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Title:
CONTAINER CLEANER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/214622
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A container cleaner comprises a grip, a plurality of cleaning elements, and a plunger. The grip has a through-hole formed therein. The plurality of cleaning elements are connected with the grip and arranged for cleaning the interior of a container. The plunger extends through the through-hole of the grip and comprises a pusher disk at an end thereof.

Inventors:
WOLF, Jeffrey A. (1602 Alton Rd #15, Miami Beach, Florida, 33139, US)
Application Number:
US2017/037027
Publication Date:
December 14, 2017
Filing Date:
June 12, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
WOLF, Jeffrey A. (1602 Alton Rd #15, Miami Beach, Florida, 33139, US)
International Classes:
A46B5/00; B08B9/00; B08B9/08; B08B9/20; B08B9/36
Foreign References:
US0791497A1905-06-06
US1420714A1922-06-27
US20110277262A12011-11-17
US3750214A1973-08-07
US1827569A1931-10-13
US2037870A1936-04-21
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NORANBROCK, Randy A. (HAUPTMAN HAM, LLP2318 Mill Road, Suite 140, Alexandria Virginia, 22314, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS :

1. A container cleaner, the cleaner comprising:

a grip, the grip having a through-hole formed therein;

a plurality of cleaning elements connected with the grip and arranged for cleaning the interior of a container; and

a plunger extending through the through-hole of the grip, the plunger comprising a pusher disk at an end thereof.

2. The container cleaner of claim 1 , wherein the plunger has a length extending from an upper surface of the grip to the distal end of the plurality of cleaning elements.

3. The container cleaner of claim 1 , the plunger further comprising a knob at an other end of the plunger distal from the pusher disk.

4. The container cleaner of claim 3 , wherein the knob comprises a ring for a user to grasp.

5. The container cleaner of claim 1 , wherein the container cleaner has an axial centerline extending longitudinally through the cleaner, and wherein the plunger extends along the axial centerline.

6. The container cleaner of claim 5, wherein the plurality of cleaning elements are radially arranged around the axial centerline.

7. The container cleaner of claim 6, wherein the plurality of cleaning elements are equally spaced around the axial centerline.

8. The container cleaner of claim 1 , further comprising a sleeve surrounding a portion of the cleaner.

9. The container cleaner of claim 8, wherein the sleeve surrounds at least a portion of the grip.

10. The container cleaner of claim 8, wherein the sleeve is connected with the plunger.

11. The container cleaner of claim 8, further comprising a connecting rod, the connecting rod connecting the sleeve with the plunger and wherein the connecting rod extends through the axial centerline.

12. The container cleaner of claim 8, wherein the sleeve is slideably movable along the cleaner in response to movement of the plunger.

13. The container cleaner of claim 12, wherein when the knob is adjacent the grip, the sleeve is in contact with the cleaning elements.

14. The container cleaner of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of hinges, each hinge connecting a cleaning element of the plurality of cleaning elements with the grip.

15. The container cleaner of claim 1, further comprising at least one hinge, the at least one hinge connecting the plurality of cleaning elements with the grip.

16. The container cleaner of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of biasing springs, each biasing spring applying a force to cause the plurality of cleaning elements to move away from each other.

17. The container cleaner of claim 1, further comprising:

a plurality of hinges, each hinge connecting a cleaning element of the plurality of cleaning elements with the grip; and

a plurality of biasing springs, each biasing spring applying a force to cause the plurality of cleaning elements to move away from each other.

18. The container cleaner of claim 1 , each cleaning element of the plurality of cleaning elements comprises a spatula at a distal end from the grip.

19. The container cleaner of claim 1 8, wherein each spatula has a curved shape corresponding to a periphery of the pusher disk.

20. The container cleaner of claim 1 , each cleaning element of the plurality of cleaning elements comprises a sponge at a distal end from the grip.

