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Publication numberUS20050217035 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/517,045
PCT numberPCT/US2003/017392
Publication dateOct 6, 2005
Filing dateJun 3, 2003
Priority dateJun 3, 2002
Also published asWO2003102289A1
Publication number10517045, 517045, PCT/2003/17392, PCT/US/2003/017392, PCT/US/2003/17392, PCT/US/3/017392, PCT/US/3/17392, PCT/US2003/017392, PCT/US2003/17392, PCT/US2003017392, PCT/US200317392, PCT/US3/017392, PCT/US3/17392, PCT/US3017392, PCT/US317392, US 2005/0217035 A1, US 2005/217035 A1, US 20050217035 A1, US 20050217035A1, US 2005217035 A1, US 2005217035A1, US-A1-20050217035, US-A1-2005217035, US2005/0217035A1, US2005/217035A1, US20050217035 A1, US20050217035A1, US2005217035 A1, US2005217035A1
InventorsWilliam Steiner, Michael Steiner
Original AssigneeSteiner William K, Steiner Michael S
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Wrinkle deterring and textile cleaning processes and apparatuses
US 20050217035 A1
Abstract
Processes and apparatuses (10) for commercial and home-use cleaning of textile. Home-use embodiments replace the home laundry clothes dryer, except for embodiments using a novel manual kit (K). Soiled/stained textile (12, 14) sprayed dampened with solvent, preferably automatically in the dryer apparatus' rotatable drum (16); but the textile therein is not soaked nor immersed in solvent. Highly absorbent, untreated pad material (3, 56) is placed into the drum, for rubbing against the tumbling textile (12, 14), to remove the soil, stains and solvent, as well as provide wrinkle deterring hydration. Also, for home-use washer and washer-dryer combined units, the pad material (3, 56) can be placed into the drum (16) prior to the washing cycle, to enhance the scrubbing action.
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Claims(22)
1-21. (canceled)
22. In a process for cleaning textile in a drum within a machine, said process comprising the steps of:
dampening the textile with liquid, other than for spotting, in the absence of soaking or immersing the textile in liquid;
controlling the duration that the textile maintains hydration; and
said controlling including at least in part placing highly absorbent pad material into the drum for absorbing at least some of the liquid in the textile and drum for release back into air within the drum and into the textile at a rate slower than being released from the dampened textile.
23. In the process according to claim 22, the step of dampening being:
manually dampening the textile with solvent, exterior to the drum and machine.
24. In the process according to claim 22, said step of dampening being:
spraying automatically the solvent into the drum from exterior the drum.
25. In the process according to claim 24, said step of dampening being:
at least one of steam, air and water.
26. In the process according to claim 22, the step of:
removing the textile from the drum when the textile has sufficiently dried, but also retains enough hydration to be substantially wrinkle free.
27. In a process for cleaning textile in a drum within a machine, said process comprising the steps of:
placing highly absorbent pad material into the drum;
generating relative movement between the textile, the pad material and cleaning/rinsing liquid in the drum; and
scrubbing action thereby being caused by the pad material upon the textile.
28. In the process according to claim 27, the machine being a combination textile washing and drying machine, the steps of:
absorbing, by the pad material, some of cleaning/rinsing liquid from the textile and the drum, during said scrubbing action;
retaining the pad material in the drum after the scrubbing action and throughout textile drying by the machine; and
controlling the duration of hydration that the liquid has imparted to the textile by releasing some of that liquid from the pad material back into the textile and the drum.
29. In the process according to claim 27, the step of:
removing the textile from the drum when the textile has sufficiently dried, but also retains enough hydration to be substantially wrinkle free.
30. Apparatus for cleaning textile in a drum within a machine, said apparatus comprising:
dampening means for applying solvent to the textile, other than for spotting, to dampen the textile in the absence of soaking or immersing the textile in the solvent or any liquid; and
highly absorbent pad material in said drum;
said pad material and the dampened textile being in rubbing contact in said drum; whereby, soil and solvent are transferred from the textile to said pad material and;
at least near the end of the cleaning, while the textile is drying in said drum, said pad material hydrates the textile to deter the formation of wrinkles.
31. Apparatus according to claim 30, in which:
at least some of said pad material is detachably secured within said drum.
32. Apparatus according to claim 30, wherein said drum has interior lifting ribs; and
said pad material is detachably secured to said lifting ribs.
33. Apparatus according to claim 30, wherein:
said pad material is untreated.
34. Apparatus according to claim 33, wherein:
said pad material is felt.
35. Apparatus according to claim 30, in which:
said dampening means is constructed and arranged to spray solvent automatically, from exterior said drum, into said drum.
36. Apparatus according to claim 35 comprising:
automatic spraying equipment, for additional spraying into said drum at least one of air, steam or water, without soaking or immersing the textile in liquid in said drum.
37. Apparatus for cleaning textile, comprising:
a drum within a machine;
highly absorbent pad material in said drum;
means. for introducing liquid into said drum for cleaning and rinsing textile in said drum; and
means for generating relative movement between the textile, the liquid and said pad material;
whereby said textile rubs against said pad material causing a scrubbing of said textile.
38. Apparatus according to claim 37 in which:
said machine is a laundry washing machine; and
said pad material is attached to the interior of said drum.
39. Apparatus according to claim 37, in which:
said machine is a combination washing and drying machine;
said pad material is present in said drum during washing and drying of the textile; and
said pad material defines a source for hydration of the textile during drying thereof in said drum; whereby, the textile does not dry to the extent that wrinkles are formed prior to the textile removal from said drum.
40. For use in a process for drying wet textile in a rotatable drum of a textile dryer, the invention comprising:
highly absorbent pad material, for maintaining hydration of the initially wet textile in the drum by;
absorbing some of the liquid in the wet textile, when the pad material and the textile rub against each other during rotation of the drum; and
releasing back, from the pad material to the textile and the interior of the drum, some of the liquid at a rate slower than being removed from the textile.
41. The invention according to claim 40, in which said pad material is secured to the interior periphery of the drum to provide at least one of:
a cushion protective of buttons and zippers on the textile as they tumble in the rotating drum; and a smooth, soft hand finish to the drying textile.
42. In a kit for use with a textile dryer having a rotatable drum:
highly absorbent pad material to be placed in the drum with liquid wet textile;
whereupon, at least near the end of the typical drying cycle, said pad material hydrates the textile to deter formation of wrinkles.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/385,384, filed on 3 Jun. 2002, entitled METHOD AND DEVICES FOR PREVENTING WRINKLING OF TEXTILES IN DRYERS; and is a Continuation-in-Part of prior pending U.S. application Ser. No. 10/333,675, filed on 22 Jan. 2003, entitled TEXTILE CLEANING PROCESSES AND APPARATUSES, which is a Title 15 U.S.C. Section 371 application of PCT Application No. PCT/US01/23444, filed 25 Jul. 2001, published in English as WO 02/08510 A1, on 31 Jan. 2002.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention concerns textile cleaning processes and apparatuses, useful in commercial facilities, group housing and private dwellings.

