US20070107150A1 - Carpet cleaning apparatus and method with vibration, heat, and cleaning agent - Google Patents

Carpet cleaning apparatus and method with vibration, heat, and cleaning agent Download PDF

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US20070107150A1
US20070107150A1 US11/540,173 US54017306A US2007107150A1 US 20070107150 A1 US20070107150 A1 US 20070107150A1 US 54017306 A US54017306 A US 54017306A US 2007107150 A1 US2007107150 A1 US 2007107150A1
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Prior art keywords
cleaning
base plate
machine
heating
plate
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US11/540,173
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Yale Smith
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Yale Smith
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Priority to US10/234,690 priority Critical patent/US20040040579A1/en
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Priority to US11/540,173 priority patent/US20070107150A1/en
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47LDOMESTIC WASHING OR CLEANING; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47L11/00Machines for cleaning floors, carpets, furniture, walls, or wall coverings
    • A47L11/40Parts or details of machines not provided for in groups A47L11/02 - A47L11/38, or not restricted to one of these groups, e.g. handles, arrangements of switches, skirts, buffers, levers
    • A47L11/4036Parts or details of the surface treating tools
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47LDOMESTIC WASHING OR CLEANING; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47L11/00Machines for cleaning floors, carpets, furniture, walls, or wall coverings
    • A47L11/02Floor surfacing or polishing machines
    • A47L11/10Floor surfacing or polishing machines motor-driven
    • A47L11/12Floor surfacing or polishing machines motor-driven with reciprocating or oscillating tools
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47LDOMESTIC WASHING OR CLEANING; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47L11/00Machines for cleaning floors, carpets, furniture, walls, or wall coverings
    • A47L11/34Machines for treating carpets in position by liquid, foam, or vapour, e.g. by steam

Abstract

An apparatus and a method for cleaning carpets, upholstered surfaces, and other surfaces is disclosed, the apparatus and method utilizing a combination of vibratory motion, controllable heat, and cleaning agents, the apparatus comprising a base plate, heating elements with electrical connections, and means for moving the base plate to produce a scrubbing motion, the method comprising a replaceable cleaning implement in combination with a mechanical scrubber, a cleaning agent, and controllable heat.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 10/234,690, from which applicant claims priority.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to the cleaning of carpets, upholstered surfaces, and other surfaces utilizing a combination of vibratory motion, heat, and cleaning agents. More particularly, the present invention relates to a new apparatus and process for cleaning such surfaces utilizing vibratory or oscillatory “scrubbing” motions and heat, and generally also utilizing fluids, such as water or carbon compound cleaning fluids, whereby a user may remove materials and stains from such carpets or surfaces not otherwise removable.
  • BACKGROUND ART OF THE INVENTION
  • Methods for cleaning carpets, fabrics, or other similar items (“workpieces”), and the apparatus associated with such methods, are common in the prior art. Some such methods and apparatus involve the movement of air at or close to the workpiece, oftentimes in combination with some method or apparatus for vibrating, or otherwise breaking or shaking loose materials residing on or within, the workpiece. As applied to carpets, for instance, standard “vacuum cleaner” carpet cleaning technology falls within these more general methods. Other such methods and apparatus involve removal of materials more intimately associated to, or bound to one or more surfaces within, the workpiece. As applied to carpets, agitating or vibrating machines and methods are often used, usually in combination with a solvent or cleaning fluid. The present invention falls within this latter class of methods and machines designed to agitate, or “scrub,” with the result that the apparatus and method of the present invention may remove stains from carpets and other surfaces, and may remove other materials or compounds bound to, or more or less secured into or upon, such carpets and other surfaces.
  • The additional capabilities of the present apparatus and method of the present invention is achieved through a combination of agitation, heat, and a fluid. That is, in the present invention, heat may be applied directly or proximally to the workpiece, and its closely associated unwanted materials or stains, at the location of the soiled area, i.e., the area of the carpet or other workpiece holding unwanted materials. At the same time, the location of the affected area, and the area of the workpiece immediately surrounding the affected area, is subjected to both agitation and a fluid. The combination of agitation, heat, and fluid accomplishes a level of cleaning not otherwise available. While such cleaning is generally applicable to all surfaces, and useful in achieving the removal of materials not otherwise removable from such surfaces, such cleaning is especially useful in cleaning complex surfaces, such as the irregular surfaces found in the pile of a variety of carpet floor coverings.
  • Methods and machines utilizing agitation, heat, and fluids within the prior art, or combinations of such techniques and materials, include:
  • U.S. Pat. No. 3,711,891 to Conway, which discloses an apparatus and method for cleaning employing a high pressure jet of hot liquid or cleaning solution, in combination with a vibrator and vacuum.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 4,130,954 to Walker, which discloses a scrubbing method and apparatus for cleaning carpet, the apparatus having a vibrating drive plate carrying a layer of plastic bristles for holding a cloth.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 5,355,542 to Oreck et al., which discloses a floor machine for agitating a brush in an orbital motion against a floor or other workpiece.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,030,464 to Azevedo, which discloses a method of cleaning by the application of a heated water and cleaning compound solution, and subsequent removal of such solution by means of a scrubbing machine and a dry towel moved by an oscillating mechanism.
  • Outside the field of cleaning, on the other hand, there exist means for achieving a vibratory motion, some of which may be incorporated into a self-propelled vibratory plate, such as that found in U.S. Pat. No. 4,067,244 to Baumers.
  • While the inventions disclosed in these prior patents fulfill their respective objectives, these prior patents do not describe or suggest an apparatus or method which simultaneously utilizes agitation or vibration, in combination with heat, applied directly to the area to be cleaned, along with a separately applied (and therefore controllable) fluid, to suspend and remove the material or particles to be removed.
  • More particularly, agitation or vibration is a well known method of cleaning, particulary on surfaces which are not smooth. Such agitation is the “scrubbing” which is applied in many tough cleaning jobs, a process which is intended to increase effectiveness of cleaners by mechanically breaking grease or other “dirt” into smaller pieces, so that the dirt may be closely associated with detergents, solvents, and cleaners. Through such close association, the soap, solvent, or cleaner may chemically attach to some part of the dirt, or surround it, so that the dirt is less closely associated with the material to be cleaned, and may be floated away from the workpiece by the same agitation via a fluid such as water or other solvent. Most cleaning jobs require such agitation or vibration.
  • Similarly, heat is a well known component of many cleaning systems. It is the application of heat which, for instance, allows the attenuation of grease and oil to a thin film, the individual molecules of which film may then be exposed to soaps, solvents, or chelating agents. Chemically, cleaning agents generally double their reactivity, and therefore, their effectiveness, with each 10 degree centigrade increase in temperature.
