So you’ve probably stumbled upon this article because you’ve heard that Snow Foam is the ‘thing to do‘ when cleaning your car. It certainly is one stage of the washing process that looks cool, and can certainly make a difference in terms of reducing the chance of inducing scratches on your car. There is a continuous back and forth debate whether snow foaming your car is actually worth it – some conversations getting a little too heated. If you’re anything like me you just to know what it is, what it does, the products available to you and their price points and of course whether it worth it. Talking of worth it, that’s somewhat subjective and dependant on the person – you could be the type of person that has to have it as part of their wash, no matter what or you could be at the other end of the spectrum and only want to use it if it makes a difference… otherwise, you have zero interest.
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What is snow foam? and How does snow foam work?
Snow Foaming your car is known as a pre-wash routine. Meaning you do not need to rinse the car down beforehand, you literally spray the car with your snow foam, let it dwell (5-10 minutes depending on a variety of factors) and then pressure rinse off. You’ll still need to wash your car as snow foaming alone will not be strong enough – physical contact is a must. After trying a vast range of snow foaming products I can say that there is no product that will allow you to snow foam, then rinse and dry. It just isn’t going to happen. That’s a bit like the wheel cleaning products that ‘claim’ you spray on, leave it to dwell and you can use a hose to rinse off and you’re done… but that’s for an article I’ll write later.
The main idea behind snow foam is to create a thick layer on top of the dirt that is on your car and loosen it. To then be rinsed and blasted off of your car to leave a relatively clean surface ready for manual washing. Some snow foams are designed to be/can be mixed to be really thick and will come out of the snow foam lance-like shaving foam (and that isn’t an exaggeration) whilst others are barely there but contain enough power to do a similar job of encapsulating the dirt. Dwell time is a must, anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes depending on the brand you’re using. It is very important to use this in the shade if possible, otherwise, it can become a bit of a hassle and a rush to rinse off the snow foam on your car before the sun does. Letting the sun to dry it before you manage to leave it and rinse it will likely mean streaks will be left – not a real problem as you’ll be washing it after anyway with your two bucket method but something that is best avoided.
Before you select your Snow Foam decide whether you want it to potentially take off old layers of wax etc. Some snow foams are so strong that they will remove pre-existing layers of wax/protective coatings (which is fine, some are designed as a clean slate-style foam to strip as much as possible) whilst others are made to just clear the dirt but retain the already existing protection. I tend to use PH Neutral Snow Foams for this reason as I only want the dirt removed, not any protection.
1. Bilt Hamber Auto Foam
Bilt Hamber is well known for its highly rated Auto Wheel cleaner, amongst other products, and it is no different here for its Snow Foam. The Bilt Hamber Snow Foam, in my opinion, provides excellent cleaning properties. It is also very fairly priced in its 5L container, which mentally gives you much more freedom to use it everywhere and anywhere on your car. It is also PH Neutral, which I mentioned the importance of at the beginning of the article.
Having tried a number of dilution ratios to attempt to thicken up the Bilt Hamber Snow Foam, I would say that this is one of its downsides. Out of all the snow foams I’ve tried, it is the least glamorous. Don’t get me wrong, it still produces foam, but its more of a film that is applied, than shaving foam. This leads it often deterring a lot of people when they first find out about snow foaming because they’re focussed on the product creating thick, shaving foam style consistency. The Bilt Hamber Auto Foam clings very well to the paintwork at a number of dilution ratios, so really gives itself time to capture as much dirt as possible. In terms of getting the job done, the Bilt Hamber is a no-frills go-to Snow Foam.
2. Autoglym Polar Blast
Autoglym is a well-known brand within the car washing and detailing communities. They’ve fairly recently brought out a Polar Range, and Polar Wash is their Snow Foam variant. They have been a little late to the Snow Foam party but it is great to see a large manufacturer like Autoglym hop on the car detailing bandwagon. I find it handy to pop into Halfords on a Saturday to buy some if I’m running low and am craving to clean the cars! Like the Bilt Hamber, it is PH Neutral so will keep existing waxes/protection safe. If you’re after more of a foam look whilst you’re washing this car, this is a product that’s worth going for. The Autoglym Polar Wash also clings very well to car paint. Polar Blast can be used at various dilution ratios, however, I’ve found its recommended 100ml to 500ml water ratio more than sufficient.
3. Autobrite Snow Foam
With a 30 minute dwell time feature, this is one of the snow foams that have a great cling feature. Providing you’re not in direct sunlight 30 minutes gives you plenty of time to use a brush to agitate all the nooks and crannies – vents, door jams, handles etc. Matching both the Polar Blast in cleaning ability, it is definitely a great snow foam to consider. If you like to take your time and agitate the nooks and crannies whilst your snow foam is clinging onto your car then this might be the better choice for you. As with all of these snow foams, you are free to dilute the snow foams at varying ratios. At its recommended dilution ratio (between 1-2” in a snow foam lance) it produces incredibly thick shaving foam style snow foam!
4. Auto Finesse Avalanche
This is the first product I purchased when I heard about cleaning cars with Snow Foam, and I recall it being this video here which persuaded me to bite the bullet. If you are after a product that produces thick, clingy shaving foam then this is the one for you. I’m not saying that it isn’t any good for actual cleaning but its shaving foam ability is superior to anything else I’ve tried. It is quite expensive though which is what made me look at other Snow Foam products because, as I say, its true shaving foam ability is incredible.
