Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20040231700 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/878,129
Publication dateNov 25, 2004
Filing dateJun 28, 2004
Priority dateOct 11, 2000
Publication number10878129, 878129, US 2004/0231700 A1, US 2004/231700 A1, US 20040231700 A1, US 20040231700A1, US 2004231700 A1, US 2004231700A1, US-A1-20040231700, US-A1-2004231700, US2004/0231700A1, US2004/231700A1, US20040231700 A1, US20040231700A1, US2004231700 A1, US2004231700A1
InventorsRussell Bell, Amy Crandall
Original AssigneeRussell Bell, Amy Crandall
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Cleaning system with scrubbing portion
US 20040231700 A1
Abstract
A cleaning system comprises a cleaning device having a handle portion, the handle portion having a proximal end and a distal end; a cleaning head portion, the cleaning head portion adapted for use with a removable cleaning pad; a cleaning pad; and a cleaning fluid reservoir fluidly coupled to the cleaning head portion such that cleaning fluid is controllably allowed to flow by gravity onto the surface to be cleaned adjacent the cleaning head portion. The cleaning tool further comprises a nozzle portion mounted to the head or handle portions. The head portion of the cleaning system is coupled to the handle portion. A scrubbing portion is operatively coupled to the head portion the scrubbing portion having a scrubbing surface having surface features for providing a scrubbing action to the surface to be cleaned.
Images(59)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(80)
What is claimed is:
1. A cleaning system, comprising:
a handle portion with a proximal end and a distal end;
a cleaning head portion coupled to the distal end of the handle portion; and
a scrubbing portion operatively coupled to the head portion, the scrubbing portion having a scrubbing surface having surface features for providing a scrubbing action to the surface to be cleaned;
wherein the scrubbing portion is selectively positionable between a retracted position and an actuated position, the scrubbing portion engaging the surface to be cleaned when in the actuated position.
2. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein a portion of the scrubbing portion having the scrubbing surface is replaceable.
3. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing surface has at least two dissimilar surface features.
4. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing portion is biased towards the retracted position.
5. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, further comprising a cleaning pad detachably coupled to the head portion for cleaning a surface to be cleaned.
6. A cleaning system as recited in claim 5, wherein the cleaning pad is an electrostatic pad.
7. A cleaning system as recited in claim 5, wherein the cleaning pad is a multilayer pad having an absorbent layer and a surface contacting layer.
8. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, further comprising a fluid nozzle coupled to at least one of the handle portion towards the distal end of the handle portion and the cleaning head portion, and a cleaning fluid reservoir fluidically coupled to the nozzle.
9. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein pivoting the handle portion in a first direction urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
10. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein twisting the handle portion in a first direction urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
11. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, further comprising a lever and wire assembly for selectively positioning the scrubbing portion between the actuated and retracted positions.
12. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, further comprising a slide and wire assembly for selectively positioning the scrubbing portion between the actuated and retracted positions.
13. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, further comprising a trigger and wire assembly for selectively positioning the scrubbing portion between the actuated and retracted positions.
14. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing surface extends through an aperture in the cleaning pad.
15. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing surface extends along an edge of the head portion.
16. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing surface extends along at least a portion of a periphery of the head portion.
17. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, further comprising a flex arm operatively coupled to the handle portion and the scrubbing portion, wherein extension of the flex arm causes the flex arm to urge the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
18. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing portion includes an arm having proximal and distal ends, the proximal end being operatively coupled to the handle portion, the distal end having the scrubbing surface thereon, wherein pivoting the handle portion in a first direction moves the distal end of the arm towards the actuated position.
19. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing portion includes a plunger.
20. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing portion includes a hinged member.
21. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing surface is coupled to the cleaning pad, wherein another part of the scrubbing portion engages the cleaning pad towards the scrubbing surface.
22. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing portion is selectively extendible from an end of the head portion.
23. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing portion is coupled to the cleaning pad.
24. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the distal end of the handle portion is selectively positionable along the head portion for varying a pressure exerted on the scrubbing portion when pushing on the handle portion.
25. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing surface has a length of less than one half of a length of a nearest edge of the head portion thereto, the length of the scrubbing surface being measured parallel to the nearest edge of the head portion.
26. A cleaning system as recited in claim 1, wherein the scrubbing surface has a length of more than one half of a length of a nearest edge of the head portion thereto, the length of the scrubbing surface being measured parallel to the nearest edge of the head portion.
27. A cleaning system, comprising:
a handle portion with a proximal end and a distal end;
a cleaning head portion coupled to the distal end of the handle portion;
a cleaning pad detachably coupled to the head portion for cleaning a surface to be cleaned; and
a scrubbing portion operatively coupled to the head portion, the scrubbing portion having a scrubbing surface having surface features for providing a scrubbing action to the surface to be cleaned.
28. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein a portion of the scrubbing portion having the scrubbing surface is replaceable.
29. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the scrubbing surface has at least two dissimilar surface features.
30. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the scrubbing portion is selectively positionable between a retracted position and an actuated position, the scrubbing portion engaging the surface to be cleaned when in the actuated position.
31. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein the scrubbing portion is biased towards the retracted position.
32. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein pivoting the handle portion in a first direction urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
33. A cleaning system as recited in claim 32, wherein pivoting the handle portion in a second direction also urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
34. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein twisting the handle portion in a first direction urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
35. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, further comprising a lever and wire assembly for selectively positioning the scrubbing portion between the actuated and retracted positions.
36. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, further comprising a slide and wire assembly for selectively positioning the scrubbing portion between the actuated and retracted positions.
37. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, further comprising a trigger and wire assembly for selectively positioning the scrubbing portion between the actuated and retracted positions.
38. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein the scrubbing portion includes a spring arm coupled to the head portion.
39. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the scrubbing surface extends through an aperture in the cleaning pad.
40. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the scrubbing surface extends along an edge of the head portion.
41. A cleaning system as recited in claim 40, wherein a second scrubbing surface extends along another edge of the head portion.
42. A cleaning system as recited in claim 40, wherein the scrubbing surface extends along at least 85% of the edge of the head portion.
43. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the scrubbing surface has a length of less than one half of a length of a nearest edge of the head portion thereto, the length of the scrubbing surface being measured parallel to the nearest edge of the head portion.
44. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the scrubbing surface has a length of more than one half of a length of a nearest edge of the head portion thereto, the length of the scrubbing surface being measured parallel to the nearest edge of the head portion.
45. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the cleaning pad is an electrostatic pad.
46. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the cleaning pad is a multilayer pad having an absorbent layer and a surface contacting layer.
47. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the scrubbing surface extends along at least a portion of a periphery of the head portion.
48. A cleaning system as recited in claim 47, further comprising a cleaning pad seat being normally biased towards a position protruding past a plane on which the scrubbing surface resides, the cleaning pad being coupled to the cleaning pad seat.
49. A cleaning system as recited in claim 47, further comprising a cleaning pad seat being selectively positionable between a cleaning position and a retracted position, the cleaning pad seat protruding past a plane on which the scrubbing surface resides when in the cleaning position, the cleaning pad being coupled to the cleaning pad seat.
50. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, further comprising a flex arm operatively coupled to the handle portion and the scrubbing portion, wherein extension of the flex arm causes the flex arm to urge the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
51. A cleaning system as recited in claim 50, wherein the scrubbing surface of the scrubbing portion is angled upwardly from a cleaning pad seat of the head portion when in the retracted position.
52. A cleaning system as recited in claim 50, wherein pressing the handle portion towards the head portion causes the flex arm to urge the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
53. A cleaning system as recited in claim 50, further comprising a mechanism for pulling the flex arm towards the head portion for causing the flex arm to urge the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
54. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein the scrubbing portion includes an arm having proximal and distal ends, the proximal end being operatively coupled to the handle portion, the distal end having the scrubbing surface thereon, wherein pivoting the handle portion in a first direction moves the distal end of the arm towards the actuated position.
55. A cleaning system as recited in claim 54, wherein the distal end of the arm extends through an aperture in the cleaning pad.
56. A cleaning system as recited in claim 54, wherein the distal end of the arm extends beyond an edge of the head portion.
57. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, further comprising an arm having proximal and distal ends, the proximal end being operatively coupled to the handle portion, the distal end selectively engaging the scrubbing portion, wherein pivoting the handle portion in a first direction urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.
58. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein the scrubbing portion includes a plunger.
59. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein the scrubbing portion includes a hinged member.
60. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein the scrubbing surface is coupled to the cleaning pad, wherein another part of the scrubbing portion engages the cleaning pad towards the scrubbing surface.
61. A cleaning system as recited in claim 30, wherein the scrubbing portion is selectively extendible from an end of the head portion.
62. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the scrubbing portion is coupled to the cleaning pad.
63. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the distal end of the handle portion is selectively positionable along the head portion for varying a pressure exerted on the scrubbing portion when pushing on the handle portion.
64. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, further comprising a fluid nozzle coupled to at least one of the handle portion towards the distal end of the handle portion and the cleaning head portion, and a cleaning fluid reservoir fluidically coupled to the nozzle.
65. A cleaning system as recited in claim 64, wherein the handle portion includes a housing adapted to receive the cleaning fluid reservoir.
66. A cleaning system as recited in claim 27, wherein the cleaning head portion includes a mechanical securing device for retaining the removable cleaning pad.
67. A cleaning system, comprising:
a handle portion with a proximal end and a distal end;
a cleaning head portion coupled to the distal end of the handle portion; and
a cleaning pad detachably coupled to the head portion for cleaning a surface to be cleaned;
a scrubbing portion operatively coupled to the head portion, the scrubbing portion having a scrubbing surface having surface features for providing a scrubbing action to the surface to be cleaned;
wherein the scrubbing portion is selectively positionable between a retracted position and an actuated position, the scrubbing portion engaging the surface to be cleaned when in the actuated position;
wherein the scrubbing portion is biased towards the retracted position.
68. A cleaning system as recited in claim 67, wherein a portion of the scrubbing portion having the scrubbing surface is replaceable.
69. A cleaning system as recited in claim 67, wherein the scrubbing surface has at least two dissimilar surface features.
70. A cleaning system as recited in claim 67, further comprising:
a fluid nozzle removably coupled to at least one of the handle portion towards the distal end of the handle portion and the cleaning head portion;
a cleaning fluid reservoir fluidically coupled to the nozzle.
71. A kit comprising the cleaning system as recited in claim 1, and further including several interchangeable scrubbing surfaces, each of the surfaces having dissimilar sets of surface features.
72. A kit comprising the cleaning system as recited in claim 27, and further including several interchangeable scrubbing surfaces, each of the surfaces having dissimilar sets of surface features.
73. A kit comprising the cleaning system as recited in claim 67, and further including several interchangeable scrubbing surfaces, each of the surfaces having dissimilar sets of surface features.
74. A method for cleaning a surface using a cleaning tool having a handle portion, a cleaning head portion, and a scrubbing portion positioned towards the cleaning head portion, the method comprising:
cleaning a surface using a cleaning head portion of a cleaning tool;
positioning a scrubbing portion of the cleaning tool in an actuated position, the scrubbing portion having greater scrubbing properties than the cleaning head portion;
scrubbing the surface with the scrubbing portion; and
positioning the scrubbing portion in a retracted position.
75. A method as recited in claim 74, further comprising adding a cleaning pad to the cleaning head portion of the tool prior to cleaning the surface using the cleaning head portion.
76. A method as recited in claim 75, further comprising discarding the cleaning pad after cleaning the surface using the cleaning head portion.
77. A method as recited in claim 74, further comprising dispensing an initial volume of a cleaning fluid onto the surface being cleaned.
78. A method as recited in claim 74, further comprising replacing a scrubbing surface of the scrubbing portion.
79. A method as recited in claim 74, wherein the scrubbing portion is biased towards the retracted position.
80. A method as recited in claim 74, wherein the surface being cleaned is carpet.
Description
BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

[0110] The following description includes the best embodiments presently contemplated for carrying out the present invention. This description is made for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the present invention and is not meant to limit the inventive concepts claimed herein.

[0111] It will be understood that in the event parts of different embodiments have similar functions or uses, they may have been given similar or identical reference numerals and descriptions. It will be understood that such duplication of reference numerals is intended solely for efficiency and ease of understanding the present invention, and are not to be construed as limiting in any way, or as implying that the various embodiments themselves are identical.

[0112]FIG. 1 is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 2 is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. The cleaning tool 100 consists of a preferred embodiment of an absorbent cleaning pad or sheet 200 which is preferably removably mounted onto a cleaning head assembly 300. The head sub-assembly 300 is attached via universal joint 302 to a handle sub-assembly 400. The handle sub-assembly 400 can be disassembled for easy storage. A fluid reservoir 500 which is intended to carry a liquid cleaning solution 502 can be mounted on the handle sub-assembly 400 within a suitably designed holster sub-assembly 600. The fluid reservoir 500 has a flow delivery tube 504 which leads through a yoke portion on the handle sub-assembly to an fluid nozzle sub-assembly 700 which is mounted on the cleaning head sub-assembly 300 near the leading edge of the absorbent pad or sheet 200. A trigger mechanism 402 located on the proximal end of the handle sub-assembly 400 actuates a valve system for providing flow of fluid from the fluid reservoir 500 through the nozzle sub-assembly 700.

[0113] It will be understood that the mechanical linkages described herein between the shaft sections of the handle portion 400 can all be configured to be collapsible, dis-assemblable, telescoping, bayonet mounted and linked, etc. Such adaptability for the system is designed to enhance storage, packaging, and utility of the system 100 of the present invention.

[0114] In a preferred embodiment, the handle portion 400 comprises sections which interlock together in a bayonet-type configuration. The sections are each distinctively keyed, sized or shaped to confirm that the advanced cleaning system 100 is assembled properly. In a preferred embodiment, the system is a one-time assembly system, and is basically a no-disassembly system. The shaft section 400 a and others, can be single assembly, over-torque-proof design, such as incorporating advanced, flanged or cone-shaped collars and keyed end sections, are also important and will be included within the present invention. In a preferred embodiment, the system is automatically self-adjusting, and the handle is self-aligning. The trigger draw can be set automatically, once the system is assembled.

[0115] In a preferred embodiment, the delivery tubing 504 comprises 0.25 inch inside or outside diameter plastic or rubber tubing. The internal diameter can be larger or smaller, as desired or suitable. The tubing 504 can be replaceable and/or reusable, as desired or appropriate.

[0116]FIG. 3A is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a head sub-assembly 300 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. The head sub-assembly 300 consists of a pad portion 304, a formed enclosure portion 306 coupleable to the upper side 320 of the pad portion 304, and about four pinchers 308. In a preferred embodiment, the length and width of the pad portion 304 will be about 11 inches and 4 inches, respectively. The enclosure portion 306 will be integrally or otherwise formed, and can be formed separately or as part of the pad portion 304. It will be known to those skilled in the art that the overall size, shape and materials of construction of the pad portion 304 shall be varied upon the specific cleaning application intended.

[0117] As shown, nozzle snap 350 is positioned at the front, leading edge 352 of the pad portion 304. The nozzle snap 350 can be replaced with any nozzle portion 700 (as shown best in FIGS. 10A-10E) retaining means. Furthermore, it is also an option to have the head assembly 300 configured such that flow of cleaning fluid 502 flows through the head assembly 300 and out the nozzle assembly 700.

[0118]FIG. 3B is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a pincher 308 of a head sub-assembly 300 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 3C is a representative side view of a preferred embodiment of a pincher 308 of a head sub-assembly 300 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 3D is a representative top view of a preferred embodiment of a pincher 308 of a head sub-assembly 300 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. Pinchers 308 and other mechanical securing means are well known in the art. Such pinchers 308 or other cleaning pad 200 (not shown) securing means will be formed of rubber or other flexible and resilient elastomeric or polymeric material. A circular rib 310 or other mechanical structure is useful for seating and securing the pincher 308 into the enclosure portion 306. The precise design of the slots 312 cut into the top surface 314 of the pinchers 308 can be modified as desired or needed.

