Degradable cleaning assembly

A degradable cleaning assembly (300) which is formed from a plurality of substantially identical layers (10) of a food starch, wherein the layers (10) are coupled together. Particularly, the coupled layers (10) cooperatively form an assembly (100) which is then permitted to soak in a glycerin and soap additive material (250), removed from the material (250), and allowed to solidify, thereby forming the degradable cleaning assembly (300) which selectively degrades or dissolves when exposed to water for a certain amount of time.

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Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a degradable cleaning assembly and, more particularly, a degradable cleaning assembly having a selectively dissolvable scrubbing sponge and body wash disposed therein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It has long been known and desirable to provide a cleaning pad, cloth, or sponge in combination with soap or other cleaning material so that a user has both the soap and the cleaning pad or sponge ready for use. Most attempts at such a combination, however, have not been successful for either functional, aesthetic, or medical/health reasons. Despite past attempts which have been less than fully successful, the need persists for soap in combination with a sponge which proves to be economical, functionally acceptable, aesthetic acceptable and, most importantly, medically safe for a user.

Although conventional combinations of a cleaning tool, such as and without limitation, a cloth, sponge, “buff”, or the like, can be constructed substantially functional (i.e., these combinations can be utilized to clean a user's body) and relatively aesthetically acceptable (i.e., these combinations may be constructed to look attractive or “flashy”), these combinations of soap and a cleaning tool do suffer from a major health drawback.

For example and without limitation, any previous assembly that has combined soap with a cleaning tool, such as a sponge, undesirably may be designed to be utilized more than one time. It is well known that the human body (i.e., the skin, hair, genitals, and the like) is a veritable breeding ground for or host to multitudes of various types of bacteria which are both healthy and unhealthy forms of bacteria. When an individual utilizes a cleaning tool in a shower or bath, the individual transfers some of these various forms of bacteria to the cleaning tool (i.e., the cleaning tool becomes host to some of the bacteria). It is further well known that “flakes” of dead skin are removed by cleaning tools, thereby providing various forms of bacteria which are resident within the cleaning tool readily available nourishment (i.e., various forms of bacteria feed upon dead skin).

If the combination soap and cleaning tool is not disposed of (i.e., thrown in the trash) after its first use, then the wet and bacteria infested tool is further exposed to airborne molds, funguses, bacteria, and the like which thrive in moist environments. For example and without limitation, mildew is well known to thrive in moist environments. It is further well known that mildew is not only is displeasing to smell, but mildew is further unhealthy to breath and unhealthy to ingest.

Each time the individual utilizes the same cleaning tool, the individual is exposing himself/herself to more and more bacteria, fungus, mildew, and the like. Moreover, if more than one individual is utilizing the same cleaning tool and soap combination assembly, the individuals are exposing themselves to more and more bacteria, fungus, mildew, and the like, as well as cross-contaminating one another with bacteria, fungus, and the like from the individual(s) whom they are sharing the cleaning tool and soap combination assembly with.

As should be appreciated, certain types of fungi, which cause “jock itch” (i.e., medically referred to as “tinea cruris”), “athlete's foot” (i.e., medically referred to as “tinea pedis”), Ringworm (i.e., medically referred to as “tinea”), and Ringworm of the scalp (i.e., medically referred to as tinea capitis) are easily spread through contact with the fungi. In this manner, the very tool and soap combination assembly which was employed to clean an individual may, in fact, contaminate the individual with an irritating, painful or, at the very least, an uncomfortable rash.

In further example and without limitation, prior assemblies which combine a cleaning tool and soap do not allow for convenient travel. Vacationers or individuals that travel frequently oftentimes do not pack a combination cleaning tool and soap combination assembly because of the hassle involved with packing away a wet or dirty assembly after the assembly has been utilized. That is, it is well known that vacationers and travelers attempt to minimize packing items which are conventionally utilized in combination with water (e.g., bathing suit, towels, wash cloths, and the like), thereby reducing the amount of items which need to be packed away wet or dirty after the items have been utilized.

In this manner, most vacationers or travelers depend upon a hotel or motel to provide wash cloths and towels, thereby obviating the necessity of packing and re-packing wash cloths and towels. However, most travelers and vacationers thereby undesirably obviate having the convenience of washing themselves with a combination cleaning tool and soap assembly.

