FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a fabric treatment article and composition, more particularly to a tumble dryer sheet carrying a composition for treating fabrics in a tumble dryer and for pre-treating such fabrics to remove stains.
BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION
Tumble dryer sheets adapted for domestic dry cleaning purposes are a relatively recent addition to the range of fabric treatment products currently known. There are currently at least two commercial embodiments of such materials, namely the Dryel™ product of The Procter & Gamble Company and the Custom Cleaner™ product of Creative Products Resource, Inc. Both commercial products comprise hydroentangled sheets impregnated with a fabric treatment composition. The Dryel™ product is sold with a separate pre-treater for stain removal and the Custom Cleaner™ product is sold as a combined stain removal and fabric treatment product. Both commercial products instruct the consumer to use the fabric treatment sheet inside a bag, into which the fabrics to be treated are placed before sealing the bag and placing it in the tumble dryer.
WO-A-99/10586 (The Procter & Gamble Company) relates to a bagless dry cleaning kit having one or more carrier sheets and from 200 grams to 1,000 grams of a liquid cleaning/refreshment composition. The “cleaning/refreshment composition” is primarily water and perfume with an emulsifier and optional solvents such as ethanol and isopropanol. The kit includes a separate pre-treating composition which is delivered to the fabric by means of an absorbent stain removal article impregnated with the pre-treating composition. WO-A-97/07278 (The Procter & Gamble Company) relates to a dry cleaning process using a bag. WO-A-97/29178 (The Procter & Gamble Company) relates to a dry cleaning sheet which is oleophilic and can acquire a strong electrostatically positive charge when passed across the surface being cleaned. WO-A-97/32004 (The Procter & Gamble Company) relates to a dry cleaning sheet which has a permeable coversheet which it is said provides a more uniform distribution within the tumble dryer of the cleaning composition on the dry cleaning sheet. WO-A-97/45516 (The Procter & Gamble Company) discloses a phase stable liquid refreshment and cleaning composition comprising butoxy propoxy propanol, water, optional nonionic and a phase stabilising amount of an alkyl sulphate and/or alkyl ethoxy sulphate surfactant. WO-A-96/30471 (The Procter & Gamble Company) discloses a cleaning composition comprising at least 4% butoxy propoxy propanol and other ingredients, including an emulsifier. WO-A-93/23603 (Creative Products Resource, Inc.) discloses a fabric cleaning kit comprising a bag and a cleaning sheet impregnated with a composition comprising a gelling agent, surfactant and a solvent.
It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved form of fabric treatment article.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, the present invention provides an article for fabric treatment comprising a substrate releasably impregnated with a fluid treatment composition adapted for fabric cleaning and freshening by contact of the fluid composition with the fabric to be treated during a tumble drying process, the fluid treatment composition comprising:
a glycol ether solvent;
a non-ionic surfactant; and
a perfume characterised in that the glycol ether solvent is present in the composition in an amount which is miscible with the water present in the composition and the total surfactant content is not more than 2% by weight of the fluid treatment composition.
The provision of a fabric treatment article impregnated with a fluid composition comprising no more glycol ether solvent than is miscible with the water present in the composition removes the need to include any polymeric emulsification aid in the composition. This is desirable both to reduce the expense of the composition and to avoid the deposition of residues on the treated fabric left by the emulsifier. The fluid treatment composition of the invention is free from polymeric emulsification aids.
The fluid treatment composition used in the invention is non-gelled having a viscosity comparable to water. The composition is free from gelling agent. The composition may be readily applied to an absorbent carrier sheet and may be released from the carrier sheet to treat a stain on a fabric by wiping, rubbing or pressing the impregnated carrier sheet against the fabric. Surprisingly, it is found that the amount of glycol ether in the fabric treatment articles according to the invention provides an effective cleaning performance even at the relatively low levels of glycol ether needed to maintain water miscibility. The cost of the composition is further reduced by maintaining the amount of glycol ether solvent therein at a relatively low level and the avoidance of phase separation in the composition by maintaining water miscibility further reduces the risk of staining during the treatment process.
DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Preferably, the glycol ether solvent is present in the composition in an amount of from about 1.0% to about 4.5%, more preferably from 1.5 to 3.5%, and most preferably from 2.0 to 3.0% by weight of the composition. A particularly preferred fabric treatment article according to the invention is impregnated with a fluid composition which comprises about 2.5% glycol ether solvent.
The glycol ether solvent for use in the fabric treatment articles of the invention preferably has a volatility of less than that of butyl acetate. Glycol ether solvents are lower-(alkoxy)- or lower(alkoxy)lower(alkoxy)-ethers of ethanol or isopropanol. The lower alkoxy groups generally contain from 1 to 6 carbon atoms. Preferred solvents include dipropylene glycol n-propyl ether, dipropylene glycol t-butyl ether, dipropylene glycol n-butyl ether and dipropylene glycol methyl ethanoate, tripropylene glycol methyl ether, tripropylene glycol n-butyl ether or mixtures of one or more thereof. Preferably the glycol ether solvent has a flash point of above 90° C. Preferably the glycol ether has a lower odour.
