Easy To Use Patents Search & Patent Lawyer Directory

At Patents you can conduct a Patent Search, File a Patent Application, find a Patent Attorney, or search available technology through our Patent Exchange. Patents are available using simple keyword or date criteria. If you are looking to hire a patent attorney, you've come to the right place. Protect your idea and hire a patent lawyer.


Search All Patents:



  This Patent May Be For Sale or Lease. Contact Us

  Is This Your Patent? Claim This Patent Now.



Register or Login To Download This Patent As A PDF




United States Patent Application 20170367458
Kind Code A1
CARROLL; GEOFFREY PORTER December 28, 2017

CLEANING AND SANITIZING SYSTEM

Abstract

An embodiment of a system suitable for cleaning or sanitizing fingers includes a vessel having first and second opposing ends and a wall surface. A closure member is positionable about the first end to contain fluid within the vessel. A sanitizing bowl has a side shaped to hold fluid. Cleaning elements, each having a tip, are configured for placement along the side of the bowl so that the cleaning element tips extend in a direction away from the bowl. The tips are positioned to provide scrubbing or brushing action along a crevice region of a finger when a portion of the finger extends into the vessel and is moved along the cleaning element tips to facilitate cleaning or sanitizing the finger with the fluid.


Inventors: CARROLL; GEOFFREY PORTER; (MAITLAND, FL)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

CARROLL; GEOFFREY PORTER

MAITLAND

FL

US
Family ID: 1000002901913
Appl. No.: 15/534968
Filed: December 9, 2015
PCT Filed: December 9, 2015
PCT NO: PCT/US15/64631
371 Date: June 9, 2017


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A45D 29/17 20130101; A46B 11/002 20130101; A46B 2200/1013 20130101
International Class: A45D 29/17 20060101 A45D029/17; A46B 11/00 20060101 A46B011/00

Claims



1. A system suitable for cleaning or sanitizing fingers, comprising: a vessel for containing a first fluid, into which a finger can be inserted, the vessel having first and second opposing ends and an inner wall surface extending there between; a closure member positionable about the first end to contain the fluid within the vessel; a sanitizing bowl having a first side shaped to hold the fluid, the sanitizing bowl sized to be positioned within the vessel, along the inner wall surface of the vessel, with the first side of the bowl facing the first end of the vessel; and a series of cleaning elements, each having a tip, configured for placement along the first side of the sanitizing bowl so that when the cleaning elements are positioned along the first side of the bowl (i) at least some of the cleaning element tips extend in a direction away from the sanitizing bowl, and (ii) an array of the tips are disposed to provide scrubbing or brushing action along a crevice region of a finger when a portion of the finger extends into the vessel and is moved along the tips to facilitate cleaning or sanitizing of the finger portion with the fluid.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the cleaning elements are formed against the bowl inner surface.

3. The system of claim 1 wherein the cleaning element tips are sized to fit within a crevice between a finger and a finger nail.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein the sanitizing bowl is separate and distinct from the inner wall surface of the vessel.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein the vessel is in the shape of a tube.

6. The system of claim 1 wherein the cleaning elements are integrally formed along the first side of the sanitizing bowl to form a surface of the sanitizing bowl.

7. The system of claim 1 wherein a portion of the sanitizing bowl spaced away from the cleaning elements includes an opening which permits flow of fluid from along the vessel inner wall surface to the first side of the bowl to be held by the bowl.

8. The system of claim 1 further including an opening at the second end for dispensing the first fluid or another fluid

9. The system of claim 8 wherein the opening is an aperture which can be selectively covered or uncovered to dispense fluid.

10. The system of claim 8 further including a pump mechanism connected about the opening to dispense the first fluid or another fluid.

11. The system of claim 10 further including a reservoir positioned to hold fluid and supply fluid to the pump mechanism.

12. The system of claim 10 further including a divider positioned to form two separate and isolated sections in the vessel, a first section adjoining the first end to contain the first fluid for the sanitizing bowl, and a second section adjoining the second end to contain said another fluid for dispensing through the opening.

13. The system of claim 1 wherein the cleaning element tips are sized and positioned to clean a cuticle.
Description



PRIORITY

[0001] This application claims priority to PCT Application No. PCT/US2015/64631, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent application 62/090,744, filed 11 Dec. 2014.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to devices and methods for hand sanitizing and cleaning. More specifically, embodiments of the invention relate to cleaning and sanitizing of fingers, including finger nails and crevice regions about finger nails.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] In recent years there has been an increased social expectation to limit communication of diseases through use of gloves and washing of hands. Concerns extend beyond occupational activities, such as provision of health care services and food handling, to all interactions which might expose persons to contagious diseases. Touching of surfaces, with which other persons come into contact, raises common concern over exposure to colds and influenza. These situations arise in shopping, transportation, handling of goods and packages, use of electronic payment key pads, and casual hand contact with the skin or clothing of other persons. Consequently, through individual efforts to limit the spread of infections, use of hand sanitizers has increased.

[0004] While it is recognized that application of sanitizing liquids on the surface of the hands can have a germicidal effect, simply rubbing a sanitizing liquid on the hands is not an effective means for removing bacteria from crevice regions of the same hands. There has not been a fast and convenient way of sanitizing portions of the hands which contain significant crevices. Finger nail regions are exemplary of hand surfaces about which germs and debris may collect. Because these areas do not readily or reliably receive the beneficial effects resulting from the simple rub-on application of sanitizing liquid to the skin, they are more prone to collect debris and provide moist environments to sustain bacterial growth. Given a growing awareness of the importance of diligently removing bacteria from hands, it is desirable to provide a finger nail sanitizing system which can be quickly and easily used, both during and immediately after many on-the-go activities prevalent in society. To more effectively stop the spread of such illnesses, such a system should easily provide both children and the elderly population with a portable and convenient means to limit or eliminate the harboring of bacteria about the finger nails and other crevice regions of the hands.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] According to an embodiment of the invention, there is provided a system suitable for cleaning or sanitizing fingers. The system includes a vessel for containing a first fluid, into which a finger can be inserted. The vessel has first and second opposing ends and an inner wall surface extending there between. A closure member is positionable about the first end to contain the fluid within the vessel. A sanitizing bowl has a first side shaped to hold the fluid, and is sized to be positioned within the vessel, along the inner wall surface of the vessel, with the first side of the bowl facing the first end of the vessel. There is also provided a series of cleaning elements, each having a tip, and each configured for placement along the first side of the sanitizing bowl so that when the cleaning elements are positioned along the first side of the bowl the cleaning element tips extend in a direction away from the sanitizing bowl. The tips are positioned to provide scrubbing or brushing action along a crevice region of a finger when a portion of the finger extends into the vessel and is moved along the tips to facilitate cleaning or sanitizing of the finger portion with the fluid.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0006] FIG. 1A is a break-away view of a sanitizing system according to a first embodiment of the invention;

[0007] FIG. 1B illustrates details of a collection bowl which receives fluid present in the system;

[0008] FIG. 1C is an exploded perspective view of a sanitizing receptacle which includes the collection bowl of FIG. 1B and a slotted spacer;

[0009] FIG. 2A is a break-away view of a sanitizing system according to a second embodiment of the invention;

[0010] FIG. 2B is a side view of a covering cap of the system shown in FIG. 2A;

[0011] FIG. 2C is a view from above of the covering cap shown in FIG. 2B;

[0012] FIG. 3A is a break-away view of a sanitizing system according to a third embodiment of the invention;

[0013] FIG. 3B is an end view of a reservoir bowl shown in FIG. 3A, positioned in a vessel; and

[0014] FIG. 3C is an elevation view of a reservoir bowl shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B.

[0015] Features of the described embodiments are not necessarily drawn to scale in the figures. The figures facilitate illustration of specific features relevant to the invention. Like reference characters denote like elements throughout the figures and the text.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0016] Before describing in detail exemplary systems and methods relating to the invention, it should be observed that the present invention resides in a novel and non-obvious combination of elements and method steps. So as not to obscure the disclosure with details that will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, certain conventional elements and steps may be presented with lesser detail, while the drawings and the specification describe in greater detail other elements and steps pertinent to understanding the intended scope and embodiments of the invention. Also, the following embodiments are exemplary constructions which do not define limits as to structural arrangements or methods according to the invention. The now described embodiments are exemplary and permissive rather than mandatory and are illustrative rather than exhaustive.

[0017] In one embodiment, a sanitizing system 10, shown in FIGS. 1A-1C, enables penetration of a first fluid 8, e.g., a fluid facilitating a cleaning or disinfecting function, into crevices along the surfaces of the fingers, particularly in areas adjoining finger nails. Debris may be simultaneously removed from the crevices.

[0018] With reference to FIG. 1A, the system 10 comprises a portable vessel 12 in the shape of a cylindrical tube into which individual fingers may be inserted. The vessel 12, shown in a vertical orientation above a horizontal ground plane, includes an inner wall 14 extending between first and second opposing ends 16, 18. The first end 16 includes a first threaded opening 16.sub.o closeable with a sealing end cap 20. In this embodiment the second end 18 of the vessel 12 is closed while the first vessel end 16 includes a threaded sealing cap 20 which covers the threaded opening to enable inversion of the vessel followed by again placing the first end of the vessel vertically above the second end. Such motion can effect replenishing of fluid 8 within a collection bowl.

[0019] The cap 20 includes threads (not shown) which mate with threads 22 formed along the end 16 on an exterior surface of the vessel. The second end 18 may also include a closeable opening 18.sub.o. However, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the vessel end 18 does not include an opening. A sanitizing receptacle 24, also shown in the exploded view of FIG. 1C, is positioned within the vessel 12. The receptacle may be accessed with a portion of a finger extending through the first opening 16.sub.o.

[0020] The sanitizing receptacle 24 comprises a collection bowl 26, spaced away from the first vessel end 16. See, also, FIG. 1B. In other embodiments, the sanitizing bowl may be attached along an interior wall of the vessel or formed as a removable insert suspended from the mouth of the first opening.

[0021] For the embodiment of FIG. 1, the collection bowl 26 has a concave inner fluid-containing surface 26i, positionable to face the vessel end 16 and hold the first fluid 8 while an opposing outer surface 26.sub.o of the bowl faces the second end 18. FIG. 1B provides a perspective view from above a side of the collection bowl 26 to illustrate an exemplary shape of the bowl, applicable to several of the embodiments described herein. The sanitizing receptacle 24 also includes a slotted spacer 28 extending from the collection bowl 26 toward the vessel first end 16. An exemplary design of the spacer 28 shown in FIG. 1 has a tapered tubular shape with a maximum diameter at a first spacer end 28m near the vessel end 16 and a relatively small diameter at the opposing spacer end 28s. The spacer 28 includes a pair of ports 28p which permit passage of fluid from a region 32, between the sanitizing receptacle 28 and the vessel interior wall 14, to the interior 34 of the receptacle 28 to fill the collection bowl 26.

[0022] In the illustrated embodiment the spacer end 28s is circular in shape and sized to fit against a ridge 30 formed along an interior surface of a rim 26r of the collection bowl 26. This effects a mating connection between the slotted spacer 28 and the collection bowl 26. In other embodiments the slotted spacer 28 and the bowl 26 may be formed as one piece, e.g., by a plastic molding process.

[0023] When the vessel 12 is in an upright position (with respect to a horizontal ground plane, G), having the end 16 above the end 18, the collection bowl 26 is positioned to receive the tip of a portion of a finger inserted into the vessel 12. A person may extend a portion of the finger through the first vessel opening 16.sub.o, into the bowl and along the fluid-containing surface 26i. The collection bowl 26 includes a plurality of upright shafts, bristles or brushes, formed along the fluid-containing surface 26i of the sanitizing bowl.

[0024] A matrix of upright shafts, bristles or brushes is schematically shown in the figures as rod-like shapes formed along the fluid-containing surface 26i to provide a series of brush-like cleaning elements 38. Each element 38 extends outward from the fluid-containing surface 26i. The elements each include a cleaning element tip 38t which extends in a direction away from the collection bowl 26. The matrix of elements 38 provides an array of cleaning element tips disposed to provide scrubbing or brushing action along a crevice region of a finger. With a gentle motion of the finger portion against the fluid-containing surface, the elements 38 can penetrate into crevice regions between the finger nail and the skin of the finger, including along the underside of the finger nail.

[0025] The elements 38 may be integrally formed with the fluid-containing surface 26i, such as by a molding or etching process, or may be attached along this surface. Such attachment may be in a manner similar to that effected with a conventional bristle brush used for nail cleaning. In other embodiments, a matrix of bristles or other elements may be formed on a flexible layer which is attached to the fluid-containing surface 26i.

[0026] The collection bowl 26 is positioned along an interior wall 14 of the vessel 12 so that when the vessel 12 is partially filled with the first fluid 8, and the vessel is in an upright position (e.g., with the first end vertically above the second end), fluid collects at the second end 18 and below the bowl 26. When the vessel 12 is tilted, or fully inverted, so that the second end is vertically above the first end, the fluid flows toward the first end 16. Then, when the vessel 12 is tilted back, with the collection bowl 26 returned to the upright position, the fluid flows toward the second end with a portion of the fluid entering into the bowl 26. In the process of tilting or inverting the vessel 12 and returning the vessel to an upright position, the first fluid 8 passes through the ports 28p of the spacer, permitting passage of the fluid from the region 32 into the interior of the receptacle 28 to fill the collection bowl 26. This permits the bowl to be filled or refilled prior to or during use of the system.

[0027] FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate an embodiment of the sanitizing system with like reference numbers denoting like features described for the embodiment of FIG. 1, including the sanitizing receptacle 24 and the sealing cap 20. The vessel 12' shown in FIG. 2 includes features of the vessel 12, and is of a cylindrical shape with the collection bowl 26 positioned away from the second end 18. The vessel 12' further includes a second threaded opening 18.sub.o along the second end 18. The vessel 12' may be of the squeezable type, for dispensing fluid through a small aperture 37 positioned along the opening 18.sub.o. Fluid may be released upon application of pressure to an exterior wall surface 44 of the vessel 12'.

[0028] The vessel 12' may contain the first fluid 8 (e.g., a fluid facilitating a cleaning or disinfecting function) or another fluid 36 (e.g., a fluid providing sanitizing, skin moisturizing, a moisture barrier or another type of skin protection) or a combination thereof. The fluid may be applied to crevices of a finger with aid of the sanitizing receptacle 24 as well as hands or other body portions by dispensing the fluid through the aperture 37 after opening a threaded end and removable covering cap 40. The cap 40 comprises a body portion 40a and a lid 40b hinged to the body portion. In another embodiment, the aperture 37 is accessed to dispense a fluid by rotating a slotted end plate (not shown) which covers the aperture to selectively expose or cover the aperture 37.

[0029] In the side perspective break-away view of FIG. 2A, the hinged lid 40b is in a closed position, against the body portion 40a. FIG. 2B provides a side view of the removable covering cap 40. FIG. 2C is a view of the removable covering cap 40 from above, showing the lid 40b in an open position and thereby exposing the aperture 37. The body portion 40a has interior threads (not shown) for mating engagement with threads 42 along the second vessel end 18 for attachment to the vessel 12'. The threads 42 are formed about the exterior wall surface 44 of the vessel. The cap 40 may be removed for filling the vessel 12 with fluid 8. This is advantageous for embodiments which divide the vessel interior into multiple chambers. The cover lid 40b is flexibly attached to the cap body portion 40a to effect the hinge function for opening and closing of the lid. Once the aperture 37 is exposed, the fluid is dispensed by squeezing or inverting the vessel 12' to squirt or otherwise dispense the fluid for rubbing application.

[0030] FIGS. 3A-3C illustrate another embodiment of the sanitizing system 10, with like reference numbers denoting like features described for the embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 2, including the sanitizing receptacle 24 and the sealing cap 20. In this embodiment the system comprises a vessel 12'' in lieu of the vessels 12 and 12'. The vessel 12'' includes features of the vessels 12 and select features of the vessel 12', and is also of a cylindrical tube shape with the collection bowl 26 positioned away from the second end 18 of the vessel 12, e.g., midway between the first and second ends 16, 18, or closer to the first vessel end. This provides room to attach the reservoir bowl 46 along the interior wall 14 near the second end 18 of the vessel 12''.

[0031] The vessel 12'' further includes the second threaded opening 18.sub.o along the second end 18 as described for the vessel 12'. A pump mechanism 52 is shown adjacent the second vessel end 18 before attachment thereto to illustrate an exemplary screw-on arrangement comprising threads 42 formed about an exterior wall surface 44 of the vessel as described for the vessel 12'.

[0032] The pump mechanism 52 includes a pump cap 55 having a depressible dispenser arm 57 connected to pump fluid through a hose 60 which extends into the reservoir bowl 46. The pump cap 55 has interior threads (not shown) for mating engagement with threads 42 along the second vessel end 18 for attachment to the vessel 12''. With the vessel 12'' initially in a vertical position with respect to the ground plane, G, and the first end 16 above the second end 18, the vessel contains fluid which collects at and above the second end 18. When the vessel is positioned so that the second end of the vessel is above the first end of the vessel, fluid in the vessel 12'' flows toward the first end 16 with a portion of the fluid entering into the reservoir bowl 46 to provide a supply to the hose 60, this enabling the fluid to be dispensed with the pump mechanism.

[0033] FIG. 3B is an end view illustrating the cone-shape of the reservoir bowl 46 positioned along the vessel interior wall 14. The illustrated embodiment of the reservoir bowl has four slot-like openings 50. FIG. 3C is an elevation view of the reservoir bowl 46 further illustrating the exemplary slot-like openings. The exemplary reservoir bowl 46 comprises a lower section 46L in the form of a continuous conical surface for holding fluid, and an upper section 46U which is an extension of the conical surface having the slot-like openings 50.

[0034] The reservoir bowl 46 may be suspended from along the interior wall 14 of the vessel 12'' near the second end 18. When the vessel 12'' is tilted with respect to the ground plane, G, so that after the second end is vertically below the first end, the second end is then inclined above the first end. This causes fluid initially at the second end to flow toward the first end as the vessel second end becomes inclined above the first end. In this process a portion of the fluid flows through the openings 50 and into the reservoir bowl 46 so that, with the vessel placed in a substantially vertical position, the pump mechanism is above the first end and the lower section 46L of the reservoir bowl 46 holds fluid for operation of the pump mechanism. Thus, with the vessel 12'' filled with a fluid, the openings 50 permit flow of this fluid into the reservoir bowl 46 whenever the vessel 12'' is inverted, from one vertical position having the first end 16 above the second end 18, to a second vertical position having the second end above the first end.

[0035] For the multiple illustrated embodiments the vessels 12, 12' and 12'' define a chamber volume bounded by the vessel inner wall 14 and the first and second opposing vessel ends 16, 18. The vessels 12, 12' and 12'' may also be formed as multiple chambers. By way of example, an optional divider wall 54, shown in FIGS. 2A and 3A, is positioned across a vessel inner wall 14, e.g., midway between the vessel ends. This creates a first chamber 56 adjacent the first end 16 and a second chamber 58 adjacent the second end 18.

[0036] During use of the system 10, the chamber 56 contains a quantity of first fluid 8 suitable for nail and crevice cleaning and sanitizing along surfaces of the fingers. The first chamber 56, accessed for filling with fluid 8 through the opening 16.sub.o at the first end 16, facilitates cleaning and sanitizing of finger nails with the collection bowl 26 of the vessel 12' or 12'' in a manner similar to that described for the embodiment of FIG. 1.

[0037] The chamber 58 contains another fluid 36 suitable for sanitizing, skin moisturizing, providing a moisture barrier or providing another type of skin protection. The fluid 36 may be a skin lotion or a fluid having greater germicidal capability than the fluid 8, cleaning capability or properties beneficial for skin conditioning. Examples of other kinds of fluids include anti-biotic ointments, sunscreens, and solutions containing an alcohol or a peroxide. The fluid 36 may be dispensed through an aperture or through the pump mechanism 52 for application on skin surfaces generally. The second chamber 58 includes an opening 18.sub.o at the second end 18 of the vessel 12' or 12'' to facilitate filling the chamber with the fluid 36. In other embodiments having the divider wall 54 in the vessel, the reservoir bowl 46 may be omitted and the fluid supply hose 60 may extend through the chamber 58 to the divider wall 54.

[0038] In still other embodiments, the sanitizing receptacle 24 may be replaced with a trough or similar type of open container positioned against the interior vessel wall along one side of the vessel. Fluid can fill the trough as the vessel is tilted, or fully inverted, with respect to the ground plane, G, and then returned to an upright position with the first end 16 above the second end 18. When second end 18 is vertically above the first end 16, the fluid flows toward the first end 16. Then, with the vessel returned to the upright position, with the first end 16 above the second end 18, the fluid flows toward the second end with a portion of the fluid entering into the trough.

[0039] The cleaning elements 38 and cleaning element tips 38t have been schematically illustrated with shapes of pillars as might be provided in a simple molding process. It is to be understood that the cleaning elements may be formed in a variety of manners and may comprise natural or synthetic bristles between which a finger may extend as they bend. The cleaning elements may extend upward along the sanitizing bowl 26 toward the rim to more effectively clean cuticles. Also, the cleaning elements may be manufactured in a process separate from that of the inner fluid-containing surface 26.sub.i of the collection bowl 26.

[0040] While several embodiments of the present invention have been described, such embodiments are provided by way of example only. Numerous variations, changes and substitutions may be made without departing from the invention herein. Accordingly, it is intended that the invention be limited only by the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

* * * * *

File A Patent Application

  • Protect your idea -- Don't let someone else file first. Learn more.

  • 3 Easy Steps -- Complete Form, application Review, and File. See our process.

  • Attorney Review -- Have your application reviewed by a Patent Attorney. See what's included.