There is therefore a need for an assembly which combines soap with a cleaning tool. There is a further need for a cleaning tool and soap combined assembly which overcomes some or all of the previously delineated drawbacks of prior combination soap and cleaning tool assemblies and methodologies. There is still a further need for a cleaning tool and soap combination assembly which obviates some or all of the previously delineated drawbacks associated with health. The present invention addresses these and other needs in a new and novel manner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A first non-limiting advantage of the present invention is that it provides a cleaning tool and soap combination assembly which allows for the selective cleaning of an individual in a manner which overcomes the previously delineated drawbacks of prior cleaning tool and soap combination assemblies and methodologies.

A second non-limiting advantage of the present invention is that it provides a degradable cleaning tool and soap combination assembly which selectively dissolves after exposure to a liquid, thereby obviating any health risks associated with prior cleaning tool and soap combination assemblies.

A third non-limiting advantage of the present invention is that it provides a process for creating a degradable cleaning assembly.

A fourth non-limiting advantage of the present invention is that it provides a degradable cleaning assembly comprising a first layer of degradable material having a generally thin profile, a porous top surface, a porous bottom surface, and a plurality of oppositely projecting arcuate portions; at least one second layer of degradable material having a generally thin profile, a porous top surface, a porous bottom surface, and a plurality of oppositely projecting arcuate portions, wherein the first layer and the at least one second layer are coupled together; and at least one first non-water based material which is disposed between the first layer of degradable material and the at least one second layer of degradable material and within the porous top and bottom surfaces, thereby forming the degradable cleaning assembly.

A fifth non-limiting advantage of the present invention is that it provides a degradable cleaning assembly made by the process of forming a first layer of degradable material having generally porous top and bottom surfaces; forming at least one second layer of degradable material having generally porous top and bottom surfaces; coupling the first layer of degradable material to the at least one second layer of degradable material; compacting the coupled first and at least one second layers of degradable material, thereby selectively deforming the coupled first and at least one second layers; providing at least one first non-water based material; and disposing the at least one first non-water based material between the first and the at least one second layers of degradable material and within the generally porous top and bottom surfaces of the first and the at least one second layers of degradable material.

A sixth non-limiting advantage of the present invention is that it provides a degradable cleaning assembly made by the process of forming a first layer of food starch having generally porous top and bottom surfaces and a substantially porous middle portion; forming at least one second layer of food starch having generally porous top and bottom surfaces and a substantially porous middle portion; coupling the first layer of food starch to the at least one second layer of food starch; compacting the coupled first and at least one second layers of food starch, thereby selectively deforming the coupled first and at least one second layers; providing a certain amount of glycerin; providing a certain amount of soap additive; combining the certain amount of glycerin with the certain amount of soap additive; and disposing the combined certain amounts of glycerin and soap between the first and the at least one second layers of starch and within the generally porous top and bottom surfaces and the substantially porous middle portion of the first and the at least one second layers of starch.

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from a reading of the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment of the invention and by reference to the following drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a sectional perspective view of one layer of a degradable cleaning assembly which is made in accordance with the teachings of the preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a partial perspective view of a degradable cleaning assembly which is constructed from a plurality of the layer which is shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the degradable cleaning assembly which is shown in FIG. 2 being disposed in a reservoir of material which is utilized in accordance with the teachings of the preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of the degradable cleaning assembly which is shown in FIG. 3 having the material which is shown in FIG. 3 disposed therein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

The present invention may be understood more readily by reference to the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention.

Before the present methods and apparatuses are disclosed and described, it is to be understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting. It must be noted that, as used in the specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an”, and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is shown a sectional portion of a “degradable” cleaning assembly 10 which is made in accordance with the teachings of the preferred embodiment of the invention (i.e., the term “degradable” hereinafter refers to the ability of the assembly 10 to dissolve when exposed to moisture). As shown, the degradable assembly 10 is generally “wavy” in shape and has a relatively thin profile. That is, the assembly 10 has a plurality of “upward projecting” arcuate portions 18 (i.e., the term “upward projecting” hereinafter refers to a direction which begins at the bottom surface 14 of the assembly 10 and travels vertically upward towards the top surface 12 of the assembly 10) which are each integrally connected with a plurality of “downward projecting” arcuate portions (i.e., the term “downward projecting” hereinafter refers to a direction which begins at the top surface 12 of the assembly 10 and travels vertically upward towards the bottom surface 14 of the assembly 10). As briefly referred to above, the degradable assembly 10 includes a generally porous top surface 12, a generally porous bottom surface 14, and a substantially porous middle portion 16, wherein the top, bottom, and middle portions 12, 14, 16 respectively, have the texture of a sponge. It should be understood that the layers 10 may be formed having substantially any desired pore size and nothing within this description is meant to limit the pore size of the layers 10, the assembly 100, or the assembly 300 to any particular pore size (i.e., the term pore size generally refers to the diameter and depth of the various pores which are resident upon and within the layers 10). Particularly, the generally wavy degradable assembly 10 is formed from a degradable or dissolvable material, such as and without limitation, starch. In one non-limiting embodiment of the present invention the degradable assembly 10 is formed from corn starch. In yet another non-limiting embodiment, the degradable assembly 10 is formed from wheat starch.

