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Publication numberUS20070084000 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/249,297
Publication dateApr 19, 2007
Filing dateOct 13, 2005
Priority dateOct 13, 2005
Also published asCA2531589A1, CN1948598A
Publication number11249297, 249297, US 2007/0084000 A1, US 2007/084000 A1, US 20070084000 A1, US 20070084000A1, US 2007084000 A1, US 2007084000A1, US-A1-20070084000, US-A1-2007084000, US2007/0084000A1, US2007/084000A1, US20070084000 A1, US20070084000A1, US2007084000 A1, US2007084000A1
InventorsFlavio Bernardino, Mary Zeitler, Dale Mueller
Original AssigneeBernardino Flavio E, Zeitler Mary E, Mueller Dale E
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Stain removal process using combination of low and high speed spin
US 20070084000 A1
Abstract
An improved method for treating textiles such as clothing with a concentrated solutions in an automatic washer by alternating the speed of rotation of the automatic washer wash basket from a low spin speed to a high spin speed and applying the concentrated solution to the textiles when the wash basket is spinning at the low spin speed.
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Claims(28)
1. A method for laundering a textile wash load in an automatic washing apparatus comprising the steps of:
a. loading a textile wash load into a wash basket of the automatic washing apparatus wherein the wash basket is surrounded by a stationary wash tub;
b. introducing a volume of chemical solution into the wash tub;
c. rotating the washer basked relative to the stationary wash tub at a low spin speed;
d. applying at least a portion of the concentrated chemical solution to the textile wash load while the wash basket in rotating at a low spin speed; and
e. rotating the wash tub at a high spin speed.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein steps b-e are repeated at least once.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein steps b-e are repeated a pre-determined number of times.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein the volume of chemical solution is introduced into the stationary wash tub without wetting the textile wash load.
5. The method of claim 1 wherein applying step d is accomplished by withdrawing chemical solution from the wash tub, and spraying the withdrawn chemical solution onto the textile wash load.
6. The method of claim 5 wherein essentially all of the chemical solution is withdrawn from the wash tub and sprayed onto the textile wash load during step d.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein the low spin speed is a spin speed that applies less than 1 GPa of centrifugal force on the textile load.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the low spin speed is a spin speed wherein there is essentially no extraction of liquids from the textile wash load.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein the high spin is a spin speed that applies more than 1 GPa of centrifugal force on the textile wash load.
10. The method of claim 1 wherein the high spin speed is a spin speed that is sufficient to extract at least some interstitial chemical solution from the textile wash load.
11. The method of claim 1 wherein the chemical solution is a concentrated chemical solution including a chemical solution and water.
12. The method of claim 1 wherein the chemical solution is added directly to the wash tub.
13. The method of claim 1 wherein water is added into the wash tub following step e.
14. The method of claim 13 wherein water is added to the wash to in an amount sufficient to raise the level of chemical solution in the wash tub.
15. The method of claim 14 wherein the water raise is added in an amount this is sufficient to the level of chemical solution in the wash tub to a level selected from a predetermined level, a minimum detectable level, and a variable level wherein the variable level is established by adding water to the wash tub for a predetermined period of time.
16. The method of claim 1 wherein the application of chemical solution is halted while the wash tub is spinning at a high spin speed in step e.
17. The method of claim 1 wherein the concentrated chemical solution is applied to the textile wash load by spraying
18. The method of claim 1 wherein application step d is halted and the wash basket is spun at a low spin speed for a period of time sufficient to allow at least some of the concentrated chemical solution to sweep down through the textile wash load.
19. The method of claim 1 wherein the chemical solution is selected from the group consisting of detergents, textile pre-treatment solutions, bleaches, or fabric softeners.
20. The method of claim 1 wherein the concentrated chemical solution is a detergent and the method of laundering is a textile wash load pretreatment method.
21. The method of claim 1 wherein the concentrated chemical solution is bleach and the method of laundering is a bleach treatment method.
22. The method of claim 1 wherein the concentrated chemical solution is a fabric softener and the method of laundering is a fabric softening method.
23. A method for laundering a textile wash load in an automatic washing apparatus comprising the steps of:
a. loading a textile wash load into a wash basket of the automatic washing apparatus wherein the wash basket is surrounded by a stationary wash tub;
b. introducing a chemical into the wash tub and introducing water into the wash tub to form a concentrated chemical solution having a measurable level;
c. rotating the wash basket relative to the stationary wash tub at speed that applies less than 1 GPa centrifugal force on the textile wash load;
d. applying at least a portion of the concentrated chemical solution to the textile wash load while the wash basket in rotating at a low spin speed;
e. halting the application of the concentrated chemical solution to the textile wash load;
f. rotating the wash basket at a spin speed that applies greater than 1 GPa centrifugal force to the textile wash load;
g. halting the rotation of the wash basket at a speed that applies greater than 1 GPa centrifugal force to the textile wash load;
h. introducing water into the wash tub and admixing the water with the concentrated chemical solution until there is a measurable level of concentrated chemical solution in the wash tub; and
i. repeating steps c-e at least once.
24. The method of claim 23 wherein steps c-g are repeated a predetermined number of times.
25. The method of claim 23 wherein steps c-g are repeat steps until the textile wash load is saturated with concentrated chemical solution
26. The method of claim 25 wherein the textile wash load is saturated with the concentrated chemical solution when essentially no water needs to be added to wash tub in step f to form a detectable level.
27. The method of claim 23 wherein the measurable level is a minimum detectable level.
28. A method for laundering a textile wash load in a washing apparatus comprising the steps of:
a. loading a textile wash load into a wash basket of the washing apparatus wherein the wash basket is surrounded by a stationary wash tub;
b. introducing a predetermined volume of concentrated detergent solution into the stationary wash tub without wetting the textile wash load;
c. rotating the wash basket relative to the stationary wash tub at a low spin speed for a predetermined length of time;
d. applying a volume of the concentrated detergent solution to the textile wash load while the wash basket is rotating at a low spin speed by withdrawing concentrated detergent solution from the wash tub and directing the withdrawn concentrated detergent solution into the wash basket and into contact with the textile wash load;
e. interrupting application step d and accelerating the wash basket to a high spin speed; and
f. repeating steps c-e a predetermined number of times.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    This invention concerns improved methods for treating clothing articles with chemical solutions using an automatic washer.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Art
  • [0004]
    In order to improve the cleaning of clothing articles in automatic washers, consumers routinely apply cleaning chemicals such as detergents, bleaches, fabric softeners and cleaning enhancing chemicals to clothing articles before or after they are placed into automatic washers. Manufactures of automatic washers have attempted to improve automatic washing machine convenience and clothing cleaning performance by incorporating clothing pretreatment steps into automatic washer processes in order to eliminate the need for consumers to manually pretreat clothing articles.
  • [0005]
    Stain treatment processes based on spin and spray treatment of fabrics during the wash cycle are known. There are a number of commercially available automatic washers that are capable of pretreating clothing with cleaning chemicals. In general, such automatic washers attempt to saturate the fabric with a highly concentrated detergent solution in order to enhance the chemical removal of stains. This concentrated solution is obtained by combining a detergent with a smaller volume of water than the regular is used during wash process.
  • [0006]
    A technical hurdle that must be managed when pretreating fabrics with concentrated detergent solution is the potential risk of “suds lock”. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,507,053 and 5,219,270 disclose automatic washers that include stain pretreatment apparatuses or methods. Methods for dealing with suds lock issues caused by chemical pretreatment step are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,591,439, 6,584,811, 6,393,872, 6,269,666, 4,784,666 and 4,987,627. The specifications of each of these patents are incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0007]
    Despite the variety of automatic washer cleaning chemical treatment methods and apparatuses currently available, there remains a need for automatic washers that include features and that operate in a manner that improve the cleanability of clothing and textiles.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0008]
    One aspect of this invention are methods for laundering a textile wash load in a washing apparatus comprising the steps of: loading a textile wash load into a wash basket of the automatic washing apparatus wherein the wash basket is surrounded by a stationary wash tub; introducing a volume of chemical solution into the wash tub; rotating the washer basked relative to the stationary wash tub at a low spin speed; applying at least a portion of the concentrated chemical solution to the textile wash load while the wash basket in rotating at a low spin speed; and rotating the wash tub at a high spin speed.
  • [0009]
    Another aspect of this invention are methods for laundering a textile wash load in an automatic washing apparatus comprising the steps of: (a) loading a textile wash load into a wash basket of the automatic washing apparatus wherein the wash basket is surrounded by a stationary wash tub; (b) introducing a chemical into the wash tub and introducing water into the wash tub to form a concentrated chemical solution having a measurable level; (c) rotating the wash basket relative to the stationary wash tub at speed that applies less than 1 GPa centrifugal force on the textile wash load; (d) applying at least a portion of the concentrated chemical solution to the textile wash load while the wash basket in rotating at a low spin speed; (e) halting the application of the concentrated chemical solution to the textile wash load; (f) rotating the wash basket at a spin speed that applies greater than 1 GPa centrifugal force to the textile wash load; (g) halting the rotation of the wash basket at a speed that applies greater than 1 GPa centrifugal force to the textile wash load; (h) introducing water into the wash tub and admixing the water with the concentrated chemical solution until there is a measurable level of concentrated chemical solution in the wash tub; and (i) repeating steps c-e at least once.
  • [0010]
    In still another aspect, this invention includes methods for laundering a textile wash load in a washing apparatus comprising the steps of: (a) loading a textile wash load into a wash basket of the washing apparatus wherein the wash basket is surrounded by a stationary wash tub; (b) introducing a predetermined volume of concentrated detergent solution into the stationary wash tub without wetting the textile wash load; (c) rotating the wash basket relative to the stationary wash tub at a low spin speed for a predetermined length of time; (d) applying a volume of the concentrated detergent solution to the textile wash load while the wash basket is rotating at a low spin speed by withdrawing concentrated detergent solution from the wash tub and directing the withdrawn concentrated detergent solution into the wash basket and into contact with the textile wash load; (e) interrupting application step d and accelerating the wash basket to a high spin speed; and (f) repeating steps c-e a predetermined number of times.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0011]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a partially cut away automatic washer that includes features capable of performing embodiments of methods of this invention;
  • [0012]
    FIG. 2 is a diagram of an automatic washer that is useful for performing embodiments of methods of this invention;
  • [0013]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a chemical treatment method embodiment of this invention;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a chemical treatment method embodiment of this invention;
  • [0015]
    FIG. 5 is a block diagram of final washing step of a method embodiment of this invention; and
  • [0016]
    FIGS. 6A-6C are schematic diagrams of steps of an embodiment of a chemical treatment method of this invention.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE CURRENT EMBODIMENT
  • [0017]
    The present invention is directed generally to improved methods for cleaning textile wash loads in automatic washers. The methods use a combination of low and high wash basket spin speeds in order to saturate a textile wash load with a chemical solution to enhance textile wash load cleanability. The unique processing embodiments of this invention minimize the liquid volume required to saturate a textile wash load at a given spin speed and they may also minimize suds lock and splash risk. The use of a combination of low and high wash basket spin speeds in the methods of this invention enables the methods to be practiced using washing machines including relatively common hardware. Moreover, there is no need for the washing machine that it is capable of performing the methods of the invention to include splash shields or a sump. Nor is there is a need for concise system control of low water level in the wash tub in washing machines that practice the methods of this invention.
  • [0018]
    The present invention relates to methods for treating textiles with chemical solutions in an automatic washing machine in order to improve the washing machine performance—i.e., textile cleanability. In the methods of this invention, a chemical solution is intermittently applied to textiles loaded in a washing machine while the washing machine wash basket rotates alternatively at low and high spin speeds. Thereafter, the chemical solution may optionally remain in contact with textile wash load for a period of time before commencing or recommencing standard textile washing steps.
  • [0019]
    A washing machine 10 is generally shown in FIG. 1. Washing machine 10 includes a wash tub 12 with a vertical agitator 14 therein, a water supply 15, a power supply (not shown), an electrically driven motor 16 operably connected via a transmission 20 to the agitator 14 and controls 18 including a presettable sequential control device 22 for use in selectively operating the washing machine 10 through a programmed sequence of steps. An optional water level setting control 18 is provided for use in conjunction with control device 22. A fully electronic control having an electronic display (not shown) may be substituted for control device 22. The control device 22 is mounted to a panel 24 of a console 26 on the washing machine 10. A rotatable and perforate wash basket 28 is carried within wash tub 12 and has an opening 36 which is accessible through an openable top lid 30 of the washer 10.
  • [0020]
    A sump hose 40 is fluidly connected to a sump (not shown) contained in a lower portion of tub 12 for providing a fluid recirculating source. Recirculating fluid exits the sump via recirculating spray nozzle hose 48 which is fluidly connected to recirculating spray nozzle 32. An air dome 50 having a deepfill pressure sensor or transducer provides a pressure signal indicating when a minimum detectable amount of liquid is present in wash tub 12.
  • [0021]
    As described herein, a pressure sensor may be a pressure switch having predetermined pressure levels that, within certain limits, will provide one or more signals to control 22 that a certain pressure has been achieved. Depending on the presence or absence of such signals, the control will receive and store or process such information, as is well known. Alternatively, a transducer may be used to sense pressure and provide a signal of varying frequency or voltage to control 22 indicating the pressure levels detected.
  • [0022]
    The process of this invention will be discussed in the context of its operation in a vertical axis automatic washing machine as shown in several of the figures. However, the processes of this invention are equally applicable to horizontal or tilted axis washing machines. Moreover, the processes of this invention may be practiced in a variety of machines which may include, for example, different motor and transmission arrangements, pumps, recirculation arrangements, agitators, impellers, wash baskets, wash tubs, or controls so long as the arrangements are capable of accomplishing the processes of this invention.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a washing machine useful for performing methods of the present invention. Hot water inlet 11 and cold water inlet 13 are controlled by hot water valve 17 and cold water valve 19, respectively. Valves 17 and 19 are selectably openable to provide fresh water to feed line 60. A spray nozzle valve 21 is fluidly connected to feed line 60 for selectably providing fresh water to tub 12 when desired. This fresh water is delivered by fresh water spray nozzle 31 via fresh water hose 33. Valves 17 and 19 are openable individually or together to provide a mix of hot and cold water to a selected temperature.
  • [0024]
    Upon opening one or both of valves 17 and 19, fresh water is selectably provided to a series of dispenser valves via feed line 60. Valve 62 selectably directs fresh water into detergent dispenser 63. When fresh water is directed to detergent dispenser 63, it flows through dispenser 63 and into wash tub 12 thereby bypassing wash basket 28. Valve 64 selectably provides fresh water to bleach dispenser 65, and valve 66 selectably provides fresh water to softening agent dispenser 67.
  • [0025]
    The washing machine of FIG. 2 further includes a liquid recirculation system. In order to recirculate liquid, tub sump 41 collects liquid at the bottom of wash tub 12 and is fluidly connected to pump 23 by sump hose 40. For purposes of this invention, the term “wash liquid” refers to any liquid that is recirculated during operation of the washing machine, including, but not limited to any chemical solution concentrated or otherwise, rinse solutions, and so forth. Pump 23 is selectably operational to pump liquid from tub sump 41 via pump outlet hose 25 either to recirculating hose 27 or drain hose 29 depending on the position of bidirectional valve 30. Recirculating hose 27 directs recirculating wash liquid to recirculating spray nozzle 32 via recirculating spray nozzle hose 48 where it is directed towards the textile wash load located in wash basket 28.
  • [0026]
    Control 22 receives a static pressure signal from deepfill transducer dome 50 via lines 52 for signaling the level of wash liquid within wash tub 12 including signaling when a minimum detectable liquid level is reached, however the invention disclosed herein may be practiced using a liquid detection device other than a deepfill pressure dome. Control 22 is further operable to receive input signals via lines 49, including signals from valves 21, 62, 64 and 66 providing on and off times for these valves.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram of one process embodiment of this invention for treating textiles such as clothing in automatic washing machines with chemical solutions. In initial step 100, a textile wash load is placed into wash basket 28 of an automatic washing machine. Next, in step 105, wash tub 12 is filled with a chemical solution followed by the addition of fresh water into wash tub 12 in step 110. Wash tub 12 may be filled with the chemical solution in any manner that directs the chemical solution into wash tub 12 where it can be applied to the textile wash load with pump 23. In one embodiment, the chemical solution is located in wash tub 12 without contacting the textile wash load. In one method a chemical solution can be poured into wash basket 28 by the consumer and it can fall through perforations in wash basket 28 and into wash tub 12. The fresh water can similarly be directed into wash basket 28. In another method a chemical solution can be poured into a chemical dispenser such as detergent dispenser 63 where it can flow directly into wash tub 12 without contacting the textile wash load. Fresh water can similarly be added to wash tub 12 though dispenser 63 by opening valve 62. However, any method known in the art for placing a chemical solution and fresh water in wash tub 12 may be utilized in this step.
