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Corn+Soybean Digest

Soy Cleans Up | A Variety of Industries Tap Soy’s Cleaning Power

What do the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the U.S. Forest Service, airports and backyard barbecue grills all have in common? Unique soy-based products have been developed to meet their different cleaning and operating needs. Here’s a glimpse at where and how the power of soy is being used:

In the 879,000-acre Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan, soybean oil can be found in the hydraulic fluids, greases and oils used in equipment to the hand cleaners and bathroom cleaners used by staff. The use of biobased products was initiated by a partnership between the National Forest and Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee (MSPC) and a grant funded by the United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff.

Toby Rhue, Hiawatha National Forest fleet manager, explains that an executive order from the president stating that federal agencies should support biobased products when the performance and costs are similar to traditional petrochemical-based products prompted his interested in soy-based products. He adds, “It just made sense for a national forest to use green products to have the least impact on the natural environment as possible.”

Rhue reports the performance results have been excellent in using the biobased products, and adds, “Everyone loves the hand cleaner, which has natural emollients to keep your hands from drying out from frequent use.”

Rhue plans to continue using soy-based products and increase the scope as more products become available and certified for use. The MSPC hopes more opportunities will develop for soy-based products to be used by the Forest Service at the national and state levels.

At airports across the nation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now using soy-based and other biobased products as high-performing cleaners to disinfect security equipment while “going green” at the same time.

In 2006, a TSA pilot program selected 12 biobased products for testing at 18 airports in an effort to find a safer, environmentally friendly alternative for isopropyl alcohol – used to clean screening tables and baggage areas. After performance data was evaluated and biobased substitutes were competitive in price and performance, all 12 cleaning products were recommended for use by TSA and have been adopted at airports across the country.

The transition to biobased cleaners over alcohol-based cleaners offer airports several safety advantages including reduced flammability; fewer noxious fumes; eliminating storage restrictions for flammable cabinet requirements; and eliminating labeling, spill and shipping issues associated with isopropyl alcohol.

Additionally, the USPS uses a soy-based mastic remover to clean sticky adhesives from surfaces in many of its 38,000 facilities. It likes the environmentally friendly attributes of the product, but more importantly, it likes it because it works.

USPS Resource Conservation Specialist Ronald Robbins says, “We didn’t go out looking for a soy-based mastic remover; we looked for a mastic remover that works. And the soy-based product works.”

The earth-conscious product has also earned the USPS’s White House Closing the Circle award in the green purchasing category. The annual award program recognizes outstanding achievements of federal employees and their facilities for efforts that resulted in significant contributions to, or have made a significant impact on, promoting environmental stewardship.

For more information:
Learn about the Grill Cleaner and other soy-based products from SoyClean at
Learn about Graffiti Remover SAC by visiting
To see a list of all soy-based BBQ grill cleaners visit the online soy products guide at

This is part of a series featuring new soy-based products.

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