Description:
Container Cleaner

BACKGROUND

[1] The cleaning of the interior of j ars, bottles, and similar containers serves one or more purposes. For example, such containers which previously contained material therein can be reused by refilling with new/additional material. Such containers are also, in some instances, recyclable and the cost and difficulty of recycling is impacted by an amount of material remaining in the container to be recycled. Additionally, being able to extract the remaining material from the interior of a container leads to more cost-efficient or frugal use of purchasing monies, e.g., getting every last drop of material out of a j ar reduces the overall cost of the product, where the product includes both the j ar and the contained material.

[2] Extracting or removing contained material from within a container is difficult given the size of the opening of the container. That is, some containers have narrow openings or necks while other containers have wider openings. Different sized openings of different containers present further difficulties for extracting material from the containers. Some containers have different shaped openings beyond simply circular openings, e.g. , square, rounded rectangle, oval, triangular, and similar. Additionally, some containers have different shaped bodies in addition to different shaped openings.

[3] Further, ease of manipulating a container cleaner increases the likelihood of use by an end user. Also, ease of cleaning a container cleaner increases the likelihood of use by an end user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[4] Aspects of the present disclosure are best understood from the following detailed description when read with the accompanying figures. It is noted that, in accordance with the standard practice in the industry, various features are not drawn to scale. In fact, the dimensions of the various features may be arbitrarily increased or reduced for clarity of discussion. [5] Figure 1 A is a cross-section plan view of a portion of a container cleaner in accordance with some embodiments.

[6] Figure I B is a perspective view of the container cleaner of FIG. 1 A with a plunger and sleeve in place in accordance with some embodiments.

[7] Figure 2 is a cross-section plan view of a portion of a container cleaner with a plunger in accordance with some embodiments.

[8] Figure 3 is a cross-section plan view of a portion of a container cleaner with a plunger in a retracted position in accordance with some embodiments.

[9] Figure 4 is a cross-section plan view of a container cleaner with a plunger and a sleeve in accordance with some embodiments.

[10] Figure 5 is a cross-section plan view of the container cleaner in an open position in accordance with some embodiments.

[11] Figure 5A is a cross-section view of a portion of the container cleaner of FIG. 5.

[12] Figure 6 is a cross-section plan view of the container cleaner in a partially closed position in accordance with some embodiments.

[13] Figure 7 is a cross-section plan view of the container cleaner in a partially closed position in accordance with some embodiments.

[14] Figure 8 is a cross-section plan view of the container cleaner in a closed position in accordance with some embodiments.

[15] Figure 9 is a perspective view of a portion of the container cleaner without the plunger and sleeve in accordance with some embodiments.

[16] Figure 10 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a partially closed position in accordance with some embodiments.

[17] Figure 1 1 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a closed position in accordance with some embodiments. [18] Figure 12 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a closed position in accordance with some embodiments.

[19] Figure 13 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a container in use in accordance with some embodiments.

[20] Figure 14 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a different shaped container in use in accordance with some embodiments.

[21] Figure 15 is a perspective view of the container cleaner being removed from a container in accordance with some embodiments.

[22] Figure 16 is a perspective view of a container cleaner with a sleeve having a flange in accordance with some embodiments.

[23] Figure 17 is a perspective view of a container cleaner with a container retention mechanism in accordance with some embodiments.

[24] Figure 18 is a perspective view of a portion of a container cleaner in accordance with some embodiments.

[25] DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[26] The following disclosure provides many different embodiments, or examples, for implementing different features of the provided subj ect matter. Specific examples of components, values, operations, materials, arrangements, or the like, are described below to simplify the present disclosure. These are, of course, merely examples and are not intended to be limiting. Other components, values, operations, materials, arrangements, or the like, are contemplated. For example, the formation of a first feature over or on a second feature in the description that follows may include embodiments in which the first and second features are formed in direct contact, and may also include embodiments in which additional features may be formed between the first and second features, such that the first and second features may not be in direct contact. In addition, the present disclosure may repeat reference numerals and/or letters in the various examples. This repetition is for the purpose of simplicity and clarity and does not in itself dictate a relationship between the various embodiments and/or configurations discussed.

