The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (2023)

Snow Foam is a term that the average Joe may have heard of, but aren't 100% sure what it means or what it entails. The opposite is true for those diehard detail fans where the snow foaming process is a mandatory step before they even touch the car with thewashing glove(and rightfully so)

If you ask a random person on the street what they think of when you mention the word snow foam, they probably think something like this.

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (1)

So let's go back to basics for a moment and break down exactly what snow foam is and discuss why you would foam a car and exactly how you would do it.

Let's take a look!

What is snow foam?

Snow foam is a pre-wash cleaning method that uses a foaming detergent to remove dirt, dust and grime from the exterior of a vehicle at the start of the wash process. Helps to loosen stubborn residues stuck to the surface before washing the car withwashing gloveandbuckets.

Snow foam consists of surfactants, which are cleaners that break up dirt and grime. These often contain detergents, lubricants, alkaline builders and additional chemicals to increase effectiveness in removing dirt particles. The blend of these ingredients creates a thick foam that adheres to your car body for maximum cleaning power.

Snow foam is usually used with a specialized sprayer called afoam gunor foam cannon either attached to a hose or flowing from apressure washer. The foam provides an even layer of cleaner that can be left on the car for several minutes before being washed off.

The main function of the snow foam is to loosen the dirt and it will remove much of the heavy dirt when it is rinsed.

But, isn't that the car shampoo for some? No, not really, Remember that snow foam is not designed as a washing medium, it is aprewash agent.

Why Should You Snow Foam A Car?

Snow foaming your car helps remove the majority of dirt and grimebeforeyou start itcontact washingedit, process. This means that when you wash with a wash mitt, less dirt is dragged into the paint. This reduces the risk of provocationswirl marksor scratches on the vehicle's clear coat that can be difficult and expensive to repair.

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (2)

When you wash a car with a wash mitt, the surface is constantly being rubbed. All the dirt stuck to the paint acts like sandpaper and scratches the clear coat, leaving marks behind. Snow foam helps prevent this by breaking down most of these contaminants before contact with the wash, which greatly reduces the risk of swirl marks or scratches on your vehicle's finish.

(Video) How to Snow Foam Your Car - AMDetails Guide

Additionally, snow foam is better for your wash mitt as it helps reduce fiber wear from hard dirt particles. Overall, snow foam is an effective way to pre-clean your car before each touch-up wash and will help keep it showroom fresh for longer.

What are the different types of Snow Foam products?

Snow foam comes in a variety of different forms. You can buy snow foam specifically designed for use with pressure washers, snow foams designed for general purpose cleaning, or even snow foams with added wax/sealantproperties.

The most popular type of snow foam used is an all-purpose variant due to its low price and high performance. It is usually PH neutral, meaning it will not remove any existing sealants or waxes on your car. This type of foam also does not contain additional waxes, so you will need to apply your own wax orinvestmentthen if you wish.

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (3)

Do you need a pressure washer to apply snow foam?

No, you do not need a pressure washer to apply snow foam. although it may produce better results with one. A foam gun or foam cannon can be used without the help of a pressure washer as long as it is attached to your hose.

The foam produced by these devices will not be as thick as if you were using a pressure washer, but it should be enough to properly prewash your car.

To get the most out of Snow Foaming, I recommend investing in a proper foam cannon/foam gun and using it in conjunction with your existing car wash setup. This will help ensure you get the most out of your wash and ensure you have maximum protection against swirl marks.

Do you need a special pressure washer (PSI) to use snow foam guns?

No, you do not need a special high pressure washer (PSI) to use snow foam guns. Generally speaking, most foam cannons will work with any pressure washer that has at least 1,000 PSI and up to 3,500 PSI. The optimum PSI for most foam gun applications is between 1,200 PSI and 2,000 PSI. However, it is important to check the specifications of your particular foam cannon before use, as some may require a higher or lower PSI than this range.

Where to buy snow foam?

Almost every detail shop will carry some type of pre-wash or snow foam product. Here are some examples of snow foam products. If you are brand new to foaming, you can check out our other blog postsnow foam cannonsand spears of snow foam. Assuming you already have something to apply snow foam to - here are some good productslinks to Amazonto get started

1)Bilt Hamber Auto Foam

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (4)

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (5)

2.Gtechniq – W4 Citrus Foam

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (6)

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (7)

3)Chemical Guys Mr Pink

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (8)

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (9)

What are the best foam cannons?

When it comes to foam cannons,MJJCit is one of the top choices for many car enthusiasts, myself included. Their spray guns are made from durable materials and feature a variety of tips that make foaming your vehicle quick and easy. The ergonomic design makes them comfortable to use and the adjustable pressure button allows you to adjust the amount of foam produced.