[0119]FIG. 3E is a set of three representative cross section views of embodiments of the convex lower surface 330 of a head sub-assembly 300 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention, such as shown in at least FIGS. 2 and 3A. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that as the cleaning system 100 of the present invention is used, in a typical floor or ground surface cleaning experience, the system is placed with the lower side 330 of the head assembly 300 facing downward. In the preferred embodiments shown, the lower side 332 of the head assembly 300 is slightly convex, the lower side 334 of the head assembly 300 is more convex, and the lower side 336 of the head assembly 300 is greatly convex. It will be understood that the radius of curvature of the lower surface 332 will be greater than the radius of curvature of lower surface 334 which will be also be greater than the radius of curvature of the lower surface 336.

[0120] In the embodiments shown in FIG. 3E, it will be understood that during the cleaning experience, the leading edge 352 of the cleaning head assembly 300 is going to accumulate the greatest amount of debris initially. When the lower surface 330 of the cleaning head assembly 300 is essentially flat, the leading edge 352 of the head assembly 300 the leading edge 352 will become loaded with dirt very quickly as the head 300 is moved forward across the surface to be cleaned 712 (such as shown in FIGS. 10E and 10F). Thus, by providing an increasingly convex shaped lower surface 332, 334 or 336, the leading edge 352 will become decreasingly loaded earlier than the leading edge 352. It will be understood, therefore, that by providing a hemispherically or wedge or other-shaped lower surface 330, the loading of dirt and debris on the leading edge 352 as well as elsewhere on the lower surface 330-336 can be carefully controlled and optimized. It will be understood that the scope of the present invention includes flat as well as convex, wedge shaped, trapezoidal, stepped, or other shaped lower cleaning and contacting surface.

[0121] In a preferred embodiment, the cleaning head assembly 300 is optimized to prevent head flipping, such as when applying increased force to the head or when there is an increased frictional force between the cleaning head portion 300 and the floor or other surface being cleaned. In a preferred embodiment, the u-joint 302 is settled into a well or depression or cavity in the top portion of the head assembly 300. It has been found that by bringing the point at which the u-joint 302 is placed relatively closer to the lower surface of the cleaning head assembly, flipping of the head is reduced.

[0122]FIG. 3F is a representative perspective view of a head sub-assembly 300 having an integral actuatable scrubbing portion 316 coupled thereto. The scrubbing portion 316 has a scrubbing surface 318 with surface features that provide better scrubbing properties than the pad 200 or other cleaning surface of the head sub-assembly 300. Also note that the pad 200 can be an electrostatic pad of a type typically used for capturing dust in a dry state by electrostatic forces created as the pad 200 is moved back and forth across a surface.

[0123] In this and the following embodiments, the scrubbing portion 316 can have the following properties as well as others not listed here that provide cleaning efficacy. The scrubbing portion 316 has some type of textured, abrasive, or non-smooth scrubbing surface 318 that provides scrubbing or abrasive qualities greater than the cleaning pad 200 or other surface of the head sub-assembly 300 used to clean the surface. Scrubbing, as referred to herein, means that the texturing, abrasiveness, or surface features of the scrubbing portion 316 at least loosens dry and/or moistened soil, stains, or debris from the surface being cleaned.

[0124] The scrubbing surface 318 can be an integral part of the scrubbing portion 316, or an extension thereof, such as a detachable pad, etc. Illustrative surface features include ridges, nubs, raised patterns, depressions, fibrous, straight and/or curled exposed ends of fibers, etc. The surface features of the scrubbing surface can also be formed by a mechanical stamping, bonding, pressing, compression, extrusion, sprayed, sputtered, laminated or other surface forming or affecting process. The scrubbing surface 318 can also include a combination of surface features to provide enhanced scrubbing. For example, the scrubbing surface 318 can have a portion of thick, stiff bristles for loosening hard to remove debris, and a portion of softer but more numerous fiber loops that provide a more even scrubbing action. The surface features of the scrubbing surface 318 are preferably surface-safe, so as not to damage the finish, polish or other desirable qualities of a smooth floor or other surface to be cleaned. It is also preferable that the scrubbing portion 316 does not retain a significant amount of cleaning fluid, as the scrubbing portion 316 will typically remain attached to the device 100 after use until it is removed for replacement.

[0125] The scrubbing portion 316 can be formed on the device 100 itself, or can be an attachment. As mentioned above, the scrubbing surface 318 can be attachable to the scrubbing portion 316 or integral therewith. One type of attachable scrubbing surface 318 (or part thereof) includes a laminate having an adhesive side and a scrubbing side, the adhesive side being coupled to the scrubbing portion 316 or the head sub-assembly 300. Another type of scrubbing surface 318 is attached to the scrubbing portion 316 or the head sub-assembly 300 by a tongue and groove attachment or other type of mechanical mating arrangement. A detachable scrubbing surface 318 allows for easy replacement of the scrubbing surface 318 if it becomes worn, clogged, or otherwise impaired. Further, various interchangeable scrubbing surfaces 318 having differing surface features can be provided (e.g., in a kit) to allow the user to select the scrubbing surface 318 appropriate to the current situation.

[0126] The scrubbing portion 316 shown in FIG. 3F also includes a spring arm 322 that in the embodiment shown is formed as an extension of the enclosure portion 306, but may also be coupled thereto. The spring arm 322 allows positioning of the scrubbing portion 316 between a retracted position and an actuated position. In the retracted position, the scrubbing portion may or may not contact the surface to be cleaned, but does not provide as much scrubbing efficacy as when in the actuated position. FIG. 3G is a side cross-sectional view of the head sub-assembly of FIG. 3F with the scrubbing portion 316 in a retracted state.

[0127]FIGS. 3H and 3I are side cross-sectional views of the head sub-assembly of FIG. 3F with the scrubbing portion 316 in an actuated state. In the actuated position, the scrubbing portion contacts the surface to be cleaned to allow the user to spot-scrub particularly stubborn soiled areas of the surface being cleaned. In the embodiment shown, when the handle 400 is tilted past a certain angle from vertical in either direction, the universal joint 302 presses on the spring arm 322 to force the scrubbing surface towards the surface to be cleaned. It is desirable to allow actuation in either direction, because, as discussed above, the leading edge 352 will accumulate soil, and so the user may wish to use the back edge 354 as the leading edge for part of the cleaning. Because the scrubbing portion 316 remains actuatable in this scenario, the user would not have to turn the entire device 100 around in order to actuate the scrubbing portion 316.

[0128] While the scrubbing portion shown in FIG. 3F includes an integral spring arm 322 to bias the scrubbing portion towards the retracted position, other mechanisms to provide the biasing include addition of a coil spring 324 (see FIG. 3J), leaf spring, elastomeric material, or any other biasing means. The scrubbing portion can also be coupled to the head assembly 300 by a hinge, a living hinge, etc.

[0129] Likewise, the mechanism for actuating the scrubbing portion 316 can vary. FIG. 3J depicts a variation in which the handle portion 400 includes a rib 326 that engages a finger 328 (shown in shadow) coupled to the arm of the scrubbing portion 316 (shown in shadow). Upon twisting the handle portion 400, the rib 326 pushes the finger 328, and consequently the scrubbing portion 316, downwardly towards the actuated position, as shown in FIG. 3K. A stop 338 can be added to the rib 326 to limit twisting of the handle portion 400. In a variation, a pair of ribs and a pair of fingers can be provided to ensure that equal pressure is exerted on the scrubbing portion 316 so that the scrubbing surface 318 remains flat when actuated.

[0130]FIG. 3L illustrates yet another type of actuation mechanism. FIG. 3L also shows the scrubbing portion 316 being hidden from view within the head assembly 300. The actuation mechanism in this embodiment includes a lever 340 on the handle portion 400 coupled to a wire 342, the wire 342 also being coupled to the scrubbing portion 316. Actuation of the lever 340 pushes the wire 342 downwardly, which in turn pushes the scrubbing portion 316 towards the actuated position (shown in shadow). As shown, the wire 342 can be housed in a sheath 344 that extends through the handle portion 400. Preferably, the wire 342 extends through (as shown) or in close proximity to the universal joint 302 so that angling of the handle portion 400 relative to the head assembly 300 will not actuate (or deactuate) the scrubbing portion 316 during use. Note that the sheath 344 and wire 340 can extend along the outside of the handle portion 400 as well. Also note that the scrubbing portion 316 may not require biasing in such an embodiment, though biasing of the scrubbing portion 316 or lever 340 can be provided by any suitable means.

[0131]FIG. 3M shows the bottom view of the head subassembly 300 of FIG. 3F.

[0132]FIG. 3N illustrates a bottom view of a head subassembly 300 where the scrubbing surface 318 extends along the length of the head subassembly 300. Note that the length of the scrubbing surface 318 can vary per the desires of the user. For example, the length of the scrubbing surface 318 can be less than one quarter or one half the length of the nearest edge of the head sub-assembly 300, more than one quarter or one half the length of the nearest edge of the head sub-assembly 300, more than 60%, 70%, or 85%, etc. of the length of the nearest edge of the head sub-assembly 300, etc.

[0133]FIG. 3P illustrates a bottom view of yet another embodiment in which the scrubbing surface is positioned within the periphery of the cleaning pad 200.

[0134]FIG. 3Q shows a further embodiment having multiple scrubbing surfaces 318 similar to that shown in FIG. 3M, but it should be understood that the scrubbing surfaces can have different shapes, sizes, and positions than that shown. The actuation mechanism could be adapted to allow actuation of both scrubbing surfaces 318 simultaneously or independently.

[0135] Thus, it can be appreciated that the scrubbing surface 318 of the scrubbing portion 316 can be positioned anywhere along the bottom of the head subassembly 300, and can have a plethora of different dimensions and shapes.

[0136] One skilled in the art will appreciate that other types of actuation mechanisms can be implemented to actuate the scrubbing portion 316, such as a mechanism that actuates the scrubbing portion by twisting the handle in either direction, a slider or trigger that actuates a wire coupled to the scrubbing portion 316, a “push-push” type mechanism similar to those found in common ball point pens, etc.

[0137] One skilled in the art will also appreciate that the cleaning pad 200 will have a shape, including appropriate cutouts if necessary, that allows the scrubbing surface(s) 318 to reach the surface to be cleaned.

[0138]FIGS. 3R and 3S depict an embodiment in which the scrubbing portion 316 is formed on the head subassembly 300, while the cleaning pad 200 is biased downwardly (away from the handle portion 400) such that, in a relaxed position, the cleaning surface of the cleaning pad 200 lies below the plane of the scrubbing surface 318 of the scrubbing portion 316. In this embodiment, as particularly shown in FIG. 3S, the scrubbing surface 318 follows the periphery of the head subassembly 300, surrounding the cleaning pad 200. The cleaning pad 200 is affixed to the head subassembly 300 by any suitable mechanism, such as an adhesive strip(s), hooks and loops fasteners, pinchers, etc. To engage the scrubbing surface 318, the handle portion 400 is pushed downwardly towards the surface being cleaned at a force sufficient to overcome the biasing of the biasing mechanism 346 that urges the cleaning pad seat 348 downwardly.

[0139] In a variation of the assembly shown in FIG. 3S, the scrubbing portion 316 may extend along the leading or back edges 352, 354 of the head subassembly 300, or both. In these variations, the cleaning pad 200 can wrap around the sides of the head subassembly 300 for coupling to pinchers.

[0140] In another variation, the cleaning pad seat 348 is selectively positionable between a cleaning position (extended as shown in FIG. 3R) and a retracted position. The cleaning pad seat 348 is coplanar or above the plane of the scrubbing surface 318 when in the retracted position. Any suitable actuation mechanism can be used to accomplish this, including mechanisms similar to those described above for actuating the scrubbing portion 316.

[0141]FIG. 3T illustrates an embodiment implementing a flex arm 358 that engages a cleaning pad seat 348. As shown, a cleaning pad 200 is coupled to the cleaning pad seat 348 by any suitable means. Scrubbing portions 316 are coupled to leading and back ends of the cleaning pad seat 348. The leading and back ends of the cleaning pad seat 348 are raised from the surface being cleaned in a normally retracted position so that they do not pick up dust and dirt during normal cleaning with the cleaning pad 200. As shown in FIG. 3U, by pressing down on the handle portion 400, the flex arm 358 extends outwardly to press the leading and back ends of the cleaning pad seat 348 towards the surface being cleaned, thereby engaging the scrubbing portions 316 with the surface being cleaned.

[0142] The leading and back ends of the cleaning pad seat 348 can be formed of a resiliently flexible material, while the central portion of the cleaning pad seat 348 can be formed of a stiffer material. Alternatively, the cleaning pad seat 348 can be a unitary piece of resiliently flexible material, with a reinforcing member (not shown) coupled to the central portion of the cleaning pad seat 348 that maintains the flat profile of the central portion. In another alternative, the cleaning pad seat 348 can have a generally arcuate shape in the normally retracted position. In yet another embodiment, the leading and back ends of the cleaning pad seat 348 are hingedly coupled to the central portion of the cleaning pad seat 348, relying on the flex arm 358, leaf springs, etc. to provide biasing towards the disengaged position shown in FIG. 3T.

[0143] In a variation, the handle portion 400 does not need to be pressed downwardly. Instead, a mechanism pulls the cleaning pad seat 348 and the flex arm 358 together, thereby causing the flex arm 358 to extend, which in turn forces the leading and back ends of the cleaning pad seat 348 downwardly. One type of mechanism would include a lever (or slider) and wire mechanism similar to that shown in FIG. 3L. Another type of mechanism could include a rib and finger arrangement actuated by twisting the handle portion, similar to that shown in FIG. 3J. One skilled in the art will understand how these and other suitable mechanisms can be adapted to the present invention.

[0144]FIG. 3V illustrates another embodiment in which the scrubbing portion 316 is coupled directly to the handle portion 400 or universal joint 302. The scrubbing portion 316 includes an arm, a proximal end of which is coupled to the handle portion 400 or universal joint 302, and a distal end of which has the scrubbing surface 318 thereon. By pivoting the handle 400 across the vertical relative to the plane of the head subassembly 300, the arm 362 is moved from the retracted position towards the actuated position. In the embodiment shown, the arm 362 extends downwardly through an aperture in the head subassembly 300 and cleaning pad 200, and onto the surface being cleaned, as shown in FIG. 3W. An alternate embodiment would have the arm extend beyond the edge of the head subassembly 300 when in the actuated position so that no apertures in the head subassembly 400 or cleaning pad 200 are required.

[0145]FIGS. 3X and 3Y illustrate a variation on the embodiment of FIG. 3V, where the arm 362 actuates a scrubbing portion 316 coupled to the head subassembly 300 upon pivoting of the handle portion 400 across the vertical. Again, the arm 362 can extend beyond the edge of the head subassembly 300 to actuate the scrubbing portion 316 so that no apertures in the head subassembly 400 or cleaning pad 200 are required.

[0146] FIGS. 3Z and 3AA illustrate an embodiment having a plunger-type scrubbing portion 316. The scrubbing portion 316 is actuated by pressing downwardly on the handle portion 400, but can be actuated by other mechanisms such as those disclosed herein, as one skilled in the art will appreciate, including pivoting the handle portion 400, twisting the handle portion 400 actuating a lever and wire assembly, etc.

[0147] In a variation, the scrubbing surface 318 is formed as part of the cleaning pad 200. Upon actuation, the plunger presses down on the portion of the cleaning pad 200 having the scrubbing surface 318. As described in more detail below, the cleaning pad or sheet 200 can comprise one or more strips or areas of any shape and dimension of scrubbing or abrasive material. Such scrubbing material is preferably surface-safe, so as not to damage the finish, polish or other desirable qualities of a smooth floor or other surface to be cleaned. The area(s) of scrubbing material on the cleaning pad 300 can be formed integral with the cleaning pad 200 during manufacture, such as by airlaying the fibers onto the cleaning pad 200 followed by thermal or adhesive bonding. Alternatively, the area(s) of scrubbing material can be coupled to the pad by an adhesive, thermal bonding, sonic welding, etc. Yet another embodiment includes laminate scrubbing material having a scrubbing layer, an adhesive layer for coupling to the pad 200, and an optional fluid-impervious backing such as polyethylene.

[0148]FIG. 3AB depicts another embodiment in which the scrubbing portion 316 is coupled to a hinged member 362. The handle portion 400 or universal joint 302 is coupled to the hinged member 362. Upon exerting downward pressure on the handle portion 400, the hinged member 362 flexes downwardly, urging the scrubbing portion 316 onto the surface being cleaned, as shown in FIG. 3AC. Again, any suitable actuation mechanism can be implemented. Preferably, the hinged member 362 is biased towards a retracted position (as shown in FIG. 3AB), such as by a spring (not shown). Also preferably, the hinged member 362 is coupled to the head subassembly 300 by members (not shown) riding in slots 364.

