Title:
Sink saver
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tool cleaning accessory permits paint brushes, rollers and the like to be cleaned in a sink without damaging the sink. The accessory includes a container that has a bottom wall and an opening that extends completely through the bottom wall from the top surface to the bottom surface. A drain tube extends down from the bottom surface of the bottom wall and surrounds the opening in the bottom wall. A strainer wall extends transversely across the drain tube and drain holes extend through the strainer wall to provide fluid communication between areas inside the container and areas outside the container.



Inventors:
Calma, Vito Michael (Farmingdale, NY, US)
Parisi, Theodore (Farmingdale, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/605053
Publication Date:
05/31/2007
Filing Date:
11/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03C1/01
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HESPOS & PORCO LLP (ESSEX FELLS, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cleaning accessory comprising a container with a bottom wall having opposite top and bottom surfaces, a side wall enclosure extending up from outer peripheral regions of the bottom wall, an opening extending through the bottom wall from the top surface to the bottom surface, a drain tube extending down from the bottom surface of the bottom wall and surrounding the opening in the bottom wall, a strainer wall extending transverse to the drain tube and being formed with a plurality of drain holes therein for permitting an outflow of liquids while substantially limiting an outflow of solid debris.

2. The cleaning accessory of claim 1, wherein the opening is at a non-central position on the bottom wall.

3. The cleaning accessory of claim 2, wherein a minimum distance from the opening to the side wall enclosure is about one inch.

4. The cleaning accessory of claim 1, wherein the side wall enclosure includes a curved rear wall and a substantially planar front wall.

5. The cleaning accessory of claim 4, wherein the front wall includes a plurality of substantially parallel ribs.

6. The cleaning accessory of claim 5, further comprising substantially planar side walls extending between the front and rear walls.

7. The tool cleaning accessory of claim 6, wherein the opening in the bottom wall is closer to the curved rear wall than to the substantially planar front wall.

8. The cleaning accessory of claim 1, further comprising a stopper for selective fluid tight closing of the opening in the bottom wall.

9. The cleaning accessory of claim 8, further comprising a cover removably attachable to portions of the side wall enclosure remote from the bottom wall.

10. The cleaning accessory of claim 9, further comprising a handle pivotally attached to the side wall enclosure.

11. The cleaning accessory of claim 10, further comprising at least one tool packaged with the container.

12. A method for cleaning a painting tool, comprising: providing a container with a bottom wall having opposite top and bottom surfaces, a side wall enclosure extending up from outer peripheral regions of the bottom wall, an opening extending through the bottom wall from the top surface to the bottom surface, and a drain tube extending down from the bottom surface of the bottom wall and surrounding the opening in the bottom wall; placing the container in a sink so that the drain tube of the container telescopes into a drain of the sink; cleaning the tool in the sink, while permitting liquid residue from the cleaning step to flow through the drain tube and into the drain of the sink.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising allowing the tool to drain and dry in the container while the container is in the sink.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising sealing the opening in the bottom wall while the tool is draining and drying and then removing the container from the sink to complete the draining and drying.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising sealing the opening in the bottom wall during part of the step of cleaning the tool.

16. The method of claim 12, further comprising allowing the tool to dry, storing the dried tool in the container and placing a cover over the side wall enclosure to keep the tool clean.

Description:

This application claims priority on U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/740,606 filed on Nov. 29, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to an accessory that can be used by painters and other workers so that tools can be cleaned in a sink without damaging the sink.

2. Description of the Related Art

Many home improvement projects are carried out with a tool that can be reused. Examples of such tools include paint brushes, paint rollers, sponges, scrapers, knives and spreaders. The tools can be used to apply paint, stain, adhesive, joint compound and many other products. Many of these products, such as latex paint, are formed from a water soluble material to facilitate clean-up. Thus, soap and warm water can be used in a sink to clean the tools and the hands of the worker. The sink also generally can be cleaned with soap and warm water. However, paint, stain or adhesive can cure on the surface of the sink if the sink is not cleaned quickly and completely. Cured paint, stain or adhesive is difficult to remove and can permanently damage the sink.

