Title:
Cleaning device for infant and toddler drinking cups
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cleaning device for infant and toddler drinking cups. The device is configured in such a manner as to allow a thorough cleaning of “sippy cup” lids, including tiny apertures and hard to reach crevices which cannot be cleaned by ordinary brushes or sponges. The device is composed of two parts. On one end of the device is a flat, oblong tip on which a disposable sponge has been placed. The sponge can be used to clean the inside of a sippy cup lid, such as the mouthpiece. The other end consists of a flexible, curved tip with a pointed end, which can reach into and scrape clean small apertures and crevices, such as the inside of a flow intake valve of a sippy cup lid. The curved tip also includes as disposable sponge for additional cleaning. The cleaning device includes replacement sponges, allowing the device to be used on an ongoing basis.



Inventors:
Wright, Dephne Nguyen (Houston, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/335425
Publication Date:
07/19/2007
Filing Date:
01/19/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/105
International Classes:
A47L25/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KARLS, SHAY LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DEPHNE WRIGHT (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cleaning device for use in cleaning infant and toddler drinking cups, comprising essentially:

2. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, which is composed of a straight plastic cylindrical shaped shaft, with cleaning instruments on either end, the shaft being used as a handle for a user to hold while utilizing the cleaning instruments;

3. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, the first cleaning instrument consisting of a flattened oblong tip;

4. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, the first cleaning instrument further consisting of a removable fitted sponge, which is placed over the oblong tip during use;

5. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, which also includes replacement sponges for the first cleaning instrument;

6. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, the first cleaning instrument of which can be utilized to clean the inner apertures of lids of sippy cups, which are inaccessible to conventional sponges;

7. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, the second cleaning instrument consisting of a flexible curved tip;

8. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, the second cleaning instrument further consisting of a curved tip with a pointed end;

9. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, the second cleaning instrument being utilized as an abrasive device to clean apertures and crevices in sippy cup lids and fluid intake valves which are inaccessible to conventional cleaning devices, such as sponges and brushes;

10. The cleaning devices as defined in claim 1, the second cleaning instrument also consisting of a removable fitted sponge, which is fitted over the curved tip, and which is used to wash small crevices on the inside of sippy cup lids;

11. The cleaning device as defined in claim 1, which contains replacement sponges for the second cleaning instrument;

12. A method for cleaning infant and toddler cups, and other cups that use lids and/or fluid intake valves, through use of the device in the manner previously mentioned.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE

None

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Sippy cups have become immensely popular with parents and guardians of young children. They help infants learn how to drink out of a cup, rather than a bottle, but keep infants from spilling liquids on themselves or their surroundings. Sippy cups help to keep children's clothes from getting wet and dirty, and also protect carpets, furniture, and automobile interiors. Parents can use them indoors or outdoors, and children enjoy using them, as they usually come in bright colors. Sippy cups have become an indispensable part of any parent's home.

Sippy cups do, however, present a problem in terms of cleaning and maintenance. Though sippy cups vary in design, they all share similar features. They have a mouthpiece, which a child will use to drink the liquid in the sippy cup. They also have some form of fluid intake regulation, which will hold the fluid inside the cup until it is accessed through the mouthpiece. Because the sippy cup is designed to allow a child to drink slowly, the fluid intake valves and mouthpieces consists of small holes. While many fluid intake valves are removable, they cannot be completely disassembled. Therefore, once a sippy cup has been used by a child, it is difficult to remove any residual fluid from the mouthpiece or fluid intake valves. In the case of juice, even a small amount of pulp can clog the cup's holes. Milk can also congeal and form clumps inside of the mouthpiece or valves that can be almost impossible to remove. This is especially true if a sippy cup has been lost, or turned upside down for an extended period with milk inside. The entire inside of the lid can be coated with milk which has gone sour and hardened. Once a sippy cup has been retrieved, and the milk inside is discovered to have congealed, a parent will often throw it out to avoid trying to clean it.

The problem is that conventional scrub brushes and sponges are not designed to get into the tiny cracks and crevices that exist in a sippy cup. Even bottle brushes are not useful, as the abrasive bristles, which are designed for a baby bottle, cannot effectively scrub the inside portions of a sippy cup, such as the gaskets of a fluid intake valve. If a parent attempts to use a sippy cup which is not thoroughly clean, it can adversely affect the taste and smell of drinks subsequently placed in the cup; it can also adversely affect the child's health, as bacteria can begin to grow inside the cup lid. What is needed is a device that is specifically designed to clean sippy cups, to thoroughly clean both inside mouthpieces and fluid intake valves, removing any foreign matter and fluid residue. This device, of course, could be used to clean spill proof cups, or other d vessels for adults that include a lid, mouthpiece, or fluid intake valves.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The first purpose of the invention is to provide a cleaning device which has been designed for cleaning infant's and toddler's cups, commonly known as sippy cups, and other drinking vessels which include lids or fluid intake mechanisms.