[0149]FIG. 3AD illustrates an embodiment in which the scrubbing portion 316 is extendible from the head subassembly 300. The scrubbing portion 316 can be extended manually, by a lever and wire assembly, by any other suitable mechanism, or as shown, by sliding the handle portion 400 forward along a slide member 366 to position the scrubbing portion 316 into the actuated position (shown in shadow). Preferably, a significant force is required to slide the handle portion 400 so that during cleaning or scrubbing, the handle portion 400 remains at its set position. For example, where friction is used to restrict movement of the handle portion 400 relative to the head subassembly 300, the user may stand on the head subassembly 300 momentarily while the handle portion 400 is moved to its desired position relative to the head subassembly 300. Alternatively, a locking mechanism (not shown) can be implemented to allow the user to set the handle portion 400 in the desired position while the locking mechanism is disengaged, and holding the handle in the desired position when engaged. Note that the handle would still be allowed to pivot about the universal joint 302 in a normal fashion.

[0150] In any of the embodiments described herein, the handle portion 400 can be allowed to be repositioned towards the location of the scrubbing surface 318 so that increased pressure is exerted on the scrubbing surface 318 when the scrubbing portion 316 is actuated.

[0151]FIG. 4A is a representative view of a cleaning pad 200 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 4B is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad 200 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention, such as taken along A-A.

[0152] With regard to FIGS. 4A and 4B, the cleaning pad 200 consists of a surface (to be cleaned) contacting portion 202 which is the portion of the cleaning pad 200 which comes into direct contact with dirt and debris. This lower, surface contacting portion 202 lifts and locks dirt, dust, debris, hair, fluid, liquid, powder and other spills and materials and any other unwanted matter into itself. On one side of the surface contacting portion 202 there is a narrow strip of absorbent material 204 which has roughly the equivalent, or somewhat larger or somewhat smaller than, length and the width as the pad portion 304 of the head sub-assembly 300 (shown best in FIGS. 1-3A). It will be understood that this absorbent material may be any known material which has the ability to absorb fluid, including superabsorbent materials.

[0153] Additionally, a polyethylene film backing layer 206 is bonded at points 208 to the surface contacting portion 202. The film backing layer 206 can be formed of polyethylene or any suitable plastic, rubber, other elastomeric, polymeric or other flexible or otherwise suitable and desirable material which may be available. An advantage of using a fluid impervious material for the backing layer 206 is to prevent fluid leakage into and onto the head sub-assembly 300. Therefore, the use of any essentially fluid or dirt impermeable or impervious material would be useful in this application as backing layer 206 and will, therefore, be claimed within the scope of this patent. It will be known to those skilled in the art that the bonding 208 may be formed by heat sealing or thermo-sealing, various adhesives, any suitable bonding or sealing method, stitching, etc. Thus, absorbent material 204 is retained in a fixed position relative to the lower portion 202 by bonded points 208.

[0154] In a preferred embodiment, one or more portions of the cleaning pad 200 and/or the surface contacting portion 202 and/or the absorbent material 204 comprises a point unbonded web material as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,858,112 issued Jan. 12, 1999 to Stokes et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 5,962,112 issued Oct. 5, 1999 to Haynes et al. or other material such as described by U.S. Pat. No. 4,720,415 issued Jan. 19, 1988 to Vander Wielan et al. or any superabsorbent material such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,995,133 issued February 1991 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,638,569 both issued to Newell, U.S. Pat. No. 5,960,508 issued Oct. 5, 1999 to Holt et al., and U.S. Pat. No. 6,003,191 issued Dec. 21, 1999 to Sherry et al., all of which are hereby expressly incorporated by reference herein, in their entirety.

[0155] In a preferred embodiment, the cleaning pad 200 and/or the surface contacting portion 202 comprises a spunbond fiber nonwoven web having a basis weight of approximately 68 grams per square meter. The spunbond fibers comprise bicomponent fibers having a side-by-side configuration where each component comprise about 50%, by volume, of the fiber. The spunbond fibers will comprise first and second polypropylene components and/or a first component comprising polypropylene and a second component comprising propylene-ethylene copolymer. About 1% or more or less of titanium oxide or dioxide is added to the fiber(s) in order to improve fiber opacity. The spunbond fiber nonwoven web s thermally bonded with a point unbonded pattern. The nonwoven web is bonded using both heat and compacting pressure by feeding the nonwoven web through a nip formed by a pair of counter-rotating bonding rolls; the bonding rolls comprise one flat roll and one engraved roll. The bonded region of the nonwoven web comprises a continuous pattern that corresponds to the pattern imparted to the engraved roll. Further, the bonded region is applied to the web when it passes through the nip. The bonded region will range between approximately about 27% to about 35% of the area of the nonwoven web and forms a repeating, non-random pattern of circular unbonded regions. Absorbency enhancing or superabsorbent materials, including superabsorbent polymers, powders, fibers and the like may be combined with the cleaning pad 200.

[0156] In a preferred embodiment, the unbonded regions of the cleaning pad material 200 as described above are used as the surface 202 to be placed in contact with the surface to be cleaned 712. These unbonded regions, laminated or pressed onto the layer of fibers which is opposite the unbonded region, are highly effective at lifting and locking the dirt, dust, debris, hair, spilled or applied fluids, cleaning solutions, etc. In preferred embodiments, the unbonded portions of the material can be imparted with a scrubby or scruffy surface treatment or composition of material, such as a powder, abrasive, cleaning agent, physical texturing of the fibers, hot air or fluid disruption of the unbonded fibers or other portions to enhance their cleaning capacity and efficacy.

[0157] In a preferred embodiment, the absorbent material 204 or elsewhere in the pad 200 comprises a laminate of an air-laid composite and a spunbond fiber nonwoven web. The nonwoven web comprises monocomponent spunbond fibers of polypropylene having a basis weight of approximately 14 grams per square meter. The air-laid composite comprises from about 85% to about 90% kraft pulp fluff and from about 10% to about 15% bicomponent staple fibers. The bicomponent staple fibers have a sheath-core configuration; the core component comprises polyethylene terephthalate and the sheath component comprises polyethylene. The air-laid composite has a basis weight between about 200 and about 350 grams per square meter and an absorbency of between about 8 and about 11 grams per gram. With regard to absorbency, the stated absorbency was determined under no load by placing a 4″×4″ sample in three inches of tap water for three minutes, the sample is then removed from the water and held by a corner allowing it to gravity drip for one minute. The (wet weight-dry weight)/dry weight yields the gram per gram absorbency.

[0158] In preferred embodiments of the cleaning pad 204, PET or other hydrophillic fibers useful for scrubbing are employed. Additionally, nylon fibers are useful as they increase the coefficient of friction when they become wet. Increasing the coefficient of friction between the cleaning pad 200 and the surface being cleaned or coated is useful for better cleaning, coating performance. Any component of the cleaning pad 200 may be composed of microfibers and ultra-microfibers having a denier per filament (dpf) less than or equal to about 1.0.

[0159] In a preferred embodiment, the cleaning pad 200 is loaded or doped with micro-encapsulated, amounts of cleaning compounds. The cleaning fluid itself 502 can be micro-encapsulated, and individual cleaning compounds can be used separately. These would include, without limitation: anti-microbial, sanitizing and de-odorizing agents, cleaning agents, waxes, polishes or shining agents, softening agents, friction-enhancing compounds or surfaces, perfumes, multi-phase systems, etc. may also be applied to a floor or other surface in this way.

[0160] When the cleaning pad 200 is positioned such that the pad portion 304 of the head sub-assembly 300 is aligned with the absorbent material 204, and the film backing 206 is adjacent the lower surface of the pad portion 304 of the head subassembly 300, it will be known to those skilled in the art that the rectangular sections 210 can be folded over the lengthwise edges of the pad portion 304, including the leading edge 352 and the back edge 354, and pinched into the slotted portions 312 of the pinchers 308. In this manner, the cleaning pad 200 will be retained on the head portion or assembly 300 in a desired position.

[0161] In a preferred embodiment, one or two sections of the absorbent material 202 are removed from the lengthwise portions 210, resulting in one or more notches 360 in the cleaning pad means 200. These notches 360 make it easier for the user to attach the cleaning pad or sheet 200 to the cleaning head assembly 300 as well as avoiding interruption or impeding flow or delivery of cleaning fluid liquid 502. The notches 360 can also skirt the scrubbing portion 316, particularly in embodiments similar to that shown in FIG. 3F. Providing a double notched 360 cleaning pad or sheet 200 makes it possible for the user to orient the cleaning pad in at least two different configurations without obstructing flow of cleaning solution or fluid 502.

[0162] As best shown in FIG. 4A, notch 360 located on one or two side panels 210 such as indicated is particularly adapted for use when the contour of the head sub-assembly 300 and the position of the nozzle assembly 700 thereon requires clearance for delivery of cleaning fluid 502 therefrom. This cleaning fluid delivery notch 360 can be shaped or otherwise formed as desired, including perforated section which is tom out by the consumer, a slit portion, various shaped section cut-out, etc.

[0163]FIG. 4C is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad or sheet 200 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. It will be understood that the cleaning pad 200 used with the cleaning system 100 of the present invention may be any useful or desirable cleaning pad or cloth, unwoven, non-woven or woven materials, co-materials, bonded or laminated materials, for any of various structurally distinct construction. Furthermore, any optimum or possible combination or synthesis of the various embodiments of cleaning pads shown in FIGS. 1, 4A-4F will be useful herein and, therefore, are included within the scope of this invention.

[0164]FIG. 4D is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad 230 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention, such as taken along B-B. It will be understood by the foregoing and the following that this invention includes providing a single layer portion of material for the cleaning pad 230 which is capable of being fluid absorbent and will scrub a surface while maintaining integrity. As described, the single layer portion of material cleaning pad 230 can be formed by any material or material-forming process known, including woven and non-woven materials, polymers, gels, extruded materials, laminates, layered materials which are bonded together integrally and thus form a co-material, fused materials, extruded materials, air laying, etc. Additionally, materials which are useful include cellulose or non-cellulose sponges, fabrics, etc.

[0165]FIG. 4E is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad 240 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. The cleaning pad 240 is formed of discrete sections or portions. Peripheral edge sections 242 are useful for pinching into the pinchers 308 of the head assembly 300. Adjacent to edge sections can be one or more lengthwise or widthwise orientated strips of material 244 which will have enhanced, preselected, predetermined and other desirable and advantageous properties for cleaning and mopping surfaces.

[0166]FIG. 4F is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad 250 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. The cleaning pad 250 is formed of layers of material or is a single layer of material, as discussed above and elsewhere herein, but there is an enhanced surface contacting side 252. This enhanced surface contacting layer or portion of cleaning pad 250 can be optimized for providing a cleaning fluid to the surface, such as with micro capsules or encapsulated fluids or agents. The enhanced surface 252 of the cleaning pad 250 can have scrubbing or abrasive qualities. The enhanced surface 252 can also be formed by a mechanical stamping, bonding, pressing, compression, extrusion, sprayed, sputtered, laminated or other surface forming or affecting process.

[0167] Furthermore, the upper layer 254 of the cleaning pad 250 will be formed of any suitable material, if different than that of the enhanced surface 252. In general, however, the upper layer 254 can be formed of a fluid membrane or an impervious or absorbent or other non-absorbent material. Such upper layer 254 can be laminated, heat sealed, fused, compressed with, glued to or otherwise in contact with the surface contacting portion 252.

[0168] It will be understood that various absorbent materials 204 are able to absorb and hold fluids, preventing dripping or “squeeze-out”, even under applied pressure. Thus, as a user uses the system 100, the cleaning pad 200 will absorb spilled or applied fluids, including cleaning fluids, polishes, special surface coatings, etc. As the user continues through the cleaning experience, whereas conventional materials may tend to allow the absorbed fluid to be re-released, such as at the sides, front or back of the drawing movement of the head assembly 300. This absorbent material 204 or other portion of the cleaning pad 200 will be enhanced to prevent release, drippage or squeeze-out of fluid absorbed therein.

[0169] In a preferred embodiment, an internal or external or combination cage, frame, ribcage, scrim or scrim assembly for providing an enhanced structure to the cleaning pad 200 will be used. This scrim or internal frame system for the cleaning pad 200 or the absorbent portion 204 thereof, is intended to provide a structure such that fluid can be absorbed into the cleaning pad 200 but fluid release is avoided. The scrim can also take the form of an open-textured or fishnet-type knit material. The open weave or mesh of the scrim material enhances the capacity to hold, lift and lock or other wise entrap and remove dirt, dust, hair, lint, fuzz, and other debris or soils to be removed by the system 100. The scrim material, being a rigid, more durable, stiffer or thicker material than other portions of the cleaning pad 200, will prevent the cleaning pad 200 from being compressed during use, or otherwise, such that the fluid absorbed into the absorbent portion 204 or elsewhere on the cleaning pad 200 will not be squeezed out. International Publication Number WO 98/42246 published Oct. 1, 1998 describes additional embodiments of a cleaning implement comprising a removable cleaning pad 200, including a scrim and scrim portion for scrubbing, and is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

[0170] Thus, it will be understood that a preferred embodiment of the cleaning pad 200 of the present invention includes any suitable open pore, burlap or fishnet type sponge structure for snagging, or collecting particulate. Such cleaning pad 200 can be enhanced by providing embossing 203 (as best shown in FIG. 4G) and/or providing slits or pre-cut holes, openings, slots or other apertures, with or without removing material when creating those openings. The surface contacting portion 202 of a cleaning pad 200 can be sliced or slotted prior to assembly, if using more than one component. In a preferred embodiment, the cleaning portion 202 or other portion of the pad 200 is a robust material marketed by PGI as Lavette Super.

[0171] In a preferred embodiment, the cleaning pad or sheet 200 comprises strips or stripes of scrubbing or abrasive material. Such abrasive will be surface-safe, so as not to damage the finish, polish or other desirable qualities of a smooth floor or other surface to be cleaned.

[0172] In preferred embodiments, the cleaning pad 200 has an absorbent portion 204 which is comprised of a plurality of layers of absorbent material. The layers can be formed by individual slices, a single, rolled section of material which is simply flattened into a layered, absorbent portion 204. As described, such can be formed of rayon, polyester, nylon material, pulp, combinations and composites and multi-and bi-component materials can be used.

[0173]FIG. 4G is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad 200 and 4 different embossing patterns 203 overlaid the surface contacting portion 202 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. The surface contacting portion 202 can contain apertures 203 designed to scoop up and entrap dirt, hair, crumbs, and dust. Aperture designs 203 include many, such as those shown as A, B, C, and D. The aperture designs 203 shown are merely representative of a few of the possible designs, and while others will become apparent to those skilled in the art, they will be covered within the scope and purview of the present invention.

[0174]FIG. 5A is a representative exploded view of a mid portion 400 a of a handle sub-assembly 400 such as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. It will be known based on the foregoing and the following that the mid portion 400 a of the handle sub-assembly 400 can have various embodiments, and but essentially a single preferred embodiment are described herein. The handle sub-assembly 400 consists of a shaft section 410 with a sleeve member 420 pressed onto place at either end. Further, it will be known to those skilled in the art that additional means for securing the sleeve members 420 into the ends of the shaft sections 410 will be available, including threaded ends, pins, welding, other types of press fittings, compression and expansion fittings or adhesives, and other common or custom coupling or attachment means, etc.

[0175]FIG. 5B is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a shaft section 410 of a handle sub-assembly 400 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. The tubular shaft section 410 can be formed of any of a variety of materials and methods, including but not limited to the following materials and methods of forming those: glass, paper, cardboard, wood, any metals including steels, aluminum, titanium, alloys including chrome, molybdenum, plastics, composites including fiber glass, formica, natural and synthetic, man-made materials, canes, tubular members made of carbon components, crystals, fibers, alloys, etc., by extrusion, pressing, braking, rolling sheet portions, stamping, carved, otherwise shaped, formed, prepared and/or assembled.

[0176]FIG. 5C is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a shaft coupling 430 of a handle sub-assembly 400 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 5D is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a sleeve member 420 of a handle sub-assembly 400 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention.

