Have you ever seen a car being washed that is covered in shaving cream like foam and thought "I want that! Well then you need some type of foam cannon or soap foamer. Foamers are used with both standard car wash soaps and pre-wash soaps (see our article "Pre-Wash Car Soaps" for more info).
Other than looking cool, foaming up your car has several benefits over just the bucket and mitt method...
Reduced risk of scratching your paint: Most quality car wash soaps contain lubricants to allow your wash mitt to glide over the surface. Since the foamer will apply a lot more suds on the surface then just dunking your mitt in your bucket you will have more of these lubricants on the paint as you wash
Avoid Cross Contamination: Even if you use a 2 bucket system with grit guards to help reduce the likelihood of transferring dirt particles from your bucket back on your paint, it is next to impossible to keep your soap bucket clean as you wash. Because the foamer has already applied the soap onto the vehicle you can simply use a rinse bucket to clean your mitt as you wash, eliminating the wash bucket.
Speed: Being able to quickly apply the soap all over your vehicle before you start to wash eliminates the need for constant dunking in your soap bucket to get fresh soap.
Types of Foamers
Pressure Washer Foam Cannons
Pressure washers are a great tool used for a multitude of tasks around the home. Pressure washers take water from your garden hose, use a small electric or gas engine to power a pump that shoots water out at high pressure. A foam cannon is a piece of car washing equipment that mixes car wash soap, water, and air to generate thick suds, then shoot them all over your car using the power of the pressure washer.
Important note: If purchasing a foam cannon to attach to your existing pressure washer you must have a wand that will accommodate attaching the cannon. Your pressure washer wand must have a quick connect fitting on the end to attach the cannon.
Air Compressor Foam Cannon
Although not as popular as pressure washer cannons using an air compressor foamer creates incredible shaving cream like foam. Air pressure from an air compressor converts your shampoo in into suds that are so light and fluffy they cling to vertical surfaces without running off. These units can also be used with foaming carpet cleaners for interior carpet shampooing.
The one major drawback to the cannon's listed above is that you need either a pressure washer or air compressor. If you have neither of these (or dont want to bother getting them out every time you wash your car) but still want the convenience of pre-soaping your vehicle one of the options below may be a great fit.
Garden Hose Foamer
Garden hose foamers attach directly to your garden hose without the need for any additional equipment. Although the foam will not be as "sudsy" as the options above they will still cover your car with a generous amount of soap and are a very convenient and cost effective option.
Hand Held Pump Foamer
Hand held foamers require pumping up the bottle to increase air pressure in the unit. When the trigger is pulled the air and soap mixture is discharged.