The second purpose of the invention is for the cleaning device to consist of a straight, cylindrical shaped shaft, on either end of which are cleaning instruments. The shaft will act as a handle, which a user would hold while using either end of the device for cleaning the cup.

The third purpose of the invention is for the first cleaning instrument to consist of a flat, roughly oblong shaped tip. The tip is flattened to allow it to fit inside the hole of a sippy cup mouthpiece, which will allow it to thoroughly clean the mouthpiece. The tip is oblong shaped so that the tip will be able to clean the sides of the mouthpiece.

The fourth purpose of the invention is for the first cleaning instrument to also consist of a sponge, which fits completely over the oblong tip. The edges of the tip closest to the shaft are at right angles to the shaft itself, allowing the sponge to fit snugly onto the tip without falling off. The sponge is thin enough to allow the tip to enter the mouthpiece of the sippy cup, but is thick and strong enough to clean the mouthpiece without tearing. The sponge is sturdy enough for multiple uses, and can be rinsed clean after use.

The fifth purpose of the invention is to provide replacement sponges after the original sponge wears out. While the sponge will last for multiple uses, it will eventually need changing. The user will simply slip off and discard the original sponge, and slip a new sponge onto the oblong shaped tip.

The sixth purpose of the invention is for the second cleaning instrument to consist of a curved tip, which tapers to a point at the very end. This tip is strong, but flexible. This pointed tip can reach into small mouthpiece holes and fluid intake valves, and extract foreign matter and liquid residue. This will allow the tip to thoroughly clean the sippy cup, as the tip is able to clean areas that are inaccessible to sponges, brushes, and bottles brushes, as well as areas with encrusted matter that will not become dislodged even with a hot water spray directed at it. The flexible nature of the tip allows the user to move the tip around inside the parts of the sippy cup, making sure that all areas have been cleansed.

The seventh purpose of the invention is for the second cleaning instrument to also consist of a fitted sponge, which fits over the curved tip. This allows the side of the tip to scrub crevices inside the sippy cup lid with soap, after the tip has been used to dislodge foreign matter. This allows the tip to initially remove any substances from the sippy cup, and then to sanitize it with soap and water, giving the sippy cup a thorough cleaning.

The eighth purpose of the invention is to provide replacement sponges for the second cleaning instrument. This sponge, like the sponge for the first cleaning instrument, will provide multiple uses, but it will need to be replaced. The user can simply remove the old sponge, discard it, and place a new sponge over the pointed tip.

The ninth purpose of the invention is to provide a method for the cleaning of sippy cups, through the methods previously mentioned.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

1. FIG. 1 is a frontal view of the device, with the removable sponge for the first cleaning instrument shown in phantom.

2. FIG. 2 is a detail of the first cleaning instrument.

3. FIG. 3 is a view of the removable sponge for the first cleaning device.

4. FIG. 4 is a detail of the second cleaning instrument, with a second view of the second cleaning instrument shown in phantom.

5. FIG. 5 is a detail of the second cleaning instrument, with the removable sponge shown in phantom.

6. FIG. 6 is a detail of the removable sponge for the second cleaning instrument.

7. FIG. 7A is a view of the underside of a sippy cup lid.

8. FIG. 7B is as top view of a sippy cup lid.

9. FIG. 7C is a top view of a fluid intake valve of a sippy cup.

10. FIG. 7D is a top view of the reverse side of a fluid intake valve of a sippy cup.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

1. FIG. 1 is a frontal view of the entire cleaning device. The round plastic shaft 10 has two cleaning instruments on either side. The first cleaning instrument is the flattened, roughly oblong shaped tip 20. In this illustration, it is shown in phantom. The oblong tip 20 is flattened out to allow it to fit inside the mouthpiece of a sippy cup, but is thick enough to avoid breaking during use. The removable sponge 30 fits over the oblong tip 20, allowing the oblong tip 20 to completely scrub the sippy cup lid, without dislodging the sponge 30. On the other side of the shaft 10 is the curved tip 40, which is used to clean inside the fluid intake valves of a sippy cup. The curved tip 40 tapers down to a point, which allows the curved tip 40 to fit inside of the sippy cup lid valves, and scrape out any foreign matter. The curved tip 40 also has a removable sponge, which is not shown in this illustration.