[0177] The threaded shaft coupling member 430 has one or more helically threaded portions 426 which align and thread into matching threaded portion 424 in the sleeve member 420. It will be apparent, therefore, that by coupling multiple shaft sections 410 together with shaft coupling members 430 between different shaft sections 410, a handle sub-assembly 400 having essentially any desired length or other geometry may be obtained. Additionally, an opening or hole 428 extends through the coupling member 430.

[0178]FIG. 5E is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of a push rod 440 such as of a mid-portion 400 a handle sub-assembly 400 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. The push rod 440 extends through holes 422 passing through the sleeve members 420 and through the openings 428 through the coupling members 430. Local deformations 442 at either end of the push rod 440 serve as detents or stops for controlling translation of the push rod 440 as desired.

[0179]FIG. 5F is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of a telescoping shaft section 410 a of a handle sub-assembly 400 (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention.

[0180] It will be understood by the foregoing and the following that the handle sub-assembly 400 of a cleaning system 100 can comprise one or more shaft sections 410 in a coupled, hinged, telescoping, collapsible, expanding or other configuration. A plurality of telescoping or collapsing shaft sections 410 in combination is space-saving, convenient to use and economical to manufacture, and is included within the scope of the present invention.

[0181]FIG. 6A is a representative isometric view with hidden lines of a preferred embodiment of a yoke section 450 and a universal joint 302 of a handle sub-assembly 400 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. The yoke section 450 can be formed by injection molding, extrusion, etc. A coupling portion 452 is adapted for coupling to the universal joint 302 which couples to the head assembly 300 as shown in FIG. 1. Thus, upward and downward motion of the handle assembly 400 can be achieved. Furthermore, by mounting the universal joint 302 onto the head assembly 300, the universal joint 302 can swivel and the handle assembly 400 can move laterally. A central opening 490 through the yoke section 450 is particularly useful for passing a fluid delivery tube 504 through for attachment of a nozzle sub-assembly 700 to a head portion 300.

[0182]FIG. 6B is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a holster sub-assembly 470 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 6C is a representative isometric view of left side cradle portion 472 and right side cradle portion 474 of a preferred embodiment of a holster sub-assembly 470 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention.

[0183] The left side cradle portion 472 and right side cradle portion 474 can be injection or blow molded of rigid plastic. Tab portions, mating adhesion points, or other coupling means on the mating faces of the left side cradle portion 472 and right side cradle portion 474 couple the cradle portions together detachably or permanently.

[0184] As shown in FIG. 6B, cylindrical slide member 460 fits within hollow internal opening 462 at the proximal end 494 of the tubular section 492. Therefore, the slide member 460 is moved distally through the hollow internal opening 462 at the end of the tubular section 492. Distally, it engages bearingly upon valve lever 478 or other structure extending trans-axially through or at least into tubular section 492 as shown. Proximally, a shaft coupling member 496 retains the slide member 460, which is biased proximally by spring 498 or other biasing member, disposed within the opening 462 of tubular shaft section 492 between the proximal end portion 461 of the slide 460 and the biasing arm 475 of the lever portion 478.

[0185]FIG. 7A is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a proximal end 501 of a handle sub-assembly 400 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 7B is a representative section view of a preferred embodiment of a proximal end 501 of a handle sub-assembly 400 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention.

[0186] As shown, the right handle portion 510 couples with the left handle portion 512 through detachable or permanent mating means 514. Together with an optional overmolded portion 520, the three sections form an ergonomic hand grip for the distal end 500 of the handle assembly 400. As shown, trigger member 402 is retained within the assembly 500 with trigger pin 560. First spring means 562 biases the trigger in a set position.

[0187] As shown, upper portion 532 of the collar portion 530 engages the distal ends 534 of right and left handle portions 510 and 512, respectively. Thus, handle coupling 540 is retained between the collar 530 and the right and left handle portions 510 and 512, respectively, and slides within proximal shaft portion 564. Pull rod 440 extends through handling coupling 540 and proximal shaft portion 564. Second spring means 566 is positioned over the pull rod 440 retained in position between slide stop 442. At a distal end, shaft sleeve 420, as shown in FIGS. 5A and 5D, couples to proximal shaft portion 564, with shaft coupling member 430 threadingly engaged thereto, as shown in FIGS. 5A and 5C.

[0188] As trigger 402 is squeezed manually or otherwise, bearing surface 542 on trigger 402 bears thrustingly upon proximal end 544 of handle coupling 540 to drive the handle coupling 540 distally in direction B. The distal end 546 of handle coupling 540 bears upon push rod 440 through second spring means 566. In a preferred embodiment, the handle assembly 501 is automatically self-adjusting. Upon initial assembly, a first draw on the trigger 402 sets the correct distances for trigger travel as it translates to activation of the valve assembly 800 on the reservoir 500. The action is a modified ratchet mechanism as found on caulking guns and other extrusion or pump devices.

[0189]FIG. 8A is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir 500 and valve sub-assembly 800 with flexible fluid delivery tubing 504 and nozzle assembly 700 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 8B is a representative section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir 500 and valve sub-assembly 800 with flexible fluid delivery tubing 504. FIG. 8C is a representative upper isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a valve cap portion 860 of a valve sub-assembly 800 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 8D is a representative lower isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a valve cap portion 860 of a valve sub-assembly 800 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 8E is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a flex dome portion 830 of a valve sub-assembly 800 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 8F is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a valve post 810 of a valve sub-assembly 800 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 8G is a representative section view of a preferred embodiment of a valve post 810 of a valve sub-assembly 800 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 8H is a representative detail view of a preferred embodiment of a dip tube 804 and duck bill valve 840 of a valve sub-assembly 800 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention.

[0190] The valve sub-assembly 800 essentially comprises, in a preferred embodiment, a retaining cap portion 802 which fits over the neck 580 of a fluid reservoir Ascending, when in operating position, from the retaining cap portion 802 there is an elongated dip tube 804 with a duck-bill type flow restrictor or valve 806 at the distal end of the dip tube 804.

[0191] The outer peripheral edge 822 of the valve cap portion 860 is seated onto an inner flange 824 of the retaining cap portion 802. The valve post 810 is disposed within the central opening 826 through the valve cap portion 860, and the flex dome portion 830 is mounted opposite the valve cap portion 860 with the valve post 810 extending through the assembly 800. In the normally closed position, as shown in FIG. 8C, a first sealing portion 812 of the valve post 810 mates with the upper lip 828 of the central opening 826 and prevents flow through the opening 818 and through the exit port 808.

[0192] However, when the valve post 810 is moved upwards as shown by directional indicating arrow C, then the fluid 502 is allowed to flow through opening 818 and through exit port 808. It will be understood that the flex dome portion 830 serves to maintain the valve assembly 800 in a normally closed position, i.e., with the first sealing portion 812 seated firmly against the upper lip 828 of the central opening 826. As the flex dome 830 flexes, the valve post 810 moves axially within the central opening 826 through the valve cap portion 860.

[0193] Thus, it will be apparent from the foregoing and the following that as cleaning fluid 502 flows out of the fluid reservoir 500, in order to prevent creating a vacuum in the fluid reservoir 500 while dispensing fluid, thereby interfering with liquid flow by gravity, dip tube 804 which is seated into the side opening 840 allows air to enter the fluid reservoir 500. Air vent opening 842 in flex dome portion 830 provides open communication with the atmosphere through dip tube 804. The duck bill valve 806 or other fluid restrictor means prevents flow of cleaning fluid 502 into the dip tube 804 while at the same time permitting flow of air into the fluid reservoir 500 to replace the volume of cleaning solution or fluid 502 utilized. Thus it will be understood that the system 100 described herein operates by gravity flow of the cleaning fluid through the valve post 810 based upon a pressure head created by remaining fluid in the fluid reservoir 500.

[0194]FIG. 8I is a representative isometric view of another preferred embodiment of a valve sub-assembly 800 a of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 8J is a representative isometric section view of yet another preferred embodiment of a valve sub-assembly 800 b of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. It will be understood that the valve assembly 800 a includes the duck bill valve portion 806 without the dip tube portion 804 of the prior embodiments. In yet another preferred embodiment, the valve assembly 800 b comprises a ball and spring-type check valve 807. It will be understood that other means for venting the fluid reservoir 500 will also be included within the scope of the present invention.

[0195] In either case, the duck bill valve 806 or the ball and spring-type check valve 807 or other, as fluid flow trickles out of the system, the volume of the remaining fluid within the fixed-volume reservoir becomes smaller. In order to ventilate the reservoir 500 as the system is in operation, i.e., to maintain essentially atmospheric pressure therewithin as the cleaning fluid 502 flows out of the reservoir 500, once a slightly negative pressure is achieved which is sufficient to overcome the closing force of the valve subassembly 800 or 800 a or 800 b, flow of air from the atmosphere flows in a single direction into the reservoir 500, thereby maintaining essentially atmospheric pressure within the reservoir 500 at all times. This system will also provide a uniform flow of cleaning fluid 502 out of the reservoir 500.

[0196]FIG. 9A is a perspective back view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir 500 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 9B is a perspective front view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir 500 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention.

[0197] It will be understood that the fluid reservoir 500 will contain any desired cleaning fluid or solution 502, including water, etc. In the event that the fluid reservoir 500 is not used with the system 100, in the example of spare or inventories of cleaning fluid reservoirs.500, the reservoirs 500 can be closed using a standard or custom closure cap.

[0198] It will be understood by those skilled in the art, based upon the foregoing and upon the following, that the liquid cleaner 502 in the fluid reservoir 500 is essentially water, optionally with low levels of active and/or inactive ingredients. Such cleaning fluid system 502 will be comprised of surfactants and/or solvents, perhaps combined with a water soluble polymer, such as polyacrylate, which actually acts like a clear floor wax. Other cleaning enhancers, floor polishes, anti-streaking agents, fragrances, etc. may be useful in such system 502.

[0199] In a preferred embodiment, the cleaning solution provides a no-rinse, single layer, one-step method for cleaning and polishing surfaces including walls, floors, ceilings, leaving a streak-free, non-tacky, clean surface non-attractive to dirt, soils, debris, etc. The device of the present invention ca be used with a single, apply and wipe off solution that cleans without the need to rinse, and which leaves a shine and is not tacky or sticky. In a preferred embodiment, the cleaning fluid 502 comprises a sanitization fluid which serves to sanitize the surface being cleaned, coated or otherwise covered. In preferred embodiments, the cleaning fluid 502 comprises de-odorizing and/or odorizing components.

[0200] The advanced cleaning system of the present invention 100 will be particularly suited for cleaning, polishing, or applying a cleaning, shining or other fluid to wood, tile, marble, vinyl, floor covering, hard surfaces, asphalt tile, glass terrazzo, slate, rock, metallic, polymeric, composite or other surfaces.

[0201] In a preferred embodiment, the valve sub-assembly 800 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention is designed such that air does not flow through dip tube 804 and across restrictor valve 806 into fluid reservoir 500 until a certain predetermined volume of liquid has been withdrawn from the reservoir. As the cleaning fluid 502 flows through the system and out the nozzle assembly 700, a slight vacuum develops within the empty space above the remaining liquid 502 in the reservoir 500, before air enters the system to fill the vacuum. The valve subassembly 800 becomes a flow control valve for the cleaning fluid 502 by controlling the air flow into the reservoir 500 and/or the cleaning fluid 502 flow out of the reservoir 500. This method of controlling the flow of cleaning fluid through the system 100 will include other means for controlling the flow, including other control valves, manual, battery or electrically driven or actuated pumps, aerosol mechanism, etc., and will be included within the scope of this invention.

[0202] In a preferred embodiment, the reservoir means 500 is keyed, as shown, to fit into the holster assembly 600 in a particular way. This permits orientation of the valve assembly 800 in the holster assembly 600 as desired. The key means can also comprise a locking mechanism to retain the reservoir 500 within the holster portion 600. This locking mechanism can be part of the reservoir 500, such as a clamp, clip, groove or slot with mating portion on the handle portion 400 somewhere, or the locking means can be mounted to or otherwise part of the handle portion 400, such as a clamp, spring-loaded clip, or equivalent secured to shaft section 410 or elsewhere on the system. Based on the foregoing, any combination of locking means and/or keying means for the reservoir 500 to the system 100 is included within the scope of the present invention.

[0203] As best shown in FIGS. 1, 6B, 6C, 8A and 9A, the removable coupling means, a system for conveniently coupling and detaching the reservoir, comprises a shaped holster portion with a keyed locking means adapted to receive and lock into place a cleaning fluid reservoir with a correspondingly-shaped mating portion thereon. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 11, the reservoir portion 500 seats inside the cradle or holster 600. The removable reservoir 500 has an upper portion 506 having a slightly smaller geometry than its lower portion 508, such that the reservoir location is positioned by stepped portion 548 within the cradle portion 600. The outer edge 554 of the cradle portion 600 firmly seats the reservoir means 500. An external groove 550 located on a peripheral portion of the cradle portion 600 with a correspondingly-shaped mating portion 552 on the reservoir 500 accommodates the elongated shaft section 400 a or handle 400 at an angle as shown.

[0204] In a preferred embodiment, the reservoir 500 has 2 or more compartments, these can be used for containing various chemicals, compounds, cleaners, shining agents, water, etc. If there are 2 chambers, and there is a mixing or common sprayer head, then 2 different liquids can be dispensed, for example, an oxidant bleach in one, a chelating agent in the other (see U.S. Pat. No. 5,767,055 issued Jun. 16, 1998 to Choy, incorporated herein by reference, in its entirety). These can be individually or commonly actuated, with selection means adapted to the specific type of reservoir or multiple-reservoir system used. Multi-chamber reservoirs will also be included within the scope of the present invention.

[0205]FIG. 10A is a representative upper isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a top portion 702 of a nozzle sub-assembly 700 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 10B is a representative lower isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a top portion 702 of a nozzle sub-assembly 700 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 10C is a representative upper isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a lower portion 704 of a nozzle sub-assembly 700 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 10D is a representative lower isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a lower portion 704 of a nozzle sub-assembly 700 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention.

[0206] In a preferred embodiment, ergonomic or high-friction finger grip portions 707 of lower nozzle portion 704 enhance ease of use. It will be understood that these may be material such as rubber or other suitable polymer or other material stubs, appliques or laminates. They could also comprise deformations or protrusions or other formed, shaped or integrated means, as shown.

[0207] The snap means 706 or other means for mounting the nozzle 700 to the head assembly 300 can be replaced with any equivalent, including o-ring mounts, snap mounts, screw in, threaded or bayonet mounted, with or without spring-loaded mechanism, as may be most desirable for enhancing utility. A break-away or pop-off, snap-on nozzle assembly 700 will prevent damage to the nozzle assembly 700, the head assembly 300, or to furniture, drapery, etc. Such will also be useful for storage of the system 100.

[0208] As described above, manual activation of the finger trigger 402 causes pull rod 440 to be axially moved distally, the linkages between the proximal shaft section 564 and the mid section 400 a and between the mid section 400 a and the tubular shaft section 492 of the causing the pull rod 440 to bear distally upon slide 460. As slide 460 is moved distally disposed within the opening 462 of tubular shaft section 492, lever 478 is pivoted so as to bear upwardly against the flex dome portion 830 of the valve sub-assembly 800. As the valve post 810 is un-seated, fluid flows downwardly, by force of gravity, from reservoir 500, through valve post 810, central opening 826 of valve cap 860, flexible delivery tubing 504, and nozzle assembly 700.

[0209] It will be understood that in another preferred embodiment, the flex dome portion 830 can be replaced with a spring loaded or other biased, pumping means.

[0210] In a preferred embodiment, the seals of the valve post 810 can be enhanced, such as through the use of o-rings, flat seals, cone seals, quad surface and quad ring seals, gland seals, etc.

[0211] As described above, the present system is a gravity-fed system, although manually pumped and aerosol or other pressurized delivery systems are included within the scope of the present invention and are claimed herein. As cleaning fluid flows through delivery tube 504, it will emerge from the nozzle assembly 700 as a trickle, cascade, dribble, drip, drizzle, drop, dispersion, seep, spray, stream, sprinkle or other emission having any predetermined or random flow pattern 710. The flow pattern 710 may also be varying or modulating. Either one or both of the upper portion 702 and the lower portion 704 of the nozzle assembly 700 has a means 706 for coupling the assembly 700 together, i.e., for coupling a first portion 702 and a second portion 704, as well as for coupling a nozzle assembly 700 to the head sub-assembly 300, including a snap, groove, bayonet mount, mating, helically threaded grooves, hook and loop material (Velcro®) or other attachment mechanism or means. The nozzle 700 could also, in a preferred embodiment, be formed integrally within the head assembly 300, such as comprising one or more unitary molded portions, such that a delivery tube 504 plugs into or otherwise ports directly thereinto.

