Title:
DISPENSER AND DISPENSING METHOD FOR PULSATOR WASH SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dispenser and dispensing method for a pulsator wash system or machine includes an inner cup defining an inner chamber for receiving an additive and an outer cup defining an outer chamber annularly disposed about the inner cup. The inner and outer cups are disposed within a pulsator hub of the pulsator washing machine. In operation, an additive is added to the inner chamber and the wash tub of the pulsator washing machine is filled with water, wherein that water enters and rises within the outer chamber. A predetermined amount of the water in the outer cup is permitted to enter the inner cup to pre-dilute the additive.



Inventors:
Hettinger, Stephen E. (Louisville, KY, US)
Pollett, James Quentin (Louisville, KY, US)
Application Number:
12/130565
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
05/30/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
68/17A
International Classes:
D06F39/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RIGGLEMAN, JASON PAUL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAY SHARPE LLP (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A dispenser for a pulsator washing machine, comprising: an inner cup defining an inner chamber for receiving an additive; and an outer cup defining an outer chamber annularly disposed about said inner cup, said inner and outer cups are disposed within a pulsator hub of the pulsator washing machine.

2. The dispenser of claim 1 further including: a cap closing an open end of said outer cup while allowing communication between said inner chamber and said outer chamber over a radial sidewall defining said inner cup.

3. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said outer cup includes a base portion defining a bottom of said outer chamber and a radial sidewall portion extending from said base portion.

4. The dispenser of claim 3 wherein said base portion and said radial sidewall portion of said outer cup are formed integrally with said pulsator hub.

5. The dispenser of claim 3 wherein said base portion is formed integrally with said pulsator hub and said radial sidewall is formed integrally with said cap.

6. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said inner cup is removable from said outer cup.

7. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said outer cup includes drain holes that allow said additive to drain into a wash tub of the pulsator washing machine from said outer chamber.

8. The dispenser of claim 7 wherein said outer cup includes a base portion formed integrally with said pulsator hub and said drain holes extend axially and radially through said pulsator hub.

9. The dispenser of claim 1 wherein said inner cup includes a weep hole for admitting water into said inner chamber to mix with said additive.

10. The dispenser of claim 9 further including: a cap closing an open end of said outer cup while allowing communication between said inner chamber and said outer chamber over a radial sidewall defining said inner cup, an orifice defined through at least one of said cap and said pulsator that communicates with said inner chamber.

11. The dispenser of claim 10 further including a dip tube extending into said inner chamber from said orifice.

12. A dispensing method for a pulsator washing machine, comprising: adding an additive to an inner chamber of a dispenser inner cup disposed within a distal end of a pulsator hub of the pulsator washing machine; filling a wash tub of the pulsator washing machine with water, said water entering and rising within an outer chamber defined about said inner cup by an outer cup; and permitting a predetermined amount of said water in said outer cup to enter said inner chamber of said inner cup to predilute said additive.

13. The dispensing method of claim 12 further including: opening a lid over said inner chamber prior to adding said additive; and closing said lid after adding said additive and allowing said additive to enter said inner chamber prior to filling said wash tub.

14. The dispensing method of claim 12 wherein said water entering and rising within said outer chamber occurs by said water passing from said wash tub to said outer cup through drain holes defined in said pulsator that fluidly connect said wash tub and said outer cup.

15. The dispensing method of claim 12 wherein said permitting said predetermined amount of said water in said outer cup to enter said inner chamber includes: providing a weep hole through a radial sidewall of said inner cup disposed axially below an open end of said inner cup; and providing a dip tube depending downwardly into said inner cup from a cap disposed over said inner and outer cups, said water from said outer chamber entering said inner chamber through said weep hole until said water fills said inner cup to a level of a distal end of said dip tube.

16. The dispensing method of claim 12 further including: dispensing said prediluted additive from said inner cup into said wash tub.

17. The dispensing method of claim 16 wherein said dispensing includes: centrifugally forcing said prediluted additive in said inner chamber over a radial sidewall of said inner cup and into said outer chamber; and gravitationally forcing said prediluted additive of said outer chamber to flow into said wash tub through drain holes fluidly connecting said outer chamber to said wash tub.

18. The dispensing method of claim 17 further including: after dispensing, again filling said wash tub with water for a rinse cycle, said water again entering and rising within an outer chamber and entering said inner chamber to automatically rinse any residual additive remaining in said inner chamber.

19. A submersible dispenser for a washing machine, comprising: an outer cup disposed within or formed integrally with an agitator element of the washing machine at a submersible location thereon; and an inner cup disposed in said outer cup for receiving an additive to be dispensed during a wash cycle of the washing machine.

20. The dispenser of claim 19 further including: a cap closing an open end of said outer cup while allowing fluid communication between an inner chamber of said inner cup with an outer chamber of said outer cup when said cap closes said open end of said outer cup.

21. The dispenser of claim 19 wherein said inner cup defines a weep hole along a radial sidewall thereof to allow water filling said outer chamber to enter said inner chamber.

22. The dispenser of claim 20 wherein at least one of said cap and said pulsator includes a dip tube extending down into said inner chamber of said inner cup to prevent water entering said inner chamber through said weep hole from filling said inner cup above a distal end of said dip tube.

23. The dispenser of claim 20 wherein said outer cup is formed by said cap.

Description:

This application is related to the U.S. patent application entitled “PULSATOR WASH SYSTEM” (Atty. Dkt. No. 228636 GECZ 2 00880), filed concurrently herewith, commonly assigned to General Electric Company, and expressly incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure generally relates to washing machines, and more particularly relates to a dispenser and dispensing method for a pulsator wash system. In one embodiment, a dispenser for a pulsator washing machine includes an inner cup defining an inner chamber for receiving an additive and an outer cup defining an outer chamber annularly disposed about the inner cup, wherein the inner and outer cups are disposed within a pulsator hub of a pulsator washing machine. The dispenser and dispensing method will be described with particular reference to this embodiment, but it is to be appreciated that it is also amenable to other like applications.

Conventional vertical axis washing machines are known to include a center agitator disposed within a vertical axis wash basket, which is rotatably supported within a tub. Typically, the agitator extends upwardly from the bottom wall of the basket and has a height that is substantially equal to the height of the wash basket.

Several dispensers are known for agitator-type washing machines, including those that use a centrifugal force developed by a washing machine during a spin phase to effect release of a fabric softener or the like, which is typically most effective in the rinse cycle. In one known arrangement, the agitator-type dispenser is mounted on an agitator post and uses centrifugal force to transfer a fabric softener from a reservoir compartment to a release compartment. At the same time, a washing tub and an agitator are rotating to spin out wash water. As the agitator comes to a stop at the end of a spin cycle, the laundry additive drains into the tub. Dispensers of this type are disclosed, for example, by U.S. Pat. No. 4,240,227 issued to Manthei; U.S. Pat. No. 4,186,574 issued to Sundstrom; U.S. Pat. No. 4,118,957 issued to Marcussen; U.S. Pat. No. 3,736,773 and U.S. Pat. No. 3,699,785 both issued to Waugh; U.S. Pat. No. 3,620,054 issued to Drews et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 3,596,480 and U.S. Pat. No. 3,330,135 issued to Douglas; U.S. Pat. No. 3,481,163 issued to Bochan et al.; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,478,059 issued to Yates. Commonly owned U.S. Pat. No. 5,531,081 to Savkar et al. also discloses an agitator-type fabric softener dispenser. Other types of dispensers which utilize centrifugal force to release an additive but which are not attached to the agitator are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,379,515 to Townsend and U.S. Pat. No. 4,186,573 to Brenner et al.

Many of the prior art agitator-type fabric softener dispensers, particularly those received on the end of the agitator post, are designed to reside above, or at least partially above, a maximum water level within the washing machine. A second type of vertical axis washing machine is known wherein a pulsator or disc-like impeller is provided adjacent or along the bottom wall of the wash basket, the basket being rotatably supported within the tub of the washing machine. In the pulsator washing machine, there is no agitator post extending upward to a location above a maximum fill level for a dispenser to reside above, or at least partially above, a maximum water level within the washing machine.

In view of the lack of an agitator post extending upward to a location above or near a maximum fill level, many pulsator washing machines use a flow-through type fabric dispenser. Flow-through dispensers are disclosed, for example, by U.S. Pat. No. 4,203,307 to Obata; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,791,168 to Smock. These types of dispensers are somewhat complex and therefore add substantially to the cost and overall complexity of the washing machine when employed.

SUMMARY

According to one aspect, a dispenser for a pulsator washing machine is provided. More particularly, in accordance with this aspect, the dispenser includes an inner cup defining an inner chamber for receiving an additive. An outer cup defines an outer chamber annularly disposed about the inner cup. The inner and outer cups are disposed within a pulsator hub of the pulsator washing machine.

According to another aspect, a dispensing method for a pulsator washing machine is provided. More particularly, in accordance with this aspect, an additive is added to an inner chamber of a dispenser inner cup disposed within a pulsator hub of the pulsator washing machine. A wash tub of the pulsator washing machine is filled with water. The water enters and rises within an outer chamber defined about the inner cup by an outer cup. A predetermined amount of the water in the outer cup is permitted to enter the inner chamber of the inner cup to pre-dilute the additive.

According to yet another aspect, a submersible dispenser for a washing machine is provided. More particularly, in accordance with this aspect, the dispenser includes an outer cup disposed within or formed integrally with an agitator element of the washing machine at a submersible location thereon. An inner cup is disposed in the outer cup for receiving an additive to be dispensed during a wash cycle of the washing machine.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a washing machine.

FIG. 2 is an elevational schematic view of the washing machine of FIG. 1 shown having a pulsator.

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of the pulsator having a dispenser disposed or formed with a central hub of the pulsator.

FIG. 3B is another perspective view of the pulsator showing a lid of the dispenser in an open position.

FIG. 4A is a front cross-sectional view of the pulsator and the dispenser.

FIG. 4B is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view of the pulsator and the dispenser of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 4C is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view of the dispenser, taken from the side and showing the lid pivoted to its open position.

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of the dispenser, including a portion of the pulsator, an inner cup, a cap main body, and the lid.

FIG. 6A is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the cap main body showing a dip tube formed thereby.

FIG. 6B is an underside view of the cap main body, again showing the dip tube.

FIGS. 7A-F are operational views of the pulsator and dispenser.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a pulsator and a dispenser according to an alternate embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings wherein showings are for purposes of illustrating one or more exemplary embodiments, FIG. 1 shows a pulsator wash system or machine 50 including a cabinet 52 and a cover 54. A backsplash 58 extends from the cover 54, and a control panel 56 including a plurality of input selectors 66 is coupled to the backsplash 58. As is known and understood by those skilled in the art, the control panel 56 and the input selectors 66 can collectively form a user interface input for operator selection of machine cycles and features. A display 60 can indicate the selected features, a countdown timer, and or other items of interest to machine users. A lid 62 is mounted to the cover 54 and is pivotable about a hinge (not shown) between an open position facilitating access to a wash tub 64 (FIG. 2) located within the cabinet 52, and a closed position (as shown) forming an enclosure over the wash tub 64.

With additional reference to FIG. 2, the wash tub 64 is located or positioned within the cabinet 52, and a wash basket 70 is movably disposed and rotatably mounted within the wash tub 64. As is known and understood by those skilled in the art, the basket 70 can include a plurality of apertures or perforations to facilitate fluid communication between an interior 100 of the basket 70 and the wash tub 64. An agitator element, such as the illustrated pulsator 116, is rotatably positioned within the basket 70 on vertical axis 118 for imparting motion to articles and liquid received within the basket 70.

The wash tub 64 includes a bottom wall 67 and a side wall 68, the basket 70 being rotatably mounted or supported within the tub 64 in spaced apart relation from the tub bottom wall 67 and the side wall 68. A pump assembly 72 is located beneath the wash tub 64 and the basket 70 for gravity assisted flow when draining the tub 64. The pump assembly 72 includes a pump 74, a motor 76, and in an exemplary embodiment a motor fan (not shown). A pump inlet hose 80 extends from a wash tub outlet 82 in tub bottom wall 67 to a pump inlet 84, and a pump outlet hose 86 extends from pump outlet 88 to an appliance washing machine water outlet 90 and ultimately to a building plumbing system discharge line (not shown) in flow communication with the outlet 90.

A hot liquid valve 102 and a cold liquid valve 104 deliver fluid, such as water, to the basket 70 and the wash tub 64 through a respective hot liquid hose 106 and a cold liquid hose 108. Liquid valves 102,104 and liquid hoses 106,108 together form a liquid supply connection for the washing machine 50 and, when connected to a building plumbing system (not shown), provide a water supply for use in the washing machine 50. Liquid valves 102,104 and liquid hoses 106,108 are connected to a basket inlet tube 110, and fluid is dispersed from the inlet tube 110 through a nozzle assembly 112 having a number of openings therein to direct washing liquid into basket 70 at a given trajectory and velocity. A known dispenser (not shown in FIG. 2) may also be provided to produce a wash solution by mixing fresh water with a known detergent or other composition for cleansing of articles in the basket 70.

In an alternate embodiment a spray fill conduit 114 (shown in phantom in FIG. 2) can be employed in lieu of the nozzle assembly 112. Along the length of the spray fill conduit 114 can be a plurality of openings arranged in a predetermined pattern to direct incoming streams of water in a downward tangential manner towards articles in the basket 70. The openings in the conduit 114 can be located a predetermined distance apart from one another to produce an overlapping coverage of liquid streams into the basket 70. Articles in the basket 70 may therefore be uniformly wetted even when the basket is maintained in a stationary position.

In an exemplary embodiment, the basket 70 and the pulsator 116 are driven by a motor 120 through a transmission and clutch system 122. A transmission belt 124 is coupled to respective pulleys of a motor output shaft 126 and a transmission input shaft 128. Thus, as motor output shaft 126 is rotated, transmission input shaft 128 is also rotated. Clutch system 122 facilitates driving engagement of the basket 70 and the pulsator 116 (e.g., through shaft 172) for rotatable movement within the wash tub 64, and clutch system 122 facilitates relative rotation of the basket 70 and the pulsator 116 for selected portions of wash cycles. Motor 120, transmission and clutch assembly 122 and belt 124 can collectively be referred to as a machine drive system, the drive system for rotating the basket 70 and/or the pulsator 116. As shown, the pulsator 116 is disposed adjacent bottom 92 of the wash basket 70 and drivingly connected to the illustrated drive system. As will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, the drive system 120,122,124 of the illustrated embodiment can be replaced by any other suitable drive system.

The washing machine 50 can also include a brake assembly (not shown) selectively applied or released for respectively maintaining the basket 70 in a stationary position within the tub 64 or for allowing the basket 70 to spin within the tub 64. Pump assembly 72 is selectively activated to remove liquid from the basket 70 and the tub 64 through drain outlet 90 during appropriate points in washing cycles as machine 50 is used. In an exemplary embodiment, as illustrated, the washing machine also includes a reservoir 132, a tube 134 and a pressure sensor 136. As fluid levels rise in the wash tub 70, air is trapped in the reservoir 132 creating a pressure in the tube 134 that pressure sensor 136 monitors. Liquid levels, and more specifically changes in liquid levels in the wash tub 70, may therefore be sensed, for example, to indicate laundry loads and to facilitate associated control decisions. In further alternative embodiments, load size and cycle effectiveness can be determined or evaluated using other known indicia, such as motor spin, torque, load weight, motor current, voltage, current phase shifts, etc. It is to be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art, that the reservoir 132, tube 134 and pressure sensor 136 need not be employed in the washing machine 50 of the subject disclosure. In particular, it may be advantageous to simplify the washing machine 50 so as to reduce manufacturing costs and the ultimate end cost to a consumer by eliminating the reservoir 132, tube 134 and pressure sensor 136.

Operation of the machine 50 can be controlled by a controller 138, though this is not required (for example, simple electromechanical controls can be employed for controlling and operating the washing machine 50). The controller 138 can be operatively connected to the user interface input located on the washing machine backsplash 58 for user manipulation to select washing machine cycles and features. In response to user manipulation of the user interface input, the controller 138 operates the various components of the machine 50 to execute selective machine cycles and features. The controller 138 is operatively coupled to the drive system 120,122,124 and the nozzle assembly 112 (or alternatively the spray conduit 114).

With reference to FIGS. 3A and 3B, the pulsator 116 can include a base portion 150, a central hub 152 extending upward from the base portion 150, and a plurality of radially extending vanes 154 extending upward from the base portion 150. The pulsator 116 can be the same or similar to the pulsator disclosed in the above-referenced U.S. patent application entitled “PULSATOR WASH SYSTEM,” though this is not required. In the illustrated embodiment, the pulsator 116 has a bell-shape and each of the vanes 154 extends radially from about a peripheral radial edge 156 of the base portion 150 to a location radially spaced apart from the central hub 152. The pulsator 116 can be mounted within the washing machine 50 such that the base portion 150 is disposed closely adjacent the bottom 92 of the rotatably supported wash basket 70.

With additional reference to FIGS. 4A-C, the central hub 152 of the illustrated pulsator 116 can be mounted to a shaft 172 by a suitable fastener, such as the illustrated bolt 176. Also, a dispenser, such as illustrated dispenser 180, for the washing machine 50 can be disposed within the pulsator 116 and/or formed integrally therewith at a submersible location on the pulsator. As will be described in more detail below, dispenser 180 can automatically dispense an additive (e.g., fabric softener) during operation of the pulsator wash system 50 (e.g., such as between the wash and rinse cycles) and is self-cleaning during operation of the wash system 50. More particularly, in accordance with one embodiment, the dispenser 180 is a submersible, centrifugal-type dispenser for a vertical axis close washer (e.g., pulsator wash machine or system 50), which is self-cleaning and does not require pre-dilution of an additive (e.g., fabric softener). While shown and described as being disposed within and/or formed integrally with the pulsator 116, it is to be understood and appreciated that the submersible dispensers of the subject disclosure could be used on any washing machine agitator element. Thus, the agitator element need not be a pulsator, but could instead be a conventional agitator or a cross between a conventional agitator and the illustrated pulsator 116 (e.g., a short agitator) with the dispenser (e.g., dispenser 180) vertically positioned so as to become submersed during the wash cycle.

With additional reference to FIG. 5, the dispenser 180 includes an inner cup 182 defining an inner chamber 184 for receiving an additive (e.g., fabric softener, etc.) that is to be dispensed, such as during a wash cycle of the pulsator washing machine 50. The dispenser 180 also includes an outer cup 186 defining an outer chamber 188 annularly disposed about the inner cup 182. The outer cup 186 can be disposed within or formed integrally with the pulsator 116, or some other agitator element at a submersible location thereon (i.e., a vertical position that becomes submerged during the wash cycle), and the inner cup 186 can be disposed in the outer cup 186. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 4A-5, the outer cup 186 is formed integrally with the pulsator 116 of the pulsator washing machine 50 and the inner cup 182 is removably received in the outer cup 186 and thus the inner cup 182 is removable from the outer cup 186. In addition to the outer cup being formed integrally with the pulsator 116, the inner and outer cups 182,186 of the illustrated embodiment are disposed within the pulsator hub 152 of the pulsator washing machine 50.

As shown, the dispenser 180 can include a cap or cap assembly 190 closing an open end of the outer cup 186. The cap 190 of the illustrated embodiment includes a main body or portion 192 that closes the open end of the outer cup 186 and defines an aperture 194 therethrough, and further includes an openable lid 196 pivotally mounted to the main body or portion 192. The lid 196 is pivotally movable from a closed position (illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 4A-B) and an open position (illustrated in FIGS. 3B and 4C) in which a receiving chamber 198 is accessible. The aperture 194 fluidly connects the receiving chamber 198 with the inner chamber 184. However, when the lid 196 is in its closed position, a downward depending portion 200 of the lid closes the aperture 194 preventing fluid communication from the receiving chamber 198 to the inner chamber 184. As shown, the depending portion 200 can include a seal structure 201 and a seal 202 that is received in the aperture 194 for closing and sealing thereof when the lid 196 is in its closed position.

As best shown in FIG. 4B, the cap 190 closing the open end of the outer cup 186, even with the lid 196 in its closed position, allows fluid communication between the inner chamber 184 and the outer chamber 188 over a radial side wall 204 defining the inner cup 182. This arrangement is facilitated by the depth of the outer cup 186 being greater than the inner cup 182, which allows the inner chamber 184 of the inner cup 182 to communicate with the outer chamber 188 of the outer cup 186 with the cap 190 closing the open end of the outer cup 186.

The outer cup 186 includes a base portion 206 and a radial side wall or side wall portion 208 extending from the base portion or base wall 206. In the illustrated embodiment, the outer cup base portion 206 and the outer cup radial side wall 208 are formed integrally with the pulsator 116, and particularly the pulsator hub 152. That is, the wall defining the pulsator hub 152 also forms the radial side wall portion 208. In the illustrated embodiment, the base wall 206 has a raised central portion 210 that is configured to mount around the shaft 172 and includes an aperture 212 through which the fastener 176 secures the pulsator 116 to the shaft 172, though this configuration is not required. When so configured, a base wall or base wall portion 214 of the inner cup 182 likewise includes a raised portion 216, though again such a configuration is not required.

As best shown in FIG. 4C, the dispenser 180 can include one or more drain holes 220 that allow an additive of the dispenser to drain into the wash tub 64 of the pulsator washing machine 50 from the outer chamber 188, as will be described in more detail below. In particular, in the illustrated embodiment, the dispenser 180 includes a plurality of drain holes 220, which extend axially and radially through the pulsator hub 152. Specifically, each drain hole 220 includes a first end or opening 222 defined in the base wall 206 of the outer cup 186 and a second end or opening 224 defined as an aperture in the pulsator 116 (see FIGS. 3A and 3B). The inner cup 182 defines a weep hole 228 for admitting water into the inner chamber 184 from the outer chamber 188 when filled through the drain holes 220 to mix with an additive received in the inner chamber 184 as wash water fills in the wash tub 64. As shown in the illustrated embodiment, the weep hole 228 is formed more adjacent (i.e., closer to) the open end of the inner cup 182 than to the base wall 214, though the weep hole 228 is disposed axially below the open end of the inner cup 182.

With additional reference to FIGS. 6A and 6B, the main body 192 of the cap 190 is shown. More particularly, as shown, the main body 192 defines an orifice 230 along a top side 232. The orifice 230 communicates with the inner chamber 184 of the inner cup 182. More specifically, the cap 190, and particularly the main body 192 thereof, includes a dip tube 234 depending downwardly from the top side 232 into or toward the inner chamber 184 from the orifice 230. The first end of the dip tube 234 is the orifice 230 and a second end 236 is formed as an aperture spaced apart from the orifice 230 in a direction of the inner chamber 184. As best shown in FIG. 6A, the dip tube 234 can include a tapered passage 238 extending between the ends 230,236, and particularly increasing in size from the end 230 toward the end 236. As will be described in more detail below, the dip tube 234 extends down into or toward the inner chamber 184 of the inner cup 182 to prevent water entering the inner chamber 184 through the weep hole 228 from filling the inner cup 182 to its open end (i.e., the distal end 204a of radial wall 204).

Turning now to FIGS. 7A-7F, a dispensing method for a pulsator washing machine, such as the machine 50, will now be described. First, an additive A (e.g., fabric softener, etc.) is added to the inner chamber 184 of the dispenser inner cup 182, which is disposed within the pulsator hub 152 of a pulsator washing machine. In the illustrated embodiment, adding the additive A to the inner chamber 184 includes opening the lid 196 to its open position (FIG. 3B) and pouring (or otherwise adding) the additive A into the receiving chamber 198. For reasons that will become more apparent upon reading the description below, the additive A need not be prediluted (e.g. mixed with water) at this time.

From the receiving chamber 198, the additive A flows through the aperture 194 into the inner chamber 184 of the inner cup 182. Once the additive A is added to the inner chamber 184, the lid 196 can be closed and then the machine 50 can be operated through its normal wash cycles. More particularly, the wash tub 64 of the machine 50 is next filled with water W for washing and thus water begins rising up the pulsator 116 as shown in FIG. 7A. As the water W rises past the apertures 224 of the drain holes 220 (see FIGS. 3A-B and 4C), the water W enters the outer chamber 188 of the outer cup 186 and begins filling (i.e., rises within) the outer chamber as shown in FIG. 7B. The radial side wall 204 of the inner cup 182 precludes, at least for a time, the water W in the outer chamber 188 from entering the inner chamber 184.

As the water W continues to rise in the wash tub 64 and in the outer chamber 188, a predetermined amount of the water W from the outer cup 186 is permitted to enter the inner chamber 184 of the inner cup 182 to pre-dilute the additive A as shown in FIG. 7C. In particular, the water W of the outer chamber 188 enters the inner chamber 184 through the weep hole 228. The water W from the outer chamber 188 enters the inner chamber 184 through the weep hole 228 until the water fills the inner cup 182 to a level of a distal end of the dip tube 234. That is, the water fills the inner cup 182 until its level reaches the second end 236 of the dip tube 234 thereby prediluting the additive A. Meanwhile, the water W surrounding the pulsator 116 rises thereabove to submerse the pulsator 116 and the dispenser 190 as shown. The dip tube 234 creates an air pocket AP within the dispenser 190 that continues to preclude the water level of the inner cup 182 from rising past the distal end 236 of the dip tube 234 even as the dispenser 190 becomes submersed.

Next, with the dispenser 190 submerged, the machine 50 is operated to wash any articles received therein. During the wash cycle, the water W in the inner cup 182 and the additive A mix to form a prediluted additive mixture PA. The dip tube 234 can extend into the inner chamber 184 of the inner cup 186 a sufficient distance so that the mixing of the additive A and the water W during the wash cycle results in little or no splashing or spilling into the outer chamber 186. After completion of the wash cycle, the water W is drained from the wash tub 64 and the machine 50 is operated in a wash spin cycle. During this spin cycle, the prediluted additive PA vacates the inner chamber 184 of the inner cup 182. More particularly, the prediluted additive PA is centrifugally forced from the inner chamber 184 over the radial side wall 204 and into the outer chamber 184 as illustrated in FIG. 7D. The centrifugal force causes the prediluted additive PA to reside against the outer cup radial wall 208 and not drain through the drain holes 220 as urged by gravity.

At the end of the spin cycle, however, the centrifugal force on the pre-diluted additive PA ends and from the outer cup 186 it is gravitationally forced to flow into the wash tub 64 through the drain holes 220 fluidly connecting the outer chamber 188 to the wash tub 64. Thus, the pre-diluted additive PA is dispensed from the inner cup 182 into the wash tub 64. Next, after dispensing, the wash tub 64 is again filled with water W for the rinse cycle. The water W again enters and rises within the outer chamber 188 and enters the inner chamber 184 through the weep hole 228 to automatically rinse any residual additive remaining in the inner chamber 184 of the inner cup 182 (see FIGS. 7E and 7F). This water entering the inner cup 182 for a second time evacuates from the dispenser 190 during the rinse spin cycle in the same manner as described above in reference to the pre-diluted additive PA evacuating the outer chamber 188.

Turning to FIG. 8, a dispenser 1800 is shown according to an alternate embodiment. More particularly, the dispenser 1800 includes an inner cup 1820 that is similar to the inner cup 182. The dispenser 1800 also includes an outer cup 1860 however, the outer cup is formed by pulsator 1160 and cap 1900. More particularly, a base wall 2060 of the outer cup 1860 is formed by the pulsator 1160, but radial side wall 2040 is formed by the cap 1900. In operation, the cap 1900 is removed from the pulsator 1160 and the inner cup 1820 filled with an additive. Thereafter, the cap 1900 is replaced on the pulsator 1160. In most other respects, the alternate dispenser 1800 operates as described above in reference to the dispenser 190.

Advantageously, the dispensers described herein, including the dispenser 180 and the dispenser 1800, provide a means by which a centrifugal-type dispenser can perform an automatic dilution of an additive, such as a fabric softener, and is self cleaning. Such automatic dilution eliminates the need for pre-diluting an additive prior to adding the same to a dispenser of a washing machine. The self-cleaning feature eliminates or at least reduces the need to periodically clean the dispenser due to additive build-up (e.g., repeat accumulations of residual additive). The dispensers described herein are also advantageous in that they are low cost, simple and reliable, and of course usable with a pulsator-type washing system, such as system 50. As water and energy usage regulations become more stringent, the inherently efficient pulsator wash system, such as system 50, will likely be required or encouraged for vertical axis washing machines. While high-end or more sophisticated washers with pulsators may be able to afford a more costly flow-through dispenser, lower end, cost competitive washers may not be able to afford such complex and expensive flow-through dispensers.

The exemplary embodiment or embodiments have been described with reference to preferred embodiments. Obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding the preceding detailed description. It is intended that the exemplary embodiments be construed as including all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.