  • [0028]
    The term “chemical solution” is used herein to refer to any type of chemical cleaning solutions that are useful in cleaning textiles in automatic washing machines. Chemical solutions include, but are not limited to detergents, textile prewash solutions, bleaches, fabric softeners and any other known or future discovered chemicals that are useful in enhancing the cleaning of soiled textiles. Chemical solutions further include chemicals that are supplied in liquid form and chemicals that are supplied in dried form that are subsequently liquefied, suspended or dissolved in a liquid such as water.
  • [0029]
    The term “concentrated chemical solution” as used herein refers to chemical solutions, such as those described above, in undiluted form as well as to the chemical solutions that are diluted with diluents such as water. The term “concentrated chemical solutions” alternatively refers to chemical solutions that are used in concentrations that are greater than they would normally be used in standard textile wash processes.
  • [0030]
    When the chemical solution is a detergent, the concentrated detergent solution will typically include a mixture of water and detergent in which the detergent is present in an amount ranging from about 0.5% to about 4% or more by weight. The amount of detergent present in a concentrated detergent solution may be greater than about 4 wt %.
  • [0031]
    In step 120 of FIG. 3, the wash basket 28 is rotated or spun in relationship to the stationary wash tub 12 at a low spin speed. The concentrated chemical solution is applied to the textile wash load held in wash basket 28 as wash basket 26 is rotating at a low spin speed. The amount of chemical solution applied to the textile wash load in step 120 may vary from a fraction of the total amount available in wash tub 12 up to essentially all of the chemical solution available in wash tub 12. The amount of chemical solution applied in step 120 can be controlled in one embodiment, by applying the chemical solution to the textile wash load using a pump having a known volumetric feed rate and actuating pump for a predetermined period of time to apply a pre-calculated volume of chemical solution to the textile wash load. In another embodiment, wash tub 12 holds a chemical solution and water to form a concentrated chemical solution. In this embodiment, wash tub 12 holds a known and predetermined volume of concentrated chemical solution. Pump 23, which has a known flow rate, is actuated for a predetermined period of time during which essentially all of the available concentrated chemical solution is applied to the textile wash load. Essentially all of the available concentrated chemical solution refers to the total amount of chemical solution in wash tub 28 less the amount of concentrated chemical solution that is necessary to prevent pump 23 from cavitating from losing suction during the chemical solution application step.
  • [0032]
    The concentrated chemical solution may be applied to the textile wash load by any means known in the art for applying a liquid to textiles loaded in a wash basket. In one method, the concentrated chemical solution is directed by pump 23 to nozzles such as nozzle 32 of FIG. 2 so that the concentrated chemical solution can be sprayed directly on the textile wash load form a point above the wash load.
  • [0033]
    Wash basket 28 is preferably spun at a low spin speed for a predetermined period of time in step 120. The term “low spin speed” refers to a wash basket spin speed at which a chemical solution can be applied to the textile wash load such that there is essentially no axial extraction of the chemical solution from the textile wash load. In yet another embodiment, the low spin speed is a speed that applies less than one gravity of centrifugal force (less than 1 GPa) to the textile wash load.
  • [0034]
    In step 120, wash basket 28 is rotated at a low spin speed for a period of time. The period of time is generally a predetermined period of time that is set during the development of the washing machine and that is integral to the wash machine control program. In one embodiment of this invention, the predetermined period of time may change depending upon the designated textile load size (e.g. small or large), load type (e.g. delicates or cottons) and/or wash cycle designated by the washing machine user. The predetermined period of time during which wash basket 28 is a low spin speed and step 120 will generally range from a minimum of about 1 to a maximum of about 60 seconds with an alternative and narrower range of time from about 1 to about 20 seconds. The predetermined period of time can be greater or less than the values given above depending upon factors such as recirculation pump flow rate and the ability of pressure transducer to detect low water level.
  • [0035]
    In step 120 of FIG. 3, the application of concentrated chemical solutions may be interrupted before the wash basket spin speed is accelerated from a low spin speed to a high spin speed, or it may be interrupted during the acceleration step or shortly after the acceleration step is complete. It is preferred that the application of the concentrated chemical solution to the textile wash load in step 120 is interrupted before wash basket 28 is accelerated from a low spin speed to a high spin speed.
  • [0036]
    In step 130 of FIG. 3, the application of the concentrated detergent solution is interrupted and the wash basket spin speed is increased to a high spin speed where it is maintained for a predetermined period of time. One purpose of rotating wash basket 28 at a high spin speed is to extract some interstitial chemical solution from the textile wash load. Moreover, the high spin speed causes the wash load to move towards the peripheral wall of wash basket 28 and permits the chemical solution located on the outmost layer of textiles in the wash basket to migrate into the layers of the textile wash load closer to the wall of wash basket 28. For purposes of this invention, the term “high spin speed” means a spin speed that applies a centrifugal force greater than 1 GPa to the textile wash load. Alternatively, the term “high spin speed” refers to a spin speed that causes at least some axial movement of chemical solutions to the textile wash loads as shown in FIG. 6C.
  • [0037]
    The predetermined period of time during which wash basket 28 spins at a high spin speed is generally the time necessary to achieve one or more of the goals of the high spin speed mentioned above. In general, the predetermined time during which wash basket 28 spins at a high spin speed will range from about 1 to about 180 seconds or in the alternative in a range of time ranging from about 5 to about 30 seconds. Once the predetermined period of time is reached, the wash basket spin speed is reduced once again to a low spin speed in step 140.
  • [0038]
    Step 150 of FIG. 3 is an optional step in which the textile wash load is evaluated to determine whether or not the textile wash load is saturated with the chemical. Step 150 may be omitted entirely from the process shown in FIG. 4 in which case steps 110, 120, 130 and 140 would be repeated a predetermined number of times as shown in step 160 of FIG. 4 regardless of the resulting textile saturation. The predetermined number of times may be determined and preprogrammed based upon the user's selection of one or more wash parameters such as the type textile being washed, the temperature of the water, load size and so forth. In the embodiment of FIG. 4 where there is no endpoint testing, the loop ends when the last number of the predetermined number of iterations is complete in step 160 at which time the washing procedure, shown schematically in FIG. 5, commences.
  • [0039]
    If the process does include an endpoint testing step 150, then the textile wash load is evaluated for whether or not the endpoint has been achieved before selecting the subsequent process step. The endpoint can be evaluated by a variety of methods. For example, the endpoint can be reached when there is no more available concentrated detergent solution to apply to the textile wash load. Alternatively, the endpoint can be evaluated by measuring process parameters such as wash basket motor load, pump loads, and so forth to correlate the operational parameters with the degree of saturation of textile wash load. In FIGS. 3 and 4, when the endpoint or the proper number of iterations are reached, then the subsequent exposure and washing steps of FIG. 5 are commenced. In FIG. 3, if the endpoint is not reached, then steps 110, 120, 130 and 140 are repeated. In FIG. 4, if the iterations are not complete then steps 110, 120, 130 and 140 are repeated.
  • [0040]
    In some instances, the textile wash load may not be saturated with a chemical solution after the predetermined number of iterations are complete. Or, in the alternative, none or not enough of the chemical solution may remain in wash tub 28 to be applied to the textile wash load even though the predetermined number of iterations of step 160 has not been met. In second and subsequent iterations of the low spin speed high spin speed steps 120, 130 and 140, water may be added into wash tub 28 in step 110 to raise the liquid level of the wash tub to at least a minimum detectable level. Once the at least minimum detectable level of solutions is reached, water addition to the wash tub is halted and the chemical solution (now diluted) is applied to the textile wash load while the wash basket is spinning at low spin speeds in application step 120 by the methods discussed above.
  • [0041]
    In one embodiment of this invention, the chemical solution is a detergent solution that is used to pretreat textiles in order to improve their cleanability during normal washing procedures. In this embodiment, once the textile wash load is tested and determined to be saturated, or once the predetermined number of iterations of steps 120, 130 and 140 are reached in step 160 of FIG. 4, the steps shown in FIG. 5 are commenced.
  • [0042]
    In step 240 of FIG. 5, the textile wash load is allowed to remain in contact with the detergent solution for a predetermined exposure time. During this exposure time, the textile wash load is exposed to the chemical solution which interacts with stains and dirt in textile wash load. The exposure time has the effect of pretreating the stains and dirt in the textile wash load to facilitate their removal in subsequent washing steps. This is similar to applying pretreatment cleaning solutions to textiles before they are loaded into automatic washers. However, in the case of the present invention, the automatic washer itself performs the textile pretreatment without human intervention. The predetermined exposure time will generally range from about 1 to about 15 minutes. The wash basket including the textile wash load will generally remain at rest during step 240. However, wash basket 28 may optionally spin at low or high spin speeds either continuously or intermittently during this exposure time.
  • [0043]
    Once the predetermined exposure time duration has been reached, a predetermined volume of fresh water is introduced into the wash bucket in step 250. The predetermined volume of fresh water will be of volume that is sufficient to fill wash tub 12 with enough water so that the textile wash load can be agitated in a water filed automatic washer in a normal washing process. The pretreated textile wash load is agitated for a predetermined period of time in step 260 after which the detergent solution is rinsed from the load in step 270 to complete the pretreatment and textile wash steps.
  • [0044]
    FIGS. 6A-6C are schematic diagrams of several steps of a process embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 6A, a textile wash load is located in a perforated wash basket 28 associated with a wash tub 12. A chemical product is directed into the wash tub via dispenser 170. The washing apparatus may include one or more dispensers for the addition of chemicals into the washing machine. Water is then directed through dispenser 170 into wash tub 12 to fill wash tub 12 to a minimum detectable level. The “minimum detectable level” is preferably detected using a pressure transducer and it is defined as the minimum level of liquid in the wash tub that the transducer can detect. When the minimum detectable level is detected, a valve that allows for the addition of water into dispenser 170 is closed.
  • [0045]
    In FIG. 6B, the wash basket 28 is spun at a low spin speed of approximately 25 rpm for a wash basket having a diameter of about 500 mm. Chemical solution is pumped by a pump 23 from wash tub 12 through a conduit 172 and out a spray nozzle 176 which directs the solution at the textile wash load. The low spin speed is insufficient to force the chemical solution axially to the textile wash load so the solution permeates the textile wash load by gravity as shown in lines 179 of FIG. 6B. The chemical solution is recirculated and applied to the textile wash load for a predefined time that will not cause pump cavitation. The predefined time is premised upon knowing the volume of liquid necessary for the transducer to detect a minimum detectable level of the wash tub and also knowing the pump flow rate and the amount of volume of liquid that needs to remain in wash tub 12 in order to prevent pump cavitation.
  • [0046]
    In FIG. 6C, the spraying of the chemical solution onto the textile wash load is halted and wash basket 28 is spun at a high spin speed of about 280 rpm. The high spin speed causes at least a portion of the chemical solution to migrate axially through the textile wash load as shown in lines 178 of FIG. 6C. In most instances—depending on the size of the textile wash load—some of the chemical solution will disengage from the textile wash load and migrate back into wash tub 28. The steps shown in FIGS. 6A-6C may be repeated several times. In subsequent steps, additional chemicals and or water may be added into the wash tub. However, in most process embodiments only fresh water will be added into wash tub 28 to raise the wash tub water level of at least a minimum detectable level 180.
  • EXAMPLE 1
  • [0047]
    Table 1, below, summarizes the steps of a detergent pretreatment process. Table 2, below, summarizes the steps of a concentrated bleach treatment process.
  • [0048]
    In the stain removal pretreatment process of Table 1, the manufacturer's recommended amount of powdered or liquid detergent is added to the wash tub of the automatic washer via the detergent dispenser. Warm tap water is added to the wash tub through the main wash dispenser in step 3. The steps 1-13 of Table 1 embody a concentrated detergent stain removal pretreatment process of this invention.
    TABLE 1
    Description Drive
    of Motor Drive Motor
    Step Sequence Notes Action Profile Duration (Min:Sec)
    1 coast wait OFF
    speed = 0
    2 spin ON spin speed = 20; ramp = 30
    3 fill WL = 15 mm OFF
    4 recirc ON spin 0:15
    1 recirc OFF spin 0:20
    6 spin ON spin speed = 100; ramp = 7 0:20
    7 spin ON spin speed = 140; ramp = 80 0:15
    8 spin ON spin speed = 190; ramp = 90 0:15
    9 spin ON spin speed = 280; ramp = 90 0:25
    10 coast OFF
    11 spin ON LOOP: go spin speed = 20; ramp = 30
    back to step
    #3; repeat
    loop 3-11 5
    times then
    go to step
    12
    12 spin OFF OFF
    13 coast OFF
  • [0049]
    Table 2 summarizes the steps that occur during a concentrated bleach treatment process embodiment of this invention. The concentrated bleach treatment process is activated when the user of the automatic washing machine selects “whites” as the textile type on the control panel of an automatic washing machine. The manufacturer's recommended amount of bleach is added to the wash tub via the bleach dispenser. The concentrated bleach treatment process is performed following the main wash step in a standard washing machine.
    TABLE 2
    Description Drive
    of Water Motor Drive Motor Duration
    Step Sequence Notes Temp Dispenser Action Profile (Min:Sec)
    1 coast wait OFF
    speed = 0
    2 timed fill tap bleach OFF 0:05
    cold
    3 pause 0:30
    4 spin ON spin speed = 20; 0:05
    ramp = 30
    5 Fill fill up to ATC fresh
    WL = 15 mm hot water
    nozzle
    6 Recirc ON Refill wash ATC fresh spin 1:30
    tub to hot water
    minimal nozzle
    detectable
    level if the
    WL in the
    wash tub
    drops below
    15 mm (the
    minimum
    detectable
    level) within
    specified
    recirc. time
    7 Recirc spin
    OFF
    8 Drain ON spin 0:05
    9 spin ON spin speed = 100; 0:20
    ramp = 7
    10 spin ON spin speed = 140; 0.10
    ramp = 80
    11 Drain OFF spin 0:05
    12 Drain ON spin
    13 spin ON spin speed = 190; 0:15
    ramp = 90
    14 spin ON spin speed = 280; 0:25
    ramp = 90
    15 spin ON spin speed = 530; 0:05
    ramp = 40
    16 Drain OFF spin 0:05
    17 Drain ON spin 1:20
    18 coast OFF
    19 Drain OFF OFF
  • [0050]
    In Table 1 and/or Table 2: “WL” refers to water level wherein a water level of 15 mm refers to a height of 15 mm above the pressure dome which is set as the minimal detectable water level by the location of the pressure transducer; “ramp” refers to the time, in milliseconds, for the wash basket to accelerate to the identified “speed” or rpm; “recirc” indicates whether or not the recirculation pump that directs fluid from the wash tub sump through the recirculation line and to a spray nozzle directed at the textile wash load is off or on; “Coast” refers to the wash basket spinning on its own momentum without mechanical or electrical assistance; “Spin ON” or “spin OFF” refers to instances where the wash basket drive motor is activated “ON” to cause the wash basket to spin or deactivated “OFF”; “timed fill” refers to a step where a timed amount of water is added to the wash tub wherein the time identified is the time that the valve allowing fresh water to enter the wash tub is open. “ATC hot” refers to hot water having a temperature that is controlled automatically by the washer by controlling the amount of fresh hot and cold tap water that is allowed to enter the wash tub; “drain ON” or “drain OFF” refers to the valve to the drain being activated “ON” to direct fluid in the recirculation line to the drain, or “OFF” to close the valve leading to the drain.
  • [0051]
    These inventions disclosed herein may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from their spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is therefore indicated by the appended claims rather than the foregoing description. All changes within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within that scope.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification8/158, 8/159
International ClassificationD06F39/00, D06F35/00
Cooperative ClassificationD06F39/02, D06F39/088
European ClassificationD06F39/08S, D06F39/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 13, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BERNARDINO, FLAVIO E.;ZEITLER, MARY E.;MUELLER, DALE EDWARD;REEL/FRAME:017134/0062;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050929 TO 20050930