Method for cleaning steel wool pads

Abstract

A method of cleaning used steel wool pads for reuse. The method includes first washing with hot water or steam. The pad in a final treatment is immersed in an organic solvent solution of oil. The pad is then dried with oil remaining on the metallic strands thereof providing a residual protective film.

Claims

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the pad after washing with hot water or steam is subjected to a water impingement step with water passing through the pads being effective to carry off residual contaminants. 3. The method of claim 1 wherein the pad is initially washed in hot water rendered slightly basic by the addition of ammonium hydroxide to promote break down of the wax soiler in the pad, and wherein after washing with hot water the pad is subjected to a water impingement step with contaminants in this step being removed wIth the water directed against the pad.
United States Patent Lewis et al. [451 Apr. 4, 1972 METHOD FOR CLEANING STEEL WOOL PADS lnventors: Robert N. Lewis, 1556 S.E. 6th Street; Bruce R. Cram, III, 6288 Eliott Street, both of West Linn, Oreg. 97068 Filed: Nov. 23, 1970 Appl. No.: 92,262 Related U.S. Application Data Continuation-impart of Ser. No. 69,162, Sept. 2, l970, abandoned. U.S. Cl ..l34/26, 134/30, 134/40 Int. Cl ..B08b 3/00 Field of Search Primary ExaminerMorris O. Wolk Assistant Examiner-Joseph T. Zatarga Attorney-Kolisch & Hartwell [57] ABSTRACT A method of cleaning used steel wool pads for reuse. The method includes first washing with hot water or steam. The pad in a final treatment is immersed in an organic solvent solution of oil. The pad is then dried with oil remaining on the metallic strands thereof providing a residual protective film. 3 Claims, No Drawings METHOD FOR CLEANING STEEL WOOL PADS This application is a continuation-impart of prior filed application Ser. No. 69,162 filed Sept. 2, 1970, now abandoned. This invention relates to a method for cleaning used steel wool pads for reuse. In the cleaning or polishing of vinyl, wood, or other types of floors, it is customary to use a large pad of steel wool mounted on a buffing machine. A paste wax containing the usual floor waxes such as carnauba and other natural and synthetic waxes such as monohydric alcohol esters is applied to the floor or to the pad, and the pad is then rotated to distribute and polish the wax. Most wax preparations include both cleaning and polishing agents whereby cleaning is performed simultaneously with polishing. During use, the pad becomes contaminated by reason of its interstices becoming clogged with dirt and hardened wax. It has been found that the pads, after one work shift, are so contaminated that they are unsatisfactory for further use. Generally, such used pads have then been discarded, which requires purchasing replacement pads. Cleaning of pads has been unsuccessful, as such has effected the physical nature of the pad. A general object of this invention is to provide a novel method for cleaning used steel wool pads, whereby they may be reused repeatedly. More specifically, an object is to provide a novel method in which dirt and wax are removed from such a pad, and in which the pad is also prepared for storage by the deposit of a residual protective film over the strands of steel wool in the pad to inhibit rusting or deterioration of these strands. These and other objects and advantages will become more fully apparent on reading the following description of the invention. As has been discussed above, in the cleaning and polishing of floors, large steel wool pads mounted on a buffing machine, are often used. The steel wool pads generally are made up of loosely matted metallic strands which impart a resilient or fluffy characteristic to the pads when new. Wax is applied to the floor or to the pad, and the pad is rotated by the buffing machine to distribute the wax and produce polishing. Cleaning also results with wax preparations including a cleaning agent. Exemplary of such preparations is one manufactured by Cello Chemical Co., of Baltimore, Maryland, and designated as Pantaloon Paste Wax. The wax in such preparations have melting points below the boiling point of water. A pad used in this manner gradually collects dirt, wax, and other soilers within its interstices as contaminants. After a work shift is completed, so much matter has collected in a pad that it is rendered tightly matted and hard with caked wax. A pad in this condition is not suited for further use. The inventors have discovered that such used pads may be cleaned and prepared for reuse a number of times, by a simple method which functions to restore a pad to its resilient state free ofcontaminants. According to one embodiment of the invention, an initial step in the method contemplated comprises washing the pad in detergent-free hot water. For instance, the pad may be immersed in a body of hot water having usually a temperature above 160 F., to place the temperature of the water above the melting point of the usual wax. Preferably, the temperature of the water is near boiling temperature to hasten melting of the wax. Such immersion need not be for any considerable length of time, with a washing by immersion in hot water for 5 seconds or so being usually found sufficient. If desired, some agitation may be imparted to the water during the immersion step. By reason of such immersion, the was in the pad loosens and frees itself from the steel wool fibers and tends to rise in the water, carrying with it dirt and other impurities. Alternatively, and when live steam is employed, such is directed against the pad in a manner to cause complete impregnation of the pad and contact by the steam of the internally held contaminants. Wax and retained dirt and other contaminants tends to be forced out of the interstices of the pad by the movement of the traveling stream through the pad. According to another embodiment of the invention, the pad is immersed in a body of hot water made slightly basic by the addition thereto of a small amount of ammonium hydroxide or other suitable basic material. When ammonium hydroxide is utilized, the concentration of the ammonium hydroxide in the water bath being used for treatment need not be high, with concentrations of 0.2 percent representing as high a concentration as normally may be utilized, and with concentrations ranging from about 0.02 percent to 0.08 percent being usual. By including the basic material, a dissolving action of the wax and other organic