A tool that has been cleaned with water must drain and dry before being stored. This drying process can take many hours for a paint brush or roller. The draining water is likely to include some residue of the paint or other material that was being applied with the brush or roller. Thus, many sink stains are created after the worker had assumed that the clean up was completed. Furthermore, the paint residue is likely to be cured by the time the worker retrieves the dried brush or roller and the stain will be difficult to remove.

A sink also can be damaged by the tool that is being cleaned. For example, the metal handle of a paint roller or a metal paint roller tray can chip the surface of a porcelain sink or scratch the surface of a stainless steel sink. The damaged sink surface is much more susceptible to staining and is more difficult to clean.

Some water soluble home improvement products can create plumbing problems during cleaning. For example, joint compound, stucco, wallpaper paste and textured paint can produce sediment that can clog the drain or trap of a sink. Thus, one home improvement project can lead directly to a home repair project.

Tools that must drain and dry (e. g. brushes and rollers) are likely to be stored after tools that need not drain and dry (e. g. screw drivers and hammers). Many home owners do not have an efficiently organized tool storage system, and tools stored at different times may be stored at different places. Thus, each home improvement project often is preceded by a hunt for the tools that were used in the most recent project.

Attempts have been made to facilitate tool cleaning. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,073,547 discloses a cylindrical bucket with a bottom configured to mate with a sewer clean-out. The bucket is used with a house to wash paint directly into the sewer. The bucket shown in U.S. Pat. No. 7,073,547 is not well suited for indoor home use in a sink and has no convenient cleaning surfaces.

U.S. Pat. No. 421,754 shows a device for transferring liquid from a small container to a larger container without spilling the liquid. The device is not well suited for most clean-up tasks. A similar device is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,172,739.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,017,462 shows a device that is intended to prevent plaster sediment from flowing into a sink drain. This device has two basins that must be nested prior to use, and the assembly has no surface that is appropriate for scrubbing or otherwise cleaning a tool or other object.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,336,662 discloses a self-skimming dish rinse that is intended to permit an overflow. Hence this device would soil or stain a sink if the device was used to clean tools.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,732,593 shows a complex apparatus that can be connected to hoses for cleaning a paint roller.

The prior art does not disclose a cleaning accessory that can be used in a sink for efficiently cleaning a broad range of tools without damaging the sink. In view of the above, it is an object of the invention to provide an accessory that permits easy cleaning of tools with little risk of damage to a sink.

Another object of the invention is to provide an accessory that permits home improvement products to be cleaned with little risk of clogged drains.

A further object of the invention is to provide an accessory that permits efficient storage of tools between uses and efficient transportation of tools to and from a job site.

An additional object of the invention is to provide a tool cleaning accessory that is inexpensive and easy to use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a tool cleaning accessory that permits paint brushes, paint rollers, spreaders, scrapers and the like to be cleaned, drained and dried in a sink without damaging the sink. The accessory includes a container that preferably is formed from a molded plastic or rubber material. The container has a bottom wall with opposite top and bottom surfaces and at least one opening that extends completely through the bottom wall from the top surface to the bottom surface. A continuous side wall enclosure extends up from outer peripheral regions of the bottom wall and defines an open top remote from the bottom wall.

A drain tube extends down from the bottom surface of the bottom wall and surrounds the opening in the bottom wall. The drain tube can be formed unitarily with the bottom wall or can be formed separately and then attached by adhesive or the like. A strainer wall preferably extends transversely across the drain tube and at least one drain hole extends completely through the strainer wall to provide fluid communication between areas inside the container and areas outside the container. The at least one drain hole preferably comprises a closely spaced array of small drain holes. The closely spaced array of small drain holes functions as a strainer that permits an outflow of liquid and fine granular material, while retaining large clumps of material that could clog a sink or the trap beneath a sink.

The drain tube preferably projects down from the bottom wall between about one inch and about three inches. Additionally, the drain tube preferably is stepped and/or tapered from a larger cross-section at positions near the bottom wall to a smaller cross-section at positions farther from the bottom wall. The larger cross-sectional dimension of the drain tube at positions adjacent the bottom wall preferably is between about two and three inches. The smaller cross-sectional dimension of the drain tube at positions spaced from the bottom wall preferably is between about one and two inches.