  • Similarly, a fluid of some type, or other cleaning agent, is a well known component of perhaps all cleaning systems, as it is the fluid or cleaning agent which is employed in cleaning systems to carry away the unwanted particulate matter, solvent and solute, bound soap and oil molecules, or other materials as the case may be.
  • However, neither the prior patents set forth above nor any other prior art combines all three of the above components as described herein, i.e., by the application of agitation, heat, and a cleaning fluid, each of which is individually controllable. Put another way, each of the above-noted inventions fails altogether to employ one component, or fails to employ all components simultaneously, or fails to employ one or more components proximately to the material to be affected, or fails to employ each component to individually control their application, or fails to employ one or more components in a manner calculated to maximize its effect on the overall cleaning process when used with the remaining two components. Neither the prior patents set forth above, nor any other prior art of which applicant is aware, discloses an apparatus or method which combines all three of the above components to maximize the beneficial cleaning effect of each component.
  • The failure of prior art to apply heat, agitation, and fluid in the way best calculated to achieve thorough cleaning may be most easily appreciated when we consider that the most commonly used method of carpet cleaning in homes, whether by homeowners or professionals, is a hot water extraction method (and appropriate apparatus) commonly referred to as “steam cleaning.” This method often combines the three components of heat, agitation, and cleaning fluid. However, the heat of “steam cleaning” is applied in the form of a pre-heated cleaning fluid. Consequently, to apply heat, and to keep heat present in any particular area of a carpet, the heating solution must be continuously applied. At the same time, suction is applied to remove the solution. However, gravity, capillary action and the high pressure of the most successful of applicators combine to put much of the solution beyond the grasp of even the most powerful suction. The result is that solution far beyond the amount necessary to produce the desired cleaning action is applied to the carpet, and driven into the carpet to a position where it cannot be reached for extraction. The result is overwet carpets which may take days to dry and is at least very inconvenient and, at its worst, destructive to the carpet.
  • Using the method and apparatus of the present invention, on the other hand, the application of heat and cleaning solution are entirely separate and controllable by the user, thus allowing a user to continuously apply agitation and heat, and exactly the amount of solution necessary to accomplish the desired cleaning, without applying more fluid than is necessary for such optimal cleaning. Yet a user may apply continuous agitation and heat to problem areas, and “heavy traffic” areas, thereby concentrating the right mix of heat, agitation, and fluid, without additional unneeded cleaning solution. Using the method and apparatus of the present invention, a user may agitate or vibrate a cloth or other cleaning tool against a carpet or other workpiece, precisely in the area requiring the most attention, while simultaneously applying the optimal amount of heat and cleaning agent to the area of the workpiece to be cleaned. The dirt residing within the carpet is simultaneously affected by the agitation, the applied heat, and the detergent, solvent, or other cleaning agent. Such unwanted material is maximally affected by the simultaneous agitation, heat and cleaning agent, in just the right amount, as determined by the user, and such agent therefore picks up a maximum of such material. As a result, stains and particulate material not otherwise affected by any two components of the present cleaning system and apparatus, or even all these components, may be removed with the controllable application of all three components of the present system and apparatus.
  • By utilizing such a combination of components, the recognized benefits of each of these components of the system of the present invention may be applied to maximum effect at the location intended to be cleaned. Further, only by a combination of all three of these components of the present invention, for the correct duration and in the right amount, can the benefit to be derived from application of each of the other components be secured. Finally, only by the immediate and proximate application of these components can the user control the overall effect of the combination of components within the cleaning process, and only by use of the apparatus of the present invention can the user direct his or her attention, and so apply his or her efforts and these three components, precisely to the area to be cleaned.
  • DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION Summary of the Invention
  • The present invention overcomes the problems and disadvantages of the prior art by utilizing vibration or agitation simultaneously with heat and a cleaning agent. The cleaning agent is applied either directly to the workpiece or to a cloth which may reside under a base plate attached to a mechanical vibrator or agitator, which plate then moves the cloth in a very tight circular motion, or back and forth against the workpiece, or up and down against the workpiece, or in combinations of such movements, in small increments. The increments of movement may be increased in size by appropriate adjustment of the agitator, to increase the travel of the base plate and cloth, thereby increasing the cleaning effect when the present invention is used on carpets having thicker pile, or other workpieces having special characteristics. Heat is simultaneously applied to the workpiece by the mechanical agitator by means of a heating element or elements attached to or imbedded within the base plate of the mechanical agitator. The cloth so worked against the workpiece may be changed from time to time as particulates and other matter are dissolved, and picked up by the cleaning agent and cloth, and held by the agent on or in the cloth.
  • In one preferred embodiment, the present invention utilizes a floor-treating machine that provides orbital motion for mechanical vibration or agitation of a cloth against the workpiece. The treating machine consists of a motor to supply the motive force for the desired agitating action. An eccentric cam is attached to the shaft of the motor to provide a “throw,” and thereby provide movement for components attached to the cam. A bearing ring is attached to the cam in such fashion as to fasten the interior portion of the bearing ring to the cam, while allowing the exterior portion of the bearing to move freely with respect to the cam. The exterior portion of the bearing ring carries an attachment means for securing a vibration plate to the bearing ring. Accordingly, the shaft of the motor may rotate the cam to which it is attached, and the cam and interior portion of the bearing ring may rotate within the remaining exterior portion of the bearing ring, thereby creating a circular motion in the exterior portion of the bearing ring. Such circular motion is translated through the attachment means, to a vibration plate, which also travels in a generally circular, or “orbital,” motion. Through such eccentric mounting, the rotation of the drive shaft of the motor is thereby translated into a rotational “orbital” motion in the exterior portion of the bearing ring and attachment means. The exterior portion of the bearing ring and the attachment means, being secured to a vibrator plate, move together, thereby producing an orbital motion in the vibrator plate through the bearing ring and attachment means.
  • The vibration plate is attached to the bearing ring through the referenced attachment means, the vibration plate being large or small, depending upon the application at hand. Thus, a small vibration plate (and correspondingly small motor) may be utilized in a small “hand held” apparatus which employs the present invention for cleaning, for instance a jacket or furniture, while a large vibration plate (and correspondingly large motor) may be utilized in a large “industrial” apparatus, which may employ the present invention for cleaning a warehouse floor. However, the present invention envisions as one of its most useful applications, as more specifically described as one preferred embodiment disclosed below, a medium-sized vibration plate (and correspondingly sized motor) which employs the present invention for cleaning carpets. The vibration plate may be of any shape, however for maximum flexibility in operation the vibration plate is preferably circular in shape, with upturned edges, the function of which will become apparent below.
