Title:
Soap holding apparatus with absorbent features
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Apparatuses for holding soap bars for access by a user. The soap holders have features that lessen the mess common to conventional soap holding at a sink or other usage location. Features shown include absorbent materials for absorbing the soap drippings. The assemblies may preferably have locking features between a grate and dish shell. The assemblies capture and allow disposal or further use of soap drippings which collect in the absorbent material.



Inventors:
Sines, Randy D. (Spokane, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/544241
Publication Date:
04/10/2008
Filing Date:
10/06/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/346.11
International Classes:
A47K5/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Gregory IPL, P.C. (SPOKANE VALLEY, WA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An apparatus for holding soap bars in position for use, comprising: at least one dish having a receptacle therein; at least one piece of absorbent material positioned within the receptacle; at least one grate which is positioned above an upper surface of the at least one piece of absorbent material; whereby a bar of soap can be positioned on the grate to dry and the at least one piece of absorbent material absorbs soap drippings.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one grate is in direct contact with the at least one piece of absorbent material.

3. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one dish has a bottom cavity open to the surface below allowing storage of a sponge or other cleaning utensil there within.

4. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one dish has a locking feature to secure the at least one grate thereto.

5. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one dish has a detachable snap-in locking feature to secure the at least one grate thereto.

6. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one dish has at least one ledge to detachably support the at least one grate thereupon.

7. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one grate is molded into the at least one dish.

8. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one grate is molded into the at least one dish and the absorbent material is injected into the space below the at least one grate.

9. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one dish is a thin plastic shell.

10. An apparatus according to claim 1 wherein the at least one dish is a thin plastic shell and the at least one piece of absorbent material has air cavities to aid in the drying process.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The inventions relate to the holding and convenient use of soap bars, such as at sinks and the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Soap dishes to control the mess produced by soap bars have been used for many years. Soapy water remains on the exterior of the bar after use. The soap bar is commonly placed into a basin or bowl where the soapy water is retained. In some situations features are included to help the water drain away. This is done in dishes and basins formed into sinks. Despite these efforts a mess always develops.

The soapy water can pool as a soap-water mixture which evaporates leaving behind soap residue, sometimes more commonly referred to as soap scum. Such residues build up over time as a soap bar is used, thus becoming an unsightly mess that is sometimes difficult to clean and always a repetitive and sometimes frequent chore.

When soap bars are stored in basins, bowls, dishes, or similar retainers, water pools at the bottom of the receptacle. The soap bar commonly sits in this pooled water causing it to further dissolve leaving behind more residue and significantly reducing the number of uses the soap bar will provide.

Another way of storing a soap bar is to place the soap bar onto a sponge. Such an approach prevents or reduces the formation of soap scum on the basin or bowl where the soap bar is being stored. Instead, the soap residue is captured inside the absorbent material where it remains out of sight. However, this approach has been found unacceptable because it causes the bar of soap to melt into the sponge. This is similar to a bar of soap sitting in pooled water or soapy water with the sponge holding moisture to the bar causing further dissolving and ultimately reduces the number of uses for the soap bar. This greatly reduces how long the bar of soap lasts.

The current inventions seek to provide solutions to the long-felt problems associated with conventional soap bar holding devices for convenient access by a user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Preferred forms, configurations, embodiments and/or diagrams relating to and helping to describe preferred versions of the inventions are explained and characterized herein, often with reference to the accompanying drawings. The drawings and all features shown therein also serve as part of the disclosure of the inventions of the current application. Such drawings are briefly described below.

FIG. 1 is a top view of a first embodiment according to the inventions hereof.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a top view of a second embodiment according to the inventions hereof.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 4 taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a front view of the embodiment of FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 is a top view of a third embodiment according to the inventions hereof.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 7 taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a front view of the embodiment of FIG. 7.

FIG. 10 is a top view of a fourth embodiment according to the inventions hereof.

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 10 taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a front view of the embodiment of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of a fifth embodiment according to the inventions hereof.

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view of a sixth embodiment according to the inventions hereof.

FIG. 15 is a diagram illustrating a method of production some forms of the inventions.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Introductory Note

The readers of this document should understand that the embodiments described herein may rely on terminology used in any section of this document and other terms readily apparent from the drawings and the language common therefor as may be known in a particular art and such as provided by dictionaries. Widely known are Webster's Third New International Dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition), and The New Century Dictionary, all of which are hereby incorporated by reference for interpretation of terms used herein and for application and use of words defined in such references to more adequately or aptly describe various features, aspects and concepts shown or otherwise described herein using more appropriate words having meanings applicable to such features, aspects and concepts.

This document is premised upon using one or more terms with one embodiment that may also apply to other embodiments for similar structures, functions, features and aspects of the invention. Wording used in the claims is also descriptive of the invention and the text of both claims and abstract are incorporated by reference into the description entirely in the form as originally filed. Terminology used with one, some or all embodiments may be used for describing and defining the technology and exclusive rights associated therewith.

The readers of this document should further understand that the embodiments described herein may rely on terminology and features used in any section or embodiment shown in this document and other terms readily apparent from the drawings and language common therefor. This document is premised upon using one or more terms or features shown in one embodiment that may also apply to or be combined with other embodiments for similar structures, functions, features and aspects of the invention and provide additional embodiments of the inventions.

A number of embodiments are shown herein. Numbers for the various embodiments are related in that 100's numbers are used in the first embodiment, 200's in the second and so forth. Thus, similar digits in the tens and ones columns relate to similar parts or such can be inferred hereby.

First Embodiment

Shown in FIGS. 1-3 is a soap holding apparatus 100. Such is shown having a dish or basin 110 with a receptacle 112 therein. Dish 110, as shown, has relatively thick walls. The walls may be made of various materials, such as of plastic, porcelain or other suitable materials.

A piece of absorbent material 130 is detachably positioned near the base, such as upon the bottom wall of the receptacle 112. A grate 120 advantageously has a peripheral member 123 and cross members positioned in a pattern advantageous to supporting a soap bar, such as soap bar 1. As shown, the cross members include longitudinal members 121 and transverse members 122.

The grate preferably has convex or pointed top surfaces to minimize contact with the bar of soap resting thereon. This construction and arrangement has the advantage of spacing the bar of soap from the absorbent material to help dry the soap and prevent further melting and dripping. It also allows water to easily pass through the grate and be absorbed by the absorbent material 130. Such grate in this embodiment is positioned directly on top of the absorbent material to eliminate any solidified drippings from being apparent.

The grate provides a rest for a soap bar positioning it such that it remains out of contact with the absorbent material and any pooled water or dampness. The vertically adjacent positioning of the soap bar to the absorbent material allows soapy water drippings or other run off to fall onto the absorbent piece and be absorbed therein. Inside the absorbent material the water from the drippings will evaporate leaving the soap particle residue in the absorbent material. The soap drippings will build up over time as the soap bar is used. Once the absorbent material becomes saturated with soap residue it can be detachably removed from the receptacle for disposal, such as by disposal in the trash or possibly used to clean because of the contained soap.

In a preferred form of the invention the absorbent material may be a synthetic or nature sponge or sponge-like material or materials which are now conventional or others that are hereafter developed and are suitable for the indicated uses. It may also be paper fibers formed into the desired shape or structure for the absorbent material or piece of absorbent material. Other materials may also be suitable.

Second Embodiment

Shown in FIGS. 4-6 as 200 is another embodiment of soap holding apparatus according to the inventions. Particular to this embodiment is a dish 210 with a ledge or rim 214. Such acts as a support allowing for the detachable positioning of a grate 220 in receptacle 212 at a height above an absorbent item 230. The grate can support a soap bar, such as soap bar 2, in an elevated position above the absorbent material. This space between the grate and the absorbent material allows air to pass under the soap bar and along the top of the absorbent item. Added air flow promotes quick drying of the soap bar and the absorbent material.

The spacing is advantageously less than about ¼ inch and greater than about 1/16th inch, more preferably about ⅛th inch. This helps prevent drippings from forming into stalactite or stalagmite formations of poor appearance. Some clearance aids in air flow between the grate and absorbent material and helps keep the soap bar dry to prevent unnecessary melting.

Similar to the first embodiment, the absorbent item is placed vertically adjacent to the grate and soap bar at the base of receptacle 212. Such allows for soap drippings to be caught in the absorbent material. Access to the receptacle and its contents can be achieved by lifting the detachable grate up and out of the receptacle allowing for easy removal of the absorbent item and cleaning of the dish.

Third Embodiment

FIGS. 7-9 show another preferred embodiment of soap holding apparatus 300 according hereto. Particular to this embodiment is a dish 310 with a receptacle 312 therein with a grate 320 molded or otherwise integrated to the dish portion. This may be accomplished by molding about the absorbent material, molding and then filling with absorbent material or making in two parts and then heat or adhesively welding the grate to the dish portion. An absorbent material 330 is injected or otherwise installed or placed into the receptacle below the grate.

It should be noted that the cross members are provided with raised portions or ribs 324 which minimize contact with the soap bar. This construction and arrangement allows for drying and absorption for a bar of soap, such as soap bar 3, placed thereon. It is advantageous in that the unit may be cheaper to produce and provides a disposable unit which may be of greater convenience to the consumer. The entire unit may, after being saturated with soap drippings be disposed of, such as by throwing into the trash.

Fourth Embodiment

Shown in FIGS. 10-12 is another soap holding apparatus 400 according hereto. It shares some similarities with the other embodiments and reference numbers as indicated above are shown in the drawings for similar features. This embodiment was designed to potentially be advantageous for mass production. Such is also designed for possible use within another vessel or soap holding apparatuses which may provide the ascetic appeal without the associated cost with each unit 400 which may be disposable.

As shown, soap holder 400 has a thin shell, possibly of plastic, waxed cardboard or other suitable materials, which is used to form a dish 410. Such dish and/or grate 420 is or are preferably adapted to connect together. Grate 420 is advantageously capable of connection and possibly also disconnection. This can be accomplished using a locking joint 416 along the dish outer rim 417. Rim 417 may include an inwardly protruding brim 418 to help lock the two parts together and form the grate and dish lock. Such allows for the engagement of grate 420 to the dish. Securing the grate to the dish helps to prevent unwanted disengagement that might cause spilling of the contents.