[27] Further, spatially relative terms, such as "beneath," "below," "lower," "above," "upper" and the like, may be used herein for ease of description to describe one element or feature's relationship to another element(s) or feature(s) as illustrated in the figures. The spatially relative terms are intended to encompass different orientations of the device in use or operation in addition to the orientation depicted in the figures. The apparatus may be otherwise oriented (rotated 90 degrees or at other orientations) and the spatially relative descriptors used herein may likewise be interpreted accordingly.

[28] The present disclosure relates to a container cleaner. The container cleaner is, in some embodiments, able to fit into narrow necked j ars, bottles and similar containers in addition to larger necked containers. The container cleaner is, in some embodiments, able to clean material from the interior of the container and remove it from the interior. The container cleaner is, in some embodiments, able to ej ect the removed material from the container cleaner in order for a user to be able to make use of the removed material. [29] Figure 1 A is a cross-section plan view of a portion of a container cleaner 100 in accordance with some embodiments. Figure I B is a perspective view of container cleaner 100 with a plunger and sleeve in place in accordance with some embodiments. In comparison and for ease of viewing, FIG. 1 A lacks the plunger and sleeve of FIG. I B. Referring to FIG. I B, container cleaner 100 comprises a handle or grip 101 having an elongated and rounded cylindrical portion 102 connected with a cylindrical handle portion 104 extending downward therefrom. In at least some embodiments, rounded cylindrical portion 102 and handle portion 104 form a single unitary element. In at least some embodiments, handle portion 104 is omitted.

[30] In at least some embodiments, grip 101 is formed of plastic. In at least some embodiments, grip 101 is formed of metal. In at least some embodiments, grip 101 is formed of a flexibly compressive material for a more comfortable grip for a user of container cleaner 100.

[31] Container cleaner 100 also comprises four (4) radially arranged cleaning elements 106 movably attached to grip 101 . In at least some embodiments, container cleaner 100 comprises greater or fewer number of cleaning elements 106. In at least one embodiment, container cleaner 100 comprises a single cleaning element 106. In at least one embodiment, container cleaner 100 comprises two cleaning elements 106 positioned opposite each other. In at least some embodiments, cleaning elements 106 have a longer or shorter length.

[32] Cleaning elements 106 are attached at a lower portion of grip 101 . In embodiments lacking handle portion 104, cleaning elements 106 are movably attached to rounded cylindrical portion 102. Each of cleaning elements 106 is individually attached to grip 101 . Each of cleaning elements 106 comprises a connector 108 connected with a spatula end or simply spatula 1 10. In at least some embodiments, spatulas 1 10 are shaped with at least one longitudinally straight edge. In at least some embodiments, spatulas 1 10 have an edge distal from connector 108 which is a straight edge extending perpendicular to the direction in which cleaning element 106 extends. In at least some embodiments, spatulas 1 10 are formed of a flexible sponge material. In at least some embodiments, connector 108 and/or spatulas 1 10 have a longer or shorter length. [33] In at least some embodiments, glue attaches connector 108 and spatula 1 10. In at least some other embodiments, connector 108 is received into a pocket formed in spatula 1 10. In at least some other embodiments, connector 108 is held in place with friction, one or more pins, or other suitable mechanism.

[34] In at least some embodiments, container cleaner 100 comprises a plurality of cleaning elements 106 wherein the spatulas 1 10 are positioned in a partially overlapping manner with respect to adj acent spatulas 1 10. In such an embodiment, a given spatula 1 10 overlaps an adj acent spatula 1 10 by 33% of the width of the spatula. In at least some embodiments, the percentage of overlap ranges from 10% to 75% of the width of the spatula. In at least some embodiments with overlapping spatulas 1 10, more than four spatulas 1 10, and corresponding cleaning elements 106, are connected to container cleaner 100.