components is promoted which transforms the wax to a milky substance which quickly rises to the surface of the water. With loosening of the wax, again there is loosening of dirt and other soilers, which become dispersed in the water. After washing in the manner indicated above, the pad is removed from the water and preferably subjected to a water impingement step, where a jet of water or a high pressure water spray pressuresof about 100 pounds per square inch have been utilized) is directed over the entire expanse of first one side and then the other side of the pad. The water impingement step functions rapidly, and through dispersion of the wax contaminants with the water traveling through the pad, to effect removal of residual contaminants that remain in the pad after the initial water immersion. In this connection, it should be remembered that by turning the pad over and applying the impinging jet stream against both faces of the pad, optimum removal of residuals including nondissolvables is obtained, as it enables material which does not easily pass through the pad to be expressed out from that side where movement is easiest. The effect of the water impingementstep is to remove, as already indicated, wax material remaining as well as dirt and nondissolvables. It is usually not necessary to utilize hot water in this impingement step, since such only adds to the cost of the process. This is particularly true in the case of a pad which has been immersed in an ammoniacal solution, as discussed above, which reduces wax material to a milky substance which is easily dispersed with and becomes carried away with the water stream. As a result of the processing steps so far described, it has been noted that ordinarily from 90 to 95 percent of the soilers contaminating the pad are removed. The cleansing action is performed in a relatively gentle fashion, and in a manner which does not produce break down of the pad fibers mechanically, or loosening or tearing apart of the pad. Pads produced by such a cleansing process have steel fibers which in overalllength and orientation resemble the fibers of the pad prior to cleaning, the pad therefore having a fiber makeup which resembles a new pad save for that breakdown which has occurred in the fibers by reason of the use of the pad in the actual cleaning or polishing operation. In the treatment of the pad with water, be it hot water, steam or water made slightly basic in the manner described above, it is important that the water be free of detergents. It has been found that if a detergent is included in the water, the thin metal strands or fibers of the pad after the treatment become somewhat brittle or powdery, with severe impairment of the flexible matted structure of the pad. After treatment with water, the pad is shaken to effect removal of loose water on the steel fiber strands in the pad. This prepares the pad for a following treatment comprising immersion in an organic solvent solution of oil, which functions to finally clean the pad and to prepare the pad for storage. By removing free water in this manner it is possible to minimize the amount of water carried into the organic solvent solution of oil. The oil solution that is used is one containing a relatively small concentration of oil, such as usually less than 5 percent oil. The oil employed may be a conventional petroleum based oil such as a motor oil or any of the other commonly available oils, such as vegetable oils, etc., the particular oil utilized being one selected on the basis of price and availability. Any of the usual organic solvents for oil may be employed as a solvent vehicle, such as the nonpolar solvents exemplified by kerosene, gasoline, toluene, carbon tetrachloride, acetone, etc. In the oil treatment, the organic solvent promotes final cleaning by functioning to dissolve any residual materials not earlier removed by the water treatment. The amount of soilers removed in this step is relatively minor enabling repeated reuse of the oil solution for this purpose. As a final step in this process, the pads are removed from the oil solution. The pads preferably are then shaken, to remove free oil solution, the oil solution which separates by this shaking being returned to the bath used in the immersion step. The pads are then dried, with evaporation of the organic solvent. The effect of such drying is to leave a residual protective oil film on the clean metallic strands of the pad distributed throughout the entire body of the pad. After such cleaning, the pad may be stored for a long period of time with the same protected from deterioration such as rusting. The strands in the pad are clean and bright and remain so over a long period of time. A soft, fluffy resilient characteristic is restored within the pad enabling itto be used effectively in subsequent waxing and cleaning operations. While a preferred method of the invention has been described herein, it should be obvious to those skilled in the art that variations and modifications are parting from the spirit of the invention. It is claimed and desired to secure by Letters Patent: 1. A method of cleaning a used steel wool pad contaminated with floor dirt and wax soilers distributed over the metallic strands of the pad comprising first washing the pad in detergent-free hot water or steam to effect removal of a major portion of said soilers, then immersing the pad in an oil and solvent solution of notmore than about 5 percent oil to effect removal of essentially the remainder of said soilers, and then finally drying the pad to evaporate said solvent and leave a residual protective oil film distributed over the metallic strands of said pad. 2. The method of claim 1 wherein the pad after washing with hot water or steam is subjected to a water impingement step with water passing through the pads being effective to carry off residual contaminants. 3. The method of claim 1 wherein the pad is initially washed in hot water rendered slightly basic by the addition of ammonium hydroxide to promote break down of the wax soiler in the pad, and wherein after washing with hot water the pad is subjected to a water impingement step with contaminants in this step being removed with the water directed against the pad. possible without de-

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Patent Citations (2)

    Publication numberPublication dateAssigneeTitle
    US-2121361-AJune 21, 1938California Typewriter & AddingOffice equipment cleaning process
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