2. Prior Art

Textile cleaning processes and apparatus have been in use commercially for a considerable length of years. For the most part, commercial processes have changed/improved relatively little except for the use of less dangerous solvents. Likewise, commercial dry cleaning equipment, except for more automation, is mostly the same for the past fifty years and do that which was done previously.

Commercial dry cleaning, as is well known, is not a dry process, it is basically a waterless process, using unhealthy, unfriendly and hazardous liquid solvents, in which the soiled textiles are immersed and mixed in a rotating drum until the soil transfers from the textile into the solvent bath. Also, the volume of solvent needed to immerse the textiles in the drum presents its own problems: cost, storage space, proper disposal, filtering and recycling, etc.

Home-use laundry cleaning equipment typically comprises: a textile washing machine, in which the textiles are fully immersed in water with a detergent; and a separate drying machine, employing a tumbling drum, into which heated air is passed. Home-use laundry equipment also comes in the form of a single piece of equipment, which first immerses, washes and drains, and then hot air dries the textiles; thereby providing housing space savings and eliminating the step of moving the spun down, but very wet textile, from the washer unit into the dryer unit.

The two unit and one unit home-use laundry cleaning equipment, as well as commercial textile dryers, have a common problem, the laundry and textile will become wrinkled, before removal from the dryer, unless there is closely timed human operator intervention to remove the textiles prior to wrinkling, but after sufficient drying. Home-use units, both the separate washer and dryer, as well as the combined washer and dryer, also have the problems of inadequate cleaning and residual cleaning agent remaining after washing and drying.