[0212] In a preferred embodiment, the nozzle 700 minimizes vapors, misting, fogging and/or other phase change loss of the cleaning solution during dispensing the fluid 502.

[0213] Flow through the orifices 708 of the lower portion 704 or any other portion or portions of the nozzle assembly 700 results in a flow pattern 710 as shown in FIGS. 10E-10F. In a preferred embodiment, the orifices 708 are about 0.5 millimeters in diameter, or more or less, and are directed directly outward, forward, downward, at an angle, to the front, back, side or other, etc.

[0214] In a preferred embodiment, the nozzle assembly 700 results in a 5-stream trickle pattern with the following specifications:

[0215] Based on the foregoing, it will be understood that within the scope of the present invention, the direction of the flow of cleaning fluid 502 as it emerges from an orifice 708 on the nozzle assembly 700 can vary from an angle between about parallel to the floor, or other surface to be cleaned, to about 30 degrees above parallel, to about 30 degrees below the parallel. In terms of flow pattern of the cleaning fluid 502, the flow can be directed upward, to form an arching trickle or stream, or it can be directed parallel to the surface, or it can be directed somewhat toward the surface to be cleaned.

[0216] In a preferred embodiment, the flow of cleaning fluid 502 through the nozzle assembly 700 is optimized to provide an even, uniform distribution, trickle pattern of cleaning fluid 502 in front of the cleaning head assembly 300. The optimum cleaning fluid pattern is a circular area in front of and to the sides in front of the head portion 300. In another preferred trickle distribution pattern, the cleaning fluid 502 is dispensed evenly, in a straight line, essentially in front of the cleaning head portion 300. Flow of cleaning fluid 502 is adequate through all of the orifices 708, rather than being insufficient at the sides. This embodiment is an improvement over systems in which trickle of fluid at the side portions might be slightly less or event totally insufficient, whereas the flow in the center of the nozzle is adequate, due to greater pressure drop through the outside orifices.

[0217]FIG. 10E is a representative top view of a preferred embodiment of a flow pattern 710 of cleaning fluid 502 flowing through the nozzle sub-assembly 700 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. FIG. 10F is a representative perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a flow pattern 710 of cleaning fluid 502 flowing through the nozzle sub-assembly 700 of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention.

[0218] As viewed from above, as shown in FIG. 10E, the flow pattern 710 is outwardly diverging. As viewed from the side in a cross section view, the flow pattern 710 is semi-cone shaped. It will be understood that while fluid may emerge at an angle directed toward or away from or perpendicular to the surface to be cleaned 712, i.e., the floor, the system 100 described herein is primarily a gravity-fed system. In other words, fluid emanating from the nozzle assembly will have an initial direction of flow which may or may not include vertical components, i.e., the fluid directed downward perpendicular to the plane of the floor 712, and would also have some horizontal components, i.e., directed either directly outwardly perpendicular to the surface to be cleaned 712 or directed somewhat toward the surface 712. Furthermore, as a result of the force of gravity acting upon that fluid flow, the flow will develop vertical directional components therein.

[0219] Another unique aspect of the present invention is the virtually endless possibility of variations in flow pattern achievable using a nozzle assembly 700 such as shown and described herein. Any known or new and unique variation in nozzle design, including unitary design formed by molding, casting, turning or milling, or any other material additional or removal process, or any multi-section design formed by any of the preceding. Fluid can flow through one or more orifices 708 directed at any angle or angles toward the floor or other surface to be cleaned 712, or at any angle or angles directly perpendicular to the surface 712, or at any angle or angles between 0 and 90 degrees from directly up and away from the floor, although for a floor cleaning system, the latter type would potentially be of less utility.

[0220]FIG. 11 is a representative schematic view of a preferred embodiment of a method of assembly of a cleaning system 100 of the present invention. From the foregoing and the following, it will be understood that the cleaning system 100 of the present invention includes and claims to be a fully assembled system and method of use, as well as a system which can be assembled, disassembled, is telescoping or collapsible, or otherwise portable and/or compressible in overall largest dimension.

[0221] The present cleaning system 100 invention includes, as described herein, one or more proximal handle assemblies 500, one or more shaft sections 410 of a handle sub-assembly 400, a holster sub-assembly 470 or other similar functional means, a yoke section 450 or similar functional means, a head sub-assembly 300 or similar functional means, and a cleaning fluid reservoir 500 or similar functional means having a fluid delivery tube 504 or similar functional means and a nozzle assembly 700 which mounts onto the head assembly 300 or similar functional means.

[0222] In a preferred embodiment, a kit 100 for wet and/or dry cleaning includes one or more proximal handle assemblies 500, one or more shaft sections 410 of a handle sub-assembly 400, a holster sub-assembly 470 or other similar functional means, a yoke section 450 or similar functional means, a head sub-assembly 300 or similar functional means, and a cleaning fluid reservoir 500 or similar functional means having a fluid delivery tube 504 or similar functional means and a nozzle assembly 700 which mounts onto the head assembly 300 or similar functional means.

[0223] In a preferred embodiment, the system comprises a re-usable handle sub-assembly 400, one or more replaceable cleaning pads 200. Additionally, the handle sub-assembly 400 includes the holster sub-assembly 600. The fluid reservoir 500 can be provided to the user sealed or temporarily closed. Additionally, the nozzle assembly 700, fluid delivery tube 504 and/or valve assembly 800 can be replaceable or non-replaceable, and can be provided with every reservoir 500 cleaning fluid 502 refill, or separately or otherwise.

[0224] The method for assembling the kit 100 or cleaning system 100 of the present invention includes the following steps in any order and not intended to be exhaustive, necessary, or all-inclusive and without any other imitations presumed thereby:

[0225] coupling temporarily or permanently one or more shaft sections 410 together;

[0226] coupling temporarily or permanently one or more holster assemblies 600 to the system 100;

[0227] coupling temporarily or permanently one or more yoke sections 450 to the system 100;

[0228] coupling temporarily or permanently one or more head assemblies 300 to the system 100;

[0229] coupling temporarily or permanently one or more proximal handle assemblies 500 to the system 100;

[0230] installing temporarily or permanently one or more fluid reservoirs 500, each having its own associated one or more fluid delivery tubes 504 and one or more nozzle assemblies 700, into the one or more holster assemblies 600;

[0231] mounting temporarily or permanently one or more of the nozzle assemblies 700 of the one or more fluid reservoirs 500 onto the one or more of the head assemblies 300;

[0232] securing temporarily or permanently one or more cleaning pads 200 or cleaning cloths 200 to the one or more head assemblies 300 with the cleaning pad retaining means 308; and

[0233] securing one or more scrubbing pads 318 to the scrubbing portion 316.

[0234] A method for cleaning a surface using the cleaning system 100 of the present invention includes the following steps in any order and not intended to be exhaustive, necessary, or all-inclusive and without any other imitations presumed thereby:

[0235] placing the cleaning pad 200 or cleaning cloth 200 onto the surface to be cleaned 712 and moving it back and forth one or more times over a portion of the surface to be cleaned 712;

[0236] dispensing an initial volume of cleaning fluid 502 onto the surface to be cleaned 712 and cleaning the surface to be cleaned 712 therewith;

[0237] dispensing additional volumes of cleaning fluid 502 onto the surface to be cleaned 712 and repeat cleaning the surface to be cleaned 712;

[0238] absorbing dust, dirt, debris, spilled fluids or dispensed cleaning fluid 502 onto the cleaning pad 200 or cloth 200;

[0239] positioning the scrubbing portion 316 to the actuated position;

[0240] scrubbing a soiled area of the surface being cleaned with the scrubbing surface 318 of the scrubbing portion 316 by moving it back and forth over the soiled area one or more times to loosen the soil from the surface being cleaned;

[0241] positioning the scrubbing portion 316 to the retracted position;

[0242] when desired, replacing temporarily or permanently one or more cleaning pads 200 or cleaning cloths 200 on the one or more head assemblies 300 with the cleaning pad retaining means 308;

[0243] when desired, replacing temporarily or permanently one or more fluid reservoirs 500 into the one or more holster assemblies 600

[0244] when desired, replacing temporarily or permanently the scrubbing surface 318, preferably not until believed by the user to be expended; and

[0245] optionally, disassembling the wet cleaning kit 100 or cleaning system 100 for transportation, storage, or as desired.

[0246] A variation on the method above uses the cleaning system 100 for cleaning carpet, tile, or other non-smooth surface. The scrubbing surface 318 massages a stain, spill, or other debris out of the carpet, etc., preferably after application of a cleaning solution thereto, and the cleaning pad 200 absorbs the spilled liquid or cleaning solution and loosened debris from the carpet, etc.

[0247] Improved Nozzle Design

[0248]FIG. 12A is a representative exploded view of another preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir 500 and valve sub-assembly 800′ with flexible fluid delivery tubing 504 and nozzle assembly 700′ of a cleaning system 100′ of the present invention. FIG. 12B is a representative assembled view of the valve sub-assembly 800′ and nozzle assembly 700′ shown in FIG. 12A.

[0249]FIGS. 12C-12G are representative detail views of portions of the nozzle assembly 700′ shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B. The nozzle assembly 700′ essentially comprises an upper nozzle portion 702′, a lower nozzle portion 704′, a connecting means 706′ and a plurality of orifices 708′. Optional hose barbs 710′ or similar structure or means serves to better secure the nozzle assembly 700′ to the flexible tubing portion 504. When coupled together, the 2 halves of the nozzle 700′ form a fluid inlet 712′ and an internal fluid chamber 714′.

[0250] The nozzle orifices 708′ are not symmetrical, and they have no geometric centerline as such. This is an intentional design feature. Computational fluid dynamics were utilized to simulate the projected angle of the flow. Also, surface tension effects at the nozzle 700′ and air interface 720′ deflect the stream, downward towards the floor, and outward towards the side of the mop, as the pressure drops. The actual centerline of the flow is below horizontal as designed. Nominal centerlines can approximate the average position of the streams.

[0251] It will be understood that there are 2 preferred embodiments of the present invention. In FIG. 12F, the front portion 721′ of the upper portion of the nozzle 700′ slopes gently to the leading edge air interface 720′. The front portion 722′ is essentially vertical. The x-y axis is shown superimposed centered at the leading edge air interface 720′ for comparison. At the leading edge 720′, it will be understood that the top portion of the fluid nozzle 700′ slightly overhangs the lower portion, such that the leading edge 720′ is a sharp, defined edge. Furthermore, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 12G, the front portion 723′ of the lower portion of the nozzle 700′ is cut back, providing an angle less than 90 degrees. In this manner, both the embodiments of FIGS. 12F and 12G will provide a sharp lip, overbite or overhanging leading edge 720′. This is important in the gravitational fed system of the present invention. Though slight, surface tension and other similar cohesive forces will act upon the cleaning or other fluid 502 as it leaves the orifices 708′. In a pumped or force-fed fluid distribution system such as in the prior art, or where the fluid is forced out using other than the force of gravity, this slight cohesive, surface-tension effect is unimportant. However, in the present design, the elimination of these forces by providing the sharp lip leading edge air interface 720′ will enhance the operation, provide less overall pressure drop of the fluid 502 as it travels through the fluid path, resulting in greater laminar qualities, farther spreading or greater distribution of fluid 502, and greater volume of distributed fluid 502 than heretofore possible.

[0252] Although the present invention is not so limited, one preferred flow of fluid from a nozzle assembly 700′ is laminar, as distinguished from turbulent. Laminar flow is sometimes characterized in terms of a Reynolds number. The Reynolds number, Re, is a dimensionless quantity which is the ratio of inertial forces to viscous forces. The number is defined as:

Re=ρdv/μ

[0253] where ρ is the density, d is a linear dimension, v is the velocity and μ is the viscosity. The numerator in the above equation denotes inertial forces while the denominator denotes viscous forces. For circular tubes the flow is laminar when Re=D<vz>r/m (where D is the diameter) is less than about 2.1×103, although a stable sinuous motion sets in at a Reynolds number of about 1225. Above 2.1×103 laminar motion may be maintained temporarily if the tubes are very smooth and free from vibrations, but if the system is disturbed or if there is any appreciable surface roughness the laminar motion will give way to the random motion that characterizes turbulent flow.

[0254] Laminar flow occurs when the streamlines (fluid flow lines) are orderly and parallel to the direction of fluid flow, while turbulent flow is chaotic and is not characterized by orderly streamlines.

[0255] The velocity, vz of any streamline in laminar flow is

v z =v z,max[1−(r/R)2]

[0256] where r is the radius and r is any radial distance from the center of the pipe to the circumference. Vzmax occurs at the center of the pipe when r=0. The average velocity, vz of any streamline in turbulent or plug flow is approximately

v z =v z,max1−(r/R)1/7

[0257] where R is the radius and r is any radial distance from the center of the pipe to the circumference. vz max occurs at the center of the pipe when r=0.

[0258] In the context of laminar flow, as an example, the nozzle assembly of the present invention provides an effective liquid flow which means that the liquid will not dribble from the nozzle orifice 708′ but rather will land at least about 2″ in front of the nozzle. The only force causing the liquid to flow within the system is gravitational force. The nozzle is designed with the appropriate number of orifices 708′ to minimize pressure loss through it and to be aligned at near horizontal or low angles above or below the horizontal to allow the liquid to eject with a velocity of ˜250 cm/s or higher, as an example. An important aspect of this invention is that the liquid flow is not described as a spray but rather like a flow (e.g., water flowing from a faucet).

[0259] A conventional gravity fed system has the limitation of causing effective flow only when the system is held vertically (90° with the horizontal), with the effectiveness decreasing as the angle decreases. In the present invention, maintaining effective flow through the nozzle is a challenge because of the low pressure available. From a fluid mechanics point of view, effective flow means high velocity of the fluid. If the velocity of the liquid is low (in this case, for example, ≧˜100 cm/s), the liquid will not possess the momentum to overcome the cohesive forces which cause the liquid to “cling” to the surface of the nozzle. In such a scenario, the liquid will dribble or curl when ejected from the nozzle. A role of the nozzle is to cause the least pressure drop in order to efficiently eject the liquid (i.e., with the highest velocity).

[0260] The relation between fluid velocity ejecting from the nozzle and the horizontal distance it strikes at is expressed below:

y=x tan θ−[g/2v o 2 cos2 θ]x 2   (1)

[0261] where

[0262] y is the vertical distance of the nozzle orifice 708′ to the ground

[0263] x is the horizontal distance of the nozzle orifice 708′ to where the liquid strikes the ground

[0264] θ is the angle at which the liquid ejects from the nozzle from the horizontal

[0265] g is the acceleration due to gravity

[0266] vo is the velocity at which the liquid exits the orifice 708′.

[0267] In the instance when the liquid ejects horizontally or at low angles relative to the horizontal, q˜0, and hence tan .θ˜0, cos q˜1. Therefore, (1) above becomes:

y≃[g/2v o 2 ]x 2   (2)

[0268] Equation 2, rearranged becomes:

[0269] Clearly, the distance at which the liquid strikes the ground and therefore dribbling, curling, etc. is related to the velocity of liquid exiting the nozzle. Other effects, such as surface tension, etc. may also affect the flow, but to a lesser extent.

[0270] The cross sectional area, a, of the nozzle orifice 708′ directly affects the liquid velocity, vo as

[0271] where Q is the volumetric flow rate for the nozzle orifice 708′.

[0272] Reducing the number of orifices 708′ to 4 has meant that roughly a quarter of the total volumetric rate will flow from a single orifice 708′ and therefore the area would not have to be reduced to unworkable dimensions (to prevent clogging). The nozzle geometry has been chosen to allow liquid to eject with a velocity of ˜160-300 cm/s, where curling/dribbling is not seen when the tool is kept at low angles and/or when the bottle is almost empty. This does not preclude the use of a larger or smaller number of orifices 708′ (2-6 orifices), so long as curling/dribbling is not seen.

