps 32 using buckles or hook and loop closures (shown in FIG. 3) or zippers (not shown) may be used if desired.

Undersurface 14 of scrub shoe 10 may be made from any of the above-listed materials, or any other material that has sufficient strength and wearability to support bristles 18, as well as the weight of the user (e.g., wood). In the preferred embodiment, undersurface 14 is made from rubber, which does not absorb water and which also provides traction during use. In another preferred embodiment, undersurface 14 is made from a hard plastic materials, similar to the material used for the back and handle portions of scrub brushes. Undersurface 14 may be a solid material or it may be perforated to provide drainage holes.

Undersurface 14 may also feature a platform 20, shown in FIG. 1, that extends around the edges of scrub shoe 10 in the forward, side, and rearward positions. Platform 20 provides greater surface area for bristles on the underneath side 58 of sole (shown in FIGS. 7 and 8), which provides a greater cleaning surface. This may be particularly useful for cleaning large areas. Platform 20 may also provide a balancing function because it provides more surface area for the user to lean side-to-side on, if necessary during use. Bristles extend down from platform 20, as well as optionally out from sides 21 of platform.

FIG. 1 also shows platform 20 having nose 22. Nose 22 may be any shape, non-limiting examples of which include triangular, square, rectangular, or curved. Bristles 18 preferably extend from nose 20, allowing scrub shoe 10 to be used to clean hard to reach areas, such as crevices and corners. Although nose 22 is shown extending from platform 20, it is understood that nose 22 may extend directly from toe portion 24 of scrub shoe 10 to provide an additional way for the reach crevices that are smaller than the size of the toe portion 24 of shoe, as shown in FIG. 3. (Although not shown, a corresponding tail, which provides the same function as nose 22 and which may be provided in similar shapes, may extend from heel portion 26 of scrub shoe.)

In alternate embodiments, nose 22 features a squee-gee that can be used to wipe excess water clear after the surface being treated has been scrubbed.

As discussed, instead of nose 22, scrub shoe 10 may have alternatively bristles 18 that extend directly from toe portion 24, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. In this embodiment, toe portion 24 may (but need not) be reinforced to provide additional support for scrubbing action. Bristles 18 are provided in such a fashion so that in use, the user may tilt the heel in the air and apply pressure to toe portion 24 of scrub shoe 10 to achieve extra scrubbing action with bristles 18 to eliminate tough stains.

Bristles 18 extend from undersurface 14 (or any other desired portion of scrub shoe 10). Bristles may be made of any material that has a density appropriate for scrubbing action. As used herein, bristles is intended to cover alternate cleaning materials, such as scouring pad material, steel wool, and so forth. Examples of potential materials include, but are not limited to, polymers, plastic, wire, polyethylene terephthalate, nylon, animal hair, tampico, bassine, or poled polymers. It is understood that there are continuous advances in the area of bristle and polymer technology and any future materials that have density and other features appropriate for scrubbing action are considered within the scope of this invention.

Bristles may be provided in any appropriate length, but typically range between 1½ inches to a quarter of an inch, but can be longer or shorter depending upon the desired use. In scrub brushes used by hand, short bristles, although stiff and strong, are typically undesirable, because the user's hand will be scuffed against the surface to be cleaned. However, the present invention allows a greater flexibility in fiber length and stiffness, and the fibers are preferably short and stiff to achieve strong scrubbing action. If a buffing-type action is desired, the fibers may be longer and softer.

In certain embodiments, bristles 18 on scrub shoe 10 are all of a similar size and stiffness. In other embodiments, bristles 18 may be provided in any combination of sizes and stiffnesses on the same scrub shoe 10.

Any appropriate manufacturing method may be used to adhere or otherwise secure bristles 18 (or scouring pad 40, shown in FIG. 6) to undersurface 14. Exemplary methods include tufting the bristles into the undersurface 14 (similar to the way carpet is tufted into backing), gluing or adhering clumps of bristles 18 into small cavities in the undersurface 14 (similar to the way regular bristles are held in place in a conventional scrub brush), providing a separate piece that is tufted or glued and then attached to lower portion or undersurface 14 of shoe. Alternate embodiments provide a track-like system on the sides of undersurface and a corresponding track on the scrub brush portion such that the brush portions may be removed and replaced. If used, a scouring pad 40 may be glued or otherwise adhered to undersurface 14 or a piece that forms sole. Other manufacturing methods would be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art and are considered within the scope and spirit of the invention.

Once bristles or other items are attached to the undersurface of scrub shoe 10, an upper portion may be secured into place. Upper portion may be a neoprene-type bootie, a flip flop feature, a clog feature, or simply a strap feature, all of which are described in more detail throughout this document.

FIGS. 1 and 5 show bristles 18 extending the length of undersurface 14. FIG. 3 shows bristles 18 on toe portion 24 and the forward portion 36 of undersurface 14. FIG. 4 shows bristles on the rearward portion 38 of undersurface 14. FIG. 6 shows bristles on forward portion 36 of undersurface 14 and extending continuously up to toe portion 24. Any of these locations or a combination of them is considered within the scope of this invention.

FIGS. 7 and 8 show possible combinations of bristle 18 locations on the underneath 58 sole 14 of scrub shoe 10. Just as with scrub brushes, similar manufacturing and use considerations apply with respect to the size of the rows 60 of bristles 18 and the thickness of the bristles 18. FIG. 7 shows an embodiment with bristles extending from the sides 39 of shoe 10, as well as inserted into the undersurface of shoe. The bristles in undersurface 14 are shown in rows of 7×18, although rows of any number of length and width may be used. This embodiment shows ½ inch long bristles.

FIG. 8 shows a series of bristles inserted into forward portion 36 of undersurface 14 in a more random order and being relatively even spaced. Bristles may be placed in any configuration, such a circular, triangular, U-shaped, or V-shaped. FIG. 8 also shows a series of bristles inserted into a platform 20 attached to undersurface 14, allowing bristles to extend past undersurface 14 for more cleaning surface area.

A further embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B. This embodiment is adapted to be strapped to bare feet or worn over a user's existing shoes. For example, if a user wishes to scrub the bow of a boat deck, but does not wish to remove his/her shoes in order to wear a separate scrub shoe of the various types and styles described above, there is provided a scrub shoe 10 having a platform 70 with straps 72.

FIG. 9A shows an embodiment having a single pair of straps 72 and FIG. 9B shows an embodiment having a double pair of straps 72. Straps may be located anywhere that is practical for securing the scrub shoe 10 to the user's foot, although it is preferred that straps be located at the back of the shoe 10 near the heel, at the front of the shoe 10 to strap over the toe area, or both. Although not shown, it is also possible for the straps to form a heel cup and the straps to be secured around the user's ankle.

Straps 72 may be secured in any number of ways, including but not limited to hook-and-look material (commonly called Velcro®), buckles, snaps, magnetic clips, shoe string-type ties, zippers, and so forth. FIG. 9B shows an example with a hook-and-loop material 74.

Some of the benefits of this embodiment are that the user can continue to wear his shoes (boat shoes, tennis shoes, boots, sandals, etc.), slip the scrub shoe 10 over the existing shoe, strap it tightly in place for use. This user has the benefit of the fit, traction, and arch support of his own shoes, which can be more comfortable than a less structured shoe, as well as the use of the bristles, scouring pad, or whatever feature chosen to be provided on the underside (not shown) of the platform 70. Some cleaning jobs, such as cleaning a wood deck or a large boat deck are time consuming and the added comfort and ease of this scrub shoe 10 embodiment make the job more enjoyable, more comfortable, and much easier.

Another advantage of this embodiment is that the platform may be manufactured of a studier material (similar to the hardness of the back of a scrub brush) because comfort of the wearer is already ensured by the fit of the wearer's current shoes.

Along with any of the other embodiments described in this application, the embodiment shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B could also be strapped to the user's bare feet, which can be particularly useful to clean areas where shoes are not typically worn, such as shower stalls and pool bottoms.

One way of manufacturing this embodiment may be to provide a platform having two surfaces wherein a plurality of bristles extend from one surface of the platform and attach securing means (e.g., straps, buckles, snaps, ties, or any other securing mechanism), to the other surface of the platform (that area adapted to receive a user's foot), such that the platform is adapted to be worn on a user's foot for scrubbing a lower surface.

For marketing purposes, it is possible to sell any of the scrub shoes 10 described herein in regular shoe sizes, such as 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (and perhaps intermediate sizes such as 7½, 8½ or ranges such as 7-8 or 9-10), although it may also be possible to see them in sizes such as small, medium, large and extra-large.

FIG. 10 shows a scrub shoe 10 that is adapted to be worn over just the upper part of a user's foot, e.g., over the toes. The platform 72 is smaller (e.g., to cover only the ball of the foot) and the strap 72 is preferably a one-piece elastic strap 72, although it may also be two straps connected by Velcro, tied, buckled, snapped, zipped, and so forth.

FIG. 11 shows alternate scrub bristles and scrub pads that may be used according to various embodiments of the invention.

The user of any embodiment of scrub shoe 10 may decide to use scrub shoe 10 in conjunction with another type of cleaning pad, such as a scouring pad, sponge, mop, chamois cloth, or so forth. The other type of cleaning pad may just be placed over bristles and used to shine, dry, buff or otherwise treat the surface being cleaned.

In certain embodiments, there may be an optional member 28 extending from the heel portion 26 area of scrub shoe 10 (or anywhere on scrub shoe 10) adapted to hang scrub shoe 10 between uses. This allows the user to hang the scrub shoe 10 in the shower, on a hook inside a kitchen cabinet, on a hook in a boat, and so forth, so that shoe 10 is easily accessible for use. Member 28 may be a loop, a hook, a clip, or any other attaching mechanism.

FIG. 4 shows an optional balance element 34 that may be provided for balance and to prevent slipping during use. Balance element 34 is shown as a stopper-type feature (similar to a door stop), and can be analogized to a kick-stand for a bicycle, although it may be provided as a suction cup or any other balance-providing member. Its purpose is to give the user a support to lean back on during use if needed. Balance element 34 is preferably rubber or any other material with sufficient traction on wet surfaces.

It is recommended that the user wear only one scrub shoe 10 in order to leave the other foot free for providing support and balance. If the user does decide to wear a scrub shoe 10 on each foot, the user should be careful to guard against slipping and falling, particularly because the scrub shoe 10 is typically used on a wet surface. One way to guard against such slippage if two scrub shoes 10 are worn is to use support poles, similar to ski poles. Support poles may have suction cups or rubber bases to provide additional support for the user. In small areas where the user can support himself using his arms (e.g., while cleaning a shower stall or bathtub) for support against walls, support poles may not be needed.

FIG. 6 shows an optional bladder element 42, illustrated with cross-hatchings. If desired, bladder 42 is formed integrally with scrub shoe 10 and is adapted to contain and dispense cleaning materials through opening 44 during use. A latch 46 may be provided to open bladder 42. When latch 46 is opened, the cleaning material within bladder 42 may be dispensed by the user exerting slight pressure with the toes on bladder 42. Once cleaning material is dispensed, latch 46 is closed and the user may begin scrubbing as usual. In certain embodiments, bladder 42 may be refillable.

An alternate embodiment of any of the scrub shoes 10 described herein may be a removable bristle track, scouring pad, or other cleaning surface section. This would allow a user to replace bristles or scouring pads that may have worn out before the shoe itself has worn out. There may be tracks on the side of platform 20 or 70, which would allow a scrub brush or other item having corresponding tracks to be removed and replaced. One or more tracks may be used, such as a single track or tracks on the sides of the undersurface 14.

Alternate attachment methods are also considered within the scope of this invention. One non-limiting example of such attachment is using hook-and-loop material, snaps, clips, or some other securing mechanism to attach a sheet, strip, or platform containing bristles or a scouring pad to a shoe sole or bottom. The shoe may fit over a user's foot or it may be a base platform that is strapped onto the user's foot as described herein.

Although alternate embodiments have been shown on different scrub shoes 10, it should be understood that a particular shoe 10 may have one or a combination of all features described herein.

In addition to the cleaning benefits described, scrub shoes 10 may also be useful to allow the user to get exercise. The back and forth motion of the leg to clean a floor works a major muscle group, and the user can put on music and enjoy cleaning—for once—while obtaining health benefits.

Changes and modifications, additions and deletions may be made to the structures and methods recited above and shown in the drawings without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention and the following claims.