5. Adam’s Car Shampoo
Not strictly marketed as a snow foam (hence the shampoo in the name) but the interesting thing about this product is you can dilute it and use it as a snow foam. It is particularly impressive, and adds a new dimension to using Snow Foam to you wash stage. You can use it in the traditional sense, for example, snow foam your car, leave to dwell then rinse. Another way you can use this is just like that, but you add in another stage – where you snow foam your car again, and then use your two bucket method to wash your car. This allows you to wash your car with extra lubrication which not only looks incredibly cool but also helps minimise the chance of scratching significantly. So if you’re getting bored of a traditional snow foam method and keeping it quite strict then this could be worth trying as it just adds a new way of looking at snow foam. It is also quite nice to minimise the products you have sometimes, depending on what is on your agenda for the day. I found this product great when I was in a rush, yet still wanted to snow foam the car as it acts as a two in one.
Snow Foam Application
Common/Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to Snow Foam my car?
You’ll need a pressure washer, snow foam lance and of course the snow foam itself. In my experience, snow foam cannot be applied to a car using anything other than a pressure washer – despite there being a number of products that attempt to replicate it using a hosepipe. You quite simply need the pressure that a pressure washer provides in order for it to foam up correctly. If you do not have access to a pressure washer/hose pipe then I would say at least forget shaving foam action. As long as you aren’t expecting that, you may be able to pick up a snow foam lance which mixes it with water.
When/how do I snow foam the car?
Pre-Wash, Pre-Rinse. A common question but one that is often overlooked. The snow foam stage is the very first thing you do to your cars bodywork (I often clean all of the wheels before doing the bodywork). The idea is as follows;
- Snow Foam (PreWash) > Rinse > Two Bucket Method with Shampoo > Rinse > Dry
Remember, the idea of the snow foam is to cling onto the surface to capture as much dirt as possible to make it easier to pressur wash off. If you’re looking for a car detailing guide, click here to read my featured guide.
What is the Best Snow Foam Lance?
MTM Hydro Foam Lance is regarded as one of the best. However, if spending a lot of money on a foam lance isn’t something you want to do straight away there are a number of cheaper Snow Foam lances available for pressure washers. I would recommend you buying an actual snow foam lance instead of the mini style ones that Karcher provide on some of their pressure washers. You want to make sure that you can regulate the amount of snow foam mixing with the running water and the adjustment width of the nozzle. Just make sure it’ll fit your pressure washer! Nothing worse than ordering everything ready for your Saturday car detail to then find it doesn’t attach and you’re entire day is ruined!
Is Snow Foam Worth It?
I would say it is definitely worth it. I mentioned at the beginning that people have massive debates on whether or not snow foam is worth it. Much like the community debates between using the two bucket method to minimise scratching your car. There are a few ways to look at this, I’ll try to be fair to the point with them and let you know my opinion. You’ll either want to;
- Wash the car as quick as possible.
- Wash your car in a reasonable time, using Snow Foam if its effective.
- Take an entire day (or several!) giving your car some TLC.
I doubt you’re in category number 1 because you are researching about Snow Foam so you do have some interest and care in your car instead of just getting it clean as fast as possible. Category 2 is where most will commonly be (Category 3 is maybe a one-off/once a year type deal). Worth it is difficult because it depends on your expectations. If you’re thinking Snow Foam only and no physical cleaning is required then Snow Foam is not for you. It simply can’t produce the results a physical wash can. What Snow Foam does do, however, is reduce as much as possible any dirt found on your car so that when you do physically wash it there will be the lowest chance of scratching your paint. To me, that’s worth it and is why I use Snow Foam every time I was the car. I mentioned the benefits of Adam’s Shampoo as a Snow Foam (it’s a 2 in 1) so if you’re getting tired of it you could always use that. However, I like to take my time, most of the time and tend to change up the Snow Foam I am using but keep it an essential part of the washing stages.
What Makes a Good Snow Foam?
Shaving foam ability, cleaning power and value. It’s important to not get sucked into the marketing hype around car detailing products so when you’re looking at your next Snow Foam product to use, pay attention to how articles (such as this one) mention, in particular for snow foam, the foam, cleaning power and value. These three points are what you need to pay attention to and not one has a priority on the other because it all depends on the person. If you’re looking for the best cleaning snow foam, you could be ignoring price as it could cost more and vice versa. So try to take all of the information in as much as you can and make a decision based on what makes you comfortable with the choice. I personally have listed Snow Foams I have used and I like – I have not mentioned other products I have used and was not happy with.
Should I use snow foam?
Yes. Perhaps you’re debating with yourself whether it’s worth adding this step in or not. My recommendation would be. Why? Well, you’re going to rinse your car anyway before you put a wash mitt to the surface. Simply get yourself a snow foam lance, load up the snow foam, spray, let it dwell, rinse and crack on with your regular wash. At most, realistically, it adds 15 minutes of time to wash your car if you leave it to dwell between 5-10 minutes. Hardly worth skipping in my opinion, especially if you’re trying to go beyond the standard bare basic wash of a car someone might do if they had zero interest in car washing.