If you’re an avid car enthusiast and enjoy cleaning your car, you will likely have heard the term “snow foaming” thrown around. Many hardcore detailing fans will advise you it’s one of the best car detailing products out there and not to dare clean your vehicle without it.
So, what is snow foam all about? Is it really the secret to cleaning your car like a pro, or is it just a fad that looks great in photos?
In this post, we explore the world of snow foaming for cars, including the best types of snow foam you can buy, how to apply it correctly, and some helpful tips.
What Is Snow Foam?
Snow foam is a contactless cleaner for your car. It’s specially formulated to lift the dirt and grease from your paintwork, saving you a lot of hard work with your wash mitt.
To apply snow foam, you need a snow foam lance (also known as a snow foam cannon.) This device attaches to your pressure washer, allowing you to spray your car with foam and giving you that fantastic snow-covered effect you see in photos.
Snow foam is a pre-wash product, which many car detailing pros will tell you is the most critical stage in cleaning your vehicle. Snow foam breaks down dirt and grime that has latched onto your paintwork, and it’s incredibly effective.
Snow foam helps to prepare your car for its shampoo wash — doing 90% of the hard work for you. But isn’t snow foam just shampoo? No, snow foam is not a washing agent. It is a pre-clean agent formulated to loosen dirt.
Is Snow Foam Worth the Hype?
Speak to any car detailing pro, and they will tell you that snow foam is vital to the proper cleaning of your vehicle. Snow foam helps to limit the damage to your paintwork by reducing the amount of scrubbing required during the main wash.
Going straight onto a dry car with your wash mitt and shampoo is a recipe for disaster. While you should always use a wash mitt and never a sponge, skipping the pre-wash step and trying to scrub your car first risks causing swirl marks and minor scratches to the paintwork.
If you don’t use snow foam, you’ll drag dirt across your paintwork surface, causing scratches. A nice thick layer of snow foam left to sit for a couple of minutes will soften the surface, lift any dirt, and set you up for a safe and effective shampoo wash.
The Different Types of Snow Foam
You have three choices when it comes to snow foam products:
- Cleaning — the regular formula.
- Decontaminating — this helps lift stubborn tar and iron fallout, as well as lifting dirt and grease.
- Deep cleaning — this claims to “cling” to the surface and provide superior deep cleaning.
Deep cleaning snow foam is extra strong. It will effectively lift dirt and grime, but it can also affect the sealant and wax, which may negatively impact your paintwork when used regularly.
For most people, regular cleaning or decontaminating snow foams do the job just fine.
How to Use Snow Foam
The best way to use snow foam is with a snow foam lance attached to your pressure washer. Here are the steps for successful application:
Step 1 — Application
Using your pressure washer and snow foam lance, spray the entire car with the foaming agent. Products vary with how much to use depending on the formula’s strength, so it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If the product is too diluted with water, it can be ineffective. As a general rule of thumb, you will need to mix a 1:10 or 1:20 ratio, but always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to be sure you’re getting the most out of the product.
When applying to the car, use big sweeping motions up and down and side to side. If you have chosen to use an adjustable snow foam lance, you can set it to narrow or wide spray. A wide spray will allow you to perform fewer passes over the car making your job that bit easier.
Step 2 — Wait
Once your car is covered in “snow”, let the product sit. Typically, you will need to leave the foam for 10-15 minutes, but always check the guidelines on the product as sometimes it can be less or more depending on the strength of the formula.
Resist washing the foam off too quickly, as the formula won’t have time to do its job correctly, leaving dirt and grease on the paintwork.
If your car is dirtier than usual, you can leave the product on for slightly longer to ensure it lifts all the dirt before rinsing.
Step 3 — Rinsing
Using your pressure washer (make sure you remove the snow foam lance), rinse off all the foam, ensuring you don’t miss any spots. Once all the suds have gone, you can prepare for washing the car with shampoo.
Some General Tips
Using snow foam is relatively straightforward and requires minimal effort. Here are some general tips for using snow foam:
- You don’t need a high-acidity snow foam. A pH-neutral snow foam is just as effective as an acidic type.
- Just because the foam isn’t thick, doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. Resist spraying more than needed to achieve that thick snow effect, as you risk overapplying and wasting the product.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some snow foams need to sit for 15 minutes. Others need just two-five minutes.
- Some snow foams are extra strong and can strip layers of protection from your paintwork if left on for too long.
Using the guidance above, you should be able to introduce snow foam into your car-cleaning routine. It will help to reduce the amount of time and effort spent cleaning your car and improve the quality of your clean. It’s also a lot of fun!