It should be appreciated that the assembly 10 may be constructed utilizing a conventional liquid poured form (not shown) having the same shape as the assembly 10 and allowed to set or dry before the assembly 10 is removed from the form (not shown). It should further be appreciated that the assembly 10 may alternatively be formed by use of a conventional “cookie sheet” type tray. That is, the starch may be poured into a oven safe tray having the same shape as the assembly 10, wherein the tray (not shown) may then be disposed in an oven (not shown) and allowed to bake for a predetermined amount of time (i.e., the predetermined amount of time is determined by the approximate size of the assembly 10 and the temperature of the conventional oven (not shown) in which the tray (not shown) and the liquid poured assembly 10 are disposed).

It should be understood that nothing within this description of preferred and alternate embodiments is meant to or should be construed as limiting the size (i.e., dimensions) of the assembly 10 to any particular size. Rather, the assembly 10 may be constructed having substantially any desired size/dimensions, as will be explained in greater detail below.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown an assembly 100 that is constructed from a multitude of the assembly 10 which is shown in FIG. 1. Particularly, the plurality of the assemblies 10 may each be moistened (e.g., moistened with water) on the top and bottom surfaces 12, 14 respectively, such that the middle portion 16 is not exposed to the moisture. After each respective top and bottom surface 12, 14 of each respective assembly 10 has been moistened, the pre-moistened assemblies 10 may be selectively stacked and compressed into substantially any desired shape, geometrical configuration, or contour.

It should be appreciated that, in this manner, each respective top and bottom surface 12, 14 of each assembly 10 adheres or bonds to the surface 12, 14 of the assembly 10 in which each respective assembly 10 has intimate contact with. That is, the application of moisture to the top and bottom surfaces 12, 14 respectively, partially “melts” each respective surface 12, 14 respectively, thereby allowing the partially melted surfaces 12, 14 respectively, to combine with or “fuse” together. When the surfaces 12, 14 are allowed to set or dry, the resulting product is one block or one “chunk” of the assemblies 10. That is, although there are several layers of the assembly 10 initially, the moisture fuses each assembly 10 to a respective other assembly 10, thereby creating or forming the degradable cleaning assembly 100.

The degradable cleaning assembly 100 may be formed by applying a substantially uniform amount of pressure or force to the top surface 12 of the top assembly 11 and the bottom surface 14 of the bottom assembly 13. That is, a conventional press (not shown) may be used to “sandwich” the assembly 100 as the applied moisture to each respective top and bottom surface 12, 14 is setting or drying, thereby compacting/flattening/deforming the upward projecting arcuate portions 18 as well as the downward projecting arcuate portions 20, effective to form a generally rectangular block shaped assembly 100, as shown in FIG. 2, which may then be cut or formed into substantially any desired geometrical configuration, shape, contour, and the like.

Referring now to FIG. 3, there is shown the degradable cleaning assembly 100 being disposed in a certain material 250. That is, in the most preferred embodiment of the invention, the assembly is disposed into a reservoir 200 of a soap material 250 (i.e., the depositing of the assembly 100 is generally shown with reference to the arrow 150). In one non-limiting embodiment of the present invention, the certain material 250 comprises a non-water based material, such as and without limitation, glycerin having a soap additive. It should be appreciated that, in this manner, the material 250 will be “absorbed” into the generally porous top, bottom, and middle surfaces 12, 14, 16 of each respective layer 10, as well as each respective gap, nook, cranny, and the like 240 which is/are resident between each respective layer 10, thereby substantially rigidizing the assembly 100 upon removal of the assembly 100 from the material 250 (i.e., the material 250 will, of course, be permitted to set and to solidify).

Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown an enlarged section of the assembly 300 (i.e., the assembly 300 is a material 250 filled assembly 100 which is shown in FIG. 3) which has been removed from the material 250 and permitted to set or solidify. As shown, each gap, nook, cranny, and the like 240 of the assembly 300 has been “filled” with the material 250. Further, the substantially porous middle surface 16 had been “filled” with the material 250. It should be appreciated that after the assembly 100 is soaked in the material 250 and the material 250 is allowed to set or solidify, the assembly 300 becomes substantially rigid (e.g., the assembly 300 becomes as rigid as a conventional bar of hand/body soap) and, this substantially rigid assembly 300 may be shaped and sized (i.e., geometrically configured) to substantially any desired shape and size. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the assembly 300 will be geometrically configured to be substantially identical (i.e., in shape and dimension) to the geometrical configuration of a conventional bar of soap. That is, in the preferred embodiment of the invention, the assembly 300 is geometrically configured in two different sizes. The first size will comprise substantially identical measurements to that of a conventional bar of had/body soap and the second size will comprise substantially identical measurements to that of a “hotel bar of soap” (i.e., the term “hotel bar of soap” hereinafter refers to the travel sized soaps that hotels and motels conventionally supply customers with). In this manner, the generally porous nature of the assembly 300 may server an individual as one-time-use hand washing assemblies or one-time-use body washing assemblies.

It should be understood the assembly 300 will selectively degrade or dissolve when exposed to water, thereby selectively exposing the layers 10 as the assembly is utilized, which allows a user to scrub his/her hands/body with the layers 10 as well as the material 250. In this manner, the degradable cleaning assembly 300 will eventually and completely degrade or dissolve (over a certain period of time and exposure to water), thereby affording a user only one wash per assembly 300, effective to overcome the previously delineated drawbacks of prior cleaning tool and soap combination assemblies.

It should be understood that this invention is not limited to the exact construction or embodiments listed and described, but that various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims

1) A degradable cleaning assembly comprising:

a first layer of degradable material having a generally thin profile, a porous top surface, a porous bottom surface, and a plurality of oppositely projecting arcuate portions;
at least one second layer of degradable material having a generally thin profile, a porous top surface, a porous bottom surface, and a plurality of oppositely projecting arcuate portions, wherein said first layer and said at least one second layer are coupled together; and
at least one first non-water based material which is disposed between said first layer of degradable material and said at least one second layer of degradable material and within said porous top and bottom surfaces, thereby forming said degradable cleaning assembly.

2) The assembly of claim 1 wherein said first layer is formed from a starch.

3) The assembly of claim 2 wherein said at least one second layer is formed from a starch.

4) The assembly of claim 3 wherein said at least one first non-water based material further comprises:

a first non-water based material; and
at least one second non-water based material.

5) The assembly of claim 4 wherein said first non-water based material comprises glycerin.

6) The assembly of claim 5 wherein said at least one second non-water based material comprises a soap additive.

7) The assembly of claim 6 wherein said starch comprises corn starch.

8) The assembly of claim 6 wherein said starch comprises wheat starch.

9) The assembly of claim 6 wherein said plurality of oppositely projecting arcuate portions are selectively deformable.

10) A degradable cleaning assembly made by the process of:

forming a first layer of degradable material having generally porous top and bottom surfaces;
forming at least one second layer of degradable material having generally porous top and bottom surfaces;
coupling said first layer of degradable material to said at least one second layer of degradable material;
compacting said coupled first and at least one second layers of degradable material, thereby selectively deforming said coupled first and at least one second layers;
providing at least one first non-water based material; and
disposing said at least one first non-water based material between said first and said at least one second layers of degradable material and within said generally porous top and bottom surfaces of said first and said at least one second layers of degradable material.

11) The process of claim 10 wherein said step of forming a first layer of degradable material further comprises the steps of:

obtaining a first amount of degradable material;
forming a mold of a certain geometrical configuration;
disposing said first amount of degradable material within said mold;
allowing said first amount of degradable material to set; and
removing said set first amount of degradable material from said mold.

12) The process of claim 11 wherein said step of forming at least one second layer of degradable material:

obtaining at least one second amount of degradable material;
disposing said at least one second amount of degradable material within said mold;
allowing said at least one second amount of degradable material to set; and
removing said set at least one second amount of degradable material from said mold.

13) The process of claim 12 wherein said step of coupling said first layer of degradable material to said at least one second layer of degradable material further comprises the steps of:

providing a first amount of moisture;
applying said amount of moisture to a bottom surface of said first layer of degradable material;
allowing said amount of moisture to partially dissolve said bottom surface of said first layer of degradable material;
providing at least one second amount of moisture;
applying said at least one second amount of moisture to a top surface of said at least one second layer of degradable material;
allowing said top surface of said at least one second layer of degradable material to partially dissolve; and
disposing said first layer of degradable material upon said at least one second layer of degradable material, such that said partially dissolved bottom surface of said first layer of degradable material is in intimate contact with said partially dissolved top surface of said at least one second layer of degradable material.