[0273] In a preferred embodiment, the nozzle 700′ includes a recess (not shown) in the underside that allows a snap in the mophead 300′ to retain the nozzle 700′ to the mophead 360′, but allows low effort removal by the user. Attachment of the two nozzle halves can be via sonic welding, adhesive, solvent bonding or any combination thereof. Stepped parting lines can angle fluid streams downward, as an example, relative to a longitudinal centerline of the nozzle 700′. Streams can also be angled downward by mounting a nozzle 700′ with streams that project horizontally at a permanent downward angle as indicated. Streams can be directed upward by inverting the internal design or by mounting a nozzle with streams that project horizontally at a permanent upward angle. Similarly, the streams can be angled obliquely to the longitudinal centerline and on either side. The nozzle orifice 708′ attributes can optimize stream velocity. For example, the following characteristics of the nozzle 720 can be utilized:

[0274] Area Taper Ratio for orifice 708′ lengths 0.100″ and longer: Orifice 708′ area measured 0.100″ upstream from exit divided by Orifice 708′ exit area: 0.5:1 to 10:1

[0275] Area Taper ratio for orifice 708′ lengths 0.100″ and shorter. Inlet area/exit area: 0.5:1 to 10:1

[0276] Orifice 708′ widths (e.g., 744 in FIG. 12E) can be between about 0.012″ to 0.200″

[0277] Orifice 708′ heights (e.g., 746, FIG. 12H) can be between about 0.012″ to 0.200

[0278] Each orifice 708′ directs and shapes the fluid flow into a single stream from a plenum 712′ in the nozzle 700′ to an exit opening at the terminal end of the orifice 708′. The cross sectional shape of the orifices 708′ can be trapezoidal, triangular, rectangular, round, elliptical, or a combination of the foregoing, as an example. The corners of the orifices 708′ may be blended with constant or variable size fillets, chamfers, cone shapes, or complex geometries defined by non-uniform rational B-splines. In addition to the stepped parting lines mentioned above, other internal features in the nozzle 700′ may be used to change the exit elevation of the fluid stream downward or upward.

[0279]FIG. 13 is a representative isometric view of the nozzle sub-assembly 700′ shown in FIGS. 12A-12E mounted onto the head portion 300′ of a cleaning system 100′ of the present invention. It will be understood, as described above, that the nozzle assembly 700′ can be affixed temporarily, permanently, removably or otherwise directly to the head portion 300′ such as by a snap fit, optionally with side sliders 716 or other attachment means, and optional bottom side tab, indentation or detent on nozzle lower 704′ (not shown) configuration to fit the nozzle assembly 700′ in a specific position.

[0280] Optimized Stream Pattern

[0281]FIG. 14A is a representative schematic view of a preferred embodiment of a stream pattern 900 developed by a cleaning system 100′ of the present invention. In a preferred embodiment, the 4 separate orifices 708′ of the nozzle assembly 700′ each produce a partial stream pattern 902 having an essentially narrowing rectangular shape. The overall stream pattern 900 is essentially partially annular or annular sector shaped. It will be understood that there is no fluid distribution immediately in front of the nozzle assembly 700′, which results in the stream shape having an annular rather than semi-circular (piece of pie) shape. The emanating stream from each separate orifice 708′ tends to broaden as it travels farther, also having an annular sector shape. Thus it will be understood that the stream pattern developed by the tool of the present invention 100′ having a full fluid reservoir 508 will be produced farther away from the nozzle orifice 708′ and air interface 720′.

[0282] A number of important considerations have been identified to optimize the efficacy of the cleaning system 100′. These aspects of the stream pattern 900 are useful, novel and unique.

[0283] 1. Even Fluid Distribution

[0284] The nozzle 700′ of the present invention is capable of providing an even, uniform distribution of cleaning fluid 502 in front of or across the leading edge 352 or width of the cleaning head portion 300′. This design avoids puddling of cleaning fluid 502 or other liquid in the center or at the ends of the cleaning head portion 300′. This also aids and enhances distribution of the cleaning or other type of liquid 502 spread upon the surface to be treated.

[0285] 2. Optimized Fluid Distribution Location

[0286] The nozzle 700′ of the present invention provides a fluid distribution or stream pattern 902 at the most advantageous efficient and convenient location possible, i.e., directly in front of the cleaning head portion 300′, at a width of not more than about the width of the cleaning head portion 300′, and at a distance in front of the cleaning head portion 300′not farther than about one sweep length from the cleaning head portion 300′. It will be understood that one sweep length is essentially about the length of the sweep or stroke of the cleaning head portion 300′, from its original, back-most position moving forward and then from the front being drawn backwards across the surface being treated. The sweep is essentially the length of the average mopping, stroking or sweeping of the tool cleaning head 300′ on the horizontal surface, from the back to front and front to back.

[0287] 3. Optimized Residency Period

[0288] It has been found that the uniform fluid distribution of the nozzle assembly 700′ of the present invention 100′ provides an increased period of residency of the fluid 502 on the surface being treated. As the liquid 502 is distributed onto the surface to be treated, the residency period of the fluid on the surface can be increased by providing a cleaning tool 100′ which distributes the fluid 502 as it is used. Once the fluid 502 is distributed from the nozzle 700′, the fluid rests upon the surface and acts thereon, whether the fluid is a cleaner, a bleaching agent, a wax or sealant or other protectant, a coating such as a paint or colorants, additional layers of surface material such as varnish, polyurethane, etc., for a period of time. Thereafter, excess fluid is removed or it dries in place, or any reaction with the fluid 502 which is intended to occur has completed. In any event, once the fluid 502 is distributed evenly, in essentially the stream pattern 900 as delivered, it will have a longer residence time on the surface being treated and thus be more effective in serving its purpose.

[0289] 4. Visual Indicator to User

[0290] It will be apparent that as the fluid 502 is distributed from the nozzle 700′ in a fluid distribution pattern 900 of the present invention, the user can visually verify preliminary uniform and sufficient distribution of cleaning fluid. This visual indicator of a properly shaped stream pattern 900 ensure uniform fluid distribution, sufficient fluid distribution, and prevent incomplete coverage as well as excessive fluid distribution in certain areas or overall. Thus, the user can see the fluid 502 as it is distributed into a uniform, even stream pattern 900 and any incomplete coverage or unequal distribution or other problem will be immediately apparent to the user.

[0291] 5. Independent Variables

[0292] The present invention is a tool which produces the described stream pattern 900 regardless of other variables which would otherwise cause variation in the fluid distribution by the tools of the prior art. In particular, the stream pattern 900 can be expected to remain constant during use of fluid 502 regardless of whether the fluid reservoir 500 is 100% full, 75% full, 50% full or 25% full. It will be understood that in the prior art, the stream pattern developed by the tools of the prior art were a function of the volume of remaining fluid, i.e., the more fluid, the broader and more uniform the coverage, and the less fluid the less uniform the fluid distribution. In a more preferred embodiment, the stream pattern 900 is developed by the tool 100′ in which the fluid reservoir 500 is between about 100% and about 25% full. In a more preferred embodiment, the stream pattern 900 is developed by the tool 100′ in which the fluid reservoir 500 is between about 100% and about 20% full. In a more preferred embodiment, the stream pattern 900 is developed by the tool 100′ in which the fluid reservoir 500 is between about 100% and about 15% full. In a more preferred embodiment, the stream pattern 900 is developed by the tool 100′ in which the fluid reservoir 500 is between about 100% and about 10% full. In a more preferred embodiment, the stream pattern 900 is developed by the tool 100′ in which the fluid reservoir 500 is between about 100% and about 5% full. In other words, as the fluid 502 in the fluid reservoir 500 is initially utilized and ultimately depleted, the system is designed to have an essentially static head pressure. According to the manufacturing specifications of the tool 100′ present invention, on-going testing during development of the nozzle assembly 700′ as well as during manufacture of the tools 100′ ensures the uniform stream pattern 900. Another variable which has no effect on the stream pattern is the angle at which the handle portion 400 of the tool 100′ is held. It will be understood that since the nozzle assembly 700′ is mounted to the head portion 300′, fluid distribution is essentially independent of the position of the handle portion 400. The system 100′ is designed to be functional whatever the angular orientation of the pivotable handle portion 400 or position of the handle portion 400 relative to the surface being cleaned. Therefore, whether the user is holding the tool 100′ standing essentially straight up, or whether the handle portion 400 is slightly inclined, or the user is using the tool 100′ with the handle portion 400 at a very small angle with respect to the horizontal floor surface, the stream pattern 900 is essentially completely formed and developed as described herein.

[0293] Fluid Path Performance Testing

[0294]FIG. 14B is a representative schematic view of a preferred embodiment of a test station 1000 for conducting fluid path performance testing of a stream pattern 900 developed by a cleaning system 100′ of the present invention. The test station 1000 essentially consists of a base portion 1002 with position markers or holders 1004 or similar position key structure, detents, indentations, etc., particularly and specifically designed for positioning the head portion 300′ securely and immovably during the test procedure.

[0295] During the optimization process conducted during research and development of the advanced cleaning system of the present invention, quantitative tests were conducted to test multiple fluid path, nozzle 700′ prototypes and valve designs. The following test method was used when a new fluid path design was under consideration:

[0296] Title: Fluid Path Performance Testing

[0297] I. Scope

[0298] This procedure describes quantitative tests designed to test multiple fluid path (nozzle 700′ prototyping and valve designs) designs. This test method should be used when a new fluid path design is under consideration.

[0299] II. Test Product & Safety

[0300] Existing cleaner. Review MSDS of test product prior to use. Use the appropriate PPE (personal protection equipment) and follow the necessary precautions when handling the product.

[0301] III. Apparatus

[0302] A. Stream Pattern 900

[0303] Template

[0304] The stream pattern 900 template is a flat, acrylic slab with 4 cutouts that characterize the proper direction and span of each nozzle orifice 708 or 708′ on the fluid path. The template was designed with a mophead cutout to keep the mophead stationary and in the correct position during stream testing.

[0305] B. Trigger Travel Gauge

[0306] The trigger travel gauge measures the distance the lever within the cradle travels when the trigger is actuated.

[0307] C. Vacuum Pressure Gauge & Vacuum Pressure Bottle

[0308] The vacuum pressure gauge measures the negative pressure inside the bottle during an actuation.

[0309] D. Test Sample Needs

[0310] 1. Advanced cleaning system fluid paths

[0311] 2. Advanced cleaning system fluid paths (test)

[0312] 3. Advanced cleaning system

[0313] 4. Advanced cleaning system bottled cleaner

[0314] 5. Analytical scale, accuracy of 2 decimal places

[0315] 6. Stopwatch

[0316] 7. Ruler

[0317] 8. 8.5″×11″ laminated projection template

[0318] IV. Test Outline

[0319] 1. Flow rate—the quantitative measure of volumetric flow rate (mL/s) of the advanced cleaning system fluid path. The purpose of measuring flow rate is to confirm the product delivered to the floor is at parity to the existing fluid path. Differences in flow rate would be an indicator that the venting system or valve/nozzle 700′ design might not be acceptable.

[0320] 2. Projection—the quantitative measure of the distance each nozzle stream projects from the nozzle 700′ with the advanced cleaning system fluid path. The purpose of measuring projection is to confirm the fluid path's product delivery is at parity to the existing fluid path. Differences in projection would be an indicator the venting system or valve/nozzle design might not be acceptable.

[0321] 3. Vacuum Pressure—the quantitative measure of the negative pressure inside the advanced cleaning system bottle during actuations of the advanced cleaning system. The purpose of measuring the vacuum pressure is to confirm the fluid path consistently vents the bottle without abnormally high peak or operating pressure readings.

[0322] 4. Spread—the quantitative measure of the total side-to-side distance covered by the 4 streams from the advanced cleaning system fluid path. The purpose of measuring spread is to confirm the fluid path's consistency in delivering product without any disruption from inadequate venting, etc.

[0323] V. Test Setup

[0324] All Testing is Performed in Two Distinct Positions:

[0325] 1. Normal Use Angle with Full Bottle—47 o mop angle with 710 mL of product represents the best performance of the advanced cleaning system

[0326] 2. Lower Use Angle with Low Liquid Level: 33 o mop angle with 100 mL of product, represents the worst-case advanced cleaning system performance (i.e. a consumer cleaning under a table with a nearly empty advanced cleaning system bottle).

[0327] VI. Test Quantities & Controls

[0328] A minimum of 30 prototype fluid paths should be used to compare to the existing production fluid paths. A minimum of 10 current production fluid paths is recommended for control samples. A comparison between current fluid paths and test fluid paths should be performed in all areas of the test outline (see section V above).

[0329] VII. Test Procedure

[0330] The collection of test data for flow rate, projection, spread, and vacuum pressure can be efficiently combined once the tester feels comfortable obtaining multiple data points. For example, vacuum pressure and projection can be collected during one actuation for one fluid path.

[0331] A. Flow Rate

[0332] 1. Place the stream template on top of a bus tray.

[0333] 2. Using an approved advanced cleaning system mop that has passed the complete tool 100′ Critical Control criteria, verify the trigger travel is acceptable.

[0334] 3. Place the trigger travel gauge (see pictures above) in a fully assembled mop.

[0335] 4. Zero the gauge. Pull the trigger until it can no longer move to fully actuate the lever. This is the distance the lever traveled in a full stroke of the trigger.

[0336] 5. Record the trigger travel.

[0337] 6. Insert the advanced cleaning system mop into the mophead guide on top of the template.

[0338] 7. Adjust the bus tray and mop so that the mop is at 47-degrees. A 47-degree angle is equivalent to a vertical distance of 36″ between the mop handle to the base of the stream template.

[0339] 8. Fill a bottle with 710 mL of advanced cleaning system product.

[0340] 9. Attach a fluid path to the bottle and insert the bottle into the advanced cleaning system cradle.

[0341] 10. Place a beaker (or another type of collection device) on the analytical scale and zero.

[0342] 11. Using the beaker and stopwatch, collect the product from the nozzle 700′ for a 10 second count. Weigh the beaker. Repeat two more times.

[0343] 12. Once you have three data points, calculate the volume using the specific gravity of the advanced cleaning system cleaner. Average the three data points and divide by 10 to obtain the average flow rate in mL/s.

[0344] 13. Follow the same procedure for the lower use angle.

[0345] 14. Adjust the bus tray so that the mop is at 33-degrees. A 33-degree angle is equivalent to a vertical distance of 27″ between the mop handle to the base of the stream template.

[0346] 15. Reduce the product amount in the bottle to 100 mL.

[0347] 16. Record all results.

[0348] B. Projection

[0349] 1. Follow steps 1-9 of the flow rate procedure with one additional step. Attach a laminated projection template to the bottom of the acrylic stream template.

[0350] 2. Adjust the advanced cleaning system mop until the normal use position is maintained.

[0351] 3. Actuate the trigger on the advanced cleaning system mop and estimate the stream projection and stream angle from each nozzle orifice 708′. Colored advanced cleaning system cleaner may aid in identifying projection and angle.

[0352] 4. Follow the same procedure for the lower use position.

[0353] 5. Record all results.

[0354] C. Vacuum Pressure

[0355] 1. Follow steps 2-5 in the flow rate procedure using the advanced cleaning system mop with the vacuum pressure gauge attached to it. If the mop does not meet the requirements in the complete tool 100′, remove the vacuum gauge and affix it to a new mop that does meet the requirements.

[0356] 2. Fill the vacuum gauge bottle (bottle with tube connection) with 710 mL of advanced cleaning system product.

[0357] 3. Attach a fluid path to the bottle and insert the bottle into the cradle.

[0358] 4. Remove the product from the tube connection on the bottle by first turning the bottle over. Use your finger nail to press down on the surface of the quick disconnect junction. The product should be purged from the tubing. A slight tilt of the bottle away from the product will ensure product from inside the bottle does not travel into the tubing connection.

[0359] 5. Zero out the vacuum pressure gauge on the mop by inserting a small screwdriver (or a thin pen) into the quick disconnect junction connected to the actual gauge and press down. Check the pressure gauge to make sure there is not a pressure reading.

[0360] 6. Connect the bottle tubing to the vacuum pressure gauge tubing using the quick disconnection junctions.

[0361] 7. Place the advanced cleaning system mop directly into the bus tray.

[0362] 8. Adjust the advanced cleaning system mop until the normal use position is maintained.

[0363] 9. Actuate the trigger on the advanced cleaning system mop and record the peak pressure (highest pressure reached on the vacuum gauge) and the operating pressure.

[0364] 10. Follow the same procedure for the lower use position.

[0365] 11. Record all results.

[0366] D. Spread

[0367] 1. Follow steps 2-5 in the flow rate procedure.

[0368] 2. Fill a bottle with 710 mL of advanced cleaning system product.

[0369] 3. Attach a fluid path to the bottle and insert the bottle into the advanced cleaning system cradle.

[0370] 4. Clear away floor space approximately 15-20 ft in length.

[0371] 5. Estimate the normal use position while holding the advanced cleaning system handle.

[0372] 6. Fully actuate the trigger and slowly move backwards at a rate of 0.5 ft/s for a total distance of 12 ft minimum. You will create four stripes on the floor. See picture.

[0373] 7. Use a ruler to measure the widest and most narrow regions.

[0374] 8. Record all results.

[0375] 9. Perform the same procedure above but with only 100 mL of cleaner at the normal use position (47-degrees). NOTE: This is an exception to the two positions described in the test setup (section VI).

[0376] 10. Record all results.

[0377] VIII. Data Collection and Reporting

[0378] The data for both the test samples and control samples should be placed in an Excel spreadsheet.

[0379] IX. Success Criteria

[0380] All test samples must perform at parity to the existing fluid paths (controls) to be considered acceptable.

[0381]FIG. 15 is a table showing experimental data obtained utilizing the test station 1000 shown in FIG. 14B. The data from FIG. 15 is presented below as Table 1.

[0382] Manufacturing Standards

[0383] The following test method was developed for use as a manufacturing standard to ensure conformity with the optimum nozzle design.

Title: Stream Pattern 900 Testing for Fluid Path Subassembly

[0384] I. Scope

[0385] There will be two test methods discussed here. The first is a test method only for determining the stream pattern 900 of the nozzle 700′ of the fluid path subassembly. The second is a method for testing the nozzle stream pattern 900 using a complete fluid path and final tool 100′.

[0386] II. Reagents

[0387] A. Liquid Cleaning Product

[0388] 1. The liquid cleaning product may be an eye and skin irritant. Eye protection and gloves should be used when performing the seal integrity/leak test.

[0389] III. Apparatus

[0390] A. Nozzle 700′ Stream Tester

[0391] 1. An open inverted bottle with a fluid path attached without a nozzle 700′. The nozzle 700′ is mounted in the end of the tube and held in either a tool 100′ or hands to test.

[0392] B. Advanced Cleaning System Tool/Bottle

[0393] 1. An advanced cleaning system tool 100′ that has passed the complete tool Critical Control inspection checks will be used for testing a complete fluid path subassembly for correct stream characteristics. A production bottle with product will be used.

[0394] C. Stream Pattern 900 Target

[0395] 1. This is a template with 4 holes. The template has a holding device to hold the mop head in the correct position before testing the stream pattern 900.

[0396] IV. Stream Pattern 900 Testing of Nozzle ONLY

[0397] A. Sampling

[0398] 1. The test number of nozzle 700's outlined in Fluid Path Critical Control Std.

[0399] B. Procedure

[0400] 1. Attach the nozzle hose barb end to the test apparatus.

[0401] 2. Fill the apparatus with product to the level that meets an equivalent of the maximum head pressure (11.625 lb equivalent to full bottle 710 g at 47 degrees or 36 inches from the tip of the handle to the mop head plane).

[0402] 3. Snap the nozzle 700′ to the holding fixture.

[0403] 4. Open the valve to allow liquid to flow through the nozzle 700′.

[0404] 5. When streams are fully developed record the pass/fail stream pattern 900 for each orifice 708′ in the data sheet. A nozzle 700′ passes when all of the streams are present and are fully developed. If air at orifice 708′ impedes flow, wipe surface of the nozzle 700′ and let streams develop and retest. Note the failure and cause of failures. Use troubleshooting table.

[0405] a) Use a stream test template if the stream pattern 900 is questionable.

[0406] For the stream template, a nozzle 700′ passes when all of the streams go through the holes designated for each stream. The nozzle 700′ fails if any stream does not pass through the designated hole.

[0407] b) Fully developed streams are defined as streams that have minimum amount of air at the orifice interface 720′ and project with a minimum amount of air in the stream. With a new valve, holding the valve open for 5-10 seconds helps streams fully develop.

[0408] 6. Release the valve.

[0409] 7. Open the valve to allow liquid to flow through the nozzle 700′.

[0410] 8. Check the nozzle 700′ for any leaks around the sonic weld parting line especially between the orifice 708's and at the hose barb interface 710′.

[0411] a) If nozzle 700′ is leaking around the sonic weld parting line. Reject the part.

[0412] V. Stream Pattern 900 Testing of Complete Fluid Path

[0413] A. Sampling

[0414] 1. At least one completely assembled fluid path should be tested along with a completely assembled tool 100′ that has passed all tests.

[0415] B. Procedure

[0416] 1. Check trigger travel of assembled tool 100′.

[0417] 2. Attach the fluid path to a bottle filled with product (710 g).

[0418] 3. Place the bottle 500 into the tool cradle 600 and thread the nozzle 700′ through the u-joint and snap it into place on the enclosure.

[0419] 4. Place the enclosure into the holding cell on the stream pattern 900 template.

[0420] 5. Hold the mop handle at 47 degrees (the tip of the handle at 36 inches from the base of template).

[0421] 6. Pull the trigger and hold for 15 seconds.

[0422] 7. When streams are fully developed, record the pass/fail stream pattern 900 for each orifice 708′ in the Data sheet. A fluid assembly passes when all of the streams go through the holes designated for each stream. The fluid assembly fails if any stream does not pass through the designated hole. Note the cause of failures seen outside of the given box pattern for a given head pressure. Use troubleshooting table.

[0423] a) Fully developed streams are defined as streams that have minimum amount of air at the orifice interface 720′ and project with a minimum amount of air in the stream. With a new valve, holding the valve open for 5-10 seconds helps streams fully develop.

[0424] 8. Repeat steps 6 through 9 two more times.

[0425] 9. When removing the bottle actuate valve and check the nozzle 700′ for any leaks around the sonic weld parting line especially between the orifices and at the hose barb interface 710′.

[0426] a) If nozzle 700′ is leaking around the sonic weld parting line. Reject the part.

[0427] 10. Repeat steps 2 through 7 for a minimum head pressure 4.375 in-lb (100 g of liquid in bottle with valve at 33 degree angle—equivalent to holding the tip of the handle at 26.8 inches from mop head plane). Use the set of holes in the template closest to the mop head. If air impedes the flow at the low angle, prime the valve at a higher angle and when product dispenses lower to 33 degree angle for test.

[0428] VI. Troubleshooting Guide

[0429] Off-Head Mounted Nozzle Improvement

[0430]FIG. 16A is a representative isometric view of a handle extending portion such stem portion or other handle coupling 1600 with a top-mounting nozzle coupling 1602. FIG. 16B is a representative view of the handle extender coupling 1600 shown in FIG. 16A coupled to the lower tubular section 492′ of a handle portion 400 (shown in FIG. 1) of a cleaning system of the present invention. The handle extender coupling 1600 is a structural attachment or integral portion of the lower tubular section 492′ of the handle assembly. A tubular handle coupling portion 1606 is adapted to couple the extender coupling 1600 to the lower tubular section 492′ of the handle assembly. It will be understood that the extended portion 1608 of the extender coupling 1600 can be essentially tongue-shaped, i.e., rectangular, slightly or more or less triangulated or tapered.

[0431] The extender portion 1600 extends from the distal end of the lower tubular section 492′ to adjacent the mop head 300″. Locating the nozzle portion 700′ off of the head also provides the advantage of eliminating interference by the cleaning pad 200 with fluid flow from the nozzle 700′. By locating the nozzle portion 700′ on the handle portion 492′ or elsewhere on the handle 400 such that the nozzle 700′ is located adjacent the leading edge 352′ of the head portion 300″, the fluid distribution or stream pattern 900 developed through the nozzle 700′ is identical or essentially identical or similar to the fluid distribution or stream pattern 900 developed through the nozzle 700 of the head-mounted nozzle system 100. Even as the handle portion 400 is raised or lowered, i.e., as a user would use the advanced cleaning system 100′ of the present invention, lifting the handle 400 to created long, sweeping strokes and lowering the handle 400 to clean beneath furniture, household and plumbing appliances, etc.

[0432] As shown and described herein, offset angle .theta. defined by the angle between the ramp or elongated portion 1608 and the central axis .chi. of the extender portion 1600 is an angle between about 0 and about 45 degrees, or more or less. It will be understood that by variation in the angle .theta. as well as length of the extender coupling 1600, positioning the nozzle portion 300 in a predetermined position, i.e., essentially directly in front of and above the front, top surface portion 306 and leading edge 352′ of the head portion 300″, to provide a fluid distribution pattern 900 as desired can be achieved.

[0433] The mop head 300″ is similar to those described above, i.e., mop heads 300 and 300′, the attachment or fitment for coupling the nozzle portion 700 or 700′ to the mop head 300′ of the present invention is unnecessary. The top surface 302″ of the mop head 300″ can be smooth, flat or other convenient shape. Star-shaped pinchers or similar inserts 308 or other cleaning pad 200 attaching mechanism or structure are used to retain a removable cleaning pad 200.

[0434] Another feature of the extender coupling 1600 for the off-head mounted nozzle 700′ is a very slight curvature in the end of the extended portion 1608. As shown, the curvature is concave, such that the top-mounting nozzle coupling 1602 retains the nozzle portion 700′ from below the nozzle 700′, which clips into place from on top. The flexible tube section 504 extends upward from the nozzle 700′ to the fluid reservoir top-mounting nozzle coupling 502. The nozzle portion 700′ can easily be snapped into place during assembly, and if accidentally bumped or knocked out of place, it can easily be replaced by the user.

[0435]FIG. 16C is a representative isometric view of a handle extender coupling 1600 with an under-mounted nozzle coupling 1604. FIG. 16D is a representative view of the handle extender coupling 1600 shown in FIG. 16C coupled to the lower tubular section 492′ of a handle portion (not shown) of a cleaning system of the present invention. It will be understood, based on the foregoing, that in another embodiment of the present invention 100′, the extender coupling 1600 for the off-head mounted nozzle 700′ has a very slight convex curvature in the end of the extended portion 1608. As shown, the under-mounting nozzle coupling 1604 retains the nozzle portion 700′ from on top of the nozzle 700′, which clips into place from below the distal end 1604 of the convex extender 1600. The nozzle portion 700′ is thus somewhat more protected from being bumped or knocked out of place during use or storage. Similarly, the flexible tube section 504 extends upward from the nozzle 700′ to the fluid reservoir top-mounting nozzle coupling 502 from underneath the ramp-like extender 1600, also protected from snagging on objects, including furniture, household appliances, etc.

[0436] While the top-mounting nozzle coupling 1604 and the under-mounting nozzle coupling 1604 embodiments are different, similarities include the side-wrapping edges and snap-fitment or resilient, flexible position clip. It will be known that minor variations of the top-mounting nozzle coupling 1604 and the under-mounting nozzle coupling 1604 will be included within the scope of the present invention. In general, however, providing the structural means for attaching the fluid distribution nozzle 700′ to the handle portion 400 extending from the handle portion 400 slightly to adjacent the head portion 300″ allows a user to raise and lower the handle portion 400 as desired or required, within reasonable usage patterns, but the fluid or stream distribution pattern 900 remains essentially consistent in shape.

[0437] Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the present invention belongs. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, the preferred methods and materials are now described. All publications and patent documents referenced in the present invention are incorporated herein by reference.

[0438] While various embodiments have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of a preferred embodiment should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0030] For a fuller understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention, as well as the preferred mode of use, reference should be made to the following detailed description read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

[0031]FIG. 1 is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning system.

[0032]FIG. 2 is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning system.

[0033]FIG. 3A is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a head sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0034]FIG. 3B is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a pincher of a head sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0035]FIG. 3C is a representative side view of a preferred embodiment of a pincher of a head sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0036]FIG. 3D is a representative top view of a preferred embodiment of a pincher of a head sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0037]FIG. 3E is a set of three representative side views of preferred embodiments of a convex lower surface of a head sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0038]FIG. 3F is a representative perspective view of a head sub-assembly having an integral actuatable scrubbing portion coupled thereto.

[0039]FIG. 3G is a side cross-sectional view of the head sub-assembly of FIG. 3F with the scrubbing portion in a retracted state as taken along line 3G-3G of FIG. 3F.

[0040]FIG. 3H is a side cross-sectional view of the head sub-assembly of FIG. 3G with the scrubbing portion in an actuated state.

[0041]FIG. 3I is a side cross-sectional view of the head sub-assembly of FIG. 3G with the scrubbing portion in an actuated state.

[0042]FIG. 3J is a side cross-sectional view of a head sub-assembly implementing a twist-activated actuation mechanism for actuating the scrubbing portion.

[0043]FIG. 3K is a side cross-sectional view of the head sub-assembly of FIG. 3J with the scrubbing portion in an actuated state.

[0044]FIG. 3L is a partial side cross-sectional view of a cleaning system implementing a lever and wire actuation system for actuating the scrubbing portion.

[0045]FIG. 3M is a bottom side view of the head subassembly of FIG. 3F.

[0046]FIG. 3N is a bottom side view of a head subassembly where the scrubbing surface extends along the length of the head subassembly.

[0047]FIG. 3P is a bottom side view of a head subassembly in which the scrubbing surface is positioned within the periphery of the cleaning pad.

[0048]FIG. 3Q is a bottom side view of a head subassembly having multiple scrubbing surfaces.

[0049]FIG. 3R is a partial side cross-sectional view of a head subassembly in which the scrubbing portion is formed on the head subassembly.

[0050]FIG. 3S is a bottom side view of the head subassembly of FIG. 3R.

[0051]FIG. 3T is a partial side cross-sectional view of a head subassembly implementing a flex arm.

[0052]FIG. 3U is a partial side cross-sectional view of the head subassembly of FIG. 3T with the scrubbing portion in the actuated position.

[0053]FIG. 3V is a partial side cross-sectional view of a head subassembly implementing an arm having the scrubbing portion thereon.

[0054]FIG. 3W is a partial side cross-sectional view of the head subassembly of FIG. 3V with the scrubbing portion in the actuated position.

[0055]FIG. 3X is a partial side cross-sectional view of a head subassembly implementing an arm for actuating the scrubbing portion.

[0056]FIG. 3Y is a partial side cross-sectional view of the head subassembly of FIG. 3X with the scrubbing portion in the actuated position.

[0057]FIG. 3Z is a partial side cross-sectional view of a head subassembly implementing a plunger for actuating the scrubbing portion.

[0058]FIG. 3AA is a partial side cross-sectional view of the head subassembly of FIG. 3Z with the scrubbing portion in the actuated position.

[0059]FIG. 3AB is a partial side cross-sectional view of a head subassembly implementing a hinged member for actuating the scrubbing portion.

[0060]FIG. 3AC is a partial side cross-sectional view of the head subassembly of FIG. 3AB with the scrubbing portion in the actuated position.

[0061]FIG. 3AD is a partial side cross-sectional view of a head subassembly with a retractable scrubbing portion.

[0062]FIG. 4A is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad of a cleaning system.

[0063]FIG. 4B is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad of a cleaning system, such as taken along A-A.

[0064]FIG. 4C is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad or sheet of a cleaning system.

[0065]FIG. 4D is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad of a cleaning system, such as taken along B-B.

[0066]FIG. 4E is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad of a cleaning system.

[0067]FIG. 4F is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad of a cleaning system.

[0068]FIG. 4G is a representative cross section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning pad and four different embossing patterns of the surface contacting portion of a cleaning system.

[0069]FIG. 5A is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a mid portion a of a handle sub-assembly (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) of a cleaning system.

[0070]FIG. 5B is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a shaft section of a handle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0071]FIG. 5C is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a threaded shaft coupling member of a handle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0072]FIG. 5D is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a sleeve member of a handle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0073]FIG. 5E is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of a push rod of a handle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0074]FIG. 5F is a representative view of a preferred embodiment of a telescoping shaft section of a handle sub-assembly (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) of a cleaning system.

