Title:
Apparatus And Method For Sorting, Holding And Laundering Articles
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention pertains to an apparatus for sorting and holding laundry having a sorting bag including a first opening for inserting and removing laundry from therein. The sorting bag is adapted to be suspended from a frame. The apparatus also includes a compartmentalizing mechanism selectively separating hollow portions of the inside of the sorting bag thereby preventing laundry inserted into a first portion of the sorting bag from moving into a second portion of the sorting bag.



Inventors:
Feeney, Rosa Maria (Nesconset, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/456080
Publication Date:
01/10/2008
Filing Date:
07/06/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D25/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ELOSHWAY, NIKI MARINA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Tony A. Gayoso (Haymarket, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for sorting and holding laundry comprising: a sorting bag including a first opening for inserting and removing laundry from therein, the sorting bag adapted to be suspended from a frame; a compartmentalizing mechanism selectively separating hollow portions of the inside of the sorting bag thereby preventing laundry inserted into a first portion of the sorting bag from moving into a second portion of the sorting bag.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the compartmentalizing mechanism includes a cord woven into at least a portion of the sorting bag.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the compartmentalizing mechanism further includes a clamp engaged with the cord.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the compartmentalizing mechanism selectively further constricts the sorting bag thereby preventing laundry inserted into a third portion of the sorting bag from moving into either the first or second portions of the sorting bag.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, further wherein the sorting bag further includes a second opening.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the sorting bag includes at least a portion that allows fluids to communicate between the outside of the sorting bag and at least one hollow portion therein.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a container including a frame for holding at least a portion of the sorting bag therein.

8. An apparatus for holding laundry comprising: a container including a first opening communicating with a first inner compartment and a second opening communicating with a second inner compartment, the first and second compartments separated by a barrier within the container; a sorting bag removeably inserted in at least a portion of the first inner compartment through the first opening of the container, the sorting bag including a second opening for inserting and removing laundry therein.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the sorting bag includes at least one separator for partitioning an inner portion of the sorting bag.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the container further includes a side opening and at least a portion of the separator passes through the side opening for accessing the separator from the outside of the container.

11. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the container further includes a third opening communicating with a third inner compartment.

12. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising: a second sorting bag removeably inserted in at least a second portion of the container.

13. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the first inner compartment is smaller than the second inner compartment.

14. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the barrier is a rigid barrier.

15. An apparatus for handling laundry comprising: a container including separate first and second inner compartments; a first laundry bag at least partially suspended within the first compartment; and a pivotal lid mounted on the container, the lid including a first flap selectively tiltable into at least one of the first and second inner compartments.

16. The apparatus of claim 15, further comprising a second laundry bag and wherein the container further includes a separate third compartment, the second laundry bag being at least partially suspended within the third compartment.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the pivotal lid includes a second flap selectively tiltable into the third compartment.

18. The apparatus of claim 15, further comprising: a compartmentalizing mechanism selectively separating hollow portions of the inside of the sorting bag thereby preventing laundry inserted into a first portion of the sorting bag from moving into a second portion of the sorting bag

19. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the container includes an opening for accommodating the compartmentalizing mechanism, and the compartmentalizing mechanism extends from a portion of the laundry bag through the opening to the outside of the container.

20. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the first and second inner compartments are not the same size.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The collection, washing, drying and sorting of articles of clothing is a common contemporary chore that by itself is a nuisance. The fact that some smaller objects, such as socks or other undergarments, are often lost or difficult to sort further frustrates this task.

Laundry bags and baskets are commonly used for collecting or temporarily storing dirty clothes. However, the various articles of clothing are generally combined in a washing machine having to be sorted thereafter. Some laundry bags, in the form of a washable mesh sack can be used to wash select items together in the laundry. These mesh sacks have an open layout and retain all of their contents together. Such open layout sacks, however are generally large and intended for numerous objects which then get jumbled together. An attempt to wash or dry numerous articles in such an open layout sack can lead to problems, as some articles may not wash or dry properly. Additionally, contemporary laundry bags are not generally provided in combination with a storage system for multiple sets of such bags.

Some laundry systems use a strap or leash to retain and/or group several items. The strap is fed through a loop (i.e., belt buckle) or opening (i.e., shirt sleeve) to secure several items to one another. However these systems are ineffective for retaining small items, such as socks, that have no openings.

Alternatively, laundry pins or clips are also used to retain group of articles. However, using a laundry pin or clip generally requires the fabric or material of the articles to be pierced or pinched, which can tear or damage the article when being applied thereto. Additionally, such pins and clips can further damage the articles during the washing and drying process.

Thus it is desirable to provide an apparatus that will assist in the combined collection, washing, drying and sorting of laundry.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus and system for retaining and sorting articles from the pre-washing laundry hamper stage to the final stage where they are dried and stored. The invention relates to an apparatus for sorting and holding laundry. The apparatus comprises a sorting bag including a first opening for inserting and removing laundry from therein. The sorting bag is adapted to be suspended from a frame. The apparatus also comprises a compartmentalizing mechanism selectively separating hollow portions of the inside of the sorting bag thereby preventing laundry inserted into a first portion of the sorting bag from moving into a second portion of the sorting bag.

Additionally, the compartmentalizing mechanism can have a cord woven into at least a portion of the sorting bag. Also, the compartmentalizing mechanism can further include a clamp engaged with the cord. Further, the compartmentalizing mechanism can selectively constrict the sorting bag thereby preventing laundry inserted into a third portion of the sorting bag from moving into either the first or second portions of the sorting bag.

Further, the sorting bag can have a second opening. Also, the sorting bag can include at least a portion that allows fluids to communicate between the outside of the sorting bag and at least one hollow portion therein. Additionally, the apparatus can further comprise a container including a frame for holding at least a portion of the sorting bag therein.

A further aspect of the present invention relates to an apparatus for holding laundry comprising a container and a sorting bag. The container includes a first opening communicating with a first inner compartment and a second opening communicating with a second inner compartment, the first and second compartments separated by a barrier within the container. The sorting bag being removeably inserted in at least a portion of the first inner compartment through the first opening of the container. The sorting bag includes a second opening for inserting and removing laundry therein.

Additionally, the sorting bag can include at least one separator for partitioning an inner portion of the sorting bag. The container can further include a side opening, wherein at least a portion of the separator passes through the side opening for accessing the separator from the outside of the container. Also, the container can further include a third opening communicating with a third inner compartment. Further, the apparatus for holding laundry can further comprise a second sorting bag removeably inserted in at least a second portion of the container. Further still, the first inner compartment can be smaller than the second inner compartment. Yet further still, the barrier can be a rigid barrier.

Yet a further aspect of the present invention relates to an apparatus for handling laundry comprising a container, a first laundry bag and a pivotal lid. The container includes separate first and second inner compartments. The first laundry bag is at least partially suspended within the first compartment. The pivotal lid is mounted on the container. The lid includes a first flap selectively tiltable into at least one of the first and second inner compartments.

Additionally, the apparatus can further comprise a second laundry bag and the container can further includes a separate third compartment, wherein the second laundry bag can be at least partially suspended within the third compartment. Also, the pivotal lid can include a second flap selectively tiltable into the third compartment. Further, the apparatus can further comprise a compartmentalizing mechanism selectively separating hollow portions of the inside of the sorting bag thereby preventing laundry inserted into a first portion of the sorting bag from moving into a second portion of the sorting bag. Further still, the container can include an opening for accommodating the compartmentalizing mechanism, and the compartmentalizing mechanism can extend from a portion of the laundry bag through the opening to the outside of the container. Yet further still, the first and second inner compartments do not need to be the same size.

These and other objects, features, and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments thereof, which is to be read in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1a is a side view of a laundry retention apparatus in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1b is a top view of the laundry retention apparatus referred to in FIG. 1a.

FIG. 1c is a side view of the laundry retention apparatus shown in FIG. 1a.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the laundry retention apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 3a is an offset top view of the laundry retention apparatus shown in FIG. 2 with the top lid partially opened into one side of the apparatus.

FIG. 3b is an offset top view of the laundry retention apparatus shown in FIG. 2 with the top lid partially opened to the opposed side from that shown in FIG. 3a.

FIG. 4 is a top perspective view of the embodiment of the laundry retention apparatus shown in FIG. 2 with the lid removed.

FIG. 5 is a partially disassembled top perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention with an inner separation wall partially pulled out.

FIG. 6a is an embodiment of the laundry sorting and retention bag in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6b is the laundry sorting and retention bag referred to in FIG. 6a, with the drawstrings cinched to compartmentalize the bag.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention preferably uses a selectively compartmentalized laundry retention apparatus as seen in FIGS. 1-5. In particular FIGS. 1a-c are illustrations of an embodiment of the invention. A preferred embodiment uses a basket or container 10 for retaining both sorted and unsorted laundry. It should be understood that the particular proportions and shape of the container shown in the figures can be altered and varied as is known in the art. For example, part of the laundry sorting system need not necessarily use a container 10 with the generalized compartment 17. In other words, the container 10 itself need not have compartments. Also, as a further alternative, the container 10 could take the form of a frame, providing only sufficient structure to support a sorting bag 30 and possibly other elements such as the bag dividing mechanisms 32, 34.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1a-c the container 10 itself is compartmentalized to have two separate sections 15, 17. One preferably smaller section 15 is intended for use with the article sorting bag 30, and the preferably larger compartment 17 is intended for general unsorted laundry. As with most laundry baskets the container 10 preferably also includes a lid 20 which provides a cover for the container 10 as well as providing easy access to the compartments 15, 17 within.

The lid 20 in the preferred embodiment uses a pivotal top 22 with the central pivot point 24 for easily loading the two sections of the container 10. An alternative lid could have a solid configuration requiring the entire lid to be removed before placing items in the basket. A further alternative could have multiple hinged lids providing access to one or more compartments. It should be noted that although the preferred embodiment illustrates only two compartments 15, 17 for the container 10, alternate embodiments could subdivide the container 10 further. It is important that a user's ability to load each compartment be considered when further sectionalizing/compartmentalizing container 10.

In at least one alternate embodiment (not shown), the smaller compartment 15 is further divided in half, making two almost square profile sections as viewed from the top. Such an alternate embodiment would require the additions of grommet holes 12 as well as an additional inner selectively compartmentalizable bag 30. Further alternative embodiments could have a more contemporary hamper lid hinged on one side, not hinged at all (like the lid for a cooking pot), or without a lid. Further alternate embodiments of the lid need not have a centrally pivoted opening but could have customized individual openings over each sectionalized compartment of container 10. Also, in an alternate embodiment the pivot-point 24 for the lid need not be in the center of the overall container 10, but could be proportionate to the inner chamber(s).

The inner bag 30 is preferably made of a washable mesh fabric, such as nylon, cotton or other materials that are durable, flexible and are adapted to be used repeatedly in a washer and dryer. It should be noted that although the preferred embodiment uses a mesh bag, other materials can be used for the bags such as screening or perforated fabrics as is known to those of ordinarily skill in the art. What is preferred is that the overall bag be able to contain the articles of clothing in sectionalized compartments while allowing water, detergents, softeners and other laundry additives to penetrate the bag and wash the clothes. Further, the bag preferably provides sufficient air circulation within for drying the articles contained therein. As seen in FIG. 1a, 6a and 6b the laundry bag 30, in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, is divided into three sections by drawstrings 32. While the bag bottom 39 is preferably permanently closed it could alternatively be provided with a similar drawstring to allow reversibility of the laundry bag 30. Alternatively, the top and bottom openings could be provided with Velcro to selectively open and close the ends. The drawstrings 32 are preferably used in the top 31 and two center portions of the bag 30, thus separating the overall bag 30 into three sections. Alternatively, other embodiments could include more or less sections in the bag.

However, it is important to provide sufficient space within each section to not only hold the intended articles but to also allow them to occupy the space loosely in order to facilitate proper washing and drying. The invention also preferably uses a quick locking string fastener such as the Fastex® [ITW NEXUS, Des Plaines, Ill.) releasable fastener 34. Alternatively, other clamping devices could be used, but what is important is that the clamp be durable and be able to withstand multiple washing and drying cycles, as mentioned above with regard to the laundry bag 30.

FIG. 2 shows a stylized version of the preferred embodiment of the invention. It should be noted that in an alternate embodiment, as discussed above, with further compartmentalized sections, additional grommet holes 12 could be provided so that each section would have its own set of access holes for the drawstring and fastener systems.

The overall system preferably uses a container 10 that is subdivided, providing a first section 17 for general laundry and a preferably smaller second section 15 for particular sorted articles to be laundered. The second section 15 for the smaller articles to be laundered should preferably hold a mesh laundry bag 30 intended to hold the articles that need to be sorted. The sorting is accomplished by compartmentalizing the mesh bag 30 into sections through the use of drawstrings 32. By cinching the drawstrings 32, the inner sections of the laundry bag are thereby separated facilitating the sorting aspect of the present invention. It is preferred that the overall container 10 includes access holes 12 from which the drawstrings 32 can be accessed to facilitate the cinching process. Thus, in the process of using the apparatus of the present invention, a user preferably deposits general dirty laundry in the larger compartment 17 and the smaller articles for sorting in the inner bag 30. In particular, articles such as a pair of socks could be inserted into the sorting bag 30 to the lowest section. The user could then simply cinch the drawstrings just above that section thereby separating that section from the other higher sections. Thereafter, an additional pair of socks could be inserted into the next section with its higher corresponding draw string then also cinched to separate them as well. This process would be continued until all the sections are full at which point the sorting bag could be removed from the container for use in the washing machine.

Alternatively the sorting bag once full could be removed and inserted in the generalized compartment 17 so that additional sorting bags could be loaded into the apparatus in a similar way as described above. Nonetheless, it is the sorting bag 10 which maintains the articles separated and sorted. The articles then remain in the sorting bag 10 in their separated compartments and the entire bag 10 can be used in the washing machine and dryer. The articles preferably remain in their separated sectionalized compartments through the washing and drying process and can then later be removed in their sorted state for easy storage.

FIGS. 3a-b shows some aspects of the function of the pivotal lid shown in the preferred embodiment. In particular FIG. 3a shows the pivotal lid opening down into the sorting bag 30 whereas FIG. 3b shows the pivotal lid pivoting down into the larger general compartment 17.

FIGS. 4-5 shows an opened view of the container 10 without the lid 20. The separating wall 40 can be seen which divides the smaller compartments 15 from the larger compartment 17. Although one embodiment of the invention uses clear Plexiglas sheeting it should be understood that numerous alternate materials could be used. For example, the same materials used for the overall laundry container 10 could be used for the separating wall 40, and alternatively such a divider could even be a flexible material such as fabric or a wire mesh similar to the laundry bag 30. The primary function of the divider 40 is to keep the general laundry contained in the section 17 from bunching up the laundry bag 30 and making it difficult to insert the articles intended for sorting.

As seen in FIG. 4 the laundry bag 30 once inserted in the container 10 is preferably folded over the upper edge of the container 10 and the section divider 40. In this way, the lid 20 serves to hold the bag in place, so that it does not slide into the laundry container 10 when being loaded. Alternative embodiments could provide additional surfaces in the lid 20 to further hold the sorting bag 30 in place while in the container 10. Such additional bag retaining services could be useful in alternative embodiments that include additional sub-divisions of the sorting section 15. In such embodiments multiple sorting bags would need additional supports at the top of the overall laundry basket. While such additional supports could be provided by the lid alternative supports such as hooks or fasteners could be provided in the upper portions or edges of the sectionalized compartments. For example, a hook or catch could be provided on the upper edge of divider 40 or other surface to provide support for the laundry bag 30.

Other features could be augmented to those shown in the drawing as discussed above. For example, the sorting bags could include a name or identification tag for use when multiple sorting bags are washed together.

Although the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details maybe made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.