Quite recently, there has entered the market place kits for home-use, in home clothes dryers, for freshening and cleaning of garments which cannot be washed in water and are not so soiled that commercial dry cleaning should be used. Although such kits are convenient to use, their capability to satisfactorily remove soil is limited. Such kits have solvent impregnated, small, thin sheets which are put into the dryer drum with the soiled garments. The heat within the rotating drum releases the solvent from those sheets into the atmosphere of the drum. The tumbling garments are “immersed” in the solvent containing atmosphere for the cleaning function. The sheets also are impregnated with a pleasant fragrance substance, to impart a clean smell to the garment. Some kits also include pre-spotting solution, to be applied to selected soil spots of the garment, prior to being placed into the dryer drum. A problem with the use of such kits is that either extensive pre-spotting is needed, or the cleaning is inadequate, or both. Some kits also include a bag into which the garments and impregnated sheets are placed. The bag inhibits the garments from contact with the hot interior surface of the drum and also confines the solvent containing atmosphere.

DEFINITIONS

The term “textile” encompasses: fabrics, garments, laundry, clothing and cloth.

The term “dryer” include: home-style clothes dryers, coin operated garment dryers, commercial laundry dryers, commercial fabric cleaning apparatus of the fabric immersion type and also the non-immersed type (as disclosed in our above cited applications); usually, such dryers and cleaning apparatuses have drums which rotate during the drying of the textiles therein.

The terms “washer”, “washing machine”, “home-use laundry, or textile washing equipment” encompass top loading and front loading units, as well as washer and dryer combined units.

The terms “pad” and “padding” encompass highly absorbent components, such as components 3, 3′, 54 and 56 shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 5.

The term “untreated” means that the pads do not initially contain cleaning solvent, contrary to prior art teachings.

When some textiles are being dried, in a drum-type dryer, after being laundered, cleaned in an immersion type or non-immersion commercial unit, these textiles can become wrinkled if they are dried too completely and/or too fast, before being removed from the dryer and placed on hangers, or otherwise laid-out, to reduce wrinkle formation. Many home-type and commercial dryers have been equipped with means for combating the problem of wrinkling textile, for example: reducing the applied heat prior to the end of the drying cycle; controlling dryer rotation speed and duration with respect to the type of textile, i.e. permanent press in contrast to cotton; humidity sensing; lower temperature for entire drying cycle; air/fluff drying without heat; etc. Also, the dried load should not contain a mixture of different types of textile, which would hold different amounts of moisture, be of different thickness/weight.

Notwithstanding the design capabilities of the dryers, experienced human operators have been necessary to ensure wrinkle free results.

Quite often, the human operator, rather than permitting too much drying, terminates the drying cycle prematurely and then examines the textile load in the drum to determine moisture content. Thereupon, the operator can reset drying parameters, especially including a shortening or lengthening of the remaining drying time. Sometimes, stopping and restarting the drying cycle more than once is necessary to prevent too much drying and resulting wrinkling. Also, textiles are considered desirably dried if they have a “nice hand”, and “soft hand”, are not shrunk, don't hold static electricity and don't retain from the final wash rinse soap, detergent, additives or soil.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Undesired textile wrinkling and other above mentioned problems can be resolved by use of the present invention, in which absorbent padding is placed in the dryer drum for retaining moisture longer than the textiles being dried; and the moist padding keeps the atmosphere in the drum highly humid. Thus, the textiles are not dried to the point of wrinkling, because they do not lose their moisture content too fast. Also, when the textiles tumble into contact with the padding, the padding absorbs moisture from the textiles, imparts a soft hand and nice hand. Additionally, the contact between textiles and padding is a rubbing motion, which transfers any residual soaps, detergents, additives and soil from textile to padding. The padding can be secured to the interior of the drum, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 4 and 5, with reference to pads 3′, 54, 115 and 117 and/or be loose, as the pads 3 and 56 in some of those same Figs. The loose pads can be wetted prior to being placed in the drum. The secured padding can be wetted prior to the textiles being placed into the drum or subsequently; also as taught in our above cited applications.