  • A base plate is employed to hold a terrycloth towel or other cleaning implement to the workpiece. The base plate may also be of any shape, but for ease of manufacture and flexibility in inserting the base plate and towel into small places or tight corners, the preferred shape is generally square or rectangular, perhaps with at least one acute angle at one of its corners. The base plate has attached to its upper surface a circular dish-like structure with upturned edges, fashioned to fit snugly against and over the corresponding upturned edges of the vibrator plate. When placed to so fit snugly against one another, the vibrator plate and the base plate remain in the same position with respect to one another so long as the these two pieces are pressed against (or “urged” against) one another. The weight of the remaining floor-treating machine, with its motor and other components, or the force of the user's hand in the case of a smaller-sized cleaning apparatus, is generally sufficient to urge the vibrator plate and the base plate against one another with sufficient force to keep them in the same position with respect to one another.
  • The body of the floor treating machine, on the underside of its underside base, and the vibration plate, on its upperside, each have studs attached to them for attachment of tensioning springs or elastic bands. By such tensioning springs, extending transversely between the studs of the vibrator plate and the underside base of the machine, the vibration plate, and through it the base plate, are prevented from rotating in relation to the underside base of the machine. As a result, the front edge of the vibration plate remains facing the front of the cleaning machine during operation, the rear edge remains facing the rear of the cleaning machine, and so forth.
  • The base plate further has embedded in it, or attached to it, one or more heating elements, which elements may be electrically activated to produce heat within the base plate. The heating elements may be formed on or in the base plate at any position with good effect, however the heating elements are in one preferred embodiment formed to cover the entire base plate. In such embodiment, a metallic sheet may be attached below the heating element to evenly spread the heat. In any case, however, an additional means may be supplied to hold a terrycloth towel or other cleaning implement in position below the base plate when operating the machine. Such holding means is best accomplished by high temperature plastic formed with projections on its underside, or formed to cover projections comprised of other materials.
  • A terrycloth towel or other cleaning implement is positioned to reside between the base plate and the workpiece when the floor cleaner is in operation. Generally, this “set up” is accomplished by placing the towel on the workpiece, then placing the floor-treating machine on the towel, with the lower side of the base plate facing downward. The edges of the towel may then be folded back across the upper side of the base plate, or secured into position by any other means, or not secured at all in many cases. While this general method may be utilized to set up for operation, it may be appreciated that the towel or other cleaning implement may be placed in position on the base plate prior to positioning the cleaning machine against the workpiece, particularly when the cleaning method disclosed herein is embodied in a hand-held machine used to clean furniture, clothing, or other small or difficult to reach items. Further, as noted above, the base plate itself, or a component of it, may be formed on its bottom side to present a rough texture to a towel, which rough texture is sufficient in many cases to maintain the towel in position underneath the base plate while the floor-treating machine operates.
  • The heating elements of the invention may also be formed of a variety of materials, and placed in the cleaning machine in a variety of arrangements. Two materials and arrangement are particularly useful given present technology. The first such material and arrangement is the attachment of resistance-type thin strip heating elements to the upper side of the base plate at its forward and rear edges. The second such material and arrangements is the attachment of modular heating pads to the lower side of the base plate, either covering the entire lower side of the base plate or covering portions of the base plate determined most effective at applying heat where heat is most desired. Such portions might include the forward or leading edge of the base plate where the cleaning machine is to be used to clean very close to stationary objects, or at one side of the base plate where the machine is to be used to “edge-clean” a large area. A combination of such heating elements may also be positioned in one versatile embodiment of the present invention so that separate areas of the base plate may be individually heated, either one at a time, or in various combinations as the operator throws appropriate switches supplying electricity to individual heating elements in such areas.
  • The greatest flexibility is placement of heating elements is presently accomplished by attaching modular heating element pads to various locations on the bottom side of the base plate. Such heating pads may be formed of thin-wire or thin-layer resistance elements, including nickle wire or foil, encased in silicon and fiberglass, or plasticized fiber, material, which resistance elements are capable of generating any operating temperature desirable for the cleaning process of the present invention up to the melting point of the workpiece. At such temperatures, the silicon and fiberglass material is capable of continuous operation without melting, hardening, or otherwise breaking down. The benefit of all such materials used as heating elements in the present invention is application of heat directly to the upper side of a towel or other cleaning element properly positioned in the cleaning machine, i.e. as close as possible to the workpiece to be cleaned. By such positioning, heat may be applied during the cleaning process as closely as possible to the workpiece to be cleaned, to maximize the benefit of heat within the process of the present invention.
  • As all heating elements require electricity to operate, suitable provision must be made to supply electricity to such elements. This may be accomplished by tapping household 110 volt current as such current is directed for other operations of the cleaning machine (powering the motor, for instance). However, one or more operator electrical switches are preferably introduced into the current path in positions convenient for operation during a cleaning job, so that heating elements in various areas of the base plate may be electrically activated, thereby producing the desired heat, and for setting the temperature to be provided to such areas, thereby allowing temperature adjustment for use of various cleaning solutions on a variety of materials. From the operator switches, an electrical path is provided to one or more electrical “buses,” which buses are positioned above the eccentric cam and bearing ring, and extending to points over the vibration plate convenient for supplying electrical connection to the heating elements on, within, or under the base plate. Plugs, sockets, or other electrical connectors may be placed at such points, for connecting electrical leads from the heating elements to the 110 volt electrical supply.
  • The heating elements may be placed anywhere on the base plate, including the upper sides of any edge of the place, the entire lower surface of the base plate, or at only selected areas on the lower surface of the base plate. However, the preferred placement for the present invention when used as a rug cleaner is by placement of a heating element or elements covering substantially the entire lower side of the base plate. From such position, and with appropriately connected switches for controlling current to each heating element individually, a operator may direct heat evenly throughout the entire base plate (while heat may be directed as desired to various portions of the base plate utilizing separate heading elements).
  • From the heating elements so placed on the lower side of the base plate, electrical leads from the heating elements are directed through or around the base plate. Such leads end with appropriate connectors for connection with the plugs or sockets leading from the electrical busses immediately above the base plate. Upon connecting such connectors to such plugs or sockets, electrical connection is complete back to the operator electrical switches, and the heating elements are upon such connection capable of heating during operation of the cleaning machine at the direction of the operator. The heating elements may be attached by any means appropriate to the base plate at the preferred positions, including use of high temperature silicone glue, such as G.E. Red RTV 116 or similar adhesive.
  • A cleaning solution is used with the cleaning machine (floor-treating machine, hand-held machine, or otherwise). The combination of such solution with the heat generated, directed, and applied by such apparatus maximizes the cleaning action of the present invention. The solution may be as simple as plain water, which may be used as a solvent for water-soluable substances, and a vehicle for removal of such substances. However, it is more usual to use water and detergent, or a combination of compounds containing water and either soap or detergent, which soap or combination of compounds combine chemically with non-water soluble soils or dirt. As with soap and detergents used in other applications, the combination of cleaning compound with fat-based soils proceeds hydrophobically with the fat soluble substances, so that the water in the combination of compounds may pick up the soap or detergent hydrophilically, and so float the fat soluble substance away (to lodge on the terrycloth or other towel residing under the base plate of the cleaning apparatus when in operation). In most such cleaning applications, additional rinsing is necessary to remove the soap or detergent residue from the workpiece to an acceptable level. In other cases, a solution containing one or more hydrocarbons may be used to dissolve soils adhering to the workpiece which are hydrocarbon based. Thus, motor oil may be dissolved using a cleaning fluid containing carbon compounds, including, for exceptionally tough cleaning jobs, generally available compounds containing combinations of N-Butyl Acetate, Isoparaffinic Hydrocarbons, and Propylene Glycol Methyl Ether Acetate. The benefit of using such hydrocarbon solvents is that further rinsing to remove the cleaning fluid after removal of the soil is generally not necessary.
  • In the cleaning operation, the process of the present invention proceeds initially by placing a towel or other cleaning material (often “terrycloth” is appropriate for this material) on the surface to be cleaned, at or near the soil to be removed from such surface. Thereafter, the cleaning machine herein described is placed on the towel. The towel may be folded at its edges around the edges of the base plate of the cleaning machine, and held in place at its edges by appropriate holding means. The cleaning agent of choice is then applied to the surface to be cleaned in the area occupied by the soil to be removed. This is generally accomplished by use of a spray-bottle applicator, by which the cleaning agent is directed on to such surface. Once the cleaning agent is applied to the surface to be cleaned, the motor of the cleaning machine of the present invention is turned on, thereby causing the vibration plate to oscillate horizontally against the surface to be cleaned in a generally circular fashion.
  • Once the oscillation of the cleaning begins, the operator may then also turn on the heating element residing on or below the base plate of the cleaning machine utilizing the electrical switches available to the operator. When the heating element of the base plate is thus activated, the operator may then push the cleaning machine forward and away from the operator, or pull the cleaning machine backward toward the operator, or otherwise direct the cleaning machine over, to, and around the area on the surface to be cleaned in such fashion as the operator feels is desirable to accomplish the cleaning task at hand. As the cleaning machine base plate oscillates against the workpiece, the cleaning machine will generally have a tendency to move across the ground easily in response to the operator's efforts, as the oscillatory motion also has a tendency to produce greater friction against the workpiece as such motion more closely matches the speed of the workpiece relative to the base plate. As a result, the cleaning machine of the present invention is easily moved by the operator in the most desirable direction. When the cleaning machine moves over the soil to be removed from the workpiece, and the cleaning agent residing on the workpiece on or near such soil, the oscillatory motion of the cleaning machine provides a vigorous “scrubbing” motion to the workpiece, and to the soil residing thereon, through the towel residing beneath the base plate. The towel may then pick up the soil as the cleaning agent combines with or dissolves the soil, and the towel is forced to move in direct contact with and against the surface of the workpiece, and its fibers, working the fibers of the towel into and against the fibers and irregularities of the workpiece.
  • The operator may then actuate the heating element electrical switches to adjust the heating element residing on or under the base plate. By such adjustment, the operator may apply the optimal heat to the surface of the workpiece as the cleaning machine resides on, and moves against, the workpiece. By such activation, the operator may direct heat to those areas of the surface of the workpiece bearing soil as the operator considers best to remove such soil. When the operator has by this method applied a towel to the surface of the workpiece, moved the towel in a scrubbing motion as required by the movement of the cleaning machine, applied a cleaning agent to the surface at or near the soil to be removed from such surface at the same time as the cleaning machine produces its scrubbing motion in the towel, and applied heat by the heating element at the same time as the cleaning agent and scrubbing motion are applied to the surface of the workpiece, the operator in his or her discretion may then remove the cleaning machine from the soiled area of the workpiece to inspect the results of his or her efforts. The operator may, as necessary, continue the process by again applying heat and scrubbing motion to the surface of the workpiece, generally with the application of additional cleaning agent. On the other, if the operator considers that one soiled area of the workpiece is acceptably clean, he or she may then move on to another area of the surface of the workpiece, and so continue this above process until the entire cleaning task is complete.
  • It may be appreciated that the scrubbing motion provided by the cleaning machine of the present invention, along with a cleaning agent, along with heat, each of which is individually controllable, is the most important part of the above-described cleaning process, and at the heart of the apparatus and method of the present invention. Accordingly, the scrubbing action may be initiated prior to application of cleaning agent or before, the heating element may be activated in various combinations prior to or after the scrubbing action is initiated, or prior to or after the cleaning agent is applied to the surface of the workpiece, and the elements of scrubbing, cleaning agent, and heat may be applied in any combination, order, duration, or amount. While such combinations of scrubbing, cleaning agent, and heat are not each considered separately here, each such combination of these elements, and each order, duration, and amount of application for these elements, are appropriately considered part of the cleaning method of the present invention.
  • By the above process, a user or operator may clean a large area or a small area, utilizing the benefits of each element of the invention. More specifically, the operator may take advantage of (1) the increased chemical activity attendant upon elevated temperature, as chemical processes proceed about twice as fast with each ten degree Celsius increase in temperature, (2) the increased cleaning effect resulting from use of a cleaning agent, such as detergent, or detergent and solvent combination, (3) the increased efficiency of cleaning as the cleaning agent either chemically combines with or dissolves the soil adhering to a workpiece at a raised temperature, and (3) the increased cleaning effect resulting from direct application of power oscillating “scrubbing” motion, as the towel which is affixed to the base plate of the present invention is vigorously rubbed against the workpiece to increase direct contact between these pieces.
  • The more important features of the invention have thus been outlined, rather broadly, so that the detailed description thereof that follows may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. Additional features of specific embodiments of the invention will be described below. However, before explaining preferred embodiments of the invention in detail, it may be noted briefly that the present invention substantially departs from pre-existing apparatus and methods of the prior art, and in so doing provides the user with the highly desirable ability to maximally clean various workpieces, particularly rugs and carpets.
  • OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
  • A principal object of the present invention is to present an apparatus by which a user or operator may achieve cleaning not heretofore known, primarily by causing the movement of a cloth or towel against a soiled workpiece in the presence of both a cleaning agent and heat.
  • A further principal object of the present invention is, by the present apparatus, to achieve for the first time a situation in which cleaning may proceed with the controllable application of agitation (“scrubbing), cleaning agent, and heat.
  • A further principal object of the present invention is to utilize the three elements of scrubbing, cleaning agent, and heat in a process involving all three such elements, such that these elements may be applied in any order, duration, or amount, at the discretion of the operator, in such a way as to apply all three elements to a soiled workpiece in various combinations to achieve maximum cleaning effect.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate one embodiment of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective drawing of the apparatus of the present invention, which shows the invention in its overall aspect.
  • FIG. 2 is an elevation, or “edge-on,” view of the general plan of the scrubbing components of the present invention, in which the vibrator plate and base plate are separated.
  • FIG. 3 is an elevation view of the scrubbing components of the present invention in which an alternative means is utilized to prevent rotation of the base plate of the present invention while providing tension between the underside base and the base plate, and in which an alternative construction for such base plate is shown in detail.
  • FIG. 4 is a top-down view of the base plate of the present invention when it is separated from the vibrator plate.
  • FIG. 5 is an elevation view of the apparatus of the present invention, which shows details of the mechanism between the motive force and the vibrator plate of the invention, by which the apparatus achieves the oscillatory motion of one embodiment of such apparatus.
  • FIG. 6 is a flow chart diagram of the first portion of the method of the present invention when using the apparatus of the preferred embodiment set forth herein.
  • FIG. 7 is a flow chart diagram of the second portion of the method of the present invention when using the apparatus of the preferred embodiment set forth herein.
  • DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Apparatus of the Invention
  • Referring initially to FIG. 1, one variation on the new apparatus of the present invention is shown in perspective view. In FIG. 1, the floor-treating machine of the present invention 1 is shown in perspective in its overall aspect. A vibration plate 2 of the machine 1 is affixed movably to an underside base 3 of the machine 1 to allow movement between the vibration plate 2 and the underside base 3. The vibration plate 2 may be of a variety of shapes, but is preferably of circular shape. A motor 4 (within a motor housing) is also attached to the underside base 3 in such fashion that the motor shaft (not shown) of the motor 4 extends through the underside base 3 below to allow attachment of the mechanism which eventually produces the oscillatory motion in the vibration plate 2. A handle assembly consisting of handle yolk 6 and handle shank 7 is provided for connecting to and controlling the movement of the floor-treating machine 1, along with a handle end 8 having handle grips 9. A base plate 10 is affixed to the vibration plate 2 via any means which allows easy removal, and may have a projecting corner or “nose” 27 for fitting into tight corners. In this embodiment, such means for affixation comprises an upturned edge (not shown) on the base plate 10, which edge is generally circular in shape, and approximately of the same diameter as the circular vibration plate 2, so that the upturned edge may fit snugly against and over the circular vibration plate 2. Electrical operator switches 12 are provided for controlling the operation of the motor 4, and for controlling heating elements (not shown) of the floor-treating machine 1. Electrical power for the motor 4, and for controlling the application of heat is supplied at household voltage in this embodiment by a standard electrical wall plug 11 and electrical cord 13, connected to electrical operator switches 12, which switches then direct current at such voltage to the motor 4, and at reduced voltage to other electrical components, via control cord 14 extending along or within handle shank 7 and electrical buses 15.
  • FIG. 2 is an elevation, or “edge-on” view, of the general plan of the scrubbing components of the present invention, in which the vibration plate 2 and base plate 10 are shown separated, as before use. Beginning at the underside base 3, the motor 4 is attached for supply of motive power to the working components thereunder. Underside base studs 20 and vibration plate studs 21 are attached the to underside base 3 and the vibration plate 2 respectively. Tensioning springs 22 are attached at one of their ends to the underside base studs 20, and at the other of their ends to the vibration plate studs 21, thereby securing the vibration plate 2 against rotation in relation to underside base 3, and thereby preventing such rotation of the vibration plate in relation to the underside base beyond only a few degrees. Vibration plate 2 has around its circumference upturned edges 23 for seating into corresponding structure of the base seat 24 on the base plate 10 below. Base plate seat 24 of base plate 10 is fashioned to fit snugly against and over the corresponding upturned edges 23 of vibration plate 2. Heating elements 25 reside on, in, or under the base plate 10, and are securely fastened to base plate 10 by suitable means. Electrical current for heating elements 25 is supplied in the embodiment by electrical posts 26, to which electrical conductors (not shown) may be attached. While FIG. 2 shows heating elements 25 situate within the body of base plate 10, it may be appreciated that heating elements 25 may also be situate entirely underneath base plate 10 (i.e., on its lower surface), so as to reduce the distance between the heating elements 25 and the workpiece below, thereby increasing the intensity and controllability of the heat originating from the heating elements 25 over and against the workpiece. In some preferred embodiments heating elements 25 cover the entire lower surface of base plate 10.
  • FIG. 3. shows an alternative to the “suspension” by means of base studs 20, vibration plate studs 21, and tensioning springs 22 shown in FIG. 2. In FIG. 3, again to secure the vibration plate 2 against rotation in relation to underside base 3, shockmounts 60 composed of rubber or other resilient material may be utilized. Such shockmounts 60 may be manufactured sufficiently long to bridge the gap between the underside base 3 and base plate 10 when these components are in place, and ready for operation (i.e., when in FIG. 2 the vibration plate 2 with upturned edges 23 is seated against base plate 10 and snugly within plate seat 24). Shockmounts. 60 may also be manufactured wide enough to provide sufficient lateral support so that, when three or more are in position between underside base 3 and base plate 10, and motor 4 is operating, shockmounts 60 prevent the vibration plate 2 from rotating in relation to underside base 3 beyond only a few degrees. In one preferred embodiment, shockmounts 60 are wider at each end than they are in the middle, thereby providing additional flexibility between underside base 3 and base plate 10 when in operation. The shockmounts 60 may be seated in shockmount brackets 61 affixed to the underside base 3 and the base plate 10 in such position across the gap between the underside base 3 and the base plate 10, such that the ends of the shockmounts 60 may fit snugly within the shockmount brackets 61. Shockmount brackets 61 thereby securely hold shockmounts 60 so long as tension may be supplied to close the gap between underside base 3 and base plate 10. However, shockmount brackets 61 may be eliminated in one preferred embodiment, where shockmounts 60 are fitted with threads at their ends (not shown) whereby the user may extend appropriately sized bolts through underside base 3 and base plate 10, to screw such bolts into ends of shockmounts 60. Such tension may be supplied by a variety of means, however a simple means may include simply providing rubber tensioners 62 (e.g., rubber “bands”) of length appropriate to reduce such gap, and means for holding the rubber bands 63 at each of their ends.
  • Alternative arrangements for vibrating and applying heat utilizing the present invention also include an alternate base plate 10 layered construction in which a major portion of base plate 10 is comprised of plastic, preferably ABS plastic, which may be formed in a single plastic layer 70 as shown in FIG. 3. Such plastic layer 70 may be formed from a variety of materials resistant to high temperature. Immediately thereunder, the heating element 25 may be formed in a single heating element layer 71 covering the entire underside of plastic layer 70, and immediately under heating element layer 71, a metallic layer 72, formed preferably of aluminum and in a single sheet, may be used to spread heat from the heating element layer 71 more evenly across the workpiece. Finally, heat resistant plastic sheet 73 having pointed extrusions 74 across its lower surface, may be affixed to the underside of metallic layer 72, to grab a terrycloth towel or other cleaning implement (not shown), and thereby maintain its position under base plate 10. The pointed extrusions 74 may be simple plastic projections, or hooks, or the extrusions may be comprised of separate metal shavings or fibers embedded in the heat resistant plastic sheet 73. When metal or fiber pieces are embedded in the heat resistant plastic sheet 73, the better method is to thinly cover such pieces with the same plastic material to seal such pieces against moisture, and prevent any sharp edges of the metal or fibers from cutting into the terrycloth towel.
  • FIG. 4 represents a top down view of base plate 10, in which the interior surface of base plate seat 24 having upturned edge 28 appears superimposed over the remainder of base plate 10. Base plate seat 24 is sized to fit snugly over, and so engage with, the correspondingly shaped upturned edges 23 of the vibration plate 2. As noted above, both base plate seat 24 and the upturned edge 23 of the vibration plate 2 are preferably circular in shape, to assist in the easy engagement of these components prior to operation. Heating elements 25 appear along and under the edges of the base plate 10 in this embodiment, and are intermittently electrically connected with electrical busses 15 by electrical posts or electrical connectors 26 and other suitable connection means. In this embodiment, heating elements 25 are comprised of electrically-resistive strips which generate heat as electrical current is directed to heating element electrical connectors 26. Base plate 10 is preferably shaped to fit within tight corners with at least one corner 27 or nose projecting from the main body of the base plate 10, which the operator may manipulate into such tight corners. The shape of the base plate 10 preferably matches generally the shape of the underside base 3, but is somewhat larger so that the base plate 10 may fit fully into such tight corners during operation without interference from the underside base 3 immediately above.
  • FIG. 5 is an elevation view of the general plan of the scrubbing components of the present invention, in which the vibration plate 2 and base plate seat 24 of base plate 10 are shown engaged, as during use, and also showing mechanical components which generate the oscillatory motion of the invention. FIG. 5 also shows the connections 32 necessary to electrically connect the heating elements 25 to a power supply. Beginning at the underside base 3, the motor 4 appears above the underside base, along with one or more electrical busses 15 for electrical supply of heating elements 25 situate on, in or under base plate 10. The electrical busses 15 and the motor 4 are each electrically connected by control cord 14 to electrical operator switches 12 and, through such switches and electrical cord 13 and wall plug 11, to a power supply as desired by the user. Electrical busses 15 end at electrical connectors 30 situated on the underside of base 3. At the same time, heating elements 25, residing on, in, or under base plate 10, have electrically attached to them electrical connectors 26. Between electrical connectors 30 and 26, electrical wires 32 make electrical connection, so as to allow power from operator switches 12 to flow to and through heating elements 25 when the operator activates electrical switches 12. Electrical connectors 30 and 26 are formed so as to allow easy disconnection and separation between base plate 10 and vibration plate 2 when these components are separated as in FIG. 2, but also allow easy electrical connection or reconnection between electrical busses 15 and heating elements 25 when the cleaning machine is in operation.
  • Continuing with FIG. 5, motor 4, when activated, turns motor shaft 40 which has attached to it cam 41, residing within bearing 42. Counter weight 43 is attached by counter weight swing arm 44, to bearing 42 via swing arm bolts 45. Bearing 42 is attached to vibration plate 2 by vibration plate pins 46. Accordingly, motor 4, when activated, moves cam 41 in a circular fashion, horizontally, below underside base 3 within bearing 42 to produce a circular oscillatory motion in bearing 42, and in vibration plate 2 attached thereto, while counter weight 43 acts at the same time to provide an offsetting force to counter-balance the above moving components, and so stabilize the cleaning machine during operation. Base plate 10 having base plate seat 24 surrounds vibration plate 2 with upturned edges 23 in FIG. 5, and is in contact therewith, the vibration plate 2 and the base plate 10 being secured thereby. Underside base studs 20 and vibration plate studs 21 appear in FIG. 5 (without tension springs 22). A terrycloth towel 50 or other cleaning implement is associated with the underside of base plate 10 and, when engaged therewith by extensions 74, moves therewith in the circular, oscillatory motion caused by the connection of base plate 10 with vibration plate 2, and so on to bearing 42, motor shaft 40, and motor 4.
  • In operation, the user generally sprays a solvent, detergent, or other cleaning agent on the rug or other workpiece on the surface to be cleaned at the location of the soil. The user then fastens towel 50 to base plate 10, and sets the cleaning machine on or near the location to be cleaned. Of course the towel may be fastened to base plate 10 prior to spraying the cleaning agent on the location to be cleaned. In any case, however, once the cleaning agent has been applied to the surface to be cleaned, the user may then turn on motor 4, thus initiating the oscillatory motion of the cam 41, which motion is transmitted through the bearing 42, and the vibration plate, with its upturned edges 23, to base plate 10 through seat 24, and to towel 50, which then rubs against, or scrubs, the workpiece. Upon thus initiating the oscillatory motion of the towel 50 against the workpiece, the user may also initiate the application of heat to the surface to be cleaned at the location of the soil. The application of heat results as the user activates electrical switches 12, to set the desired temperature, thus allowing the correct current to flow from electrical cord 13, through electrical operator switches 12, which then direct current at appropriate voltage along electrical control cord 14, and electrical buses 15, to electrical connectors 30. After base plate seat 24 is placed in position against vibration plate 2 (or base plate 2 placed on or within base plate seat 24), and underside base studs 20 connected to vibration plate studs 21 by tensioning springs 22, electrical wires 32 may be attached between electrical connectors 30 and 26 to complete the electrical connection from operator switches 12 to heating elements 25. Through this process, a user may direct heat to the entire surface of the base plate 10, and so to a large area of the workpiece. Through this process, a user may also control the temperature to be applied to heat the base plate 10, as electrical switches 12 may be selected to allow such control in addition to simple switching (i.e., only “on” and “off”).
  • In the alternative, and particularly with reference to smaller cleaning machines, a user may assemble the cleaning machine of the present invention as set forth above, and then spray the towel 50 on the under side of the base plate 10 immediately prior to application of the machine to the workpiece. The user may in such case, just as before, move the cleaning machine as necessary to cover the area to be cleaned, re-spray the towel 50 or re-spray the workpiece as necessary to adequately clean the surface to be cleaned, initiate electrical current to heat the base plate 10, thereby to heat areas of the workpiece. The user may thereby control temperature of the cleaner heating elements 25 and the base plate 10 by varying the settings of the electrical operator switches 12 while the oscillating motion of base plate 10 works towel 50 against the workpiece.
  • While shockmounts 60 are employed with shockmount brackets 61 and tensioner 62 as in FIG. 3, the user may simply place vibration plate 2 on base plate 10 within or near base seat 24, with shockmounts 60 between underside base 3 and base plate 10. Assembly thereafter is quick, as vibration plate 2 may be centered as it is moved against and engages the upturned edge 28 of base seat 24, and tensioners 62 are stretched between and engaged with holding means 63. Finally, assembly is also quick when only shockmounts 60 are utilized to bridge the gap between underside base 3 and baseplate 10, as bolts may easily engage either or both ends of shockmounts 60, generally removably so though underside base 3. Where only shockmounts 60 are used between underside base 3 and base plate 10, such shockmounts fill the functions of supplying tension between underside base 3 and base plate 10, and at the same time maintain the proper orientation of base plate 10 in relation to underside base 3.
  • Process of the Invention
  • Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7, there is shown a flow chart which schematically represent the cleaning processes which are a principal feature of the present invention. In FIGS. 6 and 7, the cleaning process of the preferred embodiment of the present invention is comprised of a series of steps, each of which step is represented by a rectangular box. The order of these steps is represented serially by the direction of the arrows between the steps. Thus, one step may be seen to be the step of placing a towel or other cleaning implement on the surface of the workpiece being cleaned. Immediately thereafter another step is taken, and so on, until the cleaning job is complete.
  • Referring now specifically to the steps of FIG. 6, the first portion of the cleaning method of the present invention appears in flow chart form. In FIG. 6, the user begins the cleaning process at the point labeled “X,” from which the cleaning job may be approached using any one of, or all of, four general approaches. The four general approaches are labeled “A” through “D” in FIG. 6.
  • Beginning with Approach A, user first places a towel or other cleaning implement (the “Towel”) on the surface of the workpiece to be cleaned, but at a location other than the soiled area (the “Surface”) 101, and the apparatus of the present invention (the “Machine”) is then placed on the Towel 102. The user may at this point secure the Towel to the Machine 103, and then apply detergent or other cleaning agent (the “Cleaner”) to the soiled area of the workpiece (the “Soil”) 104, or the user may apply the Cleaner to the Soil 104 directly after placing the Machine on the Towel 102, without first securing the Towel to the Machine 103. The user may skip the step of specially securing the Towel to the Machine 103 because the weight of the Machine, or the non-slip under surface of the Machine, or both, hold the Towel in place on the under surface for at least a short period of time while the Machine is in operation.
  • Continuing with Approach A, the user then turns on the Machine 105, and adjusts the heat 106, and is now ready to move the Machine over the Soil. That is, the user is at point “Y” ready to move the Machine into position over the Soil (step 150 in FIG. 7). In the alternative, the user may turn on the Machine 105 and then, if he believes no heat is desirable in Approach A during this cleaning job, immediately move the Machine into position over the Soil (step 150 in FIG. 7), without adjusting the heat 106.
  • In Approach “B” of FIG. 6, the user again approaches step 150 in FIG. 7, but through a different set of steps. Utilizing Approach B, the user first places the Towel on the Soil 110, then places the Machine on the Towel 111. Again the user may secure the Towel to the Machine 112, and then turn on the Machine 113, or proceed to turn on the Machine 113 without securing the Towel to the Machine 112. In either case, the Machine is turned on 113, and the user must then move the Machine to a portion of the Workpiece away from the Soil 114, to thereby expose the Soil, and then turn the Machine off 115 to allow Cleaner to be applied. The user applies that Cleaner to the Towel 116 or to the Soil 117, and then again turns on the Machine 118, adjusts the heat 119, and is now ready to move the Machine over the Soil once again. That is, the user is again at point “Y” ready to move the Machine into position over the Soil (step 150 in FIG. 7). In the alternative, the user may turn on the Machine 118 and then, if he believes no heat is desirable in Approach B during this cleaning job, immediately move the Machine into position over the Soil (step 150 in FIG. 7), without adjusting the heat 119.
  • In Approach “C” of FIG. 6 the user again approaches step 150 in FIG. 7, but through yet another different set of steps. Primarily, the user affixes the Towel to the Machine rather than laying the Towel on the Surface as in Approach A and Approach B. Utilizing Approach C, the user first applies Cleaner to the Towel 120 then affixes the Towel to the Machine 121. As with other approaches, the user may secure the Towel to the Machine 122, and then move the Machine to the Surface 123, or proceed to move the Machine to the Surface 123 directly, without securing the Towel to the Machine 121. However in this Approach C the Machine will be moved to the Surface 123 in such fashion as to allow the Towel to fall away from the Machine during movement. Accordingly, securing the Towel to the Machine 121 is more important in Approach C than in Approach A or Approach B. Once the Towel and Machine are placed on the Surface, the user turns on the Machine 124, the heat is adjusted 125, and the user is now ready to move the Machine over the Soil. That is, the user is again at point “Y” ready to move the Machine into position over the Soil (step 150 in FIG. 7). In the alternative, the user may turn on the Machine 124 and then, if he believes no heat is desirable in Approach C during this cleaning job, immediately move the Machine into position over the Soil (step 150 in FIG. 7), without adjusting the heat 125.
  • In Approach “D,” on the other hand, the user ends up in position over the Soil, the Machine is vibrating, and Cleaner has been applied. Accordingly, the Machine is in the process of removing dirt from the Workpiece upon first turning off the Machine. The user begins Approach D by affixing the Towel to the Machine 130, rather than laying the Towel on the Surface as in Approach A and Approach B. In Approach D, the user again has the option of specially securing the Towel to the Machine 131, or proceeding directly to application of the Cleaner to the Towel 132, however in this Approach, as in Approach C, the Machine will be moved to the Soil 133 in such fashion as to allow the Towel to fall away from the Machine during movement. Accordingly, securing the Towel to the Machine 131 is more important in Approach D than in Approach A or Approach B. Once the Towel and Machine are placed on the Soil 133, the Cleaner being already applied to the Towel 132, the user may then turn on the Machine 134, adjust the heat 135, and again be ready to move the Machine over the Soil (point “Z”). Again, if the user believes no heat is desirable in Approach D during this cleaning job, he may immediately move the Machine into position over the Soil (step 150 in FIG. 7), without adjusting the heat 135.
  • It may be noted that, in Approach C and Approach D, the user has the option to either move the Machine to the Surface 123, or move the Machine to the Soil 133 whether Cleaner is applied to the Towel first 120 and then the Towel is affixed to the Machine 121, or the Towel is affixed to the Machine first 130 and then the Cleaner is applied to the Towel 132.