(Video) Start to finish How to snow foam a car guide Featuring Juicy Details Arctic Wipeout snow foam

They also produce an even foam distribution across the surface, giving you a perfect finish every time. Plus, the price is very reasonable for what you get, making them a great value for money option for the average seller. I am currently using their "Pro" model and find it excellent. You can read my full review of ithere.

How to use snow foam on your car with a pressure washer

To get started with snow foaming your car, you'll need to gather the following tools:

1.Pressure washer

2.Foam cannon

3.Snow foam

4.Towels or microfiber cloths for drying

5.Two buckets – one for rinsing and one for washing

6.Wash Mitt

Once you have these items ready, you are ready to start foaming your car. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get the best results:

Step 1: Fill the foamsnow cannonfoam solution in the correct proportion as specified on the product label. Different types of foam have different recommended dilution ratios, so there is no "one size fits all" recommendation. Follow the directions carefully for best results.

Step 2: Connect your pressure washer to a water source, then attach the foam cannon to the pressure washer, making sure all connections are secure.

Step 3: Turn on the pressure washer and adjust the cannon nozzle so that it emits a large stream of water. You may need to adjust this setting slightly depending on how thick you want your foam to be. (some cheaper cannons may not have this option)

Step 4: Start applying the foam from the top of your car, working in broad sweeping motions. Be sure to hold the pressure washer nozzle at least six inches away from the surface of your car.

(Video) What Is Snow Foam, Why Use It & How To Apply It

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (10)

Step 5: After covering your vehicle with foam, let it sit for a few minutes (or as directed on the product label). This will allow the snow foam solution to break down dirt, grime and other contaminants.

Step 6: Once the product has had enough time to remain, you can wash the foam off the car with water.

Step 7: After rinsing, use ittwo bucket methodto wash your vehicle with a microfiber cloth orboxing gloveand car shampoo.

Step 8:Rinse the car once more before drying it with a clean microfiber towel.

Step 9:To finish, apply a wax orsealantfor additional protection (optional). This will help with the next time you lather up your car, as dirt and debris will wash off the paint that has the existing protection applied to it more easily.

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (11)

How to make snow foam in a car if you don't have a pressure washer (pump sprayer)

If you don't have access to a pressure washer, there's still an easy way to make snow foam in your car. Instead of using a pressure washer, you can use apump sprayer

A pump sprayer is a handheld device that creates pressure by pumping air through the handle. This allows you to apply the snow foam solution directly to your car's paint.

The process of foaming snow with a pump sprayer is very similar to using a pressure washer.

Is it as effective as the pressure washer method?

Generally speaking, snow foam applied with a pressure washer is more effective at breaking up dirt and grime. However, using a pump sprayer is still an effective way to clean your vehicle's paint before performing a touch up wash and I would recommend it.

Can you use regular car shampoo as snow foam?

No, regular car shampoo is not suitable for foaming snow. It is designed for use when hand washing a vehicle and does not produce the same thick foam as a special snow foam solution. You could probably try and use it, but it certainly won't work as well as a dedicated snow foam product.

(Video) How to PRE WASH your car for Beginners

Summary – Is Snow Foam Worth Using? Do you really need it?

The answer to this question is definitely yes. Snow foam is an essential step in your car cleaning routine as it can quickly and effectively remove dirt, grime and other contaminants from the surface of your vehicle before you perform a touch up wash. Snow foam (along with proper washing techniques is your best defense against swirls and scratches on your car's finish.

A few additional tips for snow foam

  • Some people believe that unless a foam is very thick, it is not very effective. This is not the case at all, I have seen foams that are very thin work just as well if not better in some cases than massively thick and foamy foam. More foam often just means it contains more surfactants (the stuff that makes it foam).
  • The "residence time" of the product does not dictate how effective it is. Some products need much less dwell time. A particular snow foam may take 5 minutes, others may take 10 minutes or even 2 minutes to do their job. Read the label of the particular product you are using and it will give you instructions to judge the time needed.
  • It is always best to spray snow foam on a dry car, as doing so on a wet car can make the snow foam less effective. This is because the water on the car's surface will act as a barrier between the dirt and grime that needs to be removed, as well as dilute the snow foam so it can't do its job properly.

How do you maintain a snow foam gun after use?

After you have finished using a snow foam gun, it is important to properly maintain it to ensure its longevity. First, you should disconnect the nozzles and/or valves from the pressure washer once you are finished using them. Then rinse the nozzles and valve with clean water before storing them in a safe and dry place.