In the commercial and automated home-use dryer embodiments, the textiles are not immersed in solvent. A sufficient, small amount of solvent is sprayed, onto the textiles when inside the drum, early in the cleaning process. Thereupon, rotation of the drum brings the textiles and pads into frictional contact, repeatedly. The pads can be removably fastened to the “lifting” ribs and body of the drum and/or be free to move about in the rotating drum. For this home-use embodiment, if there are no ribs to secure the highly absorbent, untreated pads, the pads are placed loosely in the drum.

In a manual home-use embodiment, the textiles are sprayed, not soaked nor immersed, with the cleaning solvent, prior to being placed into the drum. For the home-use, stand alone washer and washer-dryer combination, the pads also can be removably secured to the interior of the drum at convenient locations.

Other features of the improved process and apparatus will be disclosed in the next following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is side view of the commercial cleaning machine of the invention, with its side cover removed and somewhat pictorial, showing major component parts; FIG. 2 is a front view of the cleaning machine of FIG. 1, with its front cover off, somewhat pictorial, showing major component parts, with pads and textile in the drum;

FIG. 3 is a partial side view of a home-use unit, with its side cover removed;

FIG. 4 is a partial view of a home-use laundry washing unit, somewhat pictorial and broken away to show the mounted pads; and

FIG. 5 is a pictorial illustration of the contents of a home-use starter kit, with components not to scale with respect to each other.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Described first will be the home-use, suitable for a kit sold in grocery stores, embodiment. As shown in FIG. 5, the contents/components of a starter kit K would be: a bottle 1 of solvent 1′, preferably with a spray dispensing head 2; a plurality of highly absorbent, untreated pads 3, and instructions 4 for their use in a standard, home style, clothes dryer. Optionally, the kit K also could include a one-use or repeat-use containment bag 5 for holding the textiles and pads in the drum of the dryer, one purpose of which is to keep the textiles hydrated with the solvent for a sufficient time. Another optional component, especially useful if a containment bag is not used, is covering means 6, positionable over the typical lint filter of the home style dryer, to reduce air flow from the dryer drum, thereby to keep the textiles hydrated with the solvent for a sufficient length of time; so that their frictional contact with the pads is such that the pads are rubbing over the damp textile, to rub off the soil and absorb the solvent. Also optional, but preferred, is a container 7 of spot removing liquid 7′ having an applicator tip and a spotter bone 8 and brush 9; to be used before and/or after cleaning by the process of this invention, as might be needed for stubborn/unique spots of soil.

The pads 3 for this home-use unit embodiment can be of a wide range of shapes, sizes and materials; and, for that reason, are not shown in detail in any Figure of this specification. These pads should have enough mass to frictionally confront and rub against the textile. A thickness of about one-quarter to one-half inch (about 0.60 to 1.25 cm.) has worked well with surface areas of ten to fifty square inches (about 65 to 325 cm. sq.). The quantity of pads depend upon their sizes, the amount of textile material to be cleaned, the volume of the drum, the duration of drum rotation, the rate of solvent evaporation and extent to which the textile is soiled. Additional variables are the material of the textile and its thickness. Also, some solvents can function better at different temperatures than others, which can affect their evaporation rate. The quantity and weight of the textiles being cleaned and the amount of the pads should be such that the random tumbling movement of the pads and the textiles in the rotating drum causes a considerable amount of surface-to-surface rubbing contact therebetween, which is essential for adequate cleaning by this process. The material of the pads is to be highly absorbent, smooth texture and not the source of any undesirable amount of lint from its own body or because of its rubbing against the textile. Cotton, felt, terry, etc. are materials of the type which provide the absorbance, smoothness and weight desirable for a pad to be used in both this home-use and the commercial embodiments of this invention. Preferably, the pads can used for a few loads of cleaning, before they are too dirty to be used again. Then, they can be cleaned/washed for further use. When used with the washing unit 101 of FIG. 4, which also could be a combined washer and dryer, the pads would become soaked during the washing cycle and be useful as a scrubbing surface, against which the tumbling textiles would rub. However, if the apparatus is a combined washer and dryer, the soaked pads could carry too much hydration into the drying cycle, even though such combination units have a high speed wash liquid extraction spin cycle (1,200 RPM). Accordingly, pads for these “combo” units could be thinner than for stand alone dryers.

