5 Benefits of Using a Foam Cannon vs Hand Washing

Normally wash your vehicle with a bucket of soap? Most people do. It’s a perfectly fine method if you do it safely (nothing against it, I still wash with soap and a bucket occasionally!).

However, a foam cannon has its advantages, especially if you own a large vehicle. In a nutshell, it’s a safer and easier way to apply suds, since you don’t need to touch the paint..more on that in a minute.

If you don’t know the differences between a foam gun and a foam cannon, head over to this post where I explain the differences. Both devices spray foam on your vehicle and many of the reasons-to-use I’ll cover apply to both devices…so keep that in mind.

So here we go…here are five benefits of using a foam cannon to wash your vehicle.

1. It’s easier to wash in sections…without missing a spot

foam lubricating vehicle

Ever tried to remove dirt from a panel of your vehicle using a wash mitt? We’ve all missed a spot a time or two once the water dries. I find it’s much easier to miss spots if I apply soap from a bucket.

With a foam cannon, you can coat an entire panel with foam..and see exactly where to use your mitt. If you use a bucket and a mitt, when soap gets diluted it can be hard to tell where you started and where you stopped.

If it’s hot, a thin layer of soap applied by hand may dry before you can rinse it off, whereas a thick foam layer probably won’t.

Quick Tip: Since dirt tends to cling to paint, it does require some agitation with a microfiber towel or wash mitt regardless of whether or not you use a foam cannon. A foam cannon simply can’t replace good ol’ fashion agitation.

2. Your suds won’t get diluted

foam on car

It’s very easy to run out of thick suds by the time you finish when washing my car by hand. I don’t like adding more soap and creating more suds as I wash..just a personal preference!

Soap encapsulates 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. The more you dip a dirty mitt in the water, the fewer suds in your bucket.

I like to prevent this annoying necessity of creating foam in a bucket and instead spray full-strength-undiluted soap suds straight on the vehicle.

3. Reduced risk of scratching paint

non scratching wash mitt

I grew up dipping a wash mitt in a bucket and applying a good amount of pressure to the vehicle…something I know better than to do now.

Soap acts as a lubricant and does all the work to remove dirt if you use enough of it—no hard 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 shouldn’t apply more than light pressure using a mitt. You basically want to graze the surface to guide the dirty foam off the surface.

Foam cannons provide a thick, rich lather

Foam cannons create a pretty thick layer of foam (like shaving cream) which adds more protection against rocks and small debris than foam created in a bucket.

Quick Tip: 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 to wash your vehicle, check out these these 5 models under $300 I recommend. Unless you have a large truck or vehicle, it’s really all you need.

With foam, you don’t have to worry about not having enough lubrication between your wash mitt and bits of dirt, bugs, and other contaminants stuck on your vehicle.

4. Foam cannons help to avoid cross-contamination

car wash bucket

If you normally wash with a bucket, you know that by the time you reach the last panel, your water is usually pretty filthy. I hate the idea of dipping a rinsed wash mitt in a slightly dirty bucket…but that’s just me.

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 dirty water still swirls to the top when sprayed.

By applying foam directly to the surface of your vehicle with a foam cannon, just spray off your mitt, apply foam, and skip the dip in a dirty bucket.

5. Speed

remove dirt with foam

A foam cannon can speed up the car wash lathering process significantly for large vehicles.

Instead of lugging around a heavy bucket, you can knock out an entire panel of your vehicle in less than about 30 seconds.. No more bending over and lugging around a water bucket!

If you use a foam cannon attached to a pressure washer lance, you save time by both applying and rinsing off soap using the same device.


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.

This post was updated on January 13, 2022.

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