A receptacle 412 in the dish is filled with an absorbent material 430. As shown, a series of bores or openings 450 can be optionally provided to aid in evaporation of water from the absorbent material 430. A soap bar, such as soap bar 4, can be set on top of the grate for storage similar to that of the previous embodiments.

Apparatus 400 is usable with or can be integrated into other or outer dishes or covers, such as described below with the embodiment of FIG. 13. The apparatus is of size and shape that it can be placed into many types of receptacles of various outer dishes, if so desired. For example, an ascetically pleasing outer dish or other support can be used and then the soap dish apparatus 400 or others can be used therein. Such allows for the soap drippage storage capabilities to be present in a dish that may be more desirable in appearance and enduring in use. The apparatus is shown in such a situation in FIG. 13 where apparatus 400 is installed in a receiver 562.

Fifth Embodiment

FIG. 13 shows another soap dish assembly 500 according to another form of the inventions. Particular to this embodiment is an outer dish 560. As shown, outer dish 560 has a receptacle 562 which is adapted to receive a disposable soap holder, such as soap holder 400 which can form part of the greater assembly.

Outer soap dish 560 is also advantageously provided with a bottom cavity 540. Such is capable of storing a sponge or other cleaning utensil 550 advantageously having a scouring layer 551. Cavity 540 allows storing a cleaning utensil in a place proximal to its place of use and can be very desirable. Utensils such as sponges and other scrubbers can become unsightly after use. Leaving such out next to a sink for easy access is a common practice. Because of the unsightliness, such cleaning accessories are commonly stored in places out of sight and less easily accessible. Storage space 540 allows for quick and easy access to and removal of a cleaning utensil for immediate use and stores it out of sight in a discreet location. The utensil can be kept on the counter and covered by the dish apparatus, such as shown in FIG. 13, and placing the dish over the sponge.

In FIG. 13 the outer dish is shown constructed in a more ornamental manner in combination with soap holding assembly 400 or other suitable version of the inventions described herein. Assembly 400 is placed into receptacle 562 of the dish. Apparatus 500 can also be used with a sponge and grate system similar to the previous embodiments where an absorbent item sits at the bottom of the inner dish receptacle and a grate sits on top thereof providing a holder of soap bars.

Sixth Embodiment

Shown in FIG. 14 as 600 is an alternative embodiment of soap holding 7 apparatus according to another form of the inventions. Particular to this embodiment is a soap holder assembly including a disposable soap holder dish 610 which is a shell and grate constructed similar to that used in assembly 400. However, dish 610 is not filled with absorbent material but is instead hollow. It is advantageously provided with a drain which is preferably in the form of a bottom opening or hole 650. This allows the soap drippings to fall into and drain from the shell.

In the construction shown, the shell 610 rests on top of, or more preferably, engages into a base formed as a block or assembly of a suitable absorbent base piece of absorbent material 680. The outer shape of dish shell 610 preferably is complementary to a shell receptacle 681 into which it is received. Thus, the soap holder has an upper portion that engages to a lower portion formed by the base. The base is of absorbent material in the preferred version shown. The complementary shape makes the upper or dish portion less likely to undesirably separate from the lower or base absorbent piece 680 unless intentionally removed for cleaning of the base. This can be done by merely washing a base made of sponge under the water faucet.

A grate 620 attaches to the dish by means of a snap-in locking feature 616 along the rim of the dish, similar to or in an alternative construction to that described above. A soap bar, such as soap bar 6, is placed on top of the grate. The soap water drippings fall through the receptacle into the absorbent piece below. The absorbent and clean up characteristics are similar to the previous embodiments, except the base itself can be made of sponge or sponge-like material and used for cleaning purposes. This version also provides a large amount of surface area in the absorbent and porous base for dissipation of water.

More about Preferred Manners of Making the Preferred Inventions

The apparatus 400 can in one form be made in a production line for mass production. Refer to FIG. 15 for a diagram of this production process. The dish can be made by forming a plastic shell such as by a vacuum form 701. The shell would then proceed, such as by cooling, and preferably move to be filled with an absorbent material 702. Meanwhile the grates would be made by injection molding plastic or other suitable processes and sent to cool 703 or otherwise await filling. The grate could then be installed into the dish by means of the snap-in locking feature of the dish 704. The resulting soap holder assembly would be the finished product 705, which could be packaged according to whatever means is suitable.

Further Aspects and Features

The above description has set out various features and aspects of the invention and the preferred embodiments thereof. Such aspects and features may further be defined according to the following claims which may individually or in various combinations help to define the invention.

Interpretation Note

The inventions shown and described herein have been described in language directed to the current preferred embodiments. Also shown and described with regard to various structural and methodological features. The scope of protection as defined by the claims is not intended to be necessarily limited to the specific sizes, shapes, features or other aspects of the preferred embodiments shown and described. The claimed inventions may be implemented or embodied in other forms while still including the concepts shown and described herein. Also included are equivalents of the inventions which can be made without departing from the scope of concepts properly protected hereby.