The side wall enclosure preferably tapers slightly to wider cross-sectional dimensions at positions farther from the bottom wall. The taper of the side wall enclosure facilitates molding, and permits several containers to be nested for transportation and/or storage. Part of the side wall enclosure may be generated substantially cylindrically. However, another part of the side wall enclosure may define a substantially planar ribbed surface that may function as a wash board for cleaning paint brushes, paint roller, sponges and the like. The drain tube preferably is at an off-center position on the bottom wall, and most preferably is close (e. g. one inch) to the cylindrically generated part of the side wall enclosure.

The accessory may further include a handle. The handle may be substantially U-shaped and may be mounted pivotally to the side wall enclosure.

The accessory also may include a stopper for selectively closing the opening in the bottom wall. The stopper preferably is formed from rubber or other resilient material that will provide fluid tight closure of the opening in the bottom wall.

A cover may be provided for selectively closing the open top of the side wall enclosure. Thus, the accessory can be used as a closable tool box for storing painting tools between uses.

The accessory can be used by placing the bottom wall of the container on the bottom surface of a sink and aligning the drain tube with the drain of the sink. Thus, the drain tube of the accessory will telescope into the drain of the sink. Warm water and soap then can be used to clean paint brushes, paint rollers or other tools in the container. The paint-containing water will flow from the container, through the drain tube and into the sink drain without soiling the sink. The ribbed surface of the side wall enclosure can be used to enhance the cleaning and scrubbing if necessary. The stopper can be used at certain times during the cleaning to permitting tools to soak. The cleaned tools then can be retained in the container for draining and drying. The cleaned and dried tools can be stored in the container between uses, and the cover can be placed over the open top end of the side wall enclosure to keep the tools clean between uses. The handle can be used to transport the accessory from the sink to storage.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a tool cleaning accessory according to the invention.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the tool cleaning accessory shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a rear elevational view of the tool cleaning accessory.

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of the tool cleaning accessory.

FIG. 5 is a front elevational view of the tool cleaning accessory.

FIG. 6 is a bottom plan view of the tool cleaning accessory.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 7-7 in FIG. 3.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 8-8 in FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A tool cleaning accessory in accordance with the invention is identified generally by the numeral 10 in FIGS. 1-8. The tool cleaning accessory 10 includes a container 12 than is molded unitarily from a plastic material. The container 12 has a bottom wall 14 with opposite top and bottom surfaces 16 and 18. Feet 20 project down from the bottom surface 18 of the bottom wall 14 and enable the bottom wall to be supported in spaced relation to a horizontal surface of a sink. The bottom wall 14 includes a curved rear edge 22, a straight front edge 24 opposed to the rear edge 22 and first and second opposed side edges 26 and 28 that join the curved rear edge 22 to the straight front edge 24. An opening 30 extends through the bottom wall 14 on a line centrally between the side edges 26 and 28 and at a position spaced from the curved rear edge 22 by a distance “a” of about one inch, as shown in FIG. 7. The opening 30 has a diameter “b” of about 3.00-4.00 inches, as shown in FIG. 7.

A side enclosure 31 extends up from the outer periphery of the bottom wall 14 of the container 12 with a sufficient taper to permit nesting of several containers during shipping and storage. The side enclosure 31 includes a curved rear wall 32 that extends up from the curved rear edge 22 of the bottom wall 14. A generally planar front wall 34 extends up and out from the front edge 24 of the bottom wall 14 at more of a slope than other parts of the side enclosure 31. First and second generally planar side walls 36 and 38 extend up from the first and second side edges 26 and 28 of the bottom wall 14 and join the curved rear wall 32 to the front wall 34. The distance between the front wall 34 and the opening 30 exceeds the distance between the rear wall 32 and the opening 30. The front wall 34 is formed with ribs 40 that extend substantially parallel to the bottom wall 14. The ribs 40 and the angular alignment of the front wall 34 enable the front wall 34 to function as a scrub board that can be used, for example, to clean a paint brush or a utility rag. The significant space between the front wall 34 and the opening 30 enables the worker to observe the flow of debris and other material from the front wall 34 towards the opening 30. An outwardly and downwardly curved lip 42 extends continuously around the top of the side enclosure 31 for reinforcement. Handle mounting detents 46 and 48 project out from the side walls 36 and 38 respectively at positions near the lip 42. The mounting detents 46 and 48 are configured for pivotally engaging a handle 50 that is formed separately from the container 12. In the preferred embodiment, the handle 50 is formed unitarily from a thermoplastic. However, a handle formed at least partly from metal can be used.

A drain tube 52 extends down from the bottom wall 14 and surrounds the opening 30. The drain tube 52 has a generally spherically generated upper part 54 and a generally cylindrical or slightly tapered lower part 56 that extends down from the upper part 54. The lower part 56 of the drain tube 52 defines an outside diameter “c” of about 1.0-2.0 inches. Additionally, the drain tube 52 projects from the bottom wall 14 by a distance “d” of about 2.0-3.0 inches. A strainer wall 58 is formed in the lower part 56 of the drain tube 52 and includes drain holes 60. Each drain hole 60 is about 0.25 inch across. Thus, liquid and fine granular materials can flow through the drain holes. However, larger materials will be trapped by the strainer wall 58.

The tool cleaning accessory 10 further includes a stopper 62 formed from an elastomer and configured to engage frictionally with inner peripheral portions of the opening 30 in the bottom wall 14 and/or the upper part 54 of the drain tube 52. Thus, the stopper 62 can provide fluid tight sealing at the opening 30 in the bottom wall 14. The stopper 62 can be used to allow the container 12 to fill so that tools to soak during cleaning. Additionally, the stopper 62 can be used while the tools are draining and drying so that the container can be removed from the sink, thereby freeing the sink for other use.

The tool cleaning accessory 10 further includes a cover 64 that can be snapped releasably into connection with the lip 42 around the top of the side enclosure 31. Thus, the cover 64 enables tools T to be stored cleanly in the container 12 between uses.

The tool cleaning accessory 10 can be used by placing feet 20 of the bottom wall 14 of the container 12 on the bottom surface of a sink and aligning the drain tube 52 with the drain of the sink. This alignment of the drain tube 52 with the drain of the sink can be achieved easily despite the various shapes and sizes of prior art sinks, in view of the close distance “a” between the drain tube 52 and the curved rear wall 32. More particularly, the curved rear wall 32 of the container 12 can be placed close to the wall of the sink that is nearest the drain of the sink. The small diameter lower part 56 of the drain tube 52 of the tool cleaning accessory 10 then is telescoped into the drain of the sink. This telescoping of the drain tube 52 into the drain of the sink can be carried out easily in view of the small outside diameter “c” of the lower part 56 of the drain tube 52 and the extending distance “d” of the drain tube 52 from the bottom wall 14. Warm water and soap then can be used to clean paint brushes, paint rollers or other tools T in the container 12. The paint-containing water will flow from the container 12, through the drain tube 52 and into the sink drain without soiling the sink. The ribs 40 of the front wall 34 can be used to enhance the cleaning and scrubbing if necessary. The stopper 62 can be used at certain times during the cleaning to permitting tools T to soak. Debris may accumulate in the container 12 during the cleaning of the tools T. However, the strainer wall 58 will prevent the debris from clogging the sink drain, and any such accumulated debris can be removed manually from the large diameter upper part 54 of the drain tube 52 so that liquid can flow substantially unimpeded from the container 12 and into the drain of the sink. The cleaned tools T then can be retained in the container 12 for draining and drying. The cleaned and dried tools can be stored in the container 12 between uses, and the cover 64 can be placed over the open top end of the side wall enclosure 31 to keep the tools clean between uses. The handle 50 can be used to transport the accessory 10 from the sink to storage.

The invention has been described with respect to a preferred embodiment. However, it will be apparent to those skilled in this art that various changes can be made without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. For example, the container 12 can take many shapes other than the preferred shape shown in the FIGS. 1-8. The strainer wall 58 can be at any selected position along the drain tube 52, such as adjacent to the upper end of the upper part 54, the step between the upper and lower parts 54 and 56 or at the lower end of the lower part 56. The tool cleaning accessory 10 can be sold with or without the stopper 62, with or without the cover 64 and with or without tools T. The cleaning accessory can be used for cleaning many products other than tools. For example, the cleaning accessory can be used for cleaning fish tank or pond filters, golf balls, clothing, foot wear and food. The cleaning accessory also can be used for soil generating tasks, such as repotting plants and dying clothes.





 
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