2. FIG. 2 is a detail of the first cleaning instrument, with the removable sponge 30 not shown in the illustration. The oblong tip 20 of the first cleaning instrument can be seen to have two sides closest to the shaft 10, both sides of which form right angles with the shaft 10. The two sides then curve gently away from the shaft 10, so that the oblong tip 20 is curved at the end. This shape is specifically designed to fit inside the holes of a sippy cup lid, such as the mouthpiece.

3. FIG. 3 is a detail of the removable sponge 30, which is used for the first cleaning instrument. The sponge is curved at the top 30A, and is wider at the bottom 30B, so that it fits snugly over the oblong tip 20, which is not shown in the illustration. The sponge is sturdy enough to clean dirty surfaces, but thin enough to allow the oblong tip 20 to reach into small apertures and crevices. The device includes replacement sponges when the original removable sponge 30 becomes worn.

4. FIG. 4 shows a detail of the second cleaning instrument, with the removable sponge not shown. The second cleaning instrument can be seen to consist of a curved tip 40, which begins to taper down gradually at the end closest to the shaft 10, continues to taper as it curves, and then ends in a point. This illustration shows the curved tip 40 in two positions, one position in phantom, to demonstrate the flexible nature of the curved tip 40. While the curved tip 40 is flexible, it is still sturdy enough to remove foreign matter from a sippy cup, and is small enough to reach into tiny openings in the mouthpiece or fluid intake valve.

5. FIG. 5 is a detail of the second cleaning instrument, with the curved tip 40 shown in phantom. The curved tip 40, without the removable sponge 50, is able to reach into tiny apertures and crevices to remove foreign matter from a sippy cup. With the removable sponge 50 attached, the curved tip 40 is able to scrub with soap and water the small areas in between the valve assembly carriers of a sippy cup lid, and the side of the lid itself. These areas are often too small to be effectively cleaned by conventional sponges.

6. FIG. 6 is a detail of the removable sponge 50. The sponge has an opening 50A through which the curved tip 40 can enter. The sponge then curves and tapers down to the sponge tip 50B. This configuration allows for easy installation of the sponge 50 onto the curved tip 40, while allowing the sponge 50 to fit snugly onto the curved tip 40, to prevent the sponge 50 from coming off during use. The sponge 50 is thick and durable enough for multiple uses, but is thin enough to all the curved tip 40 to reach into small apertures and crevices for cleaning. The device includes replacement sponges when the original sponge 50 becomes worn.

7. FIG. 7A, and the subsequent illustrations, are views of a sippy cup lid apparatus, detailing hard to clean areas which can be cleaned by the device. FIG. 7A shows the underside of a sippy cup lid 60, showing valve intake carriers 70 and 80. The holes in the two valve intake carriers are too small for conventional brushes or sponges to fit. However, the first cleaning instrument, with the oblong tip 20 can fit completely into the intake carrier 70, and the second cleaning instrument, with the curved tip 40, can remove any foreign matter from intake carrier 80. The curved tip 40 with the removable sponge 50 can also clean the area in between the lip of the sippy cup 60 and the valve intake carriers 70 and 80. FIG. 7B, which is the top view of a sippy cup lid 60, showing the mouthpiece 90, the mouthpiece holes 100, and the mouthpiece cover 110. The curved tip 40 can remove foreign matter from the mouthpiece hole 100, and the oblong tip 20 can thoroughly scrub the mouthpiece 90 and the mouthpiece cover 110. This illustration shows the mouthpiece cover tilted away from the mouthpiece, and covering the topside of the valve intake carrier 80. FIGS. 7C and 7D show two opposite views of a fluid intake valve system 120. The valve system 120 has two separate valves, the air flow valve 130 and the fluid flow valve 140. When the valve system is turned over, the valves 120 and 130 are reversed. Both valves 130 and 140 contain gaskets 150 and 160. When these gaskets become clogged with a foreign matter, e.g., curdled milk, they are very difficult to clean using conventional brushes and sponges. The reason is that the gasket covers 170 and 180, covering the gaskets 150 and 160, prevent a brush or sponge from reaching into the gaskets 150 and 160 and cleaning them thoroughly. However, the curved tip 40 is able to reach into any part of the gaskets 150 and 160, and remove any foreign matter that may exist. The curved tip 40 is flexible, allowing it to reach into the curved area of the gaskets 150 and 160, or under the gasket covers 170 and 180. This will allow the sippy cup lid and fluid intake valve to be cleaned in a manner not possible with any other cleaning instrument.

While the invention has been particularly described and illustrated with reference to the preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that changes in form and detail may be made without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention.