Title:
Sanitary Cleaning Device and Holder Therefore
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cleaning system comprising a cleaning implement and a storage means is disclosed. The cleaning system advantageously allows the cleaning implement to dry suspended within the storage means, and provides for air circulation throughout. The cleaning implement comprises a volume of cleaning material, such as a sponge material in a nylon netting. The cleaning implement includes a hanging means at a top end thereof, such as an apertured tab. The storage means comprises a base having at least one upright wall extending upwardly therefrom. Each wall has a plurality of air slots therethrough for allowing air to more freely circulate throughout the storage means. One of the walls of the storage means includes a suspension means that is adapted to cooperate with the hanging means of the cleaning implement so that when the cleaning implement is engaged with the suspension means the cleaning implement is suspended above the base without contacting any of the sides of the storage means. The base, each wall and the suspension means are each made from a dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe material, and the cleaning system is sized to fit into most microwave ovens, whereby the storage means, cleaning implement, or both may be sanitized by microwave energy to eradicate any bacterial growth thereon, either before or after each use.



Inventors:
Monico, Alfred (Kaneohe, HI, US)
Application Number:
11/854804
Publication Date:
03/20/2008
Filing Date:
09/13/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L25/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHEUNG, CHUN HOI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QUICKPATENTS (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cleaning system comprising: a cleaning implement comprising a cleaning material having at a top end thereof a hanging means; a storage means comprising a base having at least one upright wall extending upwardly therefrom, each wall having a plurality of air slots therein, at least one of the upright walls including at least one suspension means projecting outwardly over the base, the base suitable for collecting liquid dripping from the cleaning implement therein; whereby the cleaning implement may be suspended from the suspension means of the storage means, the air slots allowing air flow through the storage means for drying the cleaning implement, the at least one wall adapted for shielding the cleaning implement from view from at least one direction.

2. The cleaning system of claim 1 wherein each air slot is louvered.

3. The cleaning system of claim 1 wherein the cleaning implement is made from a microwave safe material.

4. The cleaning system of claim 1 wherein the storage means is made from a microwave safe material.

5. The cleaning system of claim 1 wherein at least one wall of the storage means slants over the base of the storage means.

6. The cleaning system of claim 1 wherein the suspension means is a plastic hook.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/825,620, filed on Sep. 14, 2006, and incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to cleaning implements, and more particularly to a sanitary cleaning device and holder therefore.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART

Cleaning implements such as kitchen sponges are widely used and have traditionally suffered from certain drawbacks. Chief among these is the fact that a wet sponge left on a counter top or sink tray fails to adequately dry on the side that it rests on. It is important for such a sponge to thoroughly dry in order to reduce the opportunity that fungus and bacteria have to multiply. Consequently, sponges and other cleaning implements that have failed to dry adequately may do more to transfer germs from surface to surface than they do to clean such surfaces.

Several prior art devices have attempted to overcome this drawback. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,041,261 to Margolis on May 9, 2006, teaches a device that purposefully submerges a sponge in disinfectant fluid within a container. U.S. D506,128 to Foi on Jun. 14, 2005 teaches a similar device. While germs are prevented from growing on a sponge stored in such devices, it is not always desirable to keep a sponge wet when not in use as it is inconvenient to remove the sponge from such devices, particularly with one hand. Further, disinfecting fluid must be kept in the container in an adequate volume to completely submerge the sponge in order for such a device to be effective. Yet, when removing the sponge it is impractical to expect the user to wring-out the sponge directly over the container to avoid spilling the disinfecting fluid. Most users, instead, will wring the sponge out over a nearby sink, thus wasting disinfecting fluid and lowering the volume of fluid in the container. Consequently, use of such devices will require constant refilling of the container with disinfecting fluid, which is both inconvenient and costly.