[0075]FIG. 6A is a representative isometric view with hidden lines of a preferred embodiment of a yoke section and universal joint of a handle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0076]FIG. 6B is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a holster sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0077]FIG. 6C is a representative isometric view of left side cradle portion and right side cradle portion of a preferred embodiment of a holster sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0078]FIG. 7A is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a proximal end of a handle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0079]FIG. 7B is a representative section view of a preferred embodiment of a proximal end of a handle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0080]FIG. 8A is a representative exploded view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir and valve sub-assembly with flexible fluid delivery tubing and nozzle assembly of a cleaning system.

[0081]FIG. 8B is a representative section view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir and valve sub-assembly with flexible fluid delivery tubing.

[0082]FIG. 8C is a representative upper isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a valve cap portion of a valve sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0083]FIG. 8D is a representative lower isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a valve cap portion of a valve sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0084]FIG. 8E is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a flex dome portion of a valve sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0085]FIG. 8F is a representative isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a valve post of a valve sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0086]FIG. 8G is a representative section view of a preferred embodiment of a valve post of a valve sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0087]FIG. 8H is a representative detail view of a preferred embodiment of a dip tube and duck bill valve of a valve sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0088]FIG. 8I is a representative isometric view of another preferred embodiment of a valve sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0089]FIG. 8J is a representative isometric section view of yet another preferred embodiment of a valve sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0090]FIG. 9A is a perspective back side view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir of a cleaning system.

[0091]FIG. 9B is a perspective front view of a preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir of a cleaning system.

[0092]FIG. 10A is a representative upper isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a top portion of a nozzle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0093]FIG. 10B is a representative lower isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a top portion of a nozzle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0094]FIG. 10C is a representative upper isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a lower portion of a nozzle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0095]FIG. 10D is a representative lower isometric view of a preferred embodiment of a lower portion of a nozzle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0096]FIG. 10E is a representative top view of a preferred embodiment of a flow pattern of cleaning fluid flowing through the nozzle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0097]FIG. 10F is a representative perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a flow pattern of cleaning fluid flowing through the nozzle sub-assembly of a cleaning system.

[0098]FIG. 11 is a representative schematic view of a preferred embodiment of a method of assembly of a cleaning system.

[0099]FIG. 12A is a representative exploded view of another preferred embodiment of a cleaning fluid reservoir and valve sub-assembly with flexible fluid delivery tubing and nozzle assembly of a cleaning system.

[0100]FIG. 12B is a representative assembled view of the valve sub-assembly and nozzle assembly shown in FIG. 12A.

[0101]FIGS. 12C-12G are representative detail views of portions of the nozzle assembly such as shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B.

[0102]FIG. 13 is a representative isometric view of the nozzle sub-assembly shown in FIGS. 12A-12G mounted onto the head portion of a cleaning system.

[0103]FIG. 14A is a representative schematic view of a preferred embodiment of a stream pattern developed by a cleaning system.

[0104]FIG. 14B is a representative schematic view of a preferred embodiment of a test station for conducting fluid path performance testing of a stream pattern developed by a cleaning system.

[0105]FIG. 15 is a table showing experimental data obtained utilizing the test station shown in FIG. 14B.

[0106]FIG. 16A is a representative isometric view of a handle extending portion such as a ramp or stem portion or other handle coupling with a top-mounting nozzle coupling.

[0107]FIG. 16B is a representative view of the handle ramp or other handle coupling shown in FIG. 16A coupled to the lower tubular section of a handle portion (not shown) of a cleaning system.

[0108]FIG. 16C is a representative isometric view of a handle ramp or other handle coupling with an under-mounted nozzle coupling.

[0109]FIG. 16D is a representative view of the handle ramp or other handle coupling shown in FIG. 16C coupled to the lower tubular section of a handle portion (not shown) of a cleaning system.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to a cleaning system useful for removing soils, stains and debris from hard surfaces and more particularly, this invention relates to an advanced cleaning system having a handle which attaches to a head portion having an integral or detachable scrubbing portion and a cleaning portion.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Cleaning devices and systems for use in the home, industrially or otherwise include a broad range of technology. With regard to hand-held, mop-like devices used by an individual, the prior art is replete with variations. Conventional floor, ceiling, wall or other surface mops typically have a rigid, elongated handle portion, the handle having a proximal and a distal end. The handle portion is held closer to the proximal end, while a cleaning head is placed at the distal end of the handle. Typically, mop heads for use indoors are about 3-4 inches wide and about 9-12 inches long, and they typically have a removable sponge or other type absorbent pad portion. As is well known, once a cleaning pad becomes worn out or soiled beyond utility, it is removed and replaced with a fresh cleaning pad.

[0004] Typically, a mop head is dipped into a pail or bucket containing water and a cleaning agent. The mop head is wrung out so as not to deposit too great an amount of cleaning fluid on the surface being cleaned. Modem mops provide a hand-held mopping system with an on-board, disposable, rechargeable or replaceable fluid reservoir, such as that disclosed in U.S. patent application Pub. Ser. No. 2003/0209263A1, published Nov. 13, 2003 to Bell et al., and which is herein incorporated by reference.

[0005] U.S. Pat. No. 5,071,489 issued Dec. 10, 1991 to Silvenis et al. teaches a floor cleaner using disposable sheets. The apparatus comprises a handle portion pivotally attached to a cleaning head member with a flat lower surface. The lower surface of the member has frictional means thereon which are intended to maintain a pre-moistened fabric sheet between the surface and an area to be cleaned. The frictional means are a series of raised portions, etc.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 5,609,255 issued Mar. 11, 1997 to Nichols teaches a washable scrubbing mop head and kit. The device and system contains a multi-part handle, head portion, and an attachable sponge mop pad.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,888,006 issued Mar. 30, 1999 to Ping et al. teaches a cleaning implement having a sprayer nozzle attached to a cleaning head member. Cleaning fluid sprays out of a sprayer nozzle portion attached to a cleaning head mounted at the base of a handle portion, the head portion mounted to the handle portion with a universal joint.

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 5,953,784 issued Sep. 21, 1000 to Suzuki et al. teaches a cleaning cloth and cleaning apparatus. The apparatus includes a handle with a front, flat head section for insertion into a bag-like cleaning cloth.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 5,988,920 issued Nov. 23, 1999 to Kunkler et al. teaches a cleaning implement having a protected pathway for a fluid transfer tube. The cleaning implement has a fluid reservoir coupled to a dispenser with a universal joint, and a fluid transfer tube, the fluid transfer tube at least partially positioned to pass through the universal joint.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 5,960,508 issued Oct. 5, 1999 to Holt et al. teaches a cleaning implement having controlled fluid absorbency. U.S. Pat. No. 6,003,191 issued Dec. 21, 1999 to Sherry et al. teaches a cleaning implement. U.S. Pat. No. 6,048,123 issued Apr. 11, 2000 to Holt et al. teaches a cleaning implement having high absorbent capacity. Overall maximum fluid absorbencies, rates of absorbency, and squeeze-out rates are defined, and examples of materials which exhibit those types of behavior are provided. As best understood, these inventions are directed to the use of superabsorbent materials, and not the use of conventional, natural and synthetic materials.

[0011] For cleaning devices using disposable sheets, the disposable sheets are typically constructed of a nonwoven sheet of fibers having a smooth surface, textured surface, or some combination thereof. In the industry of fibers and fabrics, the following classifications of fibers is considered standard:

[0012] The effectiveness of the cleaning devices described above is a function of the cleaning efficacy of the cleaning solution used, the dirt-capturing and retaining properties of the floor-engaging portion of (or coupled to) the head, and the scrubbing properties of the floor-engaging portion. As those skilled in the art know, a flatter surface has greater dirt capturing and retaining properties, particularly where a thin film of dirt and debris are found, while a textured surface has greater scrubbing properties. Designers of disposable pads, for instance, have heretofore tried to strike a balance by creating a pad of microfibers airlaid or spunbound in such a way as to create a textured floor engaging surface. While such pads provide good results for general cleaning, they are limited by the “one-size-fits-all” design, and none provide adequate scrubbing properties for very hard-to-remove dirt and debris.

[0013] Scrubbing pads have been used for years for things like dishwashing and manually scrubbing surfaces. Scrubbing pads have also been coupled to handheld cleaning implements. However, the scrubbing pads have heretofore been used only for scrubbing and are typically not suitable for general cleaning due to their low absorbency, and consequent propensity to leave streaks of dirty liquid during wiping.

[0014] JP-A-4-136252 discloses an abrasive nonwoven fabric made of core-sheath type conjugate fibers having abrasive particles in the sheath thereof. Although the abrasive nonwoven fabric feels good and exhibits long-lasting abrasive effect, the abrasive particles are liable to sink in the fibers, sometimes failing to show sufficient dirt scraping properties. Further, the abrasive particles may come off during cleaning unless they are firmly bonded to the fibers.

[0015] WO97/21865 proposes a single layer abrasive nonwoven fabric having a first abrasive plane formed of abrasive fiber pieces which are shaped into spheres and having the abrasive fiber pieces distributed with a concentration gradient in the thickness direction thereof. The proposed nonwoven fabric is for use as a dry or wet duster or towel for removing dust, fats and oils. The abrasive fiber pieces are formed by thermal shrinkage of thermoplastic fibers having a fiber length of up to about 15 mm, and those having a particle diameter of 100 μm or greater allegedly exhibit an abrasive action. However, the fiber pieces which are shaped into spheres, having substantially no form of fiber, are incompetent for scraping off caked-on soils without fail.

[0016] Other handheld implements such as a brush made of a metal, or a sponge with abrasive particles such as aluminum oxide, are commercially available. These cleansing articles, however, unfavorably make a scratch on a surface to be cleaned.

[0017] What is therefore needed is a cleaning system that provides excellent dirt capturing and retaining properties but that also provides excellent scrubbing properties.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0018] In one aspect of the present invention, a cleaning system comprises a cleaning device having a handle portion, the handle portion having a proximal end and a distal end; a cleaning head portion, the cleaning head portion adapted for use with a removable cleaning pad; a cleaning pad; and a cleaning fluid reservoir fluidly coupled to the cleaning head portion such that cleaning fluid is controllably allowed to flow by gravity onto the surface to be cleaned adjacent the cleaning head portion. The cleaning tool further comprises a nozzle portion mounted to the head or handle portions. The head portion of the cleaning system is preferably coupled to the handle portion. A scrubbing portion is operatively coupled to the head portion the scrubbing portion having a scrubbing surface having surface features for providing a scrubbing action to the surface to be cleaned. Particularly, the scrubbing surface has surface features that provide better scrubbing properties than the cleaning pad.

[0019] The scrubbing portion can be formed on the device itself, or can be a permanent or replaceable attachment. The scrubbing surface can also have multiple dissimilar surface features to provide enhanced scrubbing properties.

[0020] In various embodiments, the scrubbing portion is positionable between a retracted position and an actuated position. In the retracted position, the scrubbing portion may or may not contact the surface to be cleaned, but does not provide as much scrubbing efficacy as when in the actuated position. In the actuated position, the scrubbing portion contacts the surface to be cleaned to allow the user to spot-scrub particularly stubborn soiled areas of the surface being cleaned.

[0021] The mechanisms for actuating the scrubbing portion can vary. In one embodiment shown, tilting the handle past a certain angle from vertical in one or both directions urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position. In another embodiment, twisting the handle portion urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position. In further embodiments a lever or slider or trigger and wire assembly urges the scrubbing portion towards the actuated position.

[0022] The scrubbing portion can be positioned anywhere along the bottom of the head subassembly, and can have a plethora of different dimensions and shapes.

[0023] In another embodiment, the scrubbing portion is formed on the head subassembly, while the cleaning pad seat is biased downwardly (away from the handle portion) such that, in a relaxed position, the cleaning surface of the cleaning pad lies below the plane of the scrubbing surface of the scrubbing portion. Alternatively, the cleaning pad seat can be selectively positionable between a cleaning position and a retracted position. The cleaning pad seat is coplanar or above the plane of the scrubbing surface when in the retracted position.

[0024] In yet another embodiment, a flex arm engages the scrubbing portion. By causing the flex arm to extend, the scrubbing portion is urged towards the actuated position.

[0025] In another embodiment, the scrubbing portion is operatively coupled to the handle portion. The scrubbing portion includes an arm, a proximal end of which is operatively coupled to the handle portion, and a distal end of which has the scrubbing surface thereon. By pivoting the handle across the vertical relative to the plane of the head subassembly, the arm is moved from the retracted position towards the actuated position. An alternate embodiment has the arm extend beyond the edge of the head subassembly when in the actuated position so that no apertures in the head subassembly or cleaning pad are required. In a variation of these, the arm actuates a scrubbing portion coupled to the head subassembly upon pivoting of the handle portion across the vertical.

[0026] Another embodiment implements a plunger-type scrubbing portion. In a further embodiment, the scrubbing portion is coupled to a hinged member.

[0027] In a variation, the scrubbing surface is formed as part of the cleaning pad. The cleaning pad or sheet can comprise strips or areas of scrubbing or abrasive material.

[0028] In any of the embodiments described herein, the handle portion can be allowed to be repositioned towards the location of the scrubbing surface so that increased pressure is exerted on the scrubbing surface when the scrubbing portion is actuated.

[0029] Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, which, when taken in conjunction with the drawings, illustrate by way of example the principles of the invention.

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This Application is a Continuation-In-Part (CIP) of related pending U.S. patent application Ser. No.10/350,804, filed Jan. 24, 2003 entitled ADVANCED CLEANING SYSTEM WITH OFF-HEAD MOUNTED NOZZLE, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, and claims any and all benefits to which it is entitled therefrom. This Application is also a CIP of pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/689,433 filed Oct. 11, 2000 entitled ADVANCED CLEANING SYSTEM, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, and claims any and all benefits to which it is entitled therefrom. This Application is also a CIP of pending U.S. patent application Ser. No.10/233,773 filed Aug. 30, 2002 entitled FLUID DISTRIBUTION NOZZLE AND STREAM PATTERN, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, and claims any and all benefits to which it is entitled therefrom. This application is also related to and incorporates by reference, in its entirety, U.S. Provisional Patent Applications Serial Nos. 60/192,040 and 60/317,911 filed Mar. 24, 2000 and September 6, respectively, and claims any and all benefits to which it is entitled therefrom.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7757339Oct 10, 2006Jul 20, 2010Txf Products, Inc.Apparatus and methods for surface treatment with user-selectable liquid dispensing
US7779501Aug 31, 2005Aug 24, 2010Unger Marketing International, LlcMop having scrubbing area
US8476214Oct 21, 2010Jul 2, 2013S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.Low voc hard surface treating composition providing anti-fogging and cleaning benefits
US20120096662 *Oct 26, 2010Apr 26, 2012Hirotaka UchiyamaCleaning device having plural and customizable cleaning surfaces
EP1786308A2 *Aug 31, 2005May 23, 2007Unger Marketing International, LLCMop having scrubbing area
EP1985221A2 *Apr 23, 2008Oct 29, 2008A.Q.A Scandinavia ABCleaning device
WO2007047214A2 *Oct 10, 2006Apr 26, 2007Txf Products IncApparatus and methods for surface treatment with user-selectable liquid dispensing
WO2008150620A1 *May 7, 2008Dec 11, 2008Ppg Ind Ohio IncApparatus and method for cleaning outdoor surfaces
WO2009072057A1Dec 1, 2008Jun 11, 2009Procter & GambleHead for a cleaning device and cleaning device usable therewith
WO2010127931A2 *Apr 15, 2010Nov 11, 2010Akzo Nobel Coatings International B.V.A decking coating composition applicator
WO2013188197A1 *Jun 6, 2013Dec 19, 2013The Procter & Gamble CompanyCleaning device having onboard replaceable cleaning pad and onboard replaceable cleaning solution
Classifications
U.S. Classification134/6, 15/118, 15/114, 15/115
International ClassificationA47L13/22, A47L13/312, A47L13/44, A47L13/26
Cooperative ClassificationA47L13/44, A47L13/26, A47L13/312, A47L13/22
European ClassificationA47L13/44, A47L13/26, A47L13/312, A47L13/22
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 23, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: CLOROX COMPANY, THE, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BELL, RUSSELL;CRANDALL, AMY;REEL/FRAME:014894/0945
Effective date: 20040625