[35] In at least some embodiments, connector 108 is formed of a rigid material in comparison with spatula 1 10 which is formed of a more flexible material. In at least some embodiments, spatula 1 10 is formed of a molded plastic or other suitable material. In at least some embodiments, spatula 1 10 is formed in a curved shape. In at least some embodiments, spatula 1 10 is formed in a semicircular shape aligned with a radius surrounding an axial centerline around which the cleaning elements 106 are arranged.

[36] Spring biasing of cleaning elements

[37] As best seen in FIG. 1 A, each of one end of cleaning elements 106, i. e. , connector 108, is movably attached by a hinge 1 12 to grip 101 and biased by a spring 1 14 to move the other end (connected with spatula 1 10) away from the axial centerline around which the cleaning elements 106 are arranged. That is, each of cleaning elements 106 is attached to grip 101 in a radial manner around the axial centerline and in a circumferentially spaced manner. Spring 1 14 applies a force causing the spatulas 1 10 to move away from each other in separation. Each cleaning element 106 connection with grip 101 comprises a hinge 1 12 and biasing spring 1 14.

[38] In at least some embodiments, a spring-loaded hinge is used in place of separate hinge 1 12 and biasing spring 1 14. In at least some embodiments, a single spring-loaded hinge is used to connect all of the connectors 108 to the grip 101 . [39] Through the use of spring biasing, the cleaning elements 106 are able to be wider or narrower apart depending on container shape without the user having to make any adj ustments. The user uses grip 101 to rotate cleaner 100 within the container being cleaned. FIG. 1 A depicts container cleaner 100 without the effect of spring 1 14.

[40] Plunger

[41] Returning to FIG. I B, container cleaner 100 also comprises a plunger 120 extending axially through the axial centerline around which the cleaning elements 106 are arranged. That is, plunger 120 extends through the center of container cleaner

100. In operation, plunger 120 slides along the axial centerline of container cleaner 100 between a closed position and an open position (described more fully in connection with cleaning elements 106). Plunger 120 is formed of a plastic material. In at least some embodiments, plunger 120 is formed of a different material. In at least some embodiments, plunger 120 has a longer or shorter length.

[42] Plunger knob

[43] Plunger 120 comprises a control/actuation knob 122 at an end above grip

101 , i. e. , on an opposite side of grip 101 from cleaning elements 106. Knob 122 is a flattened cylindrical shape. In some embodiments, knob 122 is a different shape, e. g. , rectangular, triangular, or other suitable shape. In some embodiments, knob 122 comprises a ring protruding at one side to enable a user to more easily grab the knob to retract plunger 120 from within container cleaner 100 and move the plunger to an open position.

[44] Plunger connecting rod

[45] Plunger 120 also comprises a connecting rod 124 extending along the axial centerline and connected to knob 122 at one end. Connecting rod 124 extends through a through-hole in grip 101 extending parallel to and along the axial centerline. In at least some embodiments, connecting rod 124 has a longer or shorter length.

[46] Plunger pusher disk [47] Plunger 120 also comprises a pusher disk 126 connected at the other end of connecting rod 124 and extending perpendicular, i. e. , radially, to the axial centerline. Pusher disk (also referred to as disk) 126 is cylindrical in shape.

[48] In at least some embodiments, pusher disk 126 is formed of the same material as spatulas 1 10. In at least some embodiments, pusher disk 126 is formed to correspond to at least a portion of the interior of spatulas 1 10. That is, spatulas 1 10 are formed to surround at least a maj ority of the periphery of the disk 126 in a closed configuration. In doing so, with cleaning elements 106 close together, in the closed position, disk 126 is able to be pushed through the spatula ends 1 10 of the cleaning elements 106 and expel material from the spatulas 1 10. The disk 126 and its periphery pushes or scrapes material from the interior of the spatulas 1 10. In at least some embodiments, disk 126 has a rounded tapering periphery enabling additional flexibility in the disk edge.

