Foam Cannon Vs Hand Wash: Are You Wasting Your Time?

Image Credit: romankosolapov via Envato Elements

Image Credit: romankosolapov via Envato Elements

Foam Cannon Vs Hand Wash: Are You Wasting Your Time?


Most people will hand wash their car, and they’ve been doing it for decades. Ever since the popularization of the foam cannon, more consumers are swapping over for a quicker, more efficient wash. This begs the question: are you wasting your time with your wash?

In this short guide, we’ll be talking about foam cannon washing a car and comparing it to traditional hand washing. By the end, you might be convinced to swap over to a foam cannon.

Foam Cannon Vs Hand Wash

Using a foam cannon instead of a hand wash is quicker, easier, more efficient, and less dangerous than hand washing. Before your next wash, pick up a foam cannon and try it for yourself.

What Is Hand Washing a Car?

Hand washing is the way that most people will wash their car. This method involves using a bucket of soapy water and a number of microfiber towels. The soapy water gets applied to a towel, then you manually rub the towel across your car.

Afterwards, you’ll spray down the car and wipe it dry with another stack of towels.

What Is a Foam Cannon?

There are a lot of viral videos floating around of cars getting foam cannoned. It’s a tool that looks like a pressure washer, and it works in a similar way. In fact, the more popular options hook right up to a traditional pressure washer.

Before getting squirted out of the nozzle, water is combined with automotive soap and agitated. Once it’s sprayed, it comes out like sudsy foam.

Detailers will use a foam cannon to cover their car in foam. Doing so quickly applies a uniform layer of soapy water across the vehicle. Since the mixture is pressurized, it will also blast away some surface dirt and grime while being applied.

After the foam cannon is used, you should use a fresh wash mitt to go over your car. Once this is done, you should spray your car down with regular water then wipe it dry.

The big difference between a foam cannon and hand washing is the application of soapy water. Hand washing applies soapy water by dunking a towel into a used bucket, then manually wiping down your car.

A foam cannon applies it by spraying sudsy water across your car without reusing any water.


What’s Required for a Foam Cannon?

To use a foam cannon on your car, you’ll need a few parts:

  • Car shampoo. This can be your favorite automotive shampoo that you use when hand washing. The soap itself will be combined before getting sprayed out of the cannon.
  • Foam cannon. The cannon itself is an attachment. You’ll just be buying a nozzle with a reservoir, handle, and connector. It hooks directly onto a standard pressure washer.
  • Microfiber towels. Towels are used to dry your car after you wash it. This prevents water spots and reduces hazing.
  • Wash mitt. A mitt should be used to wipe down your car after applying the foam cannon. This wipes away excess debris and dirt.
  • Pressure washer. Almost any standard pressure washer can be used, so there’s no need to buy a special option. If you have one lying around in your garage, it’s probably perfect for a foam cannon.

Pros of Foam Cannon

Let’s discuss some of the big benefits of using a foam cannon to wash your car. These benefits come from comparing this method to hand washing your vehicle.

The Soap to Water Mixture Is Perfect

When you’re hand washing, a lot of time is taken in the beginning to get the perfect mixture. You’ll measure, mix, measure again, and cross your fingers.

With a foam cannon, all that work is done automatically. Since this is just an attachment for a standard pressure washer, there’s no need to mess with measuring cups and buckets.

Application Is Quicker

Foam cannons are a big time saver. The application is done with pressurized foamy water. You can completely cover your car in a matter of minutes without picking up a single towel.

Comparatively, it could take upwards of 10 minutes to hand wash the same vehicle. All the trips between the bucket and car add up and waste more time.

Added Lubricants Remove Stubborn Dirt

Most foam cannons also include a lubricant. This is used to break down debris and dirt on your car’s surface. Foam cannons are great at removing stubborn dirt just by spraying it.

Once you go over your car with a wash mitt, the dirt will just disappear.

Smaller Chance of Scratching Car

It’s not rare for people to accidentally scratch their car while hand washing it. All it takes is a small pebble to get stuck in the towel, and then you’re unintentionally keying your car the whole time.

With a foam cannon, you don’t have to worry about that. Since there’s no reused water or a dirt-riddled bucket, there’s a smaller chance of transferring something onto the mitt and scratching your car.

Helps Avoid Cross-Contamination

Have you ever taken a look at the soap water bucket after washing your car? Every time you dunk the towel to get more soapy water on it, you’re cross-contaminating the bucket. By the end, the water will likely be gray and filled with grime.

As you keep dunking your towel, you’re transferring this grime back to your car — even if the towel is brand-new.

Foam cannons always apply a fresh stream of soapy water. It doesn’t reuse any water, nor does it involve dunking used towels into the water reservoir.

Added Pressure Breaks Down Dirt Better

There are also a lot of great benefits that come with using pressurized water. The added pressure will break down dirt on your car’s surface better than a regular garden hose could. 

When pressure is used in conjunction with the perfect ratio of soap, you’ll get even better results from each wash.



As you can see, hand washing can be viewed as a waste of time when it comes to washing a car. Using a foam cannon instead is quicker, easier, more efficient, and less dangerous than hand washing. Before your next wash, pick up a foam cannon and try it for yourself. 

For more DIY detailing guides, check out the rest of our website.

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