GAIL GARRISON HAS NO IDEA WHEN she first felt the inspiration that became U.S. Patent 4,697,295. "It's just something I did to get out of mopping the floor."

Garrison, a 42-year-old housewife from St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., has invented what, in legalese, is termed a "floor cleaning device: a flat, flexible, absorbent cleaning member of predetermined configuration . . . with a pair of substantially laterally spaced pocket members . . . sufficiently far apart to allow an individual with a foot in each pocket to walk without tripping . . ."

In other words, with this invention you can mop your kitchen floor by donning a pair of terry-cloth "snowshoes" and schussing across the linoleum. And with your hands free, you can fill the dishwasher, put away groceries or make drinks. And besides, Garrison says, "It seems like the terry cloth cleans in the creases much better than a regular sponge mop. You just use vinegar and water, and it shines everything up." Like a towel, Garrison's invention can be washed, dried and reused. "It's totally simple."

Not that simple ideas can't be improved upon, though. Says Garrison, "A girlfriend wants to make an aerobic tape that you could use while mopping." -- ROGER GILROY