[49] Operation of plunger

[50] With knob 122 extended away from grip 101 , disk 126 is at its closest distance to grip 101 and farthest away from the tip of spatulas 1 10 away from connector 108. With knob 122 at its closest point adj acent and/or in contact with grip 101 , disk 126 is at its closest distance to the tip of spatulas 1 10 and at its farthest from grip 101.

[51] Plunger sleeve

[52] Lastly, plunger 120 also comprises a circular sleeve 128. Sleeve 128 surrounds the exterior of cleaning elements 106 and is connected with plunger rod 124. As best seen in connection with cross-section of FIG. 5A, a connecting bar 500 connects sleeve 128 with plunger rod 124. Connecting bar 500 extends radially through the center of cleaner 100 from one side of sleeve 128 to an opposite side and attaching to plunger rod 124. In at least some embodiments, connecting bar 500 comprises a single radially extending portion connecting from the plunger rod 124 to the sleeve 128. In at least some other embodiments, there are greater numbers of connecting bars 500 connecting from the interior of sleeve 128 to plunger rod 124. In at least some embodiments, sleeve 128 conforms to an external shape of spatulas 1 10. In this manner, a single operation of manipulating plunger 120 enables both the closing of cleaning elements 106 to a closed position and expulsion of gathered material from within the cleaning elements 106 by disk 126. A "single shot" motion gathers the cleaning elements 106 and pushes disk 126 to expel material from the cleaning elements 106.

[53] Sleeve not connected with plunger variation

[54] In at least one embodiment, sleeve 128 is not connected with plunger 120 and operates independently of plunger 120. That is, sleeve 128 is movable to counteract the biasing spring 1 14 and put cleaning elements 106 in a closed position separate from movement of plunger 120 and vice versa.

[55] Sleeve operation

[56] With sleeve 128 positioned closest to grip 101 , cleaning elements 106 are in an open position and spread apart from each other by the spring biasing. As sleeve 128 is moved (corresponding to movement of knob 122 toward grip 101 ) away from grip 101 , the leading edge of sleeve 128 contacts an outer portion of cleaning elements 106 in opposition to the spring biasing. As sleeve 128 is moved farther away from grip 101 , sleeve 128 forces cleaning elements 106 together by contact with the outer portions. If knob 122 is nearer grip 101 , sleeve 128 has forced cleaning elements 106 to a closed position closest to each other. At this point, further motion of knob 122 toward grip 101 causes disk 126 to push through spatulas 1 10 and scrape material off the spatulas 1 10 and out of the interior of the cleaner 100.

[57] In at least some embodiments, sleeve 128 has a flange 129 (FIG. 16) which extends radially away from the peripheral surface of the sleeve. The flange 129 extends radially away from the axial centerline and contacts the opening of a container as the cleaner 100 is slid into the opening. As the cleaner 100 is slid further into the opening, sleeve 128 slides further along cleaner 100 toward grip 101. As sleeve 128 slides closer toward grip 101 , cleaning elements 106 are released from the closed position due to the changed position of sleeve 128. Depending on the length of the neck of the container, even though sleeve 128 is moved to a position in which cleaning elements 106 would be in an open position otherwise, the container neck constrains cleaning elements 106 to remain in a closed position until cleaner 100 is further inserted into the container. [58] In some embodiments, flange 129 has a diameter 50% greater than a diameter of sleeve 128. In some embodiments, flange 129 has a diameter 100% greater than a diameter of sleeve 128. In some embodiments, flange 129 has a diameter greater than 200% greater than a diameter of sleeve 128. In some embodiments, flange 129 has a diameter less than 50% greater than a diameter of sleeve 128.