14) The process of claim 13 wherein said step of compacting said coupled first and at least one second layers of degradable material further comprises the steps of:

providing a press having a first selectively movable pressing portion and a second selectively movable pressing portion;
disposing said coupled first and at least one second layers of degradable material between said first selectively movable pressing portion and said second selectively movable pressing portion while said top surface of said first layer of degradable material and said bottom surface of said at least one second layer of degradable material are partially dissolved;
selectively moving said first and said second selectively movable pressing portions, such that said first selectively movable pressing portion abuts and deforms said first layer of degradable material, and such that said second selectively movable pressing portion abuts and deforms said at least one second layer of degradable material;
allowing said bottom surface of said at least one second layer of degradable material and said top surface of said first layer of degradable material to bond and set;
selectively moving said first and said second selectively movable pressing portions, such that said first and said at least one second layers of coupled degradable material are no longer in contact with said first and second selectively movable pressing portions; and
removing said coupled first and said at least one second layer of degradable material from said press.

15) The process of claim 14 wherein said step of providing at least one first non-water based material further comprises the steps of:

providing a certain amount of glycerin;
providing a certain amount of soap additive; and
combining said certain amount of glycerin with said certain amount of soap additive.

16) A degradable cleaning assembly made by the process of:

forming a first layer of food starch having generally porous top and bottom surfaces and a substantially porous middle portion;
forming at least one second layer of food starch having generally porous top and bottom surfaces and a substantially porous middle portion;
coupling said first layer of food starch to said at least one second layer of food starch;
compacting said coupled first and at least one second layers of food starch, thereby selectively deforming said coupled first and at least one second layers;
providing a certain amount of glycerin;
providing a certain amount of soap additive;
combining said certain amount of glycerin with said certain amount of soap additive; and
disposing said combined certain amounts of glycerin and soap between said first and said at least one second layers of starch and within said generally porous top and bottom surfaces and said substantially porous middle portion of said first and said at least one second layers of starch.

17) The process of claim 16 wherein said step of forming a first layer of starch further comprises the steps of:

obtaining a first amount of food starch;
forming a mold of a certain geometrical configuration;
disposing said first amount of food starch within said mold;
allowing said first amount of food starch to set; and
removing said set first amount of food starch from said mold.

18) The process of claim 17 wherein said step of forming at least one second layer of food starch further comprises the steps of:

obtaining at least one second amount of food starch;
disposing said at least one second amount of food starch within said mold;
allowing said at least one second amount of food starch to set; and
removing said set at least one second amount of food starch from said mold.

19) The process of claim 18 wherein said step of coupling said first layer of food starch to said at least one second layer of food starch further comprises the steps of:

providing a first amount of moisture;
applying said amount of moisture to said bottom surface of said first layer of food starch;
allowing said amount of moisture to partially dissolve said bottom surface of said first layer of food starch;
providing at least one second amount of moisture;
applying said at least one second amount of moisture to said top surface of said at least one second layer of food starch;
allowing said top surface of said at least one second layer of food starch to partially dissolve; and
disposing said first layer of food starch upon said at least one second layer of food starch, such that said partially dissolved bottom surface of said first layer of food starch is in intimate contact with said partially dissolved top surface of said at least one second layer of food starch.

20) The process of claim 13 wherein said step of compacting said coupled first and at least one second layers of food starch further comprises the steps of:

providing a press having a first selectively movable pressing portion and a second selectively movable pressing portion;
disposing said coupled first and at least one second layers of food starch between said first selectively movable pressing portion and said second selectively movable pressing portion while said top surface of said first layer of food starch and said bottom surface of said at least one second layer of food starch are partially dissolved;
selectively moving said first and said second selectively movable pressing portions, such that said first selectively movable pressing portion abuts and deforms said first layer of food starch, and such that said second selectively movable pressing portion abuts and deforms said at least one second layer of food starch;
allowing said bottom surface of said at least one second layer of food starch and said top surface of said first layer of food starch to bond and set;
selectively moving said first and said second selectively movable pressing portions, such that said first and said at least one second layers of coupled food starch are no longer in contact with said first and second selectively movable pressing portions; and
removing said coupled first and said at least one second layers of food starch from said press.
Patent History
Publication number: 20050235445
Type: Application
Filed: Apr 27, 2004
Publication Date: Oct 27, 2005
Inventor: Joseph Wycech (Gross Pointe Farms, MI)
Application Number: 10/833,719
Classifications
Current U.S. Class: 15/104.930