Is a Foam Cannon Worth It? (Explained for Beginners)


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Covering your pride and joy in thick foam looks so cool.  All the best detailing videos on YouTube do it. But does it actually do anything?  Why spend the extra time and money doing this and what techniques should you use to get the best results?

These are exactly the questions I had before I invested in my first pressure washer and foam cannon.  I watched plenty of YouTube videos that seem to contradict each other. I felt the best thing I could do is get one myself.  Here is everything I learned.  

The quick answer…

Yes, a foam cannon is worth it, especially if you want to keep your cars original shine.  Using one before each full contact hand wash will remove large amount of dirt that could otherwise scratch your car.  A simple foam cannon like the Tool Daily Foam Cannon on Amazon will do an excellent job when used with a foaming shampoo like the outstanding Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam.

Using a foam cannon, along with the correct washing techniques, will greatly reduce the accumulation of swirls and scratches and will keep your car looking great for much longer.

How does a foam cannon work?

A foam cannon attaches to a pressure washer.  The foam cannon contains a plastic bottle where you add some car shampoo and water.  You can use ordinary car soap or get special foam cannon soap which should result in more foam.

When you pull the trigger on your pressure washer, it forces the shampoo through the nozzle at high pressure and generates foam.

I found this excellent pressure washer and its great value for money.

Why use a foam cannon?

An initial wash using a foam cannon is sometimes called the pre-wash stage.

The pre-wash stage is important for reducing the chance of creating new swirls and scratches on your car.  

The foam will soak the dust and dirt on your car and will loosen and soften it.  It will also eat into oil and grease if allowed to dwell for the specified time. You can then blast the foam away with your water from your pressure washer and this will take loads of dust and dirt with it.  

Using the pressure washer without the foam cannon is also pretty effective but not as good as using foam with it.  I also find that bugs are easier to remove after getting soaked in thick foam for a few minutes.

Now when you hand wash your car there will be a lot less dirt and that dirt should also be softened so that you don’t have to work as hard to remove it.

I think this makes sense to me.  Especially for black cars. Every time you touch a black car you cause scratches that seem much worse than any other color car.

All you can really do is to minimize the amount of scratches you cause.  And anything that will help is worth trying.

After using a foam cannon for a few years I can say it definitely helps to protect the shine.  I feel I needed to take fewer paint correction measures to remove swirls.

Will a foam cannon and pressure washer completely clean your car?

If you have just light dust on your recently washed car then a foam and a pressure washer will remove that dust.  You can then dry your car using a plus microfibre towel and some spray wax.

Some YouTubers dry their car using a car blow drier or a leaf blower which means their car is washed without touching it.  This is a great way to minimize scratching even further.

But in most cases a foam cannon and pressure washer will not remove all the dirt and a full contact hand wash will be needed.

Disadvantages of using a foam cannon

  • You need to own a pressure washer with high enough pressure.
  • You will use even more water.
  • You will use even more car shampoo.
  • It will take longer to wash your car.
  • (still worth it though;)

Whats the difference between regular auto shampoo and snow foam shampoo?

Snow foam shampoo is usually designed to generate more suds.  That’s probably pretty obvious. But some snow foams also contain more cleaning power than regular shampoo.  

Also a purpose made snow foam may contain fewer conditioner type agents that protect your car when used as a hand wash.  So in some cases, it’s probably not a good idea to use snow foam in your bucket wash. Use a regular car shampoo like Meguiars Gold Class in your bucket.

What foam cannon do I recommend?

I recommend using a Tri-Nova foam cannon.  It’s an inexpensive option but is well made.

Tri-Nova branded foam cannon on Amazon is very popular and users are extremely happy with the level of thick foam it delivers.

This “Tool Daily” seems to be the equivalent of the Tri Nova for the Sun Joe….

Click Here to see the Tool Daily Foam Cannon on Amazon.com

I got the cheapest foam cannon I could find that would fit my Karcher pressure washer.  It was called the Karcher 2.643-147.0 Fj6 Foam Jet Nozzle.

But the foam it created was not very thick.  It didn’t stick to the car very well. The shampoo I had been using was Meguiars Gold Class.  This is not designed for use in foam cannons but I had read somewhere that it should generate a thick foam.

So then I bought some Chemical Guys Mr. Pink.  This is a shampoo that’s supposed to create incredibly thick and sticky foam.  But it wasn’t that much better than the Megs for me.

So I purchased a different foam cannon.  I wanted the MTM Foam Cannon because it’s what pro detailers use, but it’s very expensive.  Im guessing the expensive MTM is for those of you who need to foam a few cars every day. It’s built to last.  But I just want to foam my car once a week at the most.

The SudMagic foam cannon had fantastic reviews on Amazon and cost a lot less than the MTM.  The SudMagic doesn’t fit the Karcher pressure washer so I also needed an adapter. I found this on Amazon too.

SudMagic seems very well made and it’s definitely worth a chance as it comes with a lifetime warranty on the bottle threads.  The parts seem to made of brass which is much better than the plastic parts of the Karcher foam cannon.

What foam shampoo do I recommend?

Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam is a great foamer when used with a food foam cannon.  Also I like Gyeon Foam as it seems to offer better cleaning power.

What’s the difference between a foam gun and a foam cannon?

A foam cannon attaches to a pressure washer while a foam gun attaches to a hose.

What type of pressure washer produces thick foam?

Your pressure washer needs to have enough pressure and have a high enough flow rate to produce thick foam. Pressure is measured in PSI and flow rate is measured in GPM. For example the foam cannon mentioned above requires 1000 PSI to 3200 PSI, 2.0 to 5.3 GPM.

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