Sponge racks, such as disclosed in U.S. D354,873 to Odbert on Jan. 31, 1995; D423,276 to Fiegl et al. on Jan. 16, 2001; and D453,651 to Snell on Feb. 19, 2002, all make contact with at least a lower surface of the sponge intermittently. While such racks that are partially open at the bottom do allow the lower side of the sponge to dry more quickly, there are still some contact points between the sponge and the rack. Consequently, germs on the sponge may be transferred to the rack, and then transferred back to a new, clean sponge. Further, such racks are open and in plain sight, making the often unsightly sponge visible to the casual viewer.

One prior art device, taught in No. D372,340 to Wendel on Jul. 30, 1996, teaches a sponge having a built-in suspension cord. Presumably the cord is suspended from a pre-existing hook or faucet. While such a sponge may dry easily, such a device again is visible to the casual viewer and, once the sponge becomes unsightly, becomes an eyesore. Further, the user of such a device necessarily has to either install a hook or have a suitable suspension means for use with such a device.

Clearly, then, there is a need for a cleaning system that provides an easily-sanitized cleaning implement that is at least partially hidden from view when stored, thereby improving the appearance of a sink area, or the like. Such a needed device would enable the cleaning implement to be suspended when stored, facilitating quick drying thereof and eliminating areas of the implement that stay wet, such as with prior art sponges laying in a tray or on a rack, for example. The present invention accomplishes these objectives.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present device is a cleaning system comprising a cleaning implement and a storage means. The cleaning system advantageously allows the cleaning implement to dry suspended within the storage means, and provides for air circulation throughout. Further, the storage means is made of a microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe material so that it can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

The cleaning implement comprises a volume of cleaning material, preferably a sponge material in a nylon netting. The cleaning implement includes a hanging means at a top end thereof, the hanging means preferably being an apertured tab. The cleaning material is also microwave-safe.

The storage means comprises a base having at least one upright wall extending upwardly therefrom. Each wall has a plurality of air slots therethrough for allowing air to more freely circulate throughout the storage means. One of the walls of the storage means includes a suspension means that is adapted to cooperate with the hanging means of the cleaning implement so that when the cleaning implement is engaged with the suspension means the cleaning implement is suspended above the base without contacting any of the sides of the storage means. As such, liquid within the cleaning implement may drip down into the base. The base, each wall and the suspension means are each made from a dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe material, such as a high-temperature grade polymer, or the like. The cleaning system is sized to fit into most microwave ovens, whereby the storage means, cleaning implement, or both may be sanitized by microwave energy to eradicate any bacterial growth thereon, either before or after each use.

The present invention is a cleaning system that provides an easily-sanitized cleaning implement that is at least partially hidden from view when stored, thereby improving the appearance of a sink area, or the like. The present device enables the cleaning implement to be suspended when stored, facilitating quick drying thereof and eliminating areas of the implement that stay wet, such as with prior art sponges laying in a tray, for example. The present device may be easily sanitized in a microwave oven, and the storage means of the present device may be easily cleaned in a dishwasher, if desired. Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of the invention, illustrating a cleaning implement and a storage means therefore;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the invention, illustrating the cleaning implement as suspended from a suspension means of the storage means;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the invention, illustrating the storage means of the invention shielding the cleaning implement from view from a rear side thereof;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the cleaning implement and hanging means;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another alternate embodiment of the cleaning implement and hanging means;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of yet another alternate embodiment of the hanging means, illustrating a front side thereof; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 6, illustrating a rear side thereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 illustrates a cleaning system 10 comprising a cleaning implement 20 and a storage means 60. The cleaning system 10 advantageously allows the cleaning implement 20 to dry without contacting the storage means 60, and provides for air circulation throughout. Further, the storage means 60 is made of a microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe material so that it can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

The cleaning implement 20 comprises a preferably rectangular volume of cleaning material 30, preferably a sponge material in a nylon or other netting, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The cleaning material 30 may also be a fibrous cleaning pad 33 (FIG. 4), cloth, steel wool 35 (FIG. 5), or the like. The cleaning implement 20 includes a hanging means 50 at a top end 40 thereof, the hanging means 50 preferably being an apertured tab as shown in FIG. 1. The hanging means 50 may also be an aperture 53 at least partially traversing the cleaning material 30, as illustrated in FIG. 4, or a flexible loop of material 55 sewn or otherwise attached to the top end 40 of the cleaning material 30, as illustrated in FIG. 5. Clearly a variety of hanging means 50 may be incorporated into the present invention without diverting from the spirit and scope of the invention. Preferably the cleaning material 30 is microwave-safe, except in the case where the cleaning material 30 is steel wool 35.