The fabric treatment article according to the invention additionally includes a perfume and a non-ionic surfactant as essential components and it is preferred that the non-ionic surfactant is present in an amount sufficient to solubilised the perfume in the composition.
The perfume is preferably present in an amount of from about 0.1% to 1%, more preferably from about 0.25% to 0.75% and most preferably from about 0.5% to about 0.75% by weight of the composition.
Preferably, the non-ionic surfactant is present in the fluid composition in an amount of from about 0.1% to about 2%, more preferably from about 0.5% to about 2% by weight, most preferably from about 1.1% to about 2% by weight of the composition. Non-ionic surfactants that may be used include the primary and secondary alcohol ethoxylates, especially the C8-20 aliphatic alcohols ethoxylated with an average-of from 1 to 20 moles of ethylene oxide per mole of alcohol, and more especially the C10-15 primary and secondary aliphatic alcohols ethoxylated with an average of from 1 to 10 moles of ethylene oxide per mole of alcohol. A preferred non-ionic surfactants are commercially available from Shell Chemicals under the trade name NEODOL 25-9 and NEODOL 25-7 which are C12-C15 primary alcohol ethoxylates having 9 and 7 moles of ethylene oxide respectively. Non-ethoxylated non-ionic surfactants suitable for use in the invention include alkylpolyglycosides, glycerol monoethers and polyhydroxyamides (glucamide).
The composition may comprise other surfactants provided the total surfactant content does not exceed 2% by weight. Preferably the total surfactant content is not more than 1.5% by weight. Higher surfactant contents may lead to staining during the treatment process.
The fluid composition may further comprise an anionic surfactant. In this case, the amount of anionic surfactant present in the fluid composition is less than the amount of non-ionic surfactant present therein. Anionic surfactants are well known to those skilled in the art. Examples suitable for use in a fabric treatment article according to the invention include alkylbenzene sulphonates, particularly C8-15 linear alkylbenzene sulphonates, alkyl ether sulphates and alkyl ether carboxylates. A preferred anionic surfactant is sodium lauryl ether sulphate ethoxylated with 2 ethylene oxide molecules.
The composition may further comprise an amphoteric surfactant. The amphoteric surfactant may be present in an amount not more than the amount of non-ionic surfactant present therein. Amphoteric surfactants are well known to those skilled in the art and include sultaines, belaines, alkyl amine oxides, zwitterions, amphopropionates and carboxylates. Preferred amphoteric surfactants are alkyl amine oxides of the formula:
R R1 R2 N+ 0
R is selected from the group alkyl, alkylarylalkyl, arylalkyl, alkylaminoalkyl, and the sulfonated derivatives thereof, alkylamidoalkyl, or alkoxyalkyl wherein the total carbon atom content of the R group is no more than about 22 carbon atoms, and
R1 and R2 independently represent alkyl of from 1 to about 6 carbon atoms and the hydroxy-substituted derivatives thereof.
Preferably R is alkyl of 10 to 20 carbon atoms and R1 and R2 are methyl.
Exemplary formulations for use in the invention comprise a balance of non-ionic, anionic and amphoteric surfactants. The anionic surfactant is present in an amount less than the non-ionic surfactant e.g. up to 50% by weight of the non-ionic surfactant. The amphoteric surfactant may be present in an amount no more than the non-ionic surfactant. A suitable weight ratio is about 40:20:40 non-ionic anionic:amphoteric surfactants. It has been found that such a surfactant mixture allows phase stable formulations to be produced with low surfactant content, below 2%, by weight surfactant mixture. Such formulations offer minimum levels of water marking and good perfume delivery.
The fluid composition may further comprise fatty acids, for example C8-24 alkyl or alkenyl monocarboxylic acids.
Preferably saturated fatty acids are used, in particular hardened tallow C16-18 fatty acids. Examples of preferred fatty acids include oleic acid, lauric acid or tallow fatty acid. Other optional ingredients include builders, preservatives and sequestrants.
Water is the predominant component of the formulation and generally comprises at least 90% by weight, preferably at least 94% by weight of the formulation.
The substrate may comprise any materials which will absorb the fluid treatment composition and withstand the tumble drying process without disintegrating. Suitable materials include woven and non-woven fabrics. A preferred substrate is a 50/50 rayon/polyester hydroentangled material commercially available from PGI.
The substrate is generally impregnated with from 20 to 40 g, preferably 25 to 35 g of the fluid composition which is sufficient to treat up to four garments in a tumble drying cycle.
The invention further provides a process for treating a fabric comprising the step of contacting the fabric with a fabric treatment article according to the invention in a tumble dryer and conducting a tumble drying process. Preferably, the fabric to be treated and the fabric treatment article are placed directly in the tumble dryer without any other form of containment. The invention provides a further process according to the above comprising the preliminary step of treating a stain on the fabric by direct application, with a wiping, rubbing or pressing action, of the article to the fabric.
In another of its aspects, the invention provides a fluid composition for use in the manufacture of an article according to the invention. Also according to the invention is the use of an article according to the invention in a domestic dry cleaning process.
The invention will now be more particularly described with reference to the following Examples.