5 Benefits of Using a Foam Cannon vs Hand Washing

I used to always use a wash bucket and my favorite car soap, but the more I begin to research the most effective ways to wash dirt off of the vehicle, using foam clearly has its advantages.

If you’re like me, you may not have really understood why you would want to purchase equipment that sprays foam on your vehicle. After diving into this topic, I’ve learned that it does offer a few distinct advantages especially if you are sick and tired of running out of car soap in your bucket.

In this blog post, I’ll break down five benefits of using a foam cannon to wash your car instead of hand-washing.

1. Easier lubrication for removing dirt

foam lubricating vehicle

If you’ve ever tried to remove dirt from a panel of your vehicle using a wash mitt, you’ve likely missed a spot a time or two once the water dries.

Since dirt tends to clings to paint, it does require some agitation with a microfiber towel or wash mitt regardless of whether or not you use a foam cannon.

The problem with washing a panel of your vehicle the traditional way (using a bucket to apply soap) is that it’s very easy to run out of suds before you finish.

Soap encapsulated dirt, so the more you dip your mitt in a bucket, the more likely the suds are basically going to ‘attack’ the dirt lodged in your wash mitt.

This causes less suds over time, and is a problem you can basically prevent by spraying the soap (in foam form) to your vehicle.

2. Foam creates a slick surface to easily wash dirt away

foam on car

Since foam actually tends to stick to the surface of a vehicle before running down the sides, based on my experience it’s a lot easier to tell where you have used your wash mitt. When using suds, sometimes they can dry when it’s hot, making it difficult to tell where you’ve washed.

3. Reduced risk of scratching paint

non scratching wash mitt

Many people (including me at some point) grew up dipping a wash mitt or sponge in a bucket and applying a pretty good amount of pressure to the vehicle.

This makes it much easier to scratch a vehicle and should be avoided. It’s the soap that really does all the work to remove dirt –no scrubbing required.

Since a foam cannon applies much more soap than a wash mitt ever could (even those that hold a lot of suds), you really don’t have to use any pressure at all when using a mitt. You basically are just grazing the surface to assist the dirty foam from sliding off the surface.

Foam cannons provide a thick, rich lather

Snow foam when used with a foam cannon creates a very thick and rich lather like I mentioned earlier (almost like a shaving cream), that you simply can’t mimic with a bucket and regular car soap.

Some cannons and soaps produce more than others, and using a gas-powered pressure washer will typically produce more foam when used with a cannon (than an electric one).

If you’re in the market for a pressure washer, these 5 models under $300 I think are a great option for beginners.

Unlike manually slapping suds on your car, with a foam cannon you also don’t have to worry about not having enough lubrication between your wash mitt and small bits of dirt, bugs, and other contaminants that can scratch your vehicle.

4. Foam cannons help to avoid cross-contamination

car wash bucket

If you normally wash vehicles with a bucket of water and car shampoo, you know that by the time you reach the last panel your water is usually pretty filthy. This can do more harm than good many times, since you may be re-applying dirt.

Using a grit guard in the bottom of your bucket can help to keep your wash mitt clean (by preventing it from touching dirt at the bottom), but it’s easy not to monitor the water in your bucket when you’re tired or in a hurry.

By applying foam directly to the surface of your vehicle with a foam cannon, you only need to worry about spraying off your wash mitt with water (as opposed to re-dipping it in a dirty bucket).

5. Speed

remove dirt with foam

If you’re the type of person who just wants to wash down your car or even your boat very quickly on a hot summer day, using a foam cannon can speed up your process significantly in some cases.

Instead of lugging around a heavy bucket, you can knock out an entire panel of your vehicle in less than about 30 seconds. Washing by hand can be extremely tiring, especially when it’s hot outside, Plus no more bending over and lugging around a water bucket.

By using a foam cannon attached to a pressure washer lance, you can drastically reduce your wash time by both applying and rinsing off soap with the same device.

This is even more of a big deal if you are a mobile detailer that uses a pressure washer and water tank. Depending on your clientele, using water instead of waterless or rinseless products will simply allow you to clean more vehicles.


Overall I would recommend using a foam cannon for some people, especially if you’re a car enthusiast that owns a larger truck or SUV.

If you live in the city and don’t really have access to a pressure washer or water, using a rinseless product may be the way to go. You also have the option of using a pump sprayer to apply a rinseless product to cars that only have a thin layer of dirt.

At the end of the day, it’s really all about how you apply soap to your vehicle. A foam cannon will undoubtedly cover your car with more soap than any other device,  but if you don’t really want to use a pressure washer, they also make foam guns.

These devices you can hook up to a simple water hose and actually create some pretty good foam.

If you’re in the market for either a foam gun or foam cannon, check out this post where I break down everything you need to know about foam cannons and guns, and a few of my favorite options.

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