Hopefully I've given a clear overview of exactly what snow foam is and how to incorporate foam into your detailing routine. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and some of your tips and tricks in the comments. If there is anything you feel I have not covered above, or if any of the information provided is inaccurate, please feel free to contact me. While you're here, check out some of the other articles on DriveDetailed and submit any post ideas you think would be valuable to the site.

Don't forget to check out some of the amazing foam and foam cannons aboveDriveDetailed Store

Until then,

Happy detailing!

About the Author – Darren O Hara

Darren is the founder of the DriveDetailed blog and is an enthusiastic detailer living in the rainy south of Ireland. When he's not cleaning his car, he's always researching ways to improve his techniques and loves trying new products.

Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.

You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork

The Complete Guide to Snow Foaming Your Car | DriveDetailed (12)

I am goingHome



How much snow foam do I need for one car? ›

Lay enough on to cover the area but no more,” Lee says, adding, “Any more and you'll just risk making the foam too heavy and it'll fall away from the car. It's a waste of product.” You may not want to cover the whole car, either. “I only use foams on the lower halves of cars, as this is where the grime builds up.

Do you wet the car before snow foam? ›

We always recommend spraying snow foam onto a wet car. This way you can get most of the top layer of dirt off the car before the foaming starts. So fire up the pressure washer and give your motor a quick rinsing down.

Is snow foam enough to clean car? ›

Snow foam helps your car washing routine by partially breaking down dirt on your car's paintwork, wheels, and other surfaces, making it much easier for your regular car shampoo to finish the job. This will give you a much cleaner car that's better protected against dirt and general paintwork damage.

How far does 1 can of spray foam go? ›

Each can covers approximately 25 Board Feet. Spray-foam insulation is a quick and easy way to seal the gaps in your home and save on energy costs. While many foams require mixing two components out of large canisters, Seal Spray Foam can be applied directly by simply attaching a spray nozzle to the can.

Is 2 of spray foam enough? ›

2 inches of spray foam is enough in particular situations while using a particular type of foam, but it is not a universally accepted standard for sufficiency. When using closed-cell foam in walls, it is generally considered sufficient when 2 to 3 inches are sprayed.

Do you shampoo after snow foam? ›

The short answer is that snow foam is a pre-wash that you spray on your car before your 'proper' car wash. This helps loosen dirt, grime and traffic film so you can rinse most of it off, meaning using your car shampoo becomes much easier and more effective.

Are you meant to dilute snow foam? ›

Perhaps the most critical aspect of a snow foam is the dilution ratio. Whether it's coloured snow foam or not, you don't want to make the mistake of using an overly concentrated mixture. Most professionals will advise you to mix snow foam and water in a 1:10 ratio.

Do you need a pressure washer for snow foam? ›

So, can you use snow foam without a pressure washer? Typically, snow foam is applied with a pressure washer, but other tools can also be used in absence of a pressure washer. A handheld foaming pump sprayer or a foam cannon attached to a garden hose will achieve a similar effect.

What is the mix ratio for snow foam? ›

You should use a (roughly) 3:1 mix of water and Snow Foam, with three parts of water for every one part of foam liquid. The exact quantities can vary, as the thickness of the foam can be affected by the settings of your lance as well as water hardness.

Does snow foam strip wax? ›

Deep cleaning snow foam. This formula is more aggressive and can wash off more dirt. Depending on the formula and concentration, this type of snow foam may strip off the wax in the paint.

Do you scrub after foam cannon? ›

Using a pressure washer and a foam cannon can greatly speed up your car wash process. You can even just use foam soap and a pressure washer to clean lightly soiled vehicles, without any scrubbing with a wash mitt.

How long do you leave foam on car? ›

Spray the Snow Foam directly on to the vehicle without pre-rinsing it – Snow Foam works best when used on a dry surface. Spray it all over the vehicle bodywork and allow it to dwell for about 3-4 minutes – you will see the foam start to change colour as the dirt is lifted away from the surface of the paintwork.

Why is my snow foam not sticking to my car? ›

If the car's surface is too hot, it'll cause the bubbles in the foam to pop, so it won't cling to your car for as long. Make sure your paintwork isn't too hot before applying snow foam for the best results.

Why is my snow foam not working? ›

Reasons Why a Foam Cannon Might Not Work Properly:

Dial is turned the wrong way. Incorrect snow foam dilution ratio. Low water pressure/ flow rate. Leaks in the pressure washer/ lance connection points.

How do I calculate how much spray foam I need? ›

Measure Length x Height of the wall to be filled. Subtract the square feet of doors and windows in that wall. Subtract 6% for the studs (which you won't be spraying) Take that total and multiply by 3.5″ for a 2″x 4″ wall, or 5.5″ if it is a 2″x 6″ wall.

How much spray foam is recommended? ›

Now generically speaking, we usually recommend open cell spray foam to be 6- to 10-inches on a roof deck or ceiling and 3-inches in the walls. Closed cell spray foam should be 4- to 5- inches on the ceiling and 2- to 3-inches in the walls.

How much spray foam is too much? ›

If the foam is sprayed thicker than recommended for its type, excessive heat can result causing odors, cracks, shrinkage, or charring. To prevent this, never spray more than a 2” thickness at a time. To spray more than 2”, apply in layers allowing the foam to cure for at least 15 minutes between layers.

Is 1 inch of spray foam enough? ›

The answer is that it depends on the style you use. For closed cell spray foam, you'll want to make sure that your foam is 2-3 inches thick on the walls and 4-5 inches thick on the roof deck. For open-cell foam, the same thickness is needed for the walls, but the roof deck should be sprayed to be 6-10 inches thick.

What is the R-value of 3 inches of spray foam? ›

Closed cell spray foam has an R-value of R-7 per inch. In comparison, open cell spray foam has an R-value of R-3.8 per inch.

How long to wait between coats of spray foam? ›

Concerning efficiency, spray foam has historically had one minor weakness: it often needs to be installed in passes (layers) that require approximately 30 minutes of wait time between each pass to allow the foam to sufficiently cool.

Why is my snow foam not foamy? ›

Your pressure washer does not have enough PSI or water flow.

If your machine is under this, you may need to add more Snow Job foam wash to compensate for it.

Why isn't my snow foam thick? ›

Snow foam thickness is highly dependent on a number of outside factors, including water hardness and pressure, so you might need a stronger mix. Try mixing it with 2 parts water or even a 50/50 mix and see how you get on. It'll take a bit of experimenting the first time, but after that, you'll be sorted.

What is the best mixture for a foam cannon? ›

Although soaps aren't incredibly expensive, you can really burn through it fast when using a cannon. I like to mix with hot water for better foam but have found out that filling the whole bottle at a 10:1 ratio is actually twice what I need to spray my car.

What is the best PSI for snow foam? ›


Water Supply – The pressure washer should be rated 1,800 psi to 3,200 psi and at least 1.75 gpm flow for optimal foam production and application. If the water supply is insufficient, it can starve the pressure washer, resulting in poor snow foam production. Be sure the supply hose isn't kinked.

Can you use snow foam in the rain? ›

The ideal time to apply snow foam is in warm, slightly humid weather. You can use it in other weather conditions but there are a couple of things to bear in mind. Firstly, if it has been raining that day, make sure the car is fully dry first before applying (see item 2). Secondly, don't use it in very hot weather.

Does snow foam work with a normal hose? ›

All you need is a garden hose to attach it to. It works with any standard garden hose and produces a considerable amount of foam to lubricate your car's surface. The mounds of suds this Snow Foam Gun creates reduces the amount of friction, rubbing and scrubbing the paint surface is exposed to during a traditional wash.

How much soap and water do I need for a foam cannon? ›

Mix 1 – 3oz of your favorite Chemical Guys soap and water into the canister of the foam cannon. We always use warm water because it helps the aerate mixture better.

What is the best car wax for snow? ›

Carnauba wax is usually the best car wax for winter. It is easy to apply during the colder months and protects your car from harsh winter elements. The car wax will protect your car's surface from road salt, snow, and some hail conditions.

Is snow foam better than traffic film remover? ›

Traffic film remover vs snow foam

Snow foam is generally a lot lighter and milder, but it's not as effective at clearing stuck on road grime. Because there's far less risk of damage to your car, snow foam can be left on for a few minutes, whereas TFRs need to be washed off immediately.

Do you rinse the car first or foam cannon first? ›

Simply rinse your car from top to bottom with your pressure washer, then, proceed to foaming your car. Putting your foam cannon away full of water or full of soap creates calcium deposits which prevent the cannon from shooting the maximum amount of foam.

Are snow cannons worth it? ›

To be clear, a foam cannon doesn't make a difference when used the way most people use it. Using a snow foam that's intended to strip wax and grease or stronger cleaners in a foam gun will actually boost the cleaning ability. The problem is that most people just use the same ph-neutral soap that's in their wash bucket.

How long does it take for foam to harden? ›

Typically, it can take between 5 and 60 minutes for the foam to become tack-free. Full cure may be reached in a time range of about 8 to 24 hours, depending on the product and site conditions.

What is the minimum PSI for a foam cannon? ›

A pressure washer with sufficient volume and pressure – Foam cannons generally require a minimum of 1100 PSI and 1.5 GPM output, though higher quality and performance foam cannons will usually require 1500 PSI minimum with 2 GPM output, typically the maximum PSI will be around 5000 PSI and 5 GPM but this can vary ...

How much expanding foam do I need? ›

To determine how much foam you'll need, you need to know 2 things, the area to be insulated (square feet) and how thick you want your insulation (inches). Multiply both of these together and you get the number of board feet of insulation that you need to buy.

Do you need to wash after snow foam? ›

The short answer is that snow foam is a pre-wash that you spray on your car before your 'proper' car wash. This helps loosen dirt, grime and traffic film so you can rinse most of it off, meaning using your car shampoo becomes much easier and more effective.

Is it cheaper to spray foam yourself? ›

Keep in mind that the cost of spray foam (especially closed-cell spray foam) can be high and that this DIY project can be fairly taxing. But if you're up for it, it'll save you considerable bucks. Here's everything you need to know about the cost of a DIY spray foam insulation kit.

How many square feet will a 55 gallon drum of spray foam cover? ›

½# Open Cell Spray Foam 55 gallon kits: 16,000-21,000 board feet coverage We also have Open Cell Spray foam insulation for your project.

How do you calculate foaming? ›

The formula for calculating the needed foam concentrate at a flammable liquid release is as follows: Area X Critical Application Rate (CAR) X Eduction Rate (ER) X 15 = Foam Concentrate Needed.

What are the negatives of spray foam? ›

The Downsides of Using Spray Foam Insulation in Homes
  • It Can Lead to Mold. Spray foam insulation mold problems are quite common. ...
  • It Can Have a Foul Odor. Spray foam insulation is mixed on the job site, and improper ratios of chemicals are common. ...
  • It Can Lead to Termite Damage. ...
  • It's Too Airtight.
Nov 30, 2022

Can spray foam insulation be too thick? ›

The ASTM E84 tests for most spray polyurethane foams limit the maximum installed thickness of foams to 4 inches or less.

Does spray foam need air to expand? ›

Spray foam insulation is a chemical foam that's mixed with water, to create a spray foam that expands as it enters the air. The expansion is vast – up to one hundred times its original size – and it dries quickly once it's landed on a surface.

How long does spray foam continue to expand? ›

The answer is a few hours. Spray foam will be tack-free within 20-30 seconds and it'll rise to completion to where you can walk on it within a couple of minutes. Spray foam has an off-gassing period of a few hours until it's 100% cured.

What is the ratio of expansion foam? ›

Expansion ratio of the foam is the ratio in which foam is generated from the foam solution. So if the expansion ratio of the foam is 1:10, this means that 1 m3 of foam solution can form 10 m3 of fire fighting foam. Out of these 10 m3 foam, 1 m3 is foam solution and rest 9m3 is air.

How long should you let snow foam sit on car? ›

Spray the Snow Foam directly on to the vehicle without pre-rinsing it – Snow Foam works best when used on a dry surface. Spray it all over the vehicle bodywork and allow it to dwell for about 3-4 minutes – you will see the foam start to change colour as the dirt is lifted away from the surface of the paintwork.

Why is my snow foam not very foamy? ›

If it's too far away from your water source, or if your water source isn't putting out water at a high enough pressure, your washer will have a hard time generating the water pressure needed for thick snow foam. If the pressure isn't high enough, your snow foam won't be agitated into that thick, clingy foam.

How long do you leave spray foam on your car? ›

After covering your car with foam, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. The foam will loosen the deeply embedded dirt in your car's exterior. Remove the foam before it dries by rinsing it off with the pressure washer. Once you're done removing the foam, you can start cleaning your car with wash mitts.


1. How to snow foam a car - Guide to pre wash methods with Foam Cannons or Snow Foam Lance
(Forensic Detailing Channel)
2. Everything you need to know about the NEW Meguiars SNOW FOAM - Detailing 101 EP.11
(Meguiar's UK)
3. Car Washing Product Series: E1- What Is Snow Foam, Why Use It & How To Apply It!
4. 5 Tips On How To Choose and Operate your Foam Cannon - Chemical Guys Car Care
(Chemical Guys)
5. The QUICK and SIMPLE guide to WASH your car | Seminar Sessions
(Meguiar's UK)
6. Does Snow Foam Actually Work? The Results Might Surprise You..


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