[59] While FIG. 1 A lacks plunger 120 and sleeve 128, Figure 2 is a cross-section plan view of a portion of a container cleaner with plunger 120 in accordance with some embodiments . However, FIG. 2 omits sleeve 128 for clarity. FIG. 2 depicts container cleaner 100 without the effect of spring 1 14.

[60] Figure 3 is a cross-section plan view of a portion of a container cleaner with plunger 120 in a retracted position in accordance with some embodiments. FIG. 3 omits sleeve 128 for clarity . Plunger 120 is retracted sufficient that disk 126 is not between spatulas 1 10. Plunger 120 is retracted sufficient that disk 126 is between connectors 108. FIG. 3 depicts container cleaner 100 without the effect of spring 1 14.

[61] Figure 4 is a cross-section plan view of a container cleaner with plunger 120 and sleeve 128 in accordance with some embodiments . Plunger 120 is retracted sufficient that disk is between connectors 108 and not between spatulas 1 10. Sleeve 128 is adj acent grip 101 and surrounding handle portion 104. Sleeve 128 being adj acent portion 102 of grip 101 prevents plunger 120 from being retracted further. FIG. 4 depicts container cleaner 100 without the effect of spring 1 14.

[62] Figure 5 is a cross-section plan view of the container cleaner in an open position in accordance with some embodiments . Plunger 120 is retracted sufficient that disk is between connectors 108 and not between spatulas 1 10. Sleeve 128 is adj acent grip 101 and surrounding handle portion 104. Sleeve 128 being adj acent portion 102 of grip 101 prevents plunger 120 from being retracted further.

[63] Figure 5A is a cross-section view of a portion of the container cleaner of FIG. 5. Connecting bar 500 connects sleeve 128 with plunger rod 124. Connecting bar 500 extends radially through the center of cleaner 100 from one side of sleeve 128 to an opposite side and attaching to plunger rod 124. In at least some embodiments, connecting bar 500 comprises a single radially extending portion connecting from the plunger rod 124 to the sleeve 128. In at least some other embodiments, there are greater numbers of connecting bars 500 connecting from the interior of sleeve 128 to plunger rod 124. In at least some embodiments, sleeve 128 conforms to an external shape of spatulas 1 10. In this manner, a single operation of manipulating plunger 120 enables both the closing of cleaning elements 106 to a closed position and expulsion of gathered material from within the cleaning elements 106 by disk 126. A "single shot" motion gathers the cleaning elements 106 and pushes disk 126 to expel material from the cleaning elements 106.

[64] In at least one embodiment, sleeve 128 is not connected with plunger 120 and operates independently of plunger 120. That is, sleeve 128 is movable to counteract the biasing spring 1 14 and put cleaning elements 106 in a closed position separate from movement of plunger 120 and vice versa.

[65] Figure 6 is a cross-section plan view of the container cleaner in a partially closed position in accordance with some embodiments. As plunger 120 is depressed by a user, the plunger slides into the cleaner 100. As plunger 120 slides into the cleaner 100, sleeve 128 comes into contact with the side of cleaning elements 106. As plunger 120 continues into cleaner 100, sleeve 128 continues to contact cleaning elements 106 and causes the cleaning elements to return to a parallel configuration. That is, sleeve 128 forces cleaning elements 106 to be extending in parallel along the longitudinal direction.

[66] Figure 7 is a cross-section plan view of the container cleaner in a partially closed position in accordance with some embodiments. FIG. 7 is a further closed position of container cleaner 100. Cleaning elements 106 are nearly parallel due to the impact of sleeve 128.

