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Publication numberUS3730682 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 1, 1973
Filing dateJan 25, 1971
Priority dateJan 25, 1971
Also published asCA972178A, CA972178A1
Publication numberUS 3730682 A, US 3730682A, US-A-3730682, US3730682 A, US3730682A
InventorsB Brown, R Brubaker
Original AssigneeStaphex Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Sterilization system for clothes treating machines and method of using
US 3730682 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

May 1, 1973 BRU ET AL 3,730,682

SIERILIZATION SYSTEM FOR CLOTHES TREATING MACHINES AND METHOD OF USING Filed Jan. 25, 1971 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 ,Ww V 204 1973 R. D. BRUBAKER ET AL 3,730,682

STERILIZATION SYSTEM FOR CLOTHES TREATING MACHINES AND METHOD OF USING Filed Jan. 25. 1971 3 Sheets-Sheet 5 STERILIZATION WASH r SWITCH 96 SWITCH I02 CUT OUT AND SWITCH I30 IN SWITCH I06 CUT OUT INDICATOR LAMP AGITATOR 8 INNER TUB ROTATION FIG I /I5O I 98, ON :98, OFF

\/ \J STERILIZE WASH 4 WASH STERILIZE- 96a 30 IlZCI Y I20 U 08 -||8 I06 I JIIOG b 2b M -4D +/IIO -II2C us SHZe if? H4 United States Patent O 3,730,682 STERILIZATION SYSTEM FOR CLOTHES TREAT- ING MACHINES AND METHOD OF USING Robert D. Brubaker and Blanchard W. Brown, Albuquerque, N. Mex., assignors to Staphex Corporation Filed Jan. 25, 1971, Ser. No. 109,258 Int. Cl. A61! 1/00; D06f 39/00 US. Cl. 21-58 35 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A sterilization system for use with clothes treating machines which sterilizes the treating zones in the machines and the drain conduits connected thereto. An automatic sterilization cycle is initiated prior to each use of the machines whereby a sterilizing gas or aerosol or solution is distributed into the interior of the inner tub by a specially adapted nozzle. In combination with the spraying there may be used actuation of the agitator, inner tub, and drain pump of the machine to more thoroughly distribute the spray.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a sterilization system and more particularly to a sterilization system used in conjunction with clothes treating machines for sterilizing the surfaces of the treating zones of said machines along with the drain conduits connected to the treating zones.

Bacterial contamination of clothes treating machines has been a problem of long standing. The problem becomes acute in the coin-operated machines found in many laundry stores, apartment houses, etc., since they are intended to serve a varied cross-section of transient individuals, and since, for the most part, they tend to receive less sanitation maintenance than do the machines of private home owners.

Clinical studies tend to show that the bacteria count in a clothes treating machine is not significantly reduced by the detergents or the high water temperatures used during the normal washing cycle. As a result, the bacteria survive to contaminate subsequent loads of washing. In addition, the bacteria tend to accumulate, so that in many instances dangerously high bacteria levels are rapidly achieved.

Attempts to eliminate the bacterial contamination problem were initially directed toward adding some form of sterilization medium to the wash cycle of the machines. Subsequently, it was found that better results could be obtained by introducing an independent sterilization cycle. Still, however, the problem persisted. It was not recognized, for example, that certain surfaces of the treating zones of the clothes treating machines, as well as the drain conduits which retain a part of the washing cycle residue, continued to harbor a significantly high level of bacteria.

It has therefore become desirable to establish a system of sterilizing in which the treating zones and drain conduits and not just the clothes may be sterilized. By sterilizing the surfaces of the treating zones as well as drain conduits, potential bacterial supporting surfaces are substantially eliminated, and the corresponding bacteria levels brought within safe limits.

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OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is therefore a general object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines which substantially reduces the bacterial contamination associated therewith.

It is a particular object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which the treating zones of the machines are more thoroughly sterilized.

It is a further particular object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which the drain conduits connected with the treating zones are subjected to sterilization.

It is another particular object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which a part of the Washing cycle is duplicated and used to effect the more thorough sterilization of the surfaces of the treating zones.

It is still another particular object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which the sterilization medium in the form of a solution or aerosol is introduced into the treating zones through a nozzle and is acted upon by a treating zone nozzle adapter to effect a sterilization of the treating zones.

It is yet another particular object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which the sterilization medium in the form of a solution or an aerosol is introduced into the treating zones and is affected by a treating zone nozzle adapter, treating zone agitator and inner tub actuation, and drain pump actuation which synergistically cooperate to eifect a more thorough sterilization of the treating zones and the drain conduits connected thereto.

It is still another particular object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which the sterilization medium in the form of a solution or aerosol is introduced into the treating zones through a nozzle as a patterned spray to eflect a sterilization of the treating zones.

It is yet another particular object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which the sterilization medium in the form of a solution or aerosol is introduced into the treating zones through a nozzle as a patterned spray and is affected by treating zone agitator and inner tub actuation, and drain pump actuation which synergistically cooperate to efiect a more thorough sterilization of the treating zones and the drain conduits connected thereto.

It is still another particular object of the present invention to provide a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which the sterilization medium in the form of a gas is introduced into the treating zones and is affected by a treating zone agitator and inner tub actuation, and drain pump actuation which synergistically cooperate to effect a more thorough sterilization of the treating zones and the drain conduits connected thereto.

It is a related object of the present invention to provide a fluid delivery circuit for delivering a sterilization'mediurn in either liquid or gaseous form to the treating zones of the machines.

It is another related object of the present invention to provide means for initiating the functioning of a sterilization cycle electric timer circuit and to isolate said initiating means from effecting said circuit once said circuit is functioning.

A preferred embodiment of the present invention in: tended to accomplish at least some of the foregoing objects comprises a system adapted to service one or more clothes treating machines, including facilities for storing, delivering, distributing and controlling the delivery and distribution of a sterilization medium into the treating zone of a clothes treating machine and the drain conduits connected thereto.

The storage facility can be simply a reservoir, when the sterilization medium takes the form of a solution, or the storage facility can be a pressurized container, when the sterilization medium takes the form of a gas or an aerosol.

The delivering facility may include a fluid circuit connecting the storage facility to a control element of the clothes treating machine. The control element may be a solenoid valve which in turn is controlled by an electric timer circuit. The fiuid circuit is designed such that when the solenoid valve is energized by the timer circuit, sterilization medium will be caused to flow from the storage facility through the solenoid valve. The electric circuit will independently control opening and closing of the solenoid valve in response to circuit initiation. Opening of the solenoid valve will permit sterilization medium to flow from the delivering facility through the solenoid valve and into the treating zone via the distributing facility.

The distributing facility may include a nozzle within the treating zone. The nozzle may be adapted to disperse a portion of the sterilization medium which is in the form of a solution of aerosol, so that the dispersed portion and the remaining portion of the sterilization medium coact to sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone; or the nozzle may coact in at least one other combination with an agitator and inner tub located within the treating zone, and a drain pump, adapted to disperse a portion of the sterilization medium, to more thoroughly sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone and the drain conduit.

The nozzle of the distributing facility may alternatively be adapted to disperse all of the sterilization medium, which is in the form of a solution or aerosol, as a patterned spray, to sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone; or the nozzle may coact in at least one other combination with an agitator and inner tub, located within the treating zone, and a drain pump, adaped to disperse a portion of the sterilization medium, to more thoroughly sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone and the drain conduit.

The distributing facility may include a nozzle, which emits the sterilization medium to the treating zone in a gaseous form, and a drain pump coacting to sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone and the drain conduit; or the nozzle and drain pump may additionally coact with an agitator and inner tub, located within the treating zone, to more thoroughly sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone and the drain conduit.

The eletctric timer circuit includes an initiating element or switch which, when activated, commences the sterilization cycle. The sterilization cycle is adapted to duplicate or utilize a portion of the non-sterilization cycle of the clothes treating machine, such as the spinning portion thereof. Once the initiating means commences the sterilization cycle, it is isolated, as a result of a further adaptation of the electric timer circuit, from further affecting the sterilization or wash cycle.

The result is a sterilization system for clothes treating machines in which the treating zones and the drain conduits connected thereto are subjected to the influence of the sterilization medium thereby thoroughly sterilizing the llf l i l ill mwi llt I .4 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the subsequent detailed description thereof in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 diagrammatically shows the system of the present invention in which a bank of washing machines are being serviced by a constant pressurized pump delivery system which delivers the sterilization medium in solution form;

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic perspective view, partly in section, of a clothes treating machine showing the sterilization medium being deflected into a spray;

FIG. 3 is a somewhat diagrammatic view of a nozzle and adapter connection which serves to deflect a portion of the emitting sterilization medium into a spray and direct the remaining portion away from the nozzle and toward the agitator;

FIG. 4 diagrammatically shows an alternate embodiment of the sterilization system of the present invention in which the storage facility consists of a pressurized container from which a sterilization medium in gaseous form is delivered;

FIG. 5 shows an alternate embodiment of the storage facility and partial delivery facility of the present invention in which the storage facility is in the form of an aerosol container. The aerosol container may be adapted to service a bank of machines or can be attached to each machine individually;

FIG. 6 shows in functional diagram form the electrical circuit of the present invention;

FIG. 7 shows a partial wiring diagram of the timer control of the present invention with means to isolate the sterilization switch and to initiate part of a non-sterilizaion cycle;

FIG. 8 shows in graphic form the various segments of a sterilization cycle and its relationship with the washing cycle;

FIG. 9 is a somewhat diagrammatic view of an alternative nozzle arrangement which emits the sterilization medium as a patterned spray into the treating zone of the clothes treating machine; and

FIG. 10 is a transverse cross-sectional view of the alternative nozzle arrangement showing one angular relationship between the orifices.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Detailed structure of preferred embodiment Referring now more particularly to FIGS. 1 through 3, wherein like parts are indicated by like numerals throughout, there is shown in FIG. 1 one embodiment of the preferred form of the present invention.

The sterilization system 10 of FIG. 1 is arranged to service a bank of washing machines 12, such as would be found in a coin-operated laundry, etc., although it should be understood that only a single washing machine could, if desired, be serviced by the system.

The sterilization system includes a reservoir or storage facility 14 within which a sterilization medium in the form of a sterilizing or bacteria-destroying solution is stored, a delivering facility 16, and a distributing facility 18. The solution can be made using an additive such as, for example, one manufactured under the name of Ex-It by the Big D Chemical Company, Box 60126 NW. Station, Oklahoma City, Okla.

The delivering facility 16 establishes a pressure responsive fluid circuit between the reservoir or storage facility 14 and the distributing facility 18. The circuit includes a conduit 20 which delivers the sterilization medium from the storage facility 14 through header 26 and branch line 28 to one side of a solenoid valve 30 which is connected with each of the washing machines 12. A removal control in the form of a motor 22 and a pump 24., d i e y motor 22, serves as the motive force in the process of delivery of the sterilization medium from the storage facility 14 to the solenoid valve 30. A filter 34 is included in the circuit for filtering particulate solids suspended in the sterilization medium, thereby ensuring that a true soltuion is delivered to the treating zone 20 of the individual washing machines 12.

A pressure gauge 36 may be inserted in the circuit downstream from the filter 34. The gauge 36 provides a convenient means for determining the pressure level within the fluid circuit.

A pair of manual valves 38 and 40 are provided with one downstream and the other upstream of the filter 34. Valve 38 can be utilized whenever system maintenance is required or an emergency arises downstream of the valve. Valve 40 can be utilized to divert the flow through a return or bypass line 42 back to the reservoir or storing facility 14 whenever such diversion may be required. Such a diversion is required when the removal control is adapted for continuous functioning. Continuous functioning is preferred so that the resulting recirculation of sterilization medium, when the sterilizaiton cycle is not active, will ensure a more uniform solution before delivery through the circuit.

Pressure switch 44 is connected to storage facility 14 and control or junction b01148 of motor 22. When the sterilization medium in storage facility 14 falls below a predetermined level, the pressure switch 44 acts to de-energize motor 22. De-energizing motor 22 will in turn cause pump 24 to cease drawing sterilization medium from the storage facility 14.

An alarm (not shown) may be associated with pressure switch 44 to give an audible indication that the sterilization medium in the storage facility 14 is approaching the predetermined or replenishment level.

The distributing facility shown in 'FIGS. 1 through 3 completes the delivery of the sterilization medium to the treating zone 74 of washing machine 12. When a timer 50 opens solenoid valve 30, in a manner to be described hereinafter, sterilization medium proceeds from the outlet side of the solenoid valve, under the influence of line pressure. through feed line 32 to a nozzle assembly 52. The sterilization medium is emitted from a nozzle 54, of assembly 52, as a steam 66. An adapter assembly 56 which can be fabricated of sheet metal or the like, is connected in any conventional manner to nozzle 54. The adapter assembly includes a longitudinal stem portion 58 which partially conforms to the contour of the nozzle 54 and which extends beyond the orifice thereof. Assembly 56 also includes a transverse deflector disc portion 60. This portion 60 includes an annular rim 62 and a central aperture 64. The transverse disc portion 60 extends from that portion of longitudinal stem portion 58 which is beyond the orifice of nozzle 54. The central aperture 64 has a diameter less than the diameter of the emitting stream '66. In this way, When the emitting stream 66 comes into contact with the transverse disc portion, a part of said stream will impinge upon annular rim 62 creating thereby a transverse and upward spray 68. The' remaining part of the emitting stream 70 will proceed through central aperture 64 in the direction of agitator 72.

The agitator 72 may be enlisted to aid in the distribution of the sterilization medium within the treating zones 74. Actuation of the agitator 72 creates horizontal swirling air currents and vertical updrafts within the treating zone 74. A part of the remaining portion of the emitting stream 70 becomes suspended in the swirling air currents and the updrafts and is flung therebyagainst the surfaces of the treating zone 74.

As will be appreciated, the swirling updraft of air and suspended or dispersed sterilizing medium is achieved as a result of the joint rotation of the agitator 72 and tub 76 as would take place during the normal spin-dry cycle of a washing machine. This rotation, of course, will be directed so as to cause the blades 72a of the agitator as shown in FIG. 2 to rotate in a generally clockwise direction of rotation, as viewed when looking down through the open end of the machine, so as to induce the upward swirl or flow of air and suspended sterilization medium.

Inner tube 76 is actuated along with agitator 72. The surfaces of inner tub 76 are perforated so that a portion of the sterilization medium can proceed therethrough and against the surfaces of outer tube 78. Rotation of inner tub 76 insures that a more thorough sterilization of the surfaces of outer tub 7 8 takes place.

Drain pump 80 may also be enlisted during the distribution of the sterilization medium Within the treating zone 74. The drain pump 80 draws some of the emitting medium therethrough and into drain conduit 82. As is usually the case, drain conduit 82 has remaining therein a sufficient quantity of residue with a high bacteria count. By drawing some of the sterilization medium from treating zone 74 into drain conduit 82, the residue and drain are subjected to sterilization.

The agitator 72 and inner tub 7 6, and the drain pump 80 may be activated simultaneously or sequentially as desired.

Alternate embodiments Referring to FIG. 4, there is shown an alternate embodiment of the storage and the delivering facilities of the sterilization system of the present invention. In this embodiment the storage facility which contains the sterilization medium in gaseous form is in the form of a pressun'zed tank or cylindrical container 84. A pressure valve 86 controls the flow of the gaseous sterilization medium from container 84 into conduit 20. Once in the conduit 20, the gaseous sterilization medium proceeds in a manner similar to the sterilization solution of the system of FIG. 1 into the treating zone 74 of the washing machine 12. In this embodiment, the agitator 72, the inner tub 76, and the drain pump 80 may be utilized as in the embodiment of FIG. 1 with a similar effect. The agitator, inner tub and drain pump serve to more rapidly cause the aqueous medium to fill the treating zone 74.

Referring to FIG. 5, a third embodiment of the storage and delivering facilities of the present invention is shown. An aerosol container '88 is adapted with a metering valve 90 to deliver a predetermined quantity of sterilization medium in aerosol form to the treating zone 74 of washing machine 12. The aerosol container 8 8 is provided with an adapter body 92 which includes a valve actuator rod 94 responding to solenoid valve 30 for actuating metering valve 80. Although this embodiment is not shown as servicing a bank of Washing machines, it should be understood that the arrangement of the altemate systems of FIGS. 1 and 4 could be employed here as well. Within the treating zone 74, the adapter assembly 56, the agitator 72, the inner tub 76, and the drain pump 80 may be utilized as in the embodiment of FIG. 1 with a similar effect.

Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, another embodiment of the nozzle of the present invention is shown. In this embodiment the nozzle 200 is closed ended and includes a plurality of orifices 202 arranged to emit the sterilizzation medium as a patterned spray 204 which, in this embodiment, is directed toward and coacts with the agitator within the treating zone'.

As shown in FIG. 9, the orifice bearing tip portion 200a of the nozzle is located within a tub so as to ensure an effective dispersal of sterilization medium throughout the tub interior.

For example, in one machine (Blackstone Model BC- 325, with a 15 pound laundry capacity, a tub diameter of 22% inches and a tub volume of 3.77 cubic feet) it was found advantageous to locate the nozzle tip portion 200a about 6.5 inches laterally outwardly of the axis of tub rotation.

The tip portion 200a would also, in this example, be located about 15 inches vertically above the upwardly facing bottom surface of the tub interior. It is also contemplated in this example that the nozzle would be fabricated from A inch outside diameter polyethylene tubing and oriented so that the tip portion 2000 had a longitudinal axis extending generally parallel to the axis of tub rotation.

As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, in the presently contemplated example, the nozzle tip portion 2000 would be provided with a plurality of orifices 202'operable to direct sterilization medium toward the tub interior. As shown, five such orifices 2020, 202b, 2020, 202d and 202e may be provided. The orifices 202 are arrtnged so as to be generally symmetrical with respect to a radial plane passing through the axis of tub and agitator rotation and the central longitudinal axis of nozzle tip portion 2000.

In the arrangement illustrated, uppermost orifices 202b and 202d are each inclined relative to the symmetry plane by an angle ,6 lowermost orifices 202a and 202s are inclined outwardly with respect to the sym metry plane by an angle 5 and orifice 2020 is bisected by the symmetry plane.

Similarly, each of uppermost orifices 202b and 202d may be inclined downwardly with respect to a horizontal plane by an angle 1x Generally centrally located orifices 2020 may be oriented downwardly away from a horizontal plane by an angle 01. while the lowermost orifices 202a and 202e may be oriented downwardly away from a horizontal plane by an angle 01 In this example, it is contemplated that the angles pre viously noted may have the following general values:

degrees a =30 degrees a =45 degrees 5 :45 degrees 5 :30 degrees It is also contemplated that the vertical distance between the upper orifices 20212 and 202d and the lower orifices 202a and 202s may be on the order of 0.3 of an inch; that the horizontal distance between lower orifices 202a and 2020 may be on the order of about 0.2 of an inch, that the horizontal distance between upper orifices 202b and 202d may be on the order of about 0.15 of an inch, and that intermediate orifice 2020 may be located vertically intermediate the upper and lower rows of orifices.

In size, the orifices 202 may be such as to have a diameter generally equal to the diameter of a common sewing pm.

The patterned spray 204 emitted by this arrangement of orifices is such that the stream emitted from orifice 2020 will strike the agitator at approximately its midheight and coincident with the aforementioned symmetry plane, while the streams emitted by the remaining orifices will strike the agitator in a symmetrical fashion both above and below and on either side of the stream emitted from orifice 202s.

It has been found that this patterned spray along with concurrent clockwise rotation of agitator 72 and inner tub 76, as described above with respect to the embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 3, at approximately 570 rpm, serves to thoroughly sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone 74 including the agitator, as was the case above.

In this regard, it is believed that if the nozzle is rotated upstream, that is, with the stream emitting from orifice 2020 of the patterned spray 204 rotated out of the symmetry plane and in a direction against the clockwise current of airflow, but still against agitator 72, the surfaces of the treating zone 74 may be thoroughly sterilized by insuring that the air swirl does not displace the sprayed media away from the agitator.

Of course it should be appreciated that the orientation of the nozzle and therefore the patterned spray with respect to the clockwise current of airflow can be varied depending on the degree of sterilization desired.

It should also be appreciated that as in the other embodiments, the drain pump could be utilized to draw a portion of the sterilization medium into the drain conduits to sterilize the contents thereof.

It should also be appreciated that the orifices may display an a angular relationship wherein some angles are directed upwardly away from the closed end of the tube and some angles are directed downwardly toward the closed end of the tube. This may be desirable when, for example, the nozzle is used without the agitator and inner tub actuation; or when the machine is of the front loading type; or even when the nozzle is combined with agitator and inner tub actuation along with drain pump actuation.

Timer circuitry Turning now to a consideration of a preferred embodiment of the electrical control of the present invention, attention is directed to FIGS. 6 and 7.

In FIG. 6 there is shown a functional diagram displaying the relationship between the major elements of the sterili zation circuit. When a sterilization switch 96 is manually closed, the solenoid 30 is energized, along with an indicator lamp 98 and a timer motor 100.

The indicator lamp 98, when illuminated, serves to indicate that the sterilization cycle is in operation, while the timer motor 100 is adapted to function in a manner described hereinafter.

Timer motor 100 actuates a switch 102 thereby closing contact 102a of switch 102. The closing of contact 102a permits energization of a relay 104 through contact 10411 of relay 104. Upon energization of relay 104, contact 104b is opened thereby isolating the sterilization switch 96. When the sterilization cycle is completed, timer motor 1.00 opens the switch 102 thereby opening contact 102a. The opening of contact 102a effectively removes the solenoid 30, the timer motor 100, and the indicator lamp 98 from power line L However, the relay 104 is not deenergized so that the contact 10412 remains open to continue the isolation of the sterilization switch 96. The relay 104 will not be de-energized until switch 106 is opened. The switch 106 is associated with the wash cycle and opens after the wash cycle is complete to de-energize the relay 104. The de-energization of relay 104 closes contact 10412 The switch 106 then closes thereby reestablishing the sterilization circuit for subsequent energization by the sterilization switch 96. This arrangement insures that once the sterilization cycle has commenced it cannot ordinarily be interrupted by the wash cycle.

More specifically, with reference to the circuit of timer 50 of the present invention, reference is made to FIG. 7.

Immediately upon energizing the sterilization circuit, the timer motor 100' of the sterilization cycle is normally connected to power line L through lines 108, 110a and 110. With the sterilization switch 96 closed, and power from the machine timer applied, to thereby initiate the sterilization cycle, the timer motor 100 is energized to line L through lines 112d and 112e, lid switch 114, line 116, switch 104b contact 10412 line 118, contact 960,-

switch 96, line 120, contact 10212, switch 102, line 122 and switch 106. At the same time, indicator lamp 98 and solenoid 30 are also energized to line L through lines 112a, 1121; and 1120 respectively and then through the path defined above for the timer motor 100.

Timer motor 100 is adapted to close within the control circuit, indicated as included within dash lines 125, either simultaneously or sequentially as desired, contacts which when closed initiate the actuation of the agitator 72 and inner tub 76 as well as the functioning of the drain pump 80. The control circuit included within dash lines 125 is preferably a duplicate of that part of the wash cycle which controls the agitator 72, the inner tub 76 and the drain pump 80. The timer motor 100 also actuates switch 102 to close with contact 102a. When this happens, heretofore unenergized relay 104 is now provided with a path to line L through line 126, switch 104a, contact 104a contact 10417 line 128, contact 10211, switch 102, line 122 and switch 106. Upon energization, relay 104 throws make-before-break switches 104a and to their alternate position. In the alternate position, contacts 104a and 104b are opened and contacts 104a and 10412, are closed. That is, contacts 104a, and 10412 are closed and then contacts 104a and .104b are opened. As a result of opening 10412 the sterilization switch 96 is now isolated from the circuit. However, a path to line L for timer motor 100, solenoid 30 and indicator light 98 is still provided through lines 112a 112b, 1120, 112d, 112e, lid switch 114, line 116, switch 104b, contact 10412 line 128, contact 102a, switch 102, line 122 and switch 106. Also. when contacts 104a and 104b are opened, relay 104 remains energized to line L through line 126, switch 104a, contact 104a,, line 124 and switch 106.

When the timer motor 100 times out, switch 102 reengages contact 10212. The eflect of this is to remove the path to line L for the timer motor 100, solenoid 30 and indicator lamp 98. However, the relay 104 is still provided with a path to line L so that it is not de-energized. To return the sequence control to the clothes treating machine timer, switch 96 is actuated to wash position 130. The circuit is then closed from L through switch 106, line 122, switch 102, contact 102b, line 120 to switch 130 and finally to the machine timer. Indicator light 198 is energized to L through switch 130, contact 131 and to L through line 150.

At the end of the wash cycle, switch 106 is opened thereby removing power from one side of relay 104. This de-energizes relay 104 and causes switches 104a and 104b to reengage contact 10441 and 104b Switch 106 then closes when the clothes treating machine timer is actuated to reestablish the sterilization circuit for subsequent energization by the sterilization switch 96.

Mode of operation Although the mode of operation for the present invention has been clearly demonstrated by the preceding, the following is presented as a summary of some of the essential features.

Referring to FIG. 8, a sterilization cycle is preferably contemplated before each wash cycle. To this end, the coin-operated machines, for example, are provided with coin slots to energize the sterilization circuit through switch 96 and wash switch 130. The sterilization cycle which may have a twenty second duration, although it should be understood that any time duration can be utilized, includes the simultaneous energization of an indicator lamp, a solenoid, and a timer motor; and the simultaneous or sequential actuation of the washing machine agitator and inner tub, and energization of the washing machine drain pump. The timed duration of these simultaneous or sequentially energized functions is controlled by the timer motor. The timer motor additionally controls a switch 102. Cut-out of switch 102 terminates the sterilization cycle. Upon termination of the sterilization cycle, the wash cycle commences by actuation of switch 130. The washing circuit (only partially shown in FIG. 7) is adapted to carry out the conventional wash, rinse, and spin operations. The wash cycle continues until switch 106 opens the L circuit. The reengagement of switch 106 resets the sterilization cycle circuit.

SUMMARY OF ADVANTAGES AND SCOPE OF THE INVENTION Thus, it may be seen that in following the present invention an improved sterilization system for clothes treating machines is provided.

Particularly significant is the fact that the sterilization system may provide a distributing facility which utilizes a nozzle adapter, agitator and inner tub actuation, and drain pump actuation within the treating zone of a clothes treating machine, to more thoroughly sterilize all surfaces of the treating zone as well as the contents of the drain conduit connected to the treating zone.

Of independent significance is the fact that the sterilization system provides a fluid circuit to deliver the sterilization medium to the treating zone of the clothes treating machines, and that the fluid circuit can be adapted to deliver a sterilization medium in either a solution, gas or aerosol form. When the solution form is utilized, the fluid circuit is adapted to include a constant pressurized pump and by-pass arrangement. When the gas form is utilized, the fluid circuit is adapted to include a pressurized tank or cylindrical container with a pressure control valve. When the aerosol form is utilized, the fluid circuit is adapted to include an aerosol container with a metering valve. In any case, the distribution of the sterilization medium may be effected by the agitator and inner tub, and the drain pump actuations. Also, the distribution of the solution and aerosol forms of the sterilization medium may be additionally effected by the nozzle adapter. In this regard, the sterilization system of the present invention departs from the principle of sterilization disclosed in United States Patent 3,376,720, issued to R. G. Hartshorn et al. In the Hartshorn et a1. patent, the aerosol sterilization medium is simply introduced into the washing machine. 'In contrast, the present invention not only introduces the aerosol form of the sterilization medium into the washing machine, but may also utilize a nozzle and adapter to create a spray to better sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone; or may utilize the nozzle and adapter in combination with agitator and inner tub actuation, and drain pump actuation to more thoroughly sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone as well as the drain conduit, and residue therein, connected to the treating zone of the washing machine. Alternatively, the nozzle adapter may be dispensed with in favor of a modified nozzle which emits a pattern spray through a plurality of orifices. Such a configuration, while less expensive to manufacture, nevertheless serves, individually, to better sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone; or in combination with agitator and inner tub actuation, and drain pump actuation to more thoroughly sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone as well as the drain conduit, and residue therein, connected to the treating zone of the washing machine.

Of independent significance is the provision of an electric circuit which serves to isolate the sterilization switch once the sterilization cycle has been initiated, so that it is not possible to interrupt the sterilization cycle by commencing a wash cycle.

Also of importance is the particular interrelationship within the electric circuit between the relay, which serves to isolate the sterilization switch once the sterilization cycle has been initiated, and the timer motor, which controls the duration of the sterilization cycle, as well as the simultaneous or sequential functioning of a preferably duplicate portion of the electrical circuit of the wash cycle. This particular interrelationship is achieved through the provision of a timer motor switch and the make-beforebreak contacts of the relay which are caused to permit energization of the relay while not adversely affecting the energization path established for the functioning of the other elements in the sterilization cycle.

While the invention has been described in connection with a top-loading washing machine, it is applicable to front-loading machines as well. However, in front-loading machines the spray pattern itself will be effective to disseminate sterilization media without reliance upon an agitator which normally is not present in a front-loading machine. Since the door is disposed laterally instead of above the tub interior, the agitator induced upward swirl utilized in conjunction with the top-loading machines is not believed necessary to achieve sterilization of the laundry machine door area.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to several preferred and illustrated embodiments of sterilization systems, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that additions, modifications, substitutions and deletions not specifically described may be made Without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

What is claimed is:

1. A system of sterilization in combination with clothes treating machines, comprising:

(a) means for storing a sterilization medium;

(b) means for delivery said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machines; and

(c) means for distributing said sterilization medium within a clothes treating zone of said machines;

said clothes treating zone including an outer tub, an inner tub within said outer tub, and an agitator within said inner tub,

said means for distributing including a nozzle adjacent an open end of the inner tub intermediate said inner tub and said agitator; for introducing said sterilization medium directly into said treating zone,

said nozzle being adapted to emit at least a portion of said sterilization medium as a spray to sterilize the surfaces of said clothes treating zone.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising: means for drawing a portion of said emitting medium within said treating zone into a drain conduit connected to said treating zone for sterilizing the contents thereof.

3. The system of claim 1, in which said means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machines further includes:

conduit means;

removal control means for controlling the removal of said sterilization medium from said means for storing to said conduit means;

means for selectively filtering said sterilizing medium in said conduit means;

valve means for controlling the delivery of said sterilization medium to said machines; and means for controlling the opening and closing of said valve means,

said conduit means adapted with respect to said removal control means, said means for selectively filtering and said valve for transporting said sterilization medium therebetween.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein said removal con trol means includes:

means to effect a more uniform solution of said sterilization medium; and

means to deactivate said removal control means when the contents in said means for storing falls below a predetermined level.

5. A system of sterilization in combination with clothes treating machines including an outer tub and an inner tub within the outer tub, said system comprising:

(a) means for storing a sterilization medium;

(b) means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machines; and

(c) means for distributing said sterilization medium within a treating zone of said machines,

said means for distributing including a nozzle adjacent an open end of the inner tub for emitting said sterilization medium directly into an interior portion of the inner tub within said treating zone and means cooperating with said nozzle for deflecting a portion of said emitting medium into a spray,

said spray and the remaining portion of said emitting medium coacting to sterilize said treating zone.

6. The system of claim 5, further comprising: means for draw ng a p rtion of said emitting medium within 12 said treating zone into a drain conduit connected to said treating zone for sterilizing the contents thereof.

7. The system of claim 5 in which said means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machines further includes:

conduit means;

removal control means for controlling the removal of said sterilization medium from said means for storing to said conduit means;

means for selectively filtering said sterilizing medium in said conduit means;

valve means for controlling the delivery of said sterilization medium to said machines; and

means for controlling the opening and closing of said valve means,

said conduit means adapted with respect to said removal control means, said means for selectively filtering and said valve for transporting said sterilization medium therebetween.

8. The system of claim 7 wherein said removal control means includes:

means to effect a more uniform solution of said sterilization medium; and

means to deactivate said removal control means when the contents in said means for storing falls below a predetermined level.

9. The system of claim 5 in which said means for distributing said sterilization medium within said treating zone further includes:

agitator means within said treating zone, With said remaining portion of said emitting medium cooperating with said agitator means so that said remaining portion of said emitting medium is directed against a portion of the surfaces defining said treating zone to sterilize same;

said inner tub means within said treating zone cooperating with said agitator means to effect a portion of said sterilization by said agitator means.

10. The system of claim 9, further comprising: means for drawing a portion of said emitting medium within said treating zone into a drain conduit connected to said treating zone for sterilizing the contents thereof.

11. A system of sterilization in combination with clothes treating machines including an outer tub and an inner tub comprising:

(a) means for storing a sterilization medium;

(b) means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machines;

(0) means for distributing said sterilization medium within a treating zone of said machines,

said means for distributing including a nozzle adjacent an open end of the inner tub and having a plurality of orifices arranged thereon for emitting said sterilization medium directly into said inner tub of said treating zone as a patterned spray,

said arrangement of said plurality of orifices displaying an angular relationship with some of the transverse axes and the polar axis of said nozzle so that the patterned spray sterilizes the surfaces of said treating zone.

12. The system of claim 11, further comprising means 65 for drawing a portion of said patterned spray within said treating zone into a drain. conduit connected to said treating zone for sterilizing the contents thereof.

13. The system of claim 11, in which said means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machines further includes:

conduit means;

removal control means for controlling the removal of said sterilization medium from said means for Storing to said conduit mean means for selectively filtering said sterilization medium in said conduit means;

valve means for controlling the delivery of said sterili- Zation medium to said machines; and

means for controlling the opening and closing of said valve means,

said conduit means adapted with respect to said removal control means, said means for selectively filtering and said valve for transporting said sterilization medium therebetween.

14. The system of claim 11, in which said means for distributing said sterilization medium within said treating zone further includes:

agitator means within said treating zone operable during the emitting of said sterilization medium into said inner tub for directing a portion of said patterned spray against a portion of the surfaces defining said treating zone to sterilize same;

said inner tub cooperating with said agitator means to effect a portion of said sterilization by said agitator means.

15. The system of claim 14, further comprising: means for drawing a portion of said patterned spray within said treating zone into a drain conduit connected to said treating zone for sterilizing the contents thereof.

16. A system of sterilization in combination with a clothes treating machine comprising:

(a) means for storing a sterilization medium;

(b) means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machine;

(c) means for introducing said sterilization medium into an interior portion of a treating zone of said machine, said interior portion lying within an inner tub of said machine, said introducing means being located adjacent an open end of said inner tub for introducing said sterilization medium into said inner tub;

(d) means for distributing said medium throughout said treating zone of said machine; and

(e) means for drawing a portion of said medium within said treating zone of said machine into a drain conduit, said means for distributing and said means for drawing coacting to sterilize said treating zone and said drain conduit contents respectively.

17. In a sterilization system for clothes treating machines which include a treating zone and an agitator and inner tub positioned within said treating zone and in which a sterilization medum is introduced into said treating zone, the improvement comprising:

(a) a nozzle adapted to introduce said sterilization medium into said treating zone; and

(b) means connected to said nozzle and cooperating with said nozzle and said agitator for deflecting a portion of said sterilization medium into a spray and for directing the remaining portion of said sterilization medium against said agitator,

said spray and said remaining portion of said sterilization medium coacting to sterilize said treating zone,

18. In a sterilization system for clothes treating machines as defined in claim 17, in which said means connected to said nozzle and cooperating with said nozzle and said agitator includes a portion extending longitudinally beyond an orifice of said nozzle and a portion extending from said longitudinally extending portion transversely with respect to said nozzle, said transverse portion provided with means for effecting said spray of said portion of said emitting medium and means for directing said remaining portion of said emitting medium away from said nozzle and against said agitator.

19. In a sterilization system for clothes treating machines which include a treating zone and an agitator and inner tub positioned within said treating zone and in which 14 a sterilization medium is introduced into said treating zone, the improvement comprising:

a nozzle adapted to introduce said sterilization medium into said treating zone within said inner tub,

said nozzle having a plurality of orifices arranged thereon for emitting said sterilization medium into said treating zone as a patterned spray,

said arrangement of said plurality of orifices displaying an angular relationship with some of the transverse axes and the polar axis of said nozzle so that the patterned spray sterilizes the surfaces of said treating zone; and

means for actuating said agitator during the introduction of said sterilization medium into said treating zone, said agitator thereby being operable to further disperse said sterilization medium in said treating zone.

20. A system of sterilization in combination with clothes treating machines, comprising:

(a) means for storing a sterilization medium;

(b) means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machines; and

(c) means for distributing said sterilization medium within a treating zone of said machines,

said means for distributing including a nozzle for emitting said sterilization medium and means cooperating with said nozzle for deflecting a portion of said emitting medium into a spray,

said means cooperating with said nozzle including a portion extending longitudinally beyond an orifice of said nozzle and a portion extending from said longitudinally extending portion transversely with respect to said nozzle,

said transverse portion provided with means for effecting said spray of said portion of said emitting medium and means for directing said remaining portion of said emitting medium away from said nozzle,

said spray and the remaining portion of said emitting medium coacting to sterilize said treating zone.

21. The system of claim 20, wherein said transversely extending portion comprises a disc having a central aperture therein.

22. The system of claim 21, wherein said spray results when said portion of said emitting medium impinges upon said portion of said disc surrounding said central aperture.

23. The system of claim 22, wherein said central aperture is adapted for transmitting said remaining portion of said emitting medium so that same may cooperate with said agitating means.

24. A system of sterilization in combination with clothes treating machines, comprising:

(a) means for storing a sterilization medium;

(b) means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machines including:

(1) conduit means;

(2) removal control means for controlling the removal of said sterilization medium from said means of storing to said conduit means, said removal control means including means to efiect a more uniform solution of said sterilization medium and means to deactivate said removal control means when the contentsrin said means for storing falls below a predetermined level;

(3) means for selectively filtering said sterilization medium in said conduit means;

(4) valve means for controlling the delivery of said sterilization medium to said machines; and,

(5) means for controlling the opening and closing of said valve means, said conduit means adapted with respect to said removal control means, said means for selectively filtering and said valve 15 means for transporting medium therebetween; and,

(c) means for distributing said sterilization medium within a treating zone of said machine,

said means for distributing including a nozzle having a plurality of orifices arranged thereon for emitting said sterilization medium into said treating zone as a patterned spray,

said arrangement of said plurality of orifices displaying an angular relationship with some of the transverse axes and the polar axes of said nozzle so that the patterned spray sterilizes the surfaces of said treating zone.

25. A system of sterilization in combination with a clothes treating machine including agitator means and inner tub means within a clothes treatment zone and drain means for draining the treatment zone, said system comprising:

(a) means for storing a sterilization medium;

(b) means for delivering said sterilization medium from said storage means to said machine;

(c) means for introducing said sterilization medium into said inner tub means;

(d) means for distributing said sterilization medium throughout a clothes treating zone within said machine including:

(1) means for dispersing at least a portion of said sterilization medium introduced into said inner tub means in the form of spray; and,

(2) means for actuating said agitator means during the introduction of said medium, said dispersing means and said agitator means cooperating to sterilize the surfaces of said treating zone; and,

(e) means for drawing a portion of said medium introduced into said inner tube means into said drain means to sterilize the contents thereof.

26. A method of sterilizing the treating zone of clothes treating machines comprising:

(a) storing a sterilization medium;

(b) delivering said sterilization medium from storage to said treating zone; and

(c) distributing said sterilization medium within said treating zone,

said distribution including deflecting a portion of said sterilization medium into a spray while directing the remaining portion of said medium against an agitator means in said treating zone, so that said deflecting portion and said remaining portion coact to sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone.

27. The method of claim 26 further comprising: drawing a portion of said sterilization medium Within said treating zone into a drain conduit for sterilizing the contents thereof.

28. The method of claim 26 in which said distribution further includes:

causing said agitator means to direct said remaining portion of said medium against a portion of the surfaces defining said treating zone to sterilize same; and

causing an inner tub means within said treating zone to cooperate with said agitator means to effect a portion of said sterilization by said agitator means.

29. The method of claim 28 further comprising: drawing a portion of said sterilization medium within said treating zone into a drain conduit for sterilizing the contents thereof.

30. A method of sterilizing the treating zone of clothes treating machines including agitator means and inner tub means within said treating zone, said method comprising:

(a) storing a sterilization medium;

(5) delivering said sterilization medium from storage said treating zone;

said sterilization (c) distributing said sterilization medium within said treating zone by:

(1) emitting said sterilization medium into said treating zone interiorly of said inner tub means; and

(2) actuating at least one of said agitator means and said inner tub means while emitting said sterilization medium; and

(d) drawing a portion of said sterilization medium within said treating zone into a drain conduit for sterilizing the contents thereof.

31. A method of sterilizing the treating zone of clothes treating machines including agitator means Within said treating zone, said method comprising;

(a) storing a sterilization medium;

(b) delivering said sterilization medium from storage to said treating zone; and

(c) distributing said sterilization medium within said treating zone,

said distribution including dispersing the sterilization medium through a plurality of orifices arranged on a nozzle disposed to distribute said sterilization medium within said treating zone as a patterned spray to sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone and actuating said agitator means during the dispersing of said sterilization medium to further aid in distributing said sterilization medium to the surfaces of the treating zone.

32. The method of claim 31 further comprising: drawing a portion of said sterilization medium within said treating zone into a drain conduit for sterilizing the contents thereof.

33. A method of sterilizing the treating zone of clothes treating machines comprising:

(a) storing a sterilization medium;

(b) delivering said sterilization medium from storage to said treating zone; and

(c) distributing said sterilization medium within said treating zone,

said distributing including:

emitting said sterilization medium into said treating zone;

causing an agitator means within said treating zone to direct said sterilization medium against the surfaces defining said treating zone to sterilize same; and

causing 'said inner tub means said treating zone to cooperate with said agitator means to eifect said sterilization by said agitator means.

'34. A method of sterilizing the treating zone of clothes treating machines comprising:

(a) storing a sterilization medium;

(b) delivering said sterilization medium from storage to said treating zone; and

(c) distributing said sterilization medium within said treating zone, said distribution including:

(1) dispersing the sterilization medium through a plurality of orifices arranged on a nozzle disposed to distribute said sterilization medium within said treating zone as a patterned spray to sterilize the surfaces of the treating zone,

(2) causing an agitator means within said treating zone to direct a portion of said patterned spray against a portion of the surfaces defining said treating zone to sterilize same; and,

(3) causing an inner tub means within said treating zone to cooperate with said agitator means to effect a portion of said sterilization by said agitator means.

35. The method 0? claim 34 further comprising: drawa i g a portion of said; sterilization medium within said 17 18 treating zone into a drain conduit for sterilizing the com 3,370,597 2/ 1968 Fox 134-95 X tents thereof. 3,044,285 7/1962 =Koplin -2. 68-27X References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS JOSEPH SCOVRONEK, Primary Examiner 2 candor X 5 D. G. Assistant Examiner 3,376,720 4/1968 Hartshorn et al. 68-12 R US Cl XR 2,523,799 9/1950 Woodson 68-235 X 2,154,566 4/1939 Frantz et al. 68-27 X 8-158; 21-103; 68-12 R, 23.5, 27, 208; 134-95 2,930,721 3/1960 Tuthill 134-95 X

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Classifications
U.S. Classification422/28, 68/23.5, 68/12.12, 134/95.3, 8/158, 68/12.19, 68/27, 68/12.14, 422/116, 68/208, 68/12.11, 68/12.17, 422/291, 68/12.27, 422/292
International ClassificationA61L2/16
Cooperative ClassificationA61L2202/26, A61L2/16
European ClassificationA61L2/16