  • Referring now to FIG. 7, the remainder of the cleaning method of the present invention appears in flow chart form. In FIG. 7, the user continues the cleaning process begun in FIG. 6 at either the point labeled “Y” or the point labeled “Z.” Which of these points are the start of the remainder of the method of the present invention is determined by which Approach is used in FIG. 6. That is, each of Approaches A, B, and C end at point Y in FIG. 6, and therefore begin at point Y in FIG. 7, while Approach D ends at point Z in FIG. 6, and therefore begins at point Z in FIG. 7.
  • Beginning at point Y, the user moves the Machine on to the Soil 150, and allows the Machine to vibrate on the Soil 151 for a time period sufficient, in the user's mind, to accomplish his immediate objective. This objective may, on the one hand, be as large as completely cleaning the Soil in a single pass of the Machine or, on the other hand, just beginning to clean the Soil, knowing that many passes of the Machine will be necessary to complete the process, or the objective may be something in between at the discretion of the user.
  • Once the Machine is vibrating on the Soil 151, the user then may move the Machine around on the Soil for maximum effect 152, but at some point must move the Machine off the Soil 153 long enough to observe the effect of his efforts. In the process, the user will usually adjust the heat (downward) 154, and turn off the Machine 155, but he may skip either or both of these steps.
  • In any case, the user must inspect his work 156. At this point the user evaluates his efforts by determining whether this portion of the Workpiece is clean 157. If the answer to this question is “NO,” the user may apply more Cleaner to the Soil 158, or to the Towel 159, or both, or turn on the Machine 160 without applying any additional Cleaner. As in the Approaches of FIG. 6, if the user believes additional heat will benefit the cleaning process, he may adjust the heat 161 and then move the Machine into position once again over the Soil 150. However, if he believes that no heat is desirable at this point of his cleaning job, he may again immediately move the Machine into position over the Soil 150, without adjusting the heat 161.
  • If the user's inspection 156 reveals that this portion of the Workpiece is satisfactorily clean, and so he answers “YES” to the question whether this portion of the Workpiece is clean 157, the user may then go on to determine whether other areas of the Workpiece are soiled 170. If the answer to this question is “YES,” he will then move the Machine to the new soiled area, and begin the cleaning process anew on a new area to be cleaned. Where additional cleaner is required or a fresh towel, or cleaner and towel, the user may decide to continue the cleaning process 171 by returning to point “X” in FIG. 7 (corresponding also to point “X” in FIG. 6, and proceeding therefrom through the process appearing in FIG. 6). Where neither additional cleaner nor towel are required to continue the cleaning process, the user may move on to the soil of the new area to be cleaned 150, returning through point “Y” in FIG. 7. Of course, if in asking the question whether other areas of the Workpiece are soiled 170, the user determines that other areas of the Workpiece are not soiled, the user then stops the cleaning process 172.
  • Other embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope of the invention being indicated by the following claims and equivalents.

Claims (20)

1. An apparatus for cleaning a surface, comprising:
a motor, having a motor shaft;
a vibrator plate;
means for connecting the vibrator plate to the motor shaft to produce a scrubbing motion;
a base plate;
a plurality of heating elements, attached to the base plate; and
means for removably engaging the base plate with the vibrator plate.
2. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 1, in which the means for removably engaging the base plate with the vibrator plate further comprises:
a base plate seat, formed to engage the vibrator plate;
means for attaching the base plate seat to the base plate; and
means for maintaining the orientation of the base plate in relation to the motor.
3. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 2, further comprising: means for removably engaging a replaceable cleaning implement with the base plate.
4. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 3, in which the means for removably engaging the replaceable cleaning implement with the base plate further comprises: pointed extrusions on the lower surface of the base plate.
5. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising: means for electrically connecting the heating elements to a power source, for supply of electrical current to the heating elements.
6. The apparatus of claim 5, further comprising: means for controlling the electrical current supplied to the heating elements from the power source.
7. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 1, in which the means for connecting the vibrator plate to the motor shaft comprises:
a cam;
means for attaching the cam to the motor shaft;
a bearing;
means for attaching the bearing to the cam; and
means for attaching the vibrator plate to the bearing.
8. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 7, further comprising: means for removably engaging a replaceable cleaning implement with the base plate.
9. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 8, in which the means for removably engaging the replaceable cleaning implement with the base plate further comprises: a plurality of pointed extrusions on the lower surface of the base plate.
10. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 7, in which the means for removably engaging the base plate with the vibrator plate comprises:
a base plate seat, formed to engage the vibrator plate;
means for attaching the base plate seat to the base plate; and
means for maintaining the orientation of the base plate in relation to the motor.
11. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 10, further comprising: means for removably engaging a replaceable cleaning implement with the base plate.
12. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 11, in which the means for removably engaging the replaceable cleaning implement with the base plate further comprises: pointed extrusions on the lower surface of the base plate.
13. The apparatus of claim 10, further comprising: means for electrically connecting the heating elements to a power source, for supply of electrical current to the heating elements.
14. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising: means for controlling the electrical current supplied to the heating elements from the power source.
15. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 12, in which the means for removably connecting the vibration plate to the motor shaft further comprises:
a counter weight, and
means for attaching the counter weight to the cam.
16. The apparatus for cleaning a surface of claim 12, in which the means for removably connecting the vibrator plate to the motor shaft further comprises:
a counter weight, and
means for attaching the counter weight to the motor shaft.
17. The apparatus of claim 7, further comprising: means for electrically connecting the heating elements to a power source, for supply of electrical current to the heating elements.
18. The apparatus of claim 17, further comprising: means for controlling the electrical current supplied to the heating elements from the power source.
19. A method for cleaning a surface, comprising the steps of:
applying a cleaning agent to a soiled area of a surface to be cleaned;
moving a replaceable cleaning implement to the soiled area of the surface;
moving a mechanical scrubber to the replaceable cleaning implement;
applying heat to the replaceable cleaning implement, and scrubbing the replaceable cleaning implement against the soiled area of the surface using the mechanical scrubber.
20. A method for cleaning a surface, comprising the steps of:
affixing a replaceable cleaning implement to a mechanical scrubber;
applying a cleaning agent to the replaceable cleaning implement;
placing the replaceable cleaning implement and mechanical scrubber on a soiled area of the surface;
applying heat to the replaceable cleaning implement; and
scrubbing the replaceable cleaning implement against the soiled area of the surface using the mechanical scrubber.
US11/540,173 2002-09-03 2006-09-29 Carpet cleaning apparatus and method with vibration, heat, and cleaning agent Abandoned US20070107150A1 (en)

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