[67] Figure 8 is a cross-section plan view of the container cleaner in a closed position in accordance with some embodiments . FIG. 8 is a closed position of container cleaner 100. Cleaning elements 106 are parallel due to the impact of sleeve 128. Additionally, disk 126 has pushed through spatulas 1 10 and expelled material which has been collected on the spatulas. Knob 122 is in contact with the upper surface of grip 101 and thereby prevents further movement of disk 126 beyond the end of spatulas 1 10. [68] Container cleaner 100 is at least partially insertable in the closed position into the opening of a container. In at least some embodiments, at least the spatulas 1 10 are insertable into the opening of a container if container cleaner 100 is in the closed position. In at least some embodiments, as container cleaner 100 is inserted more fully into the opening of a container sleeve 128 contacts the upper edge of the opening and is pushed upward toward grip 101 . As sleeve 128 is moved further upward, connecting elements 108 are no longer held parallel by sleeve 128 and the force of the biasing spring 1 14 causes the connecting elements 108 to separate and move away from each other to the open position.

[69] Figure 9 is a perspective view of a portion of the container cleaner without the plunger 120 and sleeve 128 in accordance with some embodiments .

[70] Figure 10 is a perspective view of the container cleaner with the plunger 120 in a closed position in accordance with some embodiments. FIG. 10 omits sleeve 128 for clarity .

[71] Figure 1 1 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a closed position in accordance with some embodiments .

[72] Figure 12 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a closed position in accordance with some embodiments.

[73] Figure 13 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a container in use in accordance with some embodiments . FIG. 13 is a view of the container cleaner in a long, narrow necked container.

[74] Figure 14 is a perspective view of the container cleaner in a different shaped container in use in accordance with some embodiments. FIG. 14 is a view of the container cleaner in a wide necked container.

[75] Figure 15 is a perspective view of the container cleaner being removed from a container in accordance with some embodiments. FIG. 15 is a view of the container cleaner partially retracted from a wide necked container.

[76] Figure 16 is a perspective view of a container cleaner with a sleeve having a flange in accordance with some embodiments. Sleeve 128 has a flange 129 which extends radially away from the peripheral surface of the sleeve. Flange 129 extends radially away from the axial centerline and contacts the opening of a container as the cleaner 100 is slid into the opening. As the cleaner 100 is slid further into the opening, sleeve 128 slides further along cleaner 100 toward grip 101. As sleeve 128 slides closer toward grip 101 , cleaning elements 106 are released from the closed position due to the changed position of sleeve 128. Depending on the length of the neck of the container, even though sleeve 128 is moved to a position in which cleaning elements 106 would be in an open position otherwise, the container neck constrains cleaning elements 106 to remain in a closed position until cleaner 100 is further inserted into the container.

[77] In some embodiments, flange 129 has a diameter 50% greater than a diameter of sleeve 128. In some embodiments, flange 129 has a diameter 100% greater than a diameter of sleeve 128. In some embodiments, flange 129 has a diameter greater than 200% greater than a diameter of sleeve 128. In some embodiments, flange 129 has a diameter less than 50% greater than a diameter of sleeve 128.

[78] Figure 17 is a perspective view of a container cleaner with a cleaner positioning mechanism 1700 in accordance with some embodiments. Cleaner positioning mechanism 1700 is based on the mechanism described in U. S. Patent 1,894,556, entitled "Device for Removing Screw Tops" issued to Henry J. Edlund on January 17, 1933, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein. Positioning mechanism 1700 is attached to the lower end of grip 101 and cleaning elements 106 are connected to the positioning mechanism. Positioning mechanism 1700 is connected between cylindrical portion 102 and handle portion 104. In some embodiments, positioning mechanism 1700 is connected between grip 101 and cleaning elements 106.

[79] Positioning mechanism 1700 comprises a device having movable jaws 1701 which will automatically adjust themselves to openings of containers of various diameters and will automatically grip the inside of the opening by the rotation of a knob 1702 and cause the container cleaner 100 to be retained in position over the opening. [80] Knob 1702 is connected to a toothed wheel 1704 which has teeth which intermesh with teeth of corresponding arms 1706. Knob 1702 and toothed wheel 1704 have a throughhole corresponding with and aligned with the axial alignment of connector rod 124. Connector rod 124 extends through the throughhole in knob 1702 and toothed wheel 1704.

