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Publication numberUS3650673 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 21, 1972
Filing dateNov 24, 1969
Priority dateNov 24, 1969
Also published asCA951460A, CA951460A1, DE2054845A1
Publication numberUS 3650673 A, US 3650673A, US-A-3650673, US3650673 A, US3650673A
InventorsEhner William J
Original AssigneeGen Electric
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Dry wash fabric cleaning method and apparatus
US 3650673 A
Abstract
A method for cleaning soil from fabrics, whereby the fabrics to be cleaned are tumbled together with a quantity of water, detergent and transfer agent. The transfer agent comprises a material having a large surface area per unit mass, and the water comprises a quantity sufficient only to dampen the fabrics. The tumbling causes the water, the detergent and the transfer agent to contact the fabrics, and causes soil from the fabrics to be distributed over the combined exposed surface areas of the fabrics and the transfer agent. Subsequently, the soiled transfer agent is separated from the fabrics, whereby the fabrics are cleaned of the soil distributed onto the transfer agent. An improved domestic automatic clothes dryer is provided for performing therein the aforementioned method.
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[ 1 Mar. 21, 1972 Primary Examiner -walter A. Scheel Assistant Examiner-Philip R. Coe

Attorney.lames E. Espe, Harry F. Manbeck, Jr., Frank L. Neuhauser, Oscar B. Waddell and Joseph B. Forman ABSTRACT A method for cleaning soil from fabrics, whereby the fabrics to be cleaned are tumbled together with a quantity of water, detergent and transfer agent. The transfer agent comprises a material having a large surface area per unit mass, and the ...D06l 1/02 water comprises a quantity sufficient only to dampen the 28 fabrics. The tumbling causes the water, the detergent and the transfer agent to contact the fabrics, and causes soil from the fabrics to be distributed over the combined exposed surface areas of the fabrics and the transfer agent. Subsequently, the

soiled transfer agent is separated from the fabrics, whereby the fabrics are cleaned of the soil distributed onto the transfer agent. An improved domestic automatic clothes dryer is provided for performing therein the aforementioned method.

6 a m 3 trsv rsf e rs METHOD AND APPARATUS Inventor: William J. Ehner, Louisville, Ky.

Assignee: General Electric Company Filed: Nov. 24, 1969 [2]] Appl. No.: 879,315

United States Patent Ehner [54] DRY WASH FABRIC CLEANING Dixon et al. Datlow et l4- [51] Int.Cl.......

[58] FieldofSearch........,...........

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Patented March 21, 1972 3,650,673

2 Sheets-Sheet l FIG,

INVENTOR. W\LLSAM I EHNER.

HIS ATTORNEY Patented March 21, 1972 BLOWER 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 PAUS E HEATERS INVENTOR.

WlLLlAM I EHNER BY Ems ATTORNEV BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to a fabric cleaning process and, more particularly, to a fabric cleaning process adapted to clean, with a limited amount of water, many of fabrics of the type which are commonly laundered in domestic automatic washing machines.

The prevailing method of washing fabrics automatically today provides for the submersion of the fabrics in a large volume of water containing soap or other detergents, agitation of the fabrics therein to loosen and remove soil, extraction of the soiled liquid from the fabrics, and one or more submergence rinsings of the fabrics in a large volume of clean water. However, despite the overwhelming acceptance of this method of submergence washing, the process has a number of significant drawbacks. In the first place, in order to perform the operation automatically, a relatively costly machine is required. Although the reliability and operating life of automatic clothes washers has been greatly increased in recent years through significant inventive engineering advances, there are nonetheless a variety of complex water supply, circulation and drainage systems as well as reversible motor, transmission and drive train parts, vibration isolation components, and control mechanisms which are subject to failure, yet which are essential to the automatic performance of the accepted washing process.

A further drawback of the submergence fabric washing process is its requirement of large quantities of water, usually heated. The average washing cycle today employs over 40 gallons of water heated to approximately l20 F. Consequently, in the household of a large family where the automatic washer completes one or more cycles every day, the required expenditure for water, water heating, and sewer connection can be quite significant.

In view of these problems and drawbacks inherently encountered with the method of submergence washing, it is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved method of cleaning fabrics which requires only a limited amount ofwater which may be unheated.

[t is a further object to provide such a process which may be performed in an appropriately modified automatic dryer, thereby obviating the complex washing systems of an automatic washer.

It is another object of my invention to provide a newand improved process for cleaning fabrics which is effective to reduce or remove certain stains which may be resistant to ducted in a domestic washing machine.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Briefly stated, in accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of cleaning soil from fabrics whereby the fabrics are tumbled together with a quantity of water, detergent and transfer agent. The transfer agent preferably comprises a material having a large surface area per unit mass, and the water comprises a quantity sufficient only to dampen the fabrics. The tumbling causes the water, the detergent and the transfer agent to contact the fabrics, and causes soil from the fabrics to be distributed over the combined surface areas of the fabrics and the transfer agent. Subsequently, the soiled transfer agent is separated from the fabrics, whereby the fabrics are cleaned of the soil distributed onto the transfer agent.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided an improved apparatus for carrying out the aforesaid method, this apparatus comprising a domestic automatic clothes dryer of the type arranged for drying clothes by tumbling them in an enclosure rotatable about a non-vertical axis. By my invention theclothes dryer includes selectively energizable means adapted to heat and circulate a stream of moving air through the enclosure to carry moisture away from the fabrics. In carrying out the cleaning method in this apparatus, the fabrics to be cleaned are placed into the rotatable enclosure along with a quantity of water, detergent and transfer agent. The transfer agent preferably comprises a material having a large surface area per unit mass, and the water comprises a quantity sufficient only to dampen the fabrics. The enclosure is then rotated with the air heating and circulating means substantially deactivated, whereby the fabrics, water, detergent and transfer agent are tumbled together with no substantial drying of the fabrics. The tumbling causes soil from the fabrics to be distributed over the combined surface areas of the fabrics and transfer agent. Subsequently, the soiled transfer agent is separated from the fabrics, whereby the fabrics are cleaned of the soil distributed onto the transfer agent.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matterwhich is regarded as the invention, it is believed the invention will be better understood from the following description of the preferred embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the clothes dryer adapted to clean fabrics according to the method of my invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic electric circuit diagram illustrating a control circuit for the dryer of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a sequence control chart illustrating the positions of the switches in the circuit of FIG. 2 during the sequence of operation of the machine of FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In accordance with one primary aspect of my invention, a new and improved method is provided for cleaning soil from fabrics. By the term soil I refer both to oleophobic oil-like materials such as body oils, cooking oils, and greases as well as particulate substances such as clay, sand, dust, grit, pumices, and the like which are substantially non-organic in nature.

The cleaning of fabrics in accordance with my new and improved method, hereinafter called the dry wash method, employs only a limited quantity of water sufficient to dampen the fabrics. Although heated water may be employed, the process may be performed with unheated water. By the term dampen I mean wetting the fabrics to a condition where there is some free water present on their surfaces during the cleaning process. The free water should be present in an amount sufficient to' give mobility to the detergent employed in the cleaning process so that it is distributed across all of the fabric and transfer agent surfaces. In this regard, a quantity of water equal to 50 to percent of the dry weight of the fabrics has been found to be sufficient, depending upon the type of fabric being cleaned. In terms'of more visual quantities, approximately three pints of water may be used per 3 pound load of cotton fabrics to be cleaned.

To augment the wetting action of the water and to assist in loosening and lifting soil from the fabrics, a quantity of detergent is employed in the dry wash process. The detergent used may comprise a commercially available or a specially formulated liquid or powdered detergent which may have additives such as, for example, germicides, optical brighteners, deodorants, etc. One such commercially available liquid detergent which has performed successfully in the dry wash process is Cinch, manufactured by Proctor & Gamble. In quantity 75 grams of Cinch used with three pints of water per three pound fabric load has been found to perform adequate- 1y.

It will be noted that 75 grams of detergent such as Cinch used with 3 pints of water provides a substantially higher detergent concentration than is used in conventional submergence washing operations. In other words, an important aspect of my invention is that the fabrics are subjected to a detergent concentration which is many times that of the normal submergence washing operation wherein, in one typical example, approximately the same amount of detergent, i.e., 75 grams, will be used with gallons of water. in addition to providing good soil removal, the high detergent concentration has the further advantage that certain stains which may be resistant to normal submergence washing are reduced or removed by my cleaning method.

In order to clean fabrics, the dry wash process relies on the use of a transfer agent. The transfer agent, which ideally comprises a material having a large surface area, is brought into repeated contact with the fabrics to effect the release of soil therefrom and the distribution of such soil onto the combined surface areas of the transfer agent and the fabrics. The transfer agent acts both as a scrubbing medium to aid in releasing soil from the fabrics and as a receiving medium for retaining a significant portion ofthe soil so released.

The repeated contact of the transfer agent and fabrics may be readily accomplished by tumbling together the fabrics, the water, and the detergent in contact with the transfer agent in an enclosure rotatable about a non-vertical axis, such as the drum of a horizontal axis domestic automatic clothes dryer. in accordance with another aspect of my invention, an automatic dryer having appropriate improvements enabling it to carry out the dry wash method will be described later in this specification.

In my presently preferred method, the transfer agent comprises a medium which is tumbled together with the fabrics thereby to cause the repeated contact therebetween. A number of materials may be utilized as transfer agents, it being important, however, that the material employed have a relatively high surface area per unit mass and that it have a compatible affinity for the soil to be cleaned from the fabrics such that the soil can be picked up by the transfer agent. As will be apparent, the operation of the transfer agent may be augmented by appropriate treatment to increase its affinity for soil. Furthermore, the transfer agent may be either re-usable or throwaway as convenience may dictate. Obviously, if the transfer agent is sufficiently inexpensive to be disposed of I after a single use, the problem of purging the transfer agent for reuse is obviated.

It will he understood that the transfer agent used may be selected so as to lend itself to automatic separation, whereby the complete dry wash process may then be performed automatically and may also be performed automatically in sequence with other fabric laundering cycles such as the dry rinse method disclosed in an application Ser. No. 879,031 filed concurrently herewith by L. Loeb and assigned to the assignee ofthe instant invention.

Materials which have been successfully tested as transfer agents are terrycloth swatches, foamed rubber and foamed plastic blocks and particles of various configurations, sponges and the like. A transfer agent which appears to be advantageous for use in connection with the dry wash and dry rinse processes is polyethylene foam, as taught in two applications Ser. No. 879,033 (Docket No. 9D-HL-94ll DePas) by L. A. DePas and Ser. No. 879,034 (Docket No. 9D-HL-9473 Henderson) by B. D. Henderson (US. Pat. No. 3,593,544), both applications being filed concurrently herewith and assigned to the assignee of the instant invention. As pointed out in the DePas and Henderson applications, polyethylene foam has the advantage of being heat shrinkable, whereby, the soiled transfer agent, once separated from the fabrics, may be significantly reduced in volume by heat shrinking to facilitate its disposal.

In connection with a 3 pound load of fabrics, one-eighth pound of polyethylene cubes measuring one-fourth inch on each side have been used successfully. By volume, this quantity of transfer agent may be better visualized as approximately 2 quarts ofsmall, resilient foamed cubes.

Another manner of bringing the fabrics into contact with the transfer agent is to affix the transfer agent to the inner surface of the fabric enclosure. For example, appropriate portions of the inner drum surface may be covered with a removable sheetlike transfer agent. Then as the drum is rotated, the fabrics are broughtinto repeated contact with the transfer agent during their random tumbling in the drum.

In the performance of the dry wash method, the fabrics may be inserted into the drum of a horizontal axis domestic automatic dryer, having certain improvements to be explained later, along with the water, detergent and transfer agent. The dryer drum or enclosure is then rotated whereby a tumbling action is imparted to the fabrics thereby causing the water, detergent and transfer agent to contact the fabrics, and causing soil from the fabrics to be distributed over the combined exposed surface areas of the fabrics and the transfer agent. The larger the surface area of the transfer agent, the greater the amount of soil which will be removed from the fabrics and distributed onto the transfer agent. By such distribution of the soil, areas of soil concentration on the fabrics are substantially eliminated. Also due to the high detergent concentration and the repeated contact between the fabrics and the transfer agent, many stains on the fabrics, if not all such stains, will be reduced or removed.

It will be realized that my new and improved method of cleaning fabrics does not utilize the water and detergent solution as a carrier to pick up and hold the soil from the fabrics, and subsequently carry it to drain. Rather, the dry wash method utilizes the water and detergent to dampen the fabrics and loosen the soil, thereby permitting a thorough distribution of the soil to be effected over the combined surface areas of the fabrics and the transfer agent by repeated contact of the fabrics with the transfer agent and with other fabric portions. By this method, although a quantity of the soil will be left on the fabrics, it will be substantially reduced from the original quantity and will be distributed so as to leave no objectionable areas of soil concentration.

Subsequent to such tumbling, the soiled transfer agent is then separated from the fabrics, whereby the fabrics are cleaned of the soil distributed onto the transfer agent. Such separation may be accomplished by mechanical means designed to accommodate the particular transfer agent used, or by manually removing the fabrics from the transfer agent. One such automatic approach will be discussed later in connection with a particular domestic automatic drying apparatus.

In accordance with another aspect of my invention, the fabrics may be subsequently dried by tumbling the fabrics in the enclosure while circulating warm dry air therethrough. Such a subsequent drying step readily lends itself to performance in a domestic automatic clothes drying machine, a number of modifications and improvements to the machine are essential. To better enable one skilled in the art to understand the method of my invention, reference is made to the drawings, and initially to FIG. 1 where there is illustrated a domestic automatic clothes dryer 10 including an appearance and protective outer cabinet 11 having a door or closure 12 to provide access to the interior of the cabinet for loading and unloading fabrics. Provided on the top 13 of cabinet 11 is a control panel 14 which may, in a conventional way, include a suitable manual control 15 connected to a control assembly 16 mounted in the panel 14. By manual setting of control 15, the machine may be caused to start and automatically proceed through a cycle of operation.

Within cabinet 11, there is provided a clothes tumbling enclosure or drum 17 mounted for rotation on a substantially horizontal axis. Drum 17 is substantially cylindrical in shape, having a center cylindrical wall portion 18, and outer cylindrical wall portions 19 and 20, located respectively adjacent an annular front wall 21 and a circular rear wall 22 of the drum. Wall portions 18, 19, 20 are substantially imperforate to enable the drum or enclosure 17 to hold a depth of approximately 1 inch of liquid. On the interior surface of wall portion 18 there are a plurality of clothes tumbling ribs 23 so that clothes are lifted up when the drum rotates, and then permitted to tumble back down to the bottom of the drum. The front of the drum 17 may be rotatably supported within outer casing 11 by by suitable idler wheels, one of which is indicated by themmeral 24. These wheels are rotatably secured to the top of a member which extends up from the base 26 of the machine. The wheels 24 are disposed beneath the drum, in contact with portion 19, so as to support the portion 19 on each side to provide a stable support.

The rear end of drum 17 receives its support by means of a stud'shaft 27 extending from the center of wall 22. Shaft 27 is secured within a bearing 28 formed in a battle structure 29 which, in turn, is rigidly secured to the back wall 30 of the cabinet 11 by any suitable means such as welding at a number of points 31. With the arrangement shown the drum may rotate on a horizontal axis, with rollers 24 providing the front support and stub shaft 27 Within bearing 28 providing the rear support.

In order to provide for the flow of a stream of drying air through the clothes drum, it is provided with a central aperture or opening 32 in the front wall 21 and a plurality of perforations 33 in the rear wall 22. The perforations 33 in the present case are formed to extend around the rear wall in an annulus. The opening 32 is in alignment with the opening in cabinet 11 covered by door 12, and thus serves a dual purpose in that it also provides access to drum 17 for loading and unloading fabrics.

As has been stated, baffle structure 29 is rigidly secured to the back wall 30 of cabinet 11. Baffle structure 29 also serves to support heating means 34 which includes two resistance type electrical heating elements 35 and 36, appropriately insulated from the baffle member. Elements 35 and 36 may be annular in shape so as to be generally coextensive with perforations 33 in drum 17. A baffle member 37 is rigidly secured to the rearwall 22 of the drum 17 outside the ring of perforations 33 and within the stationary baffle structure 29, so that an annular air inlet 38 is defined by baffles 29 and 37. In this manner a passage is formed for air to enter air inlet 38 between the baffles, pass over the heating means 34, and then pass through centally located openings 39 formed in baffle 37 and perforations 33 into the interior of drum 17.

i The front opening32 of the drum is substantially closed by means of a stationary bulkhead generally indicated by numeral 40. Bulkhead 40 is made up of a number of adjacent members including the inner surface 41 of the access door 12, a stationary frame 42 formed as a flange on front wall 43 of the cabinet, the inner surface of an exhaust duct formed by the cooperation of member 44 and the front wall 43 of the cabinet, and an annular flange 45 mounted on the frame 42 of the front wall 43. It will be noted that a suitable clearance is provided between the inner edge of aperture 32 and the edge of bulkhead 40 so that there is no rubbing between the drum and the bulkhead during rotation of the drum. In order to prevent substantial air leakage through the aperture 32, a

suitable ring seal 46 is secured to the flange 45 in sealing relationship with the exterior surface of the drum wall 21. Door 12, whose inner surface forms part of the bulkhead closing the opening, is mounted on cabinet 11 so that when the door is opened fabrics may be inserted into and removed from the drum through the door frame 42. It will be noted that the door includes an outer, flat imperforate section 47 and an inwardly extending hollow section 48, mounted on the-flat outer section. l-Iollow section 48 extends into the door frame 42 when the door is closed, and the door surface 41 which comprises part of the combination bulkhead 40 is actually the inner wall of the hollow section.

The air outlet from the drum is provided by a perforated opening 49 formed in the inner wall 41 of hollow door section 48. The bottom wall section of door 12 and the adjacent wall of door frame 42 are provided with aligned openings 50 and 51, opening 51 providing an entrance to a duct 52 formed by the cooperation of member 44 with front wall 43. A lint trap 53 may be positioned in the exhaust duct 52 within Opening 51 and supported by the door frame 42. Duct 52 leads downwardly and communicates with a housing 54. Housing 54 contains a blower 55 driven by motor 56 through clutch 57.

The blower draws heated air through the duct 53 and then ex hausts it from the cabinet 11 through an appropriate duct (not shown).

In addition to driving the blower, motor 56 constitutes the means for effecting rotation of drum 17. In order to effect this rotation, motor 56 is provided with a shaft 58 having a small pulley 59 formed at one end thereof. A belt 60 extends around the pulley 59 and also entirely around the wall section 18 of drum 17..The relative circumferences of the pulley 59 and the wall section 18 cause the drum to be driven by the motor at a speed suitable to effect tumbling of fabrics in the drum. In order to effect proper tensioning of the belt 60, a suitable idler assembly 61 is secured to the same support 62 which supports one end of the motor. Thus, air is pulled through the drum and, at the same time, the fabrics within the drum are tumbled. When the air is being heated by heating elements 35 and 36, the heated air passing through the drum causes vaporization of the moisture from the clothes, the vapor is carried off with the air as it passes out of the machine.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there is shown a schematic electric circuit diagram illustrating a basic or simplified control arrangement for the dryer of FIG. 1. It will be understood that many refinements such as temperature selection means, multiple cycle selection means, and fabric temperature or resistance responsive control means for automatically concluding the operation of the dryer, etc., have not been shown in the circuit of FIG. 2 for the sake of simplicity. As shown, the entire control system of the machine may be energized across a three-wire power supply system which includes supply conductors 63 and 64 and a neutral conductor 65. For domestic use, conductors 63 and 64 will normally be connected across a 230 volt power supply, with 1 15 volts appearing between the neutral line 65 and each of the conductors, and with the neutral line being at ground voltage. Motor 56, connected between conductors 63 and 65, is a single phase induction motor having a main winding 66 and a start winding 67, both connected at a common end to a conductor 68. Through a conventional door switch 69 (which is closed when door 12 is closed and open when the door is open) conductor 68 is connected to conductor 65.

Start winding 67 is connected in parallel with main winding 66 under the control of a speed responsive device such as that shown at 70, which is schematically shown as connected to rotor 71 of the motor. The speed responsive device controls a switch 62 which is engageable with either a contact 73 or a contact 74. Switch 72 is engaged with contact 73 when the machine is at rest, and moves into engagement with contact 74 as the motor comes up to speed. It can readily be seen that engagement with contact 73 connects the start winding 67 in parallel with main winding 66, which movement of switch 72 away from this position opens the start winding. Thus, as rotor 71 comes up to speed, the start winding becomes deenergized and the motor then continues to run on the main winding 66 alone.

The starting of the motor is provided by a manually operable switch 75 which may, for instance, in the structure of FIG. 1, be moved to its closed position by depressing manual control 15. Switch 75 connects the motor to supply conductor 63 through contact 76 of a switch 77. The switch 75 is normally biased to the open position as shown in FIG. 2. When control 15 is depressed, assuming contacts 76 and 77 are closed, energization of the motor 56 is provided and, within less than a second under normal circumstances, the motor comes up to speed so that switch 72 moves from contact 73 to contact 74.

cam 78 is controlled by the timer motor 79 and, after a predetermined period of operation of the timer motor, the cam is effective to cause switch 77 to be opened for terminating or interrupting the operation of the machine.

An energizing circuit is also completed for heating means 34 through the following circuit. Starting at conductor 63, the circuit proceeds through a switch 80 and a dryness sensing thermostat 81 to the heater 34, and then through a conventional safety thermostat 82, and through switches 83 and 84 to conductor 64. Switch 80 is controlled by a cam 85 which, in turn, is controlled by timer motor 79. Switch 83 is controlled by a solenoid 86 and is normally closed when solenoid 86 is not energized. Switch 84 is centrifugally responsive to the speed of rotor 71 and is closed only when motor 56 has come up to speed so that there can be no energization of the heating means 34 except when motor 56 if operating properly. Thermostat 81 is positioned so as to sense the temperature of the fabrics within drum 17, or a temperature which varies substantially directly with the clothes temperature. When the clothes are at a temperature which indicates dryness, thermostat 81 will open, deenergizing heater 34.

With the possible exception that the wall portions 18, 19 and of drum 17 are imperforate, the foregoing description substantially sets forth the configuration and arrangement of known domestic automatic dryers.

In order to carry out the dry wash method of my invention in the machine of FIG. 1, it is necessary that the means adapted to heat and circulate air moving through the enclosure be selectively energizable. It is to be understood that during the dry wash cleaning cycle, it is desirable to deactivate or substantially disable both the air heating and air circulating means, so as to avoid undesirable evaporation of the limited amount ofwater used to wet the fabrics.

Therefore, according to one aspect of the present invention, control means are provided which are adapted to disable the air circulating means or blower 55 and the heating means 34 so as to selectively permit the rotation of the drum or enclosure 17 with or without the flow of heated air therethrough. Such control means, in the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, comprises solenoid 86 connected on one side to neutral conductor 65, and on the other side through a switch 87 to conductor 63. The switch 87 is controlled by a cam 88 which, in turn, is controlled by timer motor 79. Solenoid 86 operates an armature 89 which, when solenoid 86 is energized, disconnects motor 56 from blower 55 by means of clutch 57, and which simultaneously opens switch 83. Thus, when solenoid 86 is energized, blower 55 and heating means 34 are deenergized.

As may best be seen in FIG. 1, clutch 57 comprises two frictionally engageable members 90 and 91, member 90 being connected to output shaft 58 of motor 56, and member 91 being connected to blower 55. Members 90 and 91 are normally held in driving engagement by means of compression spring 92. However, when armature 89 is moved inwardly of solenoid 86 by energization of solenoid 86, lever 93 pivoted at 94 and attached to armature 89 by link 95 operates to move member 90 out of engagement with member 91, thereby disengaging blower 55 from motor 56.

It will be apparent that a number of other systems may be provided to deenergize or substantially disable the air heating and circulating means. A valve means, for instance, could be installed in the air flow line at the inlet or outlet of the blower, or the air flow could be diverted from circulating through the drum. A variety of such modifications will be apparent to one skilled in the art. Furthermore, if very cold water is introduced initially into the dryer drum 17, it may be desirable to provide heat to the dryer drum to bring the temperature thereof into the desirable range for cleaning. To accomplish this, a separate heater may be provided or heating means 34 may be used with suitable controls.

In operation, the machine of FIG. 1 may be programmed to perform the entire cleaning, transfer agent separation, and drying functions, or separate ones of such functions. Cams 85 and 88 may be so designed such that during the cleaning function, switch 87 is closed causing solenoid 86 to deenergize blower 55 and heating means 34, while during the drying operation, switch 87 is open and switch is closed. By this arrangement, as may be better seen in FIG. 3, the blower 55 is deenergized duringcleaning but operates continuously during drying, while the heating means 34 is deenergized during cleaning and selectively energized during drying under the control of sensing means 81.

In order to perform the dry wash process ofmy invention in the machine of FIG. 1, the fabrics to be cleaned are placed into drum 17 along with the aforedescribed quantity of water, detergent and transfer agent. Control 15 is then moved to initiate operation of the machine in the dry wash mode wherein heating means 34 and blower 55 are deactivated during rotation of drum 17. The fabrics, water, detergent and transfer agent are thereby tumbled together causing soil and detergent from the fabrics to be distributed over the combined surface areas of the fabrics and transfer agent, as previously described. Following this tumbling operation, separation of the transfer agent may be accomplished automatically during the initial portion of the drying operation. By way of illustration, if the transfer agent being used is fir-inch cubes of polyethylene foam, such cubes are sufficiently buoyant to be carried out of drum 17 by the initiation of air circulation therethrough, whereafter such cubes may be caught in lint trap 53 or the like. In the alternative, such separation may be performed manually between the cleaning and drying operatrons.

From the foregoing description it should now be apparent that my new and improved dry wash method may be readily carried out in a domestic automatic clothes dryer having the improvements presented herein.

As will be evident from the foregoing description certain aspects of the invention are not limited to the particular details of the examples illustrated, and it is therefore contemplated that various other modifications or applications will occur to those skilled in the art. It is therefore intended that the appended claims shall cover such modifications and applications as do not depart from the true spirit and scope of the invention.

What I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States is:

l. A method of cleaning soil from fabrics, comprising the steps of:

placing the fabrics to be cleaned into a rotatable enclosure along with a quantity of transfer agent, detergent and water, wherein the transfer agent comprises a foamed plastic material having a large surface area per unit mass and the water comprises from 50 to percent of the dry weight of the fabrics and is sufficient only to dampen the fabrics;

rotating the enclosure so as to impart a tumbling action to the fabrics thereby causing the water, detergent and the transfer agent to contact the fabrics, and causing soil from the fabrics to be distributed over the combined surface areas of the fabrics and the transfer agent; and thereafter separating the soiled transfer agent from the fabrics,

whereby the fabrics are cleaned of the soil distributed onto the transfer agent.

2. The method of claim 1 additionally including the subsequent step of circulating warm dry air through the enclosure while tumbling the fabrics therein, whereby the fabrics may be brought to a desired condition ofdryness.

3. A method of cleaning soil from fabrics, comprising the steps of:

placing the fabrics to be cleaned into a rotatable enclosure;

inserting into the enclosure a mixture of water, detergent and transfer agent, wherein the transfer agent comprises a polyethylene foam material having a large surface area per unit mass, and the water comprises from 50 to 150 percent of the weight of the dry fabrics and is sufficient only to dampen the fabrics;

while tumbling the fabrics therein, whereby the fabrics may be brought to a desired condition of dryness.

5. A method of cleaning fabrics in a domestic automatic cloths dryer of the type arranged for drying fabrics by tumbling them in an enclosure rotatable about a non-vertical axis, and having selectively energizable means adapted to heat and circulate a stream of moving air through the enclosure to carry moisture away from the fabrics, the method comprising the steps of:

placing the fabrics to be cleaned into the rotatable enclosure along with a quantity of water, detergent and transfer agent, wherein the transfer agent comprises a foamed polyethylene material having a large surface area per unit mass, and the water comprises from 50 to percent of the dry weight of the fabrics and is sufficient only to dampen the fabrics; rotating the enclosure with the air heating and circulating means substantially deactivated whereby the fabrics, water, detergent and transfer agent are tumbled together;

the tumbling causing the water, the detergent and the transfer agent to contact the fabrics, and causing soil from the fabrics to be distributed over the combined surface areas of the fabrics and the transfer agent; and thereafter separating the soiled transfer agent from the fabrics,

whereby the fabrics are cleaned of the soil distributed onto the transfer agent.

6. The method of claim 5 additionally including the subsequent step of tumbling the fabrics in the rotatable enclosure with the air heating and circulating means energized whereby the fabrics may be brought to a desired condition of dryness.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3933425 *Jun 29, 1973Jan 20, 1976Henkel & Cie GmbhMethod of cleaning textiles
US3955920 *Mar 30, 1973May 11, 1976Henkel & Cie G.M.B.H.Washing process with acid monomer grafted cellulose fabric in bath to absorb metal cations hardening water
US4489455 *Nov 3, 1983Dec 25, 1984The Procter & Gamble CompanyMethod for highly efficient laundering of textiles
US4489574 *Oct 28, 1982Dec 25, 1984The Procter & Gamble CompanyApparatus for highly efficient laundering of textiles
US4555019 *Jun 22, 1984Nov 26, 1985The Procter & Gamble CompanyPackaged detergent composition with instructions for use in a laundering process
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US5006124 *Dec 15, 1989Apr 9, 1991Fmc CorporationWet processing of denim
US5190562 *Oct 6, 1989Mar 2, 1993Ocean Wash, Inc.Method for bleaching textiles
US5191668 *Jan 2, 1992Mar 9, 1993Whirlpool CorporationSpin method of rinsing fabric in a horizontal axis washer
US5191669 *Jan 2, 1992Mar 9, 1993Whirlpool CorporationSpin method of washing fabric in a horizontal axis washer
US5219370 *Jan 2, 1992Jun 15, 1993Whirlpool CorporationTumbling method of washing fabric in a horizontal axis washer
US5233718 *Jan 2, 1992Aug 10, 1993Whirlpool CorporationTumble method of rinsing fabric in a horizontal axis washer
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Classifications
U.S. Classification8/137, 8/158
International ClassificationD06F35/00
Cooperative ClassificationD06F35/00
European ClassificationD06F35/00