The storage means 60 comprises a base 70 having at least one upright wall 80 extending upwardly therefrom. Preferably the storage means 60 comprises three walls 80 extending upwardly from a rectangular base 70, as illustrated in FIG. 2. However, the storage means 60 may include any number of walls 80, even just one, provided that one portion over the base 70 is open to allow the cleaning implement 20 to be introduced into or removed from the storage means 60. For example, the storage means 60 may alternately comprise a semi-cylindrical wall 80 and a circular base 70 (not shown), or other suitable shapes as desired. In one embodiment, at least one wall 80 is slanted somewhat over the base 70 (FIGS. 6 and 7).

Each wall 80 has a plurality of air slots 90 therethrough for allowing air to more freely circulate throughout the storage means 60. Each air slot 90 is preferably louvered so as to at least partially shield from view the cleaning implement 20 when the cleaning implement 20 is stored within the storage means 60, as illustrated in FIG. 3. Alternately, however, each slot 90 is open, as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7.

At least one of the walls 80 of the storage means 60 includes at least one suspension means 100, such as a hook as illustrated in FIG. 1. Each suspension means 100 is adapted to cooperate with the hanging means 50 of the cleaning implement 20 so that when the cleaning implement 20 is engaged with the suspension means 100 the cleaning implement is suspended above the base 70 without contacting any of the sides 80 of the storage means 60. As such, liquid within the cleaning implement 20 may drip down into the base 70. Liquid is thereby prevented from dripping onto a surface upon which the cleaning system 10 is resting (not shown). Any liquid captured in the base 70 may be selectively poured out, if desired. Alternately, the base 70 may slope towards one edge thereof and the base 70 may further include a plurality of drain holes (not shown) so that liquid is directed out of the base 70 into a sink, or the like. A spout (not shown) may be further included to direct the flow of liquid from the base 70.

Alternately, the suspension means 100 may include a top cover (not shown) from which a crane-style hook is fixed. The suspension means 100 may also be a two-part hook-and-loop type fastener, a pair of magnets, a plastic clip, a pin, or other fastening means (not shown).

The base 70, each wall 80 and the suspension means 100 are made from a dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe material, such as a high-temperature grade polymer, or the like, provided that such a plastic material does not leach when used in a microwave (such as FDA approved plastics, for example). The cleaning system 10 is sized to fit into most microwave ovens, whereby the storage means 60, cleaning implement 20, or both may be sanitized by microwave energy to eradicate any bacterial growth thereon, either before or after, or before and after, each use.

In use, the cleaning implement 20 may be removed from the suspension means 100 and used in a cleaning activity, most likely involving soap and water. Upon return to the suspension means 100, the cleaning implement 20 is free to drip liquid into the base 70. As the cleaning implement 20 does not contact the walls 80 when suspended by the suspension means 100, the cleaning implement 20 is free to dry at all sides thereof. The air slots 90 allow for greater air circulation around the cleaning implement 20, facilitating drying thereof. Louvered air slots 90 provide for air circulation around the cleaning implement 20 while substantially shielding the cleaning implement 20 from casual view.

The cleaning system 10 may be put into a microwave oven for further drying and sterilizing, with the exception of the embodiment wherein the cleaning implement 20 is made from a non-microwave-safe material, such as steel wool (FIG. 5) or other metal-containing cleaning materials 30. After several uses, the storage means 60 may be thoroughly washed and dried in a conventional dishwasher (not shown).

While a particular form of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be apparent that various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, various shapes of bases 70 may be utilized, such as circular, oval, parallelogram, trapezoidal, rectangular, square, etc. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims.