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Title:
CLEANING HEADS AND METHODS OF USE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/106668
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Cleaning heads for extracting liquid from a surface and methods of use are disclosed herein. A cleaning head may include a head body and/or a neck portion that define an internal chamber. A vacuum hose can couple to an opening into the internal chamber. A bottom wall of the head body can be positioned against the surface from which liquid is to be extracted. The bottom wall defines a floor of the internal chamber, a plurality of suction holes into the internal chamber, and a plurality of ridges and a plurality of depressions disposed on an outer surface of the bottom wall. The depressions form vacuum chambers against the surface as suction is applied through the suction holes. An upper wall defines a top of the internal chamber. A sight portion allows visibility of liquid and other material extracted and/or drawn into the vacuum hose.

Inventors:
KENT WILLIE DEE (US)
KENT STEVEN RODGER (US)
Application Number:
US2013/021172
Publication Date:
July 18, 2013
Filing Date:
January 11, 2013
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KENT RESEARCH CORPORATION (250 Highway 62 West, Ash Flat, Arkansas, 72513, US)
International Classes:
A47L11/20; A47L9/02; A47L11/29
Domestic Patent References:
WO2001006188A1
Foreign References:
US6513192B1
US20100223750A1
JPH0824189A
EP0902688B12005-01-12
Other References:
See also references of EP 2802250A4
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOHNSON, R. Whitney (Stoel Rives LLP, 201 So. Main Street,Suite 110, Salt Lake City UT, 84111, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

Claims

1. A cleaning head for extracting liquid from a surface, the cleaning head comprising:

an internal chamber;

an opening configured to couple to a conduit to a vacuum machine, the opening in fluid communication with the internal chamber;

a bottom wall configured to be positioned against a surface from which a liquid is to be extracted, the bottom wall defining a floor of the internal chamber and defining a plurality of holes through the bottom wall into the internal chamber, the bottom wall further defining a plurality of ridges and a plurality of depressions disposed on an outer surface of the bottom wall; and

an upper wall that is continuous from the bottom wall to the opening and defining a top of the internal chamber.

2. A cleaning head of claim 1 , wherein the plurality of ridges and plurality of depressions are arranged as rings of progressively increasing diameter.

3. A cleaning head of claim 1 , wherein the plurality of ridges and plurality of depressions are arranged as a grid pattern.

4. A cleaning head of claim 3, wherein a depression of the plurality of depressions defines a four-sided pyramid-shaped recession away from one or more adjacent ridges of the plurality of ridges.

5. A cleaning head of claim 1 , wherein the plurality of openings through the bottom wall are disposed in the plurality of depressions.

6. A cleaning head of claim 1, wherein the plurality of openings through the bottom wall are disposed at apices of the plurality of ridges.

7. A cleaning head of claim 1 , wherein the upper wall includes threads adjacent to and around the opening to enable coupling of the cleaning head to the conduit to the vacuum machine.

8. A cleaning head of claim 1 , further comprising a neck portion configured to couple the opening to the conduit to the vacuum machine.

9. A cleaning head of claim 8, wherein the neck portion comprises a sight portion configured to allow a user visibility into a lumen of the neck portion to view the liquid being extracted from the surface and taken into the conduit to the vacuum machine.

10. A cleaning head of claim 1 , wherein the upper wall comprises a sight portion configured to allow a user visibility into the internal chamber of the cleaning head to view the liquid being extracted from the surface and directed toward the conduit to the vacuum machine.

1 1 . A cleaning head of claim 10, wherein the sight portion comprises a upper conical portion of the upper wall and defines a conical region of the inner chamber, the conical region of the inner chamber configured to direct extracted material toward the conduit to the vacuum machine.

12. A cleaning head of claim 10, wherein the sight portion comprises threads configured to couple to threads of the lower portion of the upper wall of cleaning head body.

13. A cleaning head of claim 1 , wherein the bottom wall and a lower portion of the upper wall comprise a circular portion that has a circumference within a plane configured to be positioned during use parallel to the surface from which the liquid is extracted.

14. A cleaning head of claim 1 , further comprising a liquid injection system configured to dispense liquid from one or more ports of the cleaning head onto the surface from which the liquid is extracted.

15. A cleaning head of claim 14, the liquid injection system comprising: a liquid supply hose to convey liquid from a liquid source to the cleaning head; a control valve coupled to the liquid supply hose and configured to control passage of liquid from the liquid supply hose;

liquid injection ports in fluid communication with the liquid supply hose and configured to convey liquid from the liquid supply hose to the outer surface of the bottom wall of the head body to dispense onto the surface from which the liquid is extracted; and

an activator to activate the control valve and activate the liquid injection system.

16. A cleaning head of claim 15, wherein the liquid injection ports are disposed on the plurality of ridges on the outer surface of the bottom wall.

17. A cleaning head of claim 15, further comprising a plurality of distribution lines coupled to the liquid supply hose and disposed within depressions on an inner surface of the bottom wall at the floor of the internal chamber, the distribution lines comprising tubular members configured to convey liquid from the liquid supply hose to the liquid injection ports.

18. A cleaning head of claim 14, wherein the liquid supply hose of the liquid injection system enters the cleaning head from the conduit to the vacuum machine and through the opening into the internal chamber.

19. A cleaning head of claim 14, wherein the liquid supply hose of the liquid injection system enters the cleaning head through a port in the upper wall of the cleaning head, the port disposed lateral to the opening into the internal chamber.

20. A method of extracting liquid from a surface, comprising:

obtaining a cleaning head configured to extract liquid from a surface, the cleaning head having an internal chamber and comprising:

an opening in fluid communication with the internal chamber and configured to couple a conduit to a vacuum machine to the internal chamber and transfer suction from the vacuum machine to the internal chamber;

a bottom wall defining a floor of the internal chamber and a plurality of openings through the bottom wall and into the internal chamber, the bottom wall further defining a plurality of ridges and depressions on the bottom wall; and

an upper wall that is continuous from the bottom wall to the opening and defining a top of the internal chamber;

coupling a cleaning head to a conduit to a vacuum machine;

positioning the bottom wall against the surface from which the liquid is to be extracted; and

applying suction from the plurality of openings through the bottom wall to the surface to extract liquid from the surface.

21 . The method of claim 20, wherein the cleaning head further comprises a sight portion configured to allow visibility into the internal chamber of the cleaning head to view the liquid being extracted from the surface as the liquid is directed toward the conduit to the vacuum machine, wherein the method further comprises: viewing the liquid through the sight portion as the liquid is extracted from the surface to confirm the suction is being applied to the surface.

22. The method of claim 21 , further comprising:

applying suction from the plurality of openings to the surface until only a nominal quantity of liquid is being extracted from the surface.

23. The method of claim 21 , further comprising:

coupling an adapter to the opening, the adapter configured to couple the conduit to the vacuum machine having a different diameter than a diameter of the opening.

Description:
CLEANING HEADS AND METHODS OF USE

Background

[0001] The field of the present disclosure relates generally to cleaning machines, and more particularly to a cleaning head or nozzle of a vacuum machine and methods of using the same.

[0002] Traditional vacuum cleaners remove dust and dirt from carpets, but may not effectively remove spots and stains. A steamer or water extractor may be used to deep clean carpets and remove spots and stains. However, steam and/or water extraction cleaning methods tend to leave carpets very wet, which results in extended drying periods. Moreover, over-wetting of carpet can damage the backing of the carpet and may even lead to mildew and/or mold in the carpet and/or pad below the carpet if the moisture is not sufficiently removed.

Summary

[0003] The present disclosure is directed to cleaning heads (e.g., suction heads or nozzles) that can be connected to a hose or other suction conduit of a vacuum machine and to cleaning methods.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0004] Understanding that drawings depict only certain preferred embodiments and are not therefore to be considered to be limiting in nature, non-limiting and non- exhaustive embodiments of the disclosure are described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0005] FIG. 1 is an upper isometric view of a cleaning head, according to one embodiment.

[0006] FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the cleaning head of FIG. 1 .

[0007] FIG. 3 is a bottom isometric view of a bottom of the head body of the cleaning head of FIG. 1 .

[0008] FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the cleaning head of FIG. 1 .

[0009] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the head body of the cleaning head of

FIG. 1 .

[0010] FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the head body of the cleaning head of FIG. 1 .

[0011] FIG. 7A is an upper isometric view of a cleaning head, according to another embodiment.

[0012] FIG. 7B is an exploded view of the cleaning head of FIG. 7A. [0013] FIG. 8 illustrates adapters of the cleaning head of FIG. 7.

[0014] FIG. 9A is a top isometric view of a cleaning head, according to another embodiment.

[0015] FIG. 9B is a side cross-sectional view of the cleaning head of FIG. 9A.

[0016] FIG. 9C is a partial sectional view of the cleaning head of FIG. 9A.

[0017] FIG. 10A is a top isometric view of a cleaning head, according to another embodiment.

[0018] FIG. 10B is a partial sectional view of the cleaning head of FIG. 10A.

[0019] FIG. 1 1A is bottom plan view of a cleaning head, according to another embodiment.

[0020] FIGS. 1 1 B and 1 1 C are isometric views of a bottom wall of the cleaning head of FIG. 1 1 A.

Detailed Description

[0021] The present disclosure is directed to cleaning heads (e.g., suction heads or nozzles) that can be connected to a hose or other suction conduit of a vacuum machine. One configuration of a cleaning head may be used, for example, to lift spots and/or moisture out of carpet. The disclosed cleaning heads and methods may also be used to extract liquid from a surface. The disclosed cleaning heads and methods may pull more liquid, from deeper in the carpet and/or pad, with less effort than a traditional vacuum machine nozzle. By pulling more liquid from deeper in the carpet and/or pad, the disclosed cleaning heads and methods may extract more odors by extracting more of the source of odors (e.g., pet urine).

[0022] A spot to be removed from carpet may be treated with a chemical spot remover. Water may be used to flush the spot and chemical spot remover from the carpet fibers. The disclosed cleaning head embodiments may be used to recover the spot, chemical spot remover, and water from the carpet fibers and/or the carpet backing and/or pad.

[0023] Although the present disclosure is described primarily in terms of extracting liquid from carpet, the disclosed embodiments are not limited to use on carpet surfaces. The disclosed embodiments of a cleaning head and embodiments of a cleaning method may be capable of use on almost any surface.

[0024] FIG. 1 is an upper perspective view of a cleaning head 100, according to one embodiment of the present disclosure. The cleaning head 100 may include a head body 102 and a neck portion 104. The head body 102 may be configured to be positioned in contact with the carpet or other surface being cleaned. The head body 102 may be molded, for example, rotationally molded or blow molded from plastic, to have an upper wall 106 and a bottom wall 108 defining an internal chamber 502 (see FIG. 5). In another embodiment, the head body 102 may be injection molded, for example, by molding two pieces of the head body 102 and gluing, screwing, or otherwise coupling the two pieces together (see e.g., FIG. 7B). The upper wall 106 may be injection molded separate from the bottom wall 108 and then the upper wall 106 and bottom wall 108 may be coupled together.

[0025] The upper wall 106 of the head body 102 may be shaped and configured to provide a continuous and/or sealed upper surface of the internal chamber to transfer suction from a vacuum hose 10 (or other conduit from a vacuum machine) to the carpet being cleaned. The upper wall 106 of the head body 102 may also be shaped and configured to direct dirt, debris, and/or liquid taken up by the suction toward the neck portion 104 and/or the vacuum hose 10. For example, the upper wall 106 may include a lower section 1 1 1 and an upper conical portion 1 10 (or flared region) configured to define a conical region of the internal chamber 502 (see FIG. 5) that may function as a funnel to draw extracted liquid, dirt, and or debris into the neck portion 104 and/or into the vacuum hose 10.

[0026] Although the conical portion 1 10 and lower section 1 1 1 of the cleaning head 100 may be continuous surfaces in the illustrated embodiment, in other embodiments the upper wall 106 may comprise a plurality of walls shaped and configured to, with the bottom wall 108, form the internal chamber 502 (see FIG. 5). For example, the upper wall 106 may comprise one or more side walls and a top wall.

[0027] The bottom wall 108 of the head body 102 may be configured to be positioned against the surface from which the liquid is extracted. In particular, a bottom, outer surface of the bottom wall 108 may be positioned against the surface from which the liquid is being extracted. The bottom wall 108 may define a plurality of openings or suction holes 302 (see FIG. 3) through the bottom wall 108 and into the internal chamber 502 (see FIG. 5). The bottom wall 108 is shown in greater detail in FIGS. 3 and 4, and is described below with reference to the same.

[0028] FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the cleaning head 100 of FIG. 1 , illustrating components of the neck portion 104 in relation to the upper wall 106 (including the conical portion 1 10 and the lower section 1 1 1 ) of the head body 102. The neck portion 104 may include a cuff 120, a sight portion 122, and a collar 124. The cuff 120 is configured to couple the vacuum hose 10 to the neck portion 104. In some embodiments, the cuff 120 may be configured to receive the vacuum hose 10. For example, the vacuum hose 10 may thread into the cuff 120. The cuff 120 may be formed of a flexible PVC. The cuff 120 may be coupled to the sight portion 122. The sight portion 122 may include a barb 202 configured to engage a recess in the cuff 120. In these embodiments and other embodiments, the cuff 120 and the sight portion 122 may be glued together.

[0029] The sight portion 122 may be configured to allow a user to see liquid that is extracted from the carpet as it is pulled toward the vacuum hose 10. The sight portion 122 may be a transparent tube. In other embodiments, the sight portion 122 may comprise a window or otherwise include a window section. In still other embodiments, the sight portion 122 may comprise a translucent tube or a translucent window. The sight portion 122 may couple to the collar 124, which in turn may thread onto the head body 102. An o-ring 204 may be positioned to aid in sealing the connection between the collar 124 and the head body 102 to improve sealing between the components and thereby enhance a transfer of a vacuum to the head body 102. The o-ring 204 may buffer any miss-matched fit of the threaded components. A silicone bead or silicone tape may be used to further sealing between the coupled components (e.g., the hose 10 to the cuff 120, the cuff 120 to the sight portion 122, the sight portion 122 to the collar 124, the collar 124 to the head body 102) and to limit the threads from backing off.

[0030] As shown in FIG. 2, an opening 212 may be formed in the upper wall 106, adjacent to or near a top of the head body 102. The opening 212 may be configured to couple to, for example, the neck portion 104, the hose 10, or another conduit from a vacuum machine. The opening 212 is in fluid communication with the internal chamber 502 (see FIG. 5). The upper wall 106 may define or otherwise include threads 214 adjacent to and/or around the opening 212 to enable coupling of the head body 102 to the neck portion 104, to the hose 10, or to another conduit from a vacuum machine.

[0031] FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the bottom wall 108 of the head body 102 of the cleaning head 100. FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the bottom wall 1 10 of the cleaning head 100. Referring generally and collectively to FIGS. 3 and 4, the bottom wall 108 of the head body 102 may define a plurality of suction holes 302, or openings, intermittently spaced around or over the surface of the bottom wall 108. The suction holes 302 may pass (or provide a conduit) through the bottom wall 108 and into the internal chamber 502 (see FIG. 5). Instead of one large opening, as with typical vacuum nozzles, the plurality of small suction holes 302 is scattered and distributed across the bottom wall 108. The suction holes 302 may be formed by drilling, molding (e.g., an injection molding process), or other suitable manufacturing process. The suction holes 302 may be equally spaced in a set pattern as shown or may be spaced in a varying or more randomly spaced distribution. The distribution of the suction holes 302 may allow extraction of liquid over a relatively large area (for example, compared to an individual suction hole 302) while the cleaning head 100 remains stationary. During use, the cleaning head 100 may remain stationary long enough to be able to extract deep into, for example, carpet and carpet padding or other surface to be cleaned. In some embodiments, the total area of the suction holes 302 may be roughly equivalent to the opening 212 at the top of the cleaning head 100.

[0032] The bottom wall 108 may further define a series of ridges 310 and depressions 312 (or valleys) on a lower, outer surface of the bottom wall 108. The ridges 310 and depressions 312 may be arranged in a series of nested rings of increasing diameter, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. The arrangement allows formation of continuous vacuum rings, one inside the other. In other embodiments, the ridges 310 and depressions 312 may be arranged in other patterns and arrangements, such as the pattern shown in FIGS. 1 1A-1 1 C and discussed below with reference to the same. The suction holes 302 may be positioned in the depressions 312, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. In other embodiments, the suction holes 302 may be positioned on the tips of the ridges 310. In still other embodiments, the suction holes 302 may be positioned at an intermediate position between the depressions 312 and the tips of the ridges 310. In still other embodiments, the suction holes 302 may be randomly positioned at varying locations on the ridges 310 and/or within the depressions 312.

[0033] The outer surface of the bottom wall 108 is disposed and configured to be positioned against the surface being cleaned. A user may press or otherwise exert force or pressure on the upper wall 106 (see FIGS. 1 and 2), such as an upper and/or exterior surface, to thereby press the bottom wall 108 against the surface being cleaned. The shapes of the ridges 310 and depressions 312 may enable creation of multiple vacuum chambers that function to extract liquid from the surface being cleaned. Each vacuum chamber may operate as an individual vacuum nozzle. In other words, the tips of the ridges may form a vacuum seal against, for example, carpet, thereby forcing air and liquid to be pulled into the internal chamber 502 (see FIG. 5) from the carpet and even from the padding.

[0034] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the head body 102 of the cleaning head 100. As illustrated, the upper wall 106 defines a top (or ceiling) of an internal chamber 502 and the bottom wall 108 defines a floor of the internal chamber 502. The internal chamber 502 may be a tall conical shape. The conical shape of the internal chamber 502 may serve to enhance airflow and aid in extraction of liquid from the surface being cleaned. The bottom wall 108 also defines the plurality of ridges 310 and depressions 312 (or valleys) on an outer surface 504 of the bottom wall 108. The ridges 310 and depressions 312 may form corresponding depressions and ridges on an inner surface 506 of the bottom wall 108, in the floor of the internal chamber 502.

[0035] The plurality of suction holes 302 are disposed in the depressions 312 on the outer surface 50 of the bottom wall 108. The cross-sectional view provided in FIG. 5 illustrates that the suction holes 302 may pass through the bottom wall 108 and into the internal chamber 502. Therefore, suction from the internal chamber 502 can draw liquid and/or debris through the suction holes 302 and into the internal chamber 502 from a surface being cleaned.

[0036] In another embodiment, the suction holes 302 may be disposed on the ridges 310 of the outer surface 504 of the bottom wall 108. In still another embodiment, suction holes 302 may be disposed on both the ridges 310 and the depressions 312 of the outer surface 504 of the bottom wall 108. In another embodiment, the inner surface 506 of the bottom wall 108 may be smooth and/or uniform, such that there are no depressions and ridges on the floor of the internal chamber 502 that correspond to the ridges 310 and depressions 312 on the outer surface 504 of the bottom wall 108.

[0037] FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the head body 102 of the cleaning head 100. The head body 102 may have a circular portion having an circular shape, or arcuate edge forming a circular shape, and an area that may taper to form a point area 602 extending from the circumference of the circular portion. More specifically, a lateral area of the lower section 1 1 1 (see FIG. 5) of the upper wall 106 and the bottom wall 108 may taper to form a point area 602. The point area 602 may form or comprise an angle between a pair of straight portions 606 that taper together to form a point, such as an angle that is ninety degrees or less. The point area 602 may be configured to enable use of the cleaning head 100 in corners, against walls, and on other similar smaller areas. For example, the straight portions 606 may be used against walls and the point area 602 may be used in corners.

[0038] In FIG. 6, the bottom wall 108 is visible through the opening 212. An innermost ridge and/or depression 604 is also visible on the floor of the internal chamber 502 (see FIG. 5). As shown, the opening 212 is in fluid communication with the internal chamber 502. Extracted material, such as fluid, that is drawn into the internal chamber 502 is directed to the opening 212 and into a conduit from a vacuum machine.

[0039] FIG. 7A is a upper isometric view of a cleaning head 700, according to another embodiment. FIG. 7B is an exploded view of the cleaning head 700 of FIG. 7A. Referring generally and collectively to FIGS. 7A and 7B, the cleaning head 700 comprises a head body 702 and a neck portion 704. The head body 702 may comprise an upper wall 706 and a bottom wall 708 that define an internal chamber 701 (see, for example, the internal chamber 502 of FIG. 5). The head body 702 may be injection molded, for example, by molding the upper wall 706 and the bottom wall 708 and gluing, screwing, or otherwise coupling the upper wall 706 and the bottom wall 708 together. In other words, injection molding of the upper wall 706 may be separate and distinct from injection molding of the bottom wall 708 and then the upper wall 706 and bottom wall 708 may be coupled together.

[0040] The bottom wall 708 of the head body 702 may be configured to be positioned against the carpet or other surface from which the liquid is to be extracted. In particular, a bottom, outer surface of the bottom wall 708 may be positioned against the surface from which the liquid is being extracted. The bottom wall 708 may define a plurality of suction holes 732 or openings, as shown in FIG, 7B. The suction holes 732 pass through the bottom wall 708 to the internal chamber 701 . The bottom wall 708 may be similar to the bottom wall 108 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, and described above with reference to the same. In another embodiment, the bottom wall 708 may be similar to the bottom wall 1 108 shown in FIGS. 1 1A - 1 1 C, and described below with reference to the same. [0041] The upper wall 706 of the head body 702 may be shaped and configured to form a portion of an upper surface of the internal chamber 701 . More specifically, the upper wall 706 may define a lower portion of the upper surface of the internal chamber 701 . (The neck portion 704 may define an upper portion of the upper surface of the internal chamber 701 , as discussed more fully below). The upper wall 706 of the head body 702 and the neck portion 704 may be configured to transfer suction from a vacuum hose 10, or other conduit from a vacuum machine, to the carpet or other surface being cleaned. The upper wall 706 of the head body 702 may also direct dirt, debris, and/or liquid taken up by the suction. More specifically, the upper wall 706 may direct dirt, debris, and/or liquid toward the neck portion 704 and/or the vacuum hose 10. The upper wall 706 may include an opening 703 configured to provide fluid communication to the neck portion 704. As shown in FIG. 7B, the upper wall may include threads 734, or another coupling mechanism, configured to couple the head body 702 to the neck portion 704. The threads 734 may be adjacent to and/or around the opening 703 to enable coupling of the head body 702 to the neck portion 704.

[0042] The neck portion 704 may include a collar 720 and a sight portion 722. The collar 720 may be positioned at or near a top end of the neck portion 704 and may define an opening 712 configured to couple the vacuum hose 10 to the neck portion 704 of the cleaning head 700. The opening 712 is in fluid communication with the internal chamber 701 . In some embodiments, the opening 712 of the collar 720 may be configured to receive the vacuum hose 10. For example, a cuff 12 of the vacuum hose 10 may be inserted into and form a friction fit within the collar 720. The collar 720 may be integrally formed with, or otherwise coupled to, the sight portion 722. For example, the collar 720 and the sight portion 722 may be glued together.

[0043] The sight portion 722 may be configured to allow a user to see dirt, debris, and/or liquid that is extracted from the surface being cleaned (e.g., carpet) as the dirt, debris, and/or liquid is pulled toward the opening 712 and/or the vacuum hose 10. The sight portion 722 may form a conical portion that defines a conical region of the internal chamber 701 that may function as a funnel to draw extracted liquid, dirt, and or debris into the collar 720, through the opening 712, and into the vacuum hose 10. [0044] The sight portion 722 may comprise and/or be formed of a transparent material to allow visibility into the internal chamber 701 . In other embodiments, the sight portion 722 may comprise a window or otherwise include a window section. In still other embodiments, the sight portion 722 may be formed of a translucent material or comprise a translucent window.

[0045] The sight portion 722 may include corresponding threads, or other coupling mechanism, which in turn may thread onto the threads 734 of the head body 702, or otherwise couple to the head body 702. An o-ring, a silicone bead, and/or silicone tape may be used to provide a seal between the coupled components (e.g., the hose 10 to the collar 720, the collar 720 to the sight portion 722, the sight portion 722 to the head body 702) and to limit the threads 734 and corresponding threads from backing off.

[0046] FIG. 8 illustrates a first adapter 802 and a second adapter 804 for use with the cleaning head 700 of FIGS. 7A and 7B. The various embodiments of a cleaning head disclosed herein, including the cleaning head 700 of FIGS. 7A and 7B, may be used with a plurality of cleaning machines, including both household and commercial grade carpet cleaning machines and both household and commercial grade wet/dry vacuum machines, having a hose, such as the hoses 10a, 10b illustrated in FIG. 8. The hose may be one of a variety of sizes. Generally a hose size is referenced based on a measurement of an inner diameter ("ID"), or approximate ID, of the hose.

[0047] Either a female cuff (such as cuff 12a shown in FIG. 8) or a male cuff (such as cuff 12b shown in FIG. 8) may be coupled to an end of the hose. Generally a male cuff 12b of a hose may have an ID that is the same or approximately the same as the ID of the hose. A female cuff 12a may have an ID that is the same or approximately the same as the OD of a corresponding male cuff of the same hose size.

[0048] By way of example, carpet cleaning machines (e.g., hot water and/or steam extraction machines) generally include a vacuum hose (e.g., an accessory hose) having one of three standard sizes, namely a 1 inch hose, a 1 and 1/4 inch hose, and a 1 and 1/2 inch hose for, home, rental, or commercial applications. (The measurements may indicate an ID, or an approximate ID, of the hose.) A female cuff (such as cuff 12a shown in FIG. 8) or a male cuff (such as cuff 12b shown in FIG. 8) may be coupled to an end of a carpet cleaning machine hose 10. [0049] As another example, wet/dry vacuum machines generally include a vacuum hose having one of three standard sizes, namely a 1 and 1/4 inch hose, a 1 and 7/8 inch hose, and a 2 and 1/2 inch hose. (The measurement may indicate an ID, or an approximate ID, of the hose). A male cuff (such as cuff 12b shown in FIG. 8) generally is coupled to an end of a wet/dry vacuum hose 10.

[0050] The diameter of the opening 712 of the cleaning head 700 (e.g., an ID of the opening 712) may be configured to receive a 1 and 1/4 inch hose with a female cuff or a 1 and 1/2 inch hose with a male cuff, such as a hose of a home, rental, or commercial carpet cleaning machine. The diameter of the opening 712 of the collar 720 may also be configured to be received into a male cuff and vacuum hose having a 1 and 7/8 inch hose, such as a hose of a wet/dry vacuum. Accordingly, an adapter may be unnecessary to couple the vacuum hose 10 (See FIGS. 7A and 7B) to the cleaning head 700. However, an adapter, such as the first adapter 802 or the second adapter 804, may be useful to couple the cleaning head to a 1 inch hose, 1 and 1/4 inch hose, or a 2 and 1/2 inch hose.

[0051] The first adapter 802 may be configured to couple the cleaning head 700 to a vacuum hose 10a having a hose cuff 12a that is smaller than the opening 712 of the collar 720 of the cleaning head 700. For example, the first adapter 802 may be configured to couple the cleaning head 700 to a 1 inch extractor hose or a 1 and 1/4 inch wet/dry vacuum hose. The first adapter 802 may have a first end 812, a second end 814, and a lumen 816 defined through the adapter 802. The first end 812 of the first adapter 802 may have an outer diameter sized and configured to be received into the opening 712 of the cleaning head 700. More specifically, the outer diameter of the first end 812 may be similar to an inner diameter of the opening 712 of the cleaning head 700, such that the opening 712 can receive the first end 812 of the first adapter 802 and may provide a friction fit or similar air tight, or substantially air tight, coupling between the cleaning head 700 and the first adapter 802.

[0052] The lumen 816 at the second end 814 of the first adapter 802 may have an inner diameter sized and configured to receive an outer diameter of a cuff 12a of the vacuum hose 10a. The inner diameter of the second end 814 may be smaller than the outer diameter of the first end 812, such that a vacuum hose having a diameter smaller than the diameter of the opening 712 of the cleaning head 700 can be coupled to the cleaning head 700. The first adapter 802 illustrated in FIG. 8 may include ribs 818 extending longitudinally and disposed around an outer diameter at the first end 812 of the first adapter 802. The first adapter 802 may also include a flange 820 configured to engage the collar 720, or a rim of the opening 712 of the collar 720, to inhibit or restrict the adapter 802 from passing through the opening 712 into the internal chamber 701 (see FIG. 7A).

[0053] The second adapter 804 may be configured to couple the cleaning head 700 to a vacuum hose 10b having a hose cuff 12b that is larger than the opening 712 of the collar 720 of the cleaning head 700. For example, the second adapter 804 may be configured to couple the cleaning head 700 to a 2 and 1/2 inch hose, such as a vacuum hose of a wet/dry vacuum. The second adapter 804 may have a first end 822, a second end 824, and a lumen 826 defined through the second adapter 804. The first end 822 of the second adapter 804 may have an outer diameter sized and configured to be received into the opening 712 of the cleaning head 700. More specifically, the outer diameter of the first end 822 may be similar in size to the size of an inner diameter of the opening 712 of the cleaning head 700, such that the opening 712 can receive the first end 822 of the second adapter 804 and may provide a friction fit or similar air tight, or substantially air tight, coupling between the cleaning head 700 and the adapter 804.

[0054] The lumen 826 at the second end 824 of the second adapter 804 may have an inner diameter sized and configured to receive an outer diameter of a cuff 12b of the vacuum hose 10b. In FIG. 8, the inner diameter of the second end 824 may be smaller than the outer diameter of the first end 822, such that a vacuum hose having a diameter larger than the diameter of the opening 712 of the cleaning head 700 can be coupled to the cleaning head 700. The second end 824 of the second adapter 804 illustrated in FIG. 8 may define a shelf 828 that may engage or abut with the collar 720, or a rim of the opening 712 of the collar 720.

[0055] Other embodiments may include adapters configured to couple the cleaning head to other sizes of vacuum hoses, including standard and non-standard sized vacuum hoses.

[0056] FIG. 9A is a top isometric view of a cleaning head 900, according to another embodiment. The cleaning head 900 may comprise a head body 902, a neck portion 904, and a liquid injection system 950. FIG. 9B is a side cross- sectional view and FIG. 9C is a partial sectional view of the cleaning head 900 of FIG. 9A illustrating various components of a liquid injection system 950, according to one embodiment, relative to other components of the cleaning head 900. The neck portion 904 and an upper wall 906 of the head body 902 are not shown (or are cutaway) in FIG. 9C, to illustrate the liquid injection system 950.

[0057] Referring generally and collectively to FIGS. 9A, 9B and 9C, the head body 902 may comprise an upper wall 906 and a bottom wall 908 that define an internal chamber 901 , similar to the head body 102 of FIG. 1 and the head body 702 of FIGS. 7A and 7B. The bottom wall 908 may define a plurality of suction holes 932 that open into the internal chamber 901 . The upper wall 906 may form at least a portion of an upper surface of the internal chamber 901 and may be configured to direct dirt, debris, and/or liquid taken up by suction through the internal chamber 901 toward the vacuum hose 10. The neck portion 904 may couple to the upper wall 906 of the head body 902. The neck portion 904 may also couple the cleaning head 900 to a vacuum hose 10.

[0058] A sight portion 922 may allow a user to see dirt, debris, and/or liquid that is extracted from a surface, such as carpet, as the dirt, debris, and/or liquid is pulled toward the vacuum hose 10. The sight portion 922 may comprise and/or be formed of a transparent and/or translucent material to allow visibility into the internal chamber 901 of the cleaning head 900. As shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B, the sight portion 922 may form a conical portion of an upper surface of the internal chamber 901 . The conical portion may define a conical region of the internal chamber 901 that may function as a funnel to draw extracted dirt, debris, and/or liquid toward the vacuum hose 10.

[0059] The liquid injection system 950 may be configured to enable a user of the cleaning head 900 to dispense liquid onto the surface that is to be cleaned (and also the surface from which the liquid may be extracted by the cleaning head 900). The liquid injection system 950 may include a liquid supply hose 952, a control valve 954, a plurality of liquid injection ports 956, and an activator 958. A plurality of distribution lines 960, which may include a main distribution line 962, may convey liquid between the control valve 954 and the plurality of liquid injection ports 956. Several components of the liquid injection system 950, including the liquid supply hose 952, the control valve 954, and the distribution lines 960, 962 may be internal to, or at least partially internal to the cleaning head 900. These components may be disposed, or at least partially disposed, within the internal chamber 901 .

[0060] The liquid supply hose 952 may be configured to convey liquid from a liquid source to the cleaning head 900. The liquid source may be remote from the cleaning head 900, such as at a vacuum machine. The liquid supply hose 952 of the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 9A-9C is disposed through a lumen of the neck portion 904, from within a lumen of the vacuum hose 10 and through a lumen of the cuff 12 of the vacuum hose 10. As can be appreciated, in another embodiment, the liquid source may be a small tank within the cleaning head 900. In still another embodiment, the liquid source may be a tank separate from the vacuum machine and the cleaning head.

[0061] The control valve 954 may control passage of liquid from or through the liquid supply hose 952. In other words, the control valve 954 may control dispensing of liquid. The control valve 954 may be coupled to the liquid supply hose 952 and activation and/or manipulation of an activator 958 of the control valve 954 may cause the liquid injection system 950 to dispense liquid, such as onto a carpet or other surface to be cleaned, through the liquid injection ports 956. The activator 958 may be a flexible switch (e.g. a rubber button) configured to activate (e.g., open) the control valve 954 when depressed. In another embodiment, the activator 958 may be a trigger.

[0062] The liquid injection ports 956 may be ports or openings disposed in the bottom wall 908 of the cleaning head 900. The liquid injection ports 956 may be in fluid communication with the liquid supply source, such as via the liquid supply hose 952 and/or the distribution lines 960, 962. As shown in FIG. 9C, the distribution lines 960 may be arranged in a plurality of nested rings of increasing diameter and disposed in corresponding depressions 972 formed by ridges 970 on a bottom surface of the bottom wall 908. The ring distribution lines 960 may be fed by a main distribution line 962 coupled to the liquid supply hose 952. In response to activation and/or manipulation of the activator 958, liquid may pass from the liquid supply hose 952, through the control valve 954, into the main distribution line 962, out to the distribution supply lines 960, and out the liquid injection ports 956.

[0063] The liquid injection ports 956 and/or the distribution lines 960, 962 may be configured to convey liquid from the liquid supply hose 952 to the outer surface of the bottom wall 908 of the head body 902 to dispense liquid, such as cleaner, cleaning solution, water, or the like. The liquid can be dispensed from the liquid injection ports 956 and/or the distribution lines 960, 962 to the surface that is to be cleaned, such as carpet. Once dispensed, the liquid can then be extracted by suction through the suction holes 932. [0064] The bottom wall 908 of the embodiment of a cleaning head 900 illustrated in FIGS. 9A, 9B, and 9C includes a plurality of ridges and depressions arranged as nested rings, similar to bottom wall 108 of FIG. 3. As can be appreciated, other arrangements and configurations are possible and contemplated by the present disclosure, including the arrangement of ridges and depressions shown in FIGS. 1 1A-1 1 C and described below with reference to the same. Correspondingly, other arrangements of distribution lines 960 are possible, including any suitable arrangement to deliver fluid from the control valve 954 and/or the liquid supply hose 952 to the liquid injection ports 956.

[0065] FIG. 10A is a top isometric view of a cleaning head 1000, according to another embodiment. FIG. 10B is a partial sectional view of the cleaning head 1000 of FIG. 10A. The cleaning head 1000 includes a liquid injection system 1050 with a liquid supply hose 1052 and a control valve 1054 that are external to the internal chamber 1001 of the cleaning head 1000. The liquid supply hose 1052 is also external to the vacuum hose 10. A neck portion 1004 and an upper wall 1006 of the head body 1002 are not shown in FIG 10B (i.e., are cut-away), to illustrate distribution lines 1060, 1062 of the liquid injection system 1050.

[0066] Referring generally and collectively to FIGS. 10A and 10B, the head body 1002 may comprise an upper wall 1006 and a bottom wall 1008 that define an internal chamber 1001 , similar to the head body 102 of FIG. 1 and the head body 702 of FIGS. 7A and 7B. The bottom wall 1008 may define a plurality of suction holes 1032 that open into the internal chamber 1001 . The bottom wall 1008 may also define a plurality of liquid injection ports (see e.g., the liquid injection ports 956 of FIG. 9B). The upper wall 1006 may form at least a portion of an upper surface of the internal chamber 1001 and may be configured to direct dirt, debris, and/or liquid taken up by suction through the internal chamber 1001 toward the vacuum hose 10. The neck portion 1004 may couple to the upper wall 1006 of the head body 1002. The neck portion 1004 may also couple the cleaning head 1000 to a vacuum hose 10. A sight portion 1022 may allow a user to see dirt, debris, and/or liquid that is extracted from a surface, such as carpet, as the dirt, debris, and/or liquid is pulled toward the vacuum hose 10. The sight portion 1022 may comprise and/or be formed of a transparent and/or translucent material to allow visibility into the internal chamber 1001 of the cleaning head 1000. [0067] The liquid injection system 1050 may be configured to enable a user of the cleaning head 1000 to dispense liquid onto the surface that is to be cleaned (or the surface from which the liquid may be extracted by the cleaning head 1000). The liquid injection system 1050 may include the liquid supply hose 1052, the control valve 1054, a plurality of liquid injection ports (not shown, but see, for example, the liquid injection ports 956 of FIG. 9B), the distribution lines 1060, 1062, and an activator 1058.

[0068] The liquid supply hose 1052 may be configured to convey liquid from a liquid source to the cleaning head 1000, and specifically to the control valve 1054, the distribution lines 1060, 1062, and/or the liquid injection ports. The liquid supply hose 1052 of the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 10A and 10B is disposed external to the vacuum hose 10 and directs liquid through an opening, such as a port 1080, in the cleaning head 1002 at a location that is remote or distant from an opening and/or lumen of the neck portion 1004 where the vacuum hose 10 couples.

[0069] The control valve 1054 is operative to control passage of liquid from the liquid supply hose 1052. In other words, the control valve 1054 may control dispensing of liquid by the liquid injection system 1050. The control valve 1054 may be integral to or coupled to the liquid supply hose 1052 and activation and/or manipulation of an activator 1058 of the control valve 1054 may cause the liquid injection system 1050 to dispense liquid, such as onto a carpet or other surface to be cleaned, through the liquid injection ports. The control valve 1054 and/or the liquid supply hose 1052 may mount to a top surface of the cleaning head 1000, such as a conical portion of the neck portion 1004. In another embodiment, the control valve 1054 and/or the liquid supply hose 1052 may mount to the upper wall 1006 of the head body 1002. The control valve 1054 and/or the liquid supply hose 1052 of the liquid injection system 1050 enter the cleaning head 1000 through a port 1080 in the upper wall of the cleaning head 1000. The port 1080 may be disposed lateral to an opening that couples the vacuum hose 10 to the cleaning head 1000 and/or the internal chamber 1001 .

[0070] The activator 1058 may be a trigger or lever configured to activate (e.g., open) the control valve 1054 when depressed or otherwise manipulated. The activator 1058 may couple to or otherwise be a part of the control valve 1054 and may rotate about a pivot point 1074. The activator 1058 may be sized and/or positioned such that a user grasping around the neck portion 1004 and/or the hose 10 at the top of the cleaning head 1000 can easily grasp and/or manipulate the activator 1058 with one or more fingers.

[0071] As shown in FIG. 10B, the distribution lines 1060 may be arranged in a plurality of nested rings of increasing diameter and disposed in corresponding depressions formed by ridges (for example, the ridges 310 of FIG. 3) on a bottom surface of the bottom wall 1008. The ring distribution lines 1060 may be fed by a main distribution line 1062 coupled to the liquid supply hose 1052. In response to activation and/or manipulation of the activator 1058, the control valve 1054 opens allowing liquid to pass from the liquid supply hose 1052, through the control valve 1054, into the main distribution line 1062, to the distribution supply lines 1060, and out the liquid injection ports onto, for example, a surface to be cleaned. Once dispensed, the liquid can then be extracted by suction through the suction holes 1032.

[0072] FIGS. 1 1A , 1 1 B, and 1 1 C illustrate a bottom wall 1 108 of a cleaning head 1 100, according to another embodiment. Referring generally and collectively to FIGS. 1 1A-1 1 C, the bottom wall 1 108 may define a plurality of suction holes 1 132, or openings, intermittently spaced around or over the surface of the bottom wall 1 108. The suction holes 1 132 may pass (or provide a conduit) through the bottom wall 1 108 and into an internal chamber of the cleaning head 1 100 (for example, the internal chamber 502 of FIG. 5). Instead of one large opening as with typical vacuum nozzles, the plurality of small suction holes 1 132 is scattered and distributed across the bottom wall 1 108. The suction holes 1 132 may be formed by drilling, molding (e.g., an injection molding process), or other suitable manufacturing process. The suction holes 1 132 may be equally spaced in a set pattern as shown or may be spaced in a varying or more randomly spaced distribution. The distribution of the suction holes 1 132 may allow extraction of liquid over a relatively large area (for example, compared to an individual suction hole 1 132) while the cleaning head 1 100 remains stationary. During use, the cleaning head 1 100 may remain stationary long enough to be able to extract deep into, for example, carpet and carpet padding or other surface to be cleaned.

[0073] The bottom wall 1 108 may further define a series of ridges 1 1 10 and depressions 1 1 12 (or valleys) on a lower, outer surface of the bottom wall 1 108. The ridges 1 1 10 and depressions 1 1 12 may be arranged in a grid pattern, as shown in FIGS. 1 1A-1 1 C. The depressions 1 1 12 may be configured to define a pyramid- shaped recession, which extends upward and away from the ridges 1 1 10 when the bottom wall 1 108 is disposed against a surface from which liquid is to be retracted. The pyramid-shaped depressions 1 1 12 may include four sides 1 134 tapering to a point or nadir (a point of a depression 1 1 12 that is furthest upward and away from the tip (or apex) of one or more adjacent ridges 1 1 10). A junction 1 136 between any two sides of the four-sided pyramid shape may be slightly rounded, as shown in FIGS. 1 1A-1 1 C. The depressions 1 1 12 allow formation of a plurality of vacuum chambers against the surface being cleaned. The suction holes 1 132 may be positioned in the depressions 1 1 12, and more specifically at the nadir of the depressions 1 1 12, for example as shown in FIGS. 1 1A-1 1 C.

[0074] In other embodiments, the depressions 1 1 12 may be arranged in a grid, or grid-like pattern, with each depression 1 1 12 defining a recession having a shape other than a pyramid shape, such as a hemispherical (convex) shape, a trapezoidal shape, a pear shape, an obelisk shape, a half ellipsoid shape, and the like.

[0075] In other embodiments, the suction holes 1 132 may be positioned on the tips of the ridges 1 1 10. In still other embodiments, the suction holes 1 132 may be positioned at an intermediate position with the depressions 1 1 12, for example between a nadir of the depressions 1 1 12 and an apex of one or more of the adjacent ridges 1 1 10. In still other embodiments, the suction holes 1 132 may be randomly positioned at varying locations on the ridges 1 1 10 and/or within the depressions 1 1 12.

[0076] The outer surface of the bottom wall 1 108 is disposed and configured to be positioned against the surface being cleaned. A user may press or otherwise exert force or pressure on an upper and/or exterior surface of the cleaning head 1 100, to thereby press the bottom wall 1 108 against the surface being cleaned. The shapes of the ridges 1 1 10 and depressions 1 1 12 may enable creation of multiple vacuum chambers. The multiple vacuum chambers may function to extract liquid from the surface being cleaned. Each vacuum chamber may operate similar to an individual vacuum nozzle. In other words, the tips of the ridges may form a vacuum seal against, for example, a section of carpet, thereby forcing air and liquid to be pulled into the internal chamber (for example, the internal chamber 502 shown in FIG. 5) from the carpet and even from padding beneath the carpet.

[0077] When using a cleaning head of the present disclosure, a user may treat a spot to be removed from carpet with a carpet cleaner or other chemical spot remover and allow a dwell time (e.g., a period that the chemical or cleaner is on the carpet) for the chemical to break down and/or dissolve the spot. The cleaner may be applied using a liquid injection system (for example, the liquid injection system 950 of FIGS. 9A-9C and the liquid injection system 1050 of FIGS. 10A and 10B). A dwell time of, for example, five to ten minutes may enhance the effectiveness of a cleaning process.

[0078] Water may be used to flush the spot and chemical spot remover from the carpet fibers. The water may be applied and the area flushed using a liquid injection system (e.g., the liquid injection system 950 of FIGS. 9A-9C and the liquid injection system 1050 of FIGS. 10A and 10B). A cleaning head, according to the present disclosure, may be used to recover the spot, chemical spot remover, and water from the carpet fibers and/or the carpet backing and/or pad.

[0079] A user may connect the cleaning head to a distal end of a hose of a carpet cleaning machine or other wet/dry vacuum and turn on the vacuum. The suction head is placed over the spot and/or liquid to be removed from the carpet, with a bottom wall (or suction surface) facing down into the carpet. The user may press down firmly on the head body for a suitable time (for example, about one minute) or until no more liquid is being recovered through the sight portion. The cleaning head may be effective with only a downward force. Lateral force (for example, to move the cleaning head over a surface of the carpet being cleaned) may not be needed. The cleaning head, and suction therethrough, may remove the spot and excess liquid from the carpet with relatively little effort by the user.

[0080] Various modifications, changes, and variations apparent to those of skill in the art may be made in the arrangement, operation, and details of the methods and systems of the disclosure without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure. Thus, it is to be understood that the embodiments described above have been presented by way of example, and not limitation.

[0081] Where a range of values is provided, it is understood that each intervening value, to the tenth of the unit of the lower limit unless the context clearly dictates otherwise, between the upper and lower limit of that range and any other stated or intervening value in that stated range is encompassed within the embodiments of the present invention. The upper and lower limits of these smaller ranges which may independently be included in the smaller ranges is also encompassed within the embodiments of the invention, subject to any specifically excluded limit in the stated range. Where the stated range includes one or both of the limits, ranges excluding either or both of those included limits are also included in the embodiments of the invention.

[0082] Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the embodiments of the invention belong. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can also be used in the practice or testing of the embodiments of the present invention, the preferred methods and materials are now described. All patents and publications mentioned herein, including those cited in the Background of the application, are hereby incorporated by reference to disclose and describe the methods and/or materials in connection with which the publications are cited.

[0083] The publications discussed herein are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the embodiments of the present invention are not entitled to antedate such publication by virtue of prior invention. Further, the dates of publication provided may be different from the actual publication dates which may need to be independently confirmed.

[0084] Other embodiments of the invention are possible. Although the description above contains much specificity, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention, but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. It is also contemplated that various combinations or sub-combinations of the specific features and aspects of the embodiments may be made and still fall within the scope of the invention. It should be understood that various features and aspects of the disclosed embodiments can be combined with or substituted for one another in order to form varying modes of the disclosed embodiments of the present invention. Thus, it is intended that the scope of at least some of the present invention herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiments described above. The scope of the present invention should, therefore, be determined only by the following claims.