The solvent 1′ and the optional pre-spotting liquid 7′ can be selected from any of many existing, as well as future formulated, user friendly and environmentally approved liquids, including water-based cleaners and water diluted mixtures thereof. A few examples of such solvents are:

DF-2000, a synthetic aliphatic hydrocarbon manufactured by Exxon Chemical Co., Houston, Tex.; Vista LPA-142, a paraffinic, maphthenic, manufactured by Vista Chemical Co., Houston, Tex.; N-Ta Germ Liquid, an alkyl dimethyl benzyl amonium chloride; N Ta Germ Wet Clean additive: DWX-44 detergent, DWX-Spray Spotter, Kleerospray Spotter, Nature-L additive, each manufactured by Kleerwite Chemical, Burke, Va.; Cal-Off, a pre-spotter, diethylene glycol methyl ether, manufactured by Calcd Chemical, Wayne, N.J.; and Zuds, a water based spotting compound, also manufactured by Calcd Chemical.

Experience to date indicates that the solvent can contain at least 75% water and the spotter should be more concentrated. As is known, a spotting solution can be used before and/or after the textile is cleaned in the drum.

The optional containment bag would have sufficient volume to hold a few garments/textiles and the above identified pads 3, such that the textiles and pads can tumble freely within the closed bag as the drum rotates. The bag would have some form of closure 5′ and be of a material which can withstand repeated use. It can have one or more layers, one of which would be somewhat vapor impermeable, to reduce the rate of evaporation of the cleaning solvent; whereby, the solvent can be of maximum use in working on/in the textile, for removal of the soil and the used solvent onto the pads. In a preferred embodiment of the containment bag 5, it would have an inner layer or liner 3′ of the pad material, to enhance the rubbing off of the soil from the textiles. Having some or all of an inner layer 3′ of the highly absorbent, untreated pad material can reduce the amount of the pad pieces 3 otherwise placed into the containment bag, or the drum, if there is no bag. Under some conditions of textile material and soil content, it would be sufficient for the pad inner layer to obviate need for the individual pieces of pad.

As noted above, it is important to keep the textiles hydrated with the solvent 1′ for a sufficient duration, without immersing or soaking or even wetting down the textiles prior to placing them directly into the drum, or into the containment bag which then goes into the drum. Preferably, the textiles are only mist-sprayed with the solvent. Accordingly, especially when a containment bag is not employed, the home-style dryer should be inhibited from the extent/rapidity of its normal venting, by reducing the amount of air flow into and out from the drum. Typically, the primary amount of venting air passes through the lint filter. Hence, blocking of the lint filter will reduce the solvent evaporation rate. Such blocking can be partial or total and can be accomplished in various ways by various means; one simple means would be the insertion of a piece of fabric 6 into and covering the lint filter.

The duration of textile tumbling in the dryer drum with the highly absorbent, untreated pads, will depend upon the size of the drum, the size of the load, the amount of pads and the textile material. About 20-30 minutes usually will be needed. It is to be appreciated that the cleaning process according to this invention does not require that the textile be dry before removal from the dryer. To the contrary, if the textile is too dry, it could wrinkle. Preferably, the textile is removed from the dryer drum and containment bag if such bag is used while the textile is slightly damp. Then, the textile is placed on a hanger or the like to dry without wrinkling.

In one embodiment of the invention, only loose pads are employed, such as the pads 3 and 56 shown in incorporated FIGS. 2 and 5. In a second embodiment, only attached pads or padding are employed, such as the components 54, 115 and 117 shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4 which are removably attached to the interior of the drums. A third and fourth embodiment employs one or both attached and loose pad components, such as 56, 3 and 54, in the rotating drum. A fifth embodiment can be the textile containment bag 5 having an inner lining or layer of pad 3′ and/or pieces of the pad 3 therein, as shown in FIG. 5. In all of these embodiments, the primary purpose of the highly absorbent pads/padding is to contain sufficient liquid to keep the humidity level into the drum very high, during the full dryer cycle, while the pads themselves are drying at a much slower rate than the thinner textiles. In the wash and spin cycles of the unit 101 of FIG. 4, the pads 115 and 117 provide sol removing scrubbing action.

The loose pads 3 and 56 can be placed into the dryer pre-wetted or dry. If dry, then the pads would need to absorb moisture from the wet textile. The attached pad material 54 would be made wet by the wet textile; and/or could be sprayed with water from the nozzles 26 and 74, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3.

Not only do the textiles obtain some moisture from the wet pads when rubbing/brushing against each other during tumbling in the drum, the textiles do not become over dry and lose their natural moisture content, because the wet pads maintain a high level of humidity in the drum. This prevents wrinkling of the textiles, imparts a soft hand, prevents shrinking and eliminates static electricity. By brushing against the textiles, the pads also help impart a nice hand. The pads, especially the attached pads 54, buffer the drop of the textiles against the metal interior of the drum, thus helping to prevent broken buttons, zippers and textile trim. Also, because the pads absorb wash water from the textiles, the pads absorb soap, detergents, additives and soil left in the textiles after the final wash rinse.

The process of the commercial/professional embodiment of this invention is very similar to the home-use embodiment, except it takes advantage of being able to use some existing commercial dry cleaning technology and improve upon it. Primarily, the novel features of the commercial embodiment are: (1) The solvent mist spraying and air/water/steam jetting upon the textile are automatically accomplished in the drum, while the drum is rotating and during rotation dwell times. (It is to be emphasized that the textile is not immersed in a solvent or water bath, nor soaked in the solvent or water.) (2) The untreated, highly absorbent pads are secured to the lifting ribs of the drum. (3) Regulation of air flow, drum temperature, drum r.p.m., solvent spraying, and moisture level are accomplished by sensors and computer controls.

Many of the mechanical elements shown in FIGS. 1-3 are not discussed hereinafter, since their presence and operation are not essential to a full understanding of the invention claimed herein. Those same FIGS. 1-3 are found and their elements described in our above cited United States and PCT applications.

More specifically and with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the commercial textile cleaning machine 10 can be an existing piece of equipment, modified to employ the novel process of this invention. However, a new, simpler, textile cleaning machine 10 can be built to perform the new method.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, which show somewhat pictorially the side and front views of a commercial dry cleaning machine 10, with cover panels removed, embodying the invention, but showing only major components; it will become evident to those skilled in the art that the machine 10 is simpler than an existing commercial dry cleaning machine, can be less rugged, more economic and simpler to use. Since the process employing the machine 10 does not immerse the textile 12, 14 in a solvent bath, nor even soak that textile in solvent, there is no need for placing many gallons of solvent into the drum 16; thus avoiding having hundreds of pounds of solvent supported in the revolving drum. There is not any expensive and bulky solvent recovery and recirculation system, since less than one quart (one liter) of solvent is needed by the invention per twenty-five pound (11 kilograms) load and mostly is absorbed by the untreated pads and/or are vented out with the soil particulates. Hence, the solvent container 18 can be housed easily within the machine 10 and connected to a pump 20, which will pump the solvent into the drum 16 as a spray mist, via lines 22, 24 and jet heads 26. The solvent tank 18 can represent a plurality of tanks coupled in parallel and holding different: solvents, conditioners, sizing, water proofing, fire proofing, etc. substances. The pump 20 can generate 60 to 110 p.s.i. Alternately (not shown), a barrel or large tank of the solvent can be located outside of the machine 10 and connected to the pump 20. Since the pump is moving a small quantity of solvent, it can be smaller then presently needed in commercial dry cleaning equipment. If there results a small volume dirty waste liquid, it can be collected from the drum by waste disposal means 28, 30 and then removed according to regulatory/environmental procedures, which could be as simple as flushing down to a sewer; which is especially a viable form of waste disposal, since a preferred embodiment of the solvent can be water-based.

Since the drum 16 is not to contain a heavy volume of solvent, it can be a lighter structure, have lighter support and be rotated by a smaller motor 32, coupled to the rear 33 of the drum via a belt 34, driven shaft 35, etc. than present dry cleaning machines. The motor 32 also can be used to drive the air circulation fan 36, but separate motors (not shown) could be more practical. The interior periphery of the drum 16 is perforated 38, as is typical, so that not only the air circulated by the fan 36 can enter the drum, but especially the jet mist spray of solvent 18, can enter via the jet heads 26, which are positioned next to the drum. The jet heads 26 also can supply air only, or pressurized water from an interior supply 39 or an exterior supply, or a mixture of air and water. The jet heads 26 are position to direct solvent, etc. along the axial direction of the drum and at right angles thereto, so as to dampen the textiles from plural directions. Since the rear end 33 of the drum 16 is closed, except for the perforations 38, the jet heads 26, pointing into the drum's rear end, would be journaled (not shown) for rotation with the drum. For ease of viewing the FIGS., the perforations 38 are not shown in FIG. 2 and only a few are shown in FIG. 1.

For the same reason as discussed for the home-use embodiment, the commercial embodiment requires the textile 12, 14, to remain damp with solvent; hence, solvent evaporation rate needs to be retarded/controlled. Such control is provided by a damper 40, which is located in an air output line 42 and an air recirculation line 44 that returns air from the drum to the input side of the fan 36, for reintroduction into the drum, via the perforations 38. If the damper 40 is closed, the recirculating air, which also carries solvent moisture, is passed through a lint and dirt filter 41 and returned to the drum to help in continuing the hydration of the textiles. If the damper is open, the moist air can pass outward through the output line 42. If needed, to increase the hydration, moist air and/or steam can be supplied through the jet heads 26 from a line 45, which is connected to a source (not shown), such as a small external boiler. Such steam/moisture also can be supplied at selected times to: clean water soluble stains; reactivate solvent on the drying textiles; and give a final “hand” to the textiles. Also, the fan 36 can be turned off as well as have its speed changed, via a program panel 46. The program panel 46 is connected to preset the sequential operations of the machine 10 into various modes, as well as enable random inputs by an operator. Opening and closing of the damper 40 is one of the many operations via the program panel 46.

The machine 10 also includes an air compressor 48, which can be part of or separate from the pump 20, but can be used in conjunction therewith. The compressor can be used to provide the jet action for the jet mist solvent spray through the line 22, 24 and jet heads 26. Also, the compressor 48 can supply jets of air, without accompanying solvent, through the jet heads 26, for purposes discussed further below, and for propelling steam/moisture from line 45.

A heater 50 is provided to warm the circulating air. The program panel 46 controls when the heater is on and what temperature is to be provided. Programming also controls various valves, only a few of which are illustrated in FIG. 1. The term “program panel” is used herein to represent all needed programming means, sensors, etc., etc., since such programming means and operations are well within the skill in the art.

Typically, drums of dry cleaning machines contain a plurality of textile lifting ribs 52 which cause the textiles to be lifted away from the periphery of the rotating drum and tossed toward its axis of rotation. Such ribs 52 play an important additional roll in the present invention. The highly absorbent, untreated pads 52 are removably mounted along these ribs. For ease of viewing FIGS. 1 and 2, only a few of the ribs 52 are shown, and only three of the ribs, one in FIG. 1 and a different two in FIG. 2 have pads 54 mounted thereon. In actual practice, both sides of each rib 52 can support pads 54. If there are four ribs 52 in a drum and they project radially inward five inches and are thirty six inches long (about 13 cm. high and 90 cm. long), they can support approximately one thousand, four hundred and forty square inches of pad, which is ten square foot of surface (approximately 9,360 cm. sq.). The rotation of the drum 16, for twenty to thirty minutes, with this pad surface, will result in a significant amount of soil removing, rubbing contact between the textiles 12, 14 and the pads 54. If conditions require more pad surface, the drums can be built with more ribs; also, loose pads 56, as employed in the home-use embodiment, can be put into the drum 16. Typically, the ribs 52 are perforated, or can be perforated as at 58. The pads 54 can be provided with clips (not shown) for detachably mounting the pads onto the ribs. Other mounting means, such as Velcro or adhesives can be used, so that the pads can be removed for periodic washing and/or replacement.

A significant improvement in a home-use textile cleaning process and unit 64 next will be described with reference to FIG. 3. This unit and process employ both the mist spraying of solvent air and water into the drum and the highly absorbent pads of the commercial embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2; hence, it does not use the textile containment bag 5, nor the manual pre-spraying of the solvent onto the textiles, as described hereinabove with reference to FIG. 5 and the home-use kit K. This home-use unit 64 basically starts from a typical home-use clothes/laundry dryer, with its horizontal axis rotatable drum, heater, filter, etc.; hence, these components are not shown in FIG. 3. Also not shown is the typical front loading access door and electric controls. It is to be understood that this new unit 64 also continues to be usable as a typical home-use laundry room clothes dryer.

FIG. 3 shows the right side 66, near its rear, with its side panel 68 removed, of the home-use unit 64. A refillable supply of Dry-Wetcleaning™ solvent is supported in a container 70 in the interior of the unit 64 and has its capped refill opening 72 projecting out from the top of the unit. A plurality of spray heads 74 are coupled to both the solvent container 70 and a compressor 76, so as to be able to spray solvent through perforations (not shown) in the typically non-rotating end cover 78 of the rotatable drum (not shown); whereby, textiles in the drum can be dampened by the solvent, similar to the jet spray solvent dampening in the commercial embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2.

If the interior of the drum has lifting ribs, such as the ribs 52 shown in FIG. 2, or the interior of the drum is adapted to have pads 54 secured thereto, then the solvent spray dampening, the textile cleaning and hydration by rubbing against the absorbing pads 54 will be accomplished in much the same manner as in the commercial embodiment disclosed with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2; exceptions being that in that embodiment there is more automation and the drum 16 can rotate in opposite directions, between which there can be programmed dwell time used for additional spraying of the solvent, etc. If the pads 54 are not secured to the interior of the drum, or such pads do not provide sufficient rubbing, absorbent and hydration absorbent surface, loose pads 56 would be placed in the drum.

Thus, a conventional domestic clothes dryer can be replaced by the home-use unit 64, having all the functions of the domestic clothes dryer, most of the Dry-Wetcleaning capabilities of a commercial machine 10 according to the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 is to be understood as showing a home-use laundry washing machine 101, or a washer-dryer combination unit 101. Although the drum or basket 103 is shown vertically for top loading, it could, for purposes of the inventive feature next described, be front loading, with the drum positioned horizontally. For ease of understanding FIG. 4, a typical, vertically standing agitator is not shown in the drum. In fact, some laundry washing units do not have such typical agitators, but have other mechanisms for agitating or mixing the detergent or solvent in the drum with the laundry (textile), to achieve cleaning action.

The drum or basket 103 typically is manufactured with numerous peripheral perforations 105, only a few of which are shown in FIG. 4. The well known function of the perforations 105 is to permit spin cycle extraction of the liquid detergent/solvent from the drum. The drum or basket 103 also can be provided with ribs 107, only one of which is shown, that are similar to the ribs 52 shown in the drum 16 of FIGS. 1 and 2, lying parallel to the axis of the drum and secured to its periphery 109. In addition to the known textile lifting function of the ribs, when there is generated relative motion between the drum periphery 109, the solvent/detergent (not shown in FIG. 4) and the textiles, for example 111 and 113, the ribs 107 can be used to removably support pad material 115 which would come into frequent rubbing contact with the textiles 111 and 113 and act as scrubbing brushes. Similarly, some of the perforations 105 can be used to removably support other pieces of scrubbing pad material 117 (only one of which is shown in FIG. 4). The pad material can be the same substance as the highly absorbent pads 54 and 56, above described and shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. If the unit 101 is a combined washer and dryer, then the pad material 115 and 117 will serve a dual purpose: (a) to enhance textile cleaning, by acting as textile scrubbers in the wash mode; and (b) to deter textile wrinkling in the drying mode, by maintaining textile hydration.

The hereinabove description of the commercial/professional and home-use processes and the embodiments of textile cleaning machine 10 and home-use units 64 and 101 should enable those skilled in the art to construct new textile cleaning machines, or make modifications to an existing dry cleaning machine, home-use clothes dryer, home-use washer-dryer combo and home-use laundry washer, employing highly absorbent pads, while remaining within the scope of the inventions. The same applies to the first described home-use process and the components kit K for use therewith.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7299665 *Mar 19, 2004Nov 27, 2007Lg Electronics Inc.Lift for drum-type washing machine
US8281622 *Feb 6, 2008Oct 9, 2012Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Drum washing machine and washing method thereof
US20100011611 *Jul 16, 2009Jan 21, 2010Min-Ji KimMethod for controlling fragrance spray for clothes dryer
Classifications
U.S. Classification8/149.3, 68/28, 68/5.00C, 68/58, 68/207, 8/158, 8/149.2
International ClassificationD06F39/02, D06F58/20, D06F43/00
Cooperative ClassificationD06F58/203, D06F39/02, D06F43/00
European ClassificationD06F58/20B, D06F39/02, D06F43/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 28, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: STEINER ATLANTIC CORP., FLORIDA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:STEINER, WILLIAM K;STEINER, MICHAEL SCOTT;REEL/FRAME:015634/0222
Effective date: 20041230