[81] Each of corresponding arms 1706 interacts with corresponding j aws 1701 which extend downward from positioning mechanism 1700. As knob 1702 is rotated, wheel 1704 rotates causing arms 1706 to slide toward/away from wheel 1704 and thereby cause j aws 1701 to move toward/away from each other. With j aws 1701 positioned inside of a container opening, rotation of knob 1702 causing the j aws 1701 to move away from each other also causes the j aws 1701 to come into contact with the interior of the container opening. With j aws 1701 in contact with the interior of the container opening, container cleaner 100 is retained in a central position of the opening and is less likely to move as the cleaning elements 106 are rotated and scraping the interior of the container in use.

[82] In at least some embodiments, greater or fewer number of j aws and arms are used to retain container cleaner 100 in position over an opening. In at least some embodiments, positioning mechanism 1700 is formed of plastic or other suitable material.

[83] Figure 18 is a perspective view of a portion of a container cleaner in accordance with some embodiments. In accordance with the FIG. 18 embodiment, spatulas 1 10 have a curved shape corresponding to the outside circumference of disk 126. In accordance with the given embodiment, disk 126 is able to more easily scrape the interior of spatulas 1 10 to ej ect material accumulated on the interior of the spatulas 1 10.

[84] An embodiment of the present disclosure is a container cleaner comprising a grip, a plurality of cleaning elements, and a plunger. The grip has a through-hole formed therein. The plurality of cleaning elements are connected with the grip and arranged for cleaning the interior of a container. The plunger extends through the through-hole of the grip and comprises a pusher disk at an end thereof. [85] In accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure, a container cleaner comprises one or more of a linkage to adapt to different container opening sizes (e.g. , mechanism 1700 and/or flange on sleeve 128), an ability to be placed in a container and sweep the interior of the container with the spatulas to obtain remaining material (e.g. , closed position of spatulas 1 10), the ability to retract the spatulas and have the remaining material adhered to the blades (e.g. , closed position of spatulas 1 10), and/or the ability to remove the material from the spatulas (e.g. , pusher disk 126 moving between spatulas 1 10).

[86] In accordance with a method embodiment of the present disclosure, the container cleaner is placed into a closed or retracted position with plunger 120 positioned such that knob 122 is closest to grip 101 and sleeve 128 is in contact with cleaner elements 106 keeping the cleaner elements in a generally parallel and longitudinal position. The container cleaner is slid into an opening of a container with the pusher disk 126 end entering the opening first. After the container cleaner is inserted to the point at which either a lower surface of grip 101 is in contact with the top of the opening or pusher disk 126 contacts a bottom surface of the container, the plunger 122 is pulled up/out of grip to cause sleeve 128 to move away from contact with the cleaner elements 106 and release the elements 106 to move away from each other to an open position based on the spring biasing. The grip 101 is used to rotate the cleaner elements 106 and cause the spatulas 1 10 to scrape remaining material from the interior of the container and accumulate same on the inner surface of the spatulas. The container cleaner is then removed from the container with the container returning, at least partially, the cleaner elements 106 to a closed position. In at least some embodiments, the sleeve 128 is moved downward sufficient to cause the cleaner elements to remain in a closed position after removal of cleaner 100 from the container. The plunger 120 is then pushed back down to move sleeve 128 into position in contact with cleaner elements 106 to cause the cleaner elements to return to the closed position. At the same time, as the plunger 120 is pushed down, pusher disk 126 scrapes the interior of the spatulas 1 10 and expels/ej ects the scraped material from the interior of the cleaner for use by the user.

[87] The foregoing outlines features of several embodiments so that those skilled in the art may better understand the aspects of the present disclosure. Those skilled in the art should appreciate that they may readily use the present disclosure as a basis for designing or modifying other processes and structures for carrying out the same purposes and/or achieving the same advantages of the embodiments introduced herein. Those skilled in the art should also realize that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure, and that they may make various changes, substitutions, and alterations herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure.