These miracle solutions will leave your vehicle spick and span
now foam. It’s a couple of words that bring interesting images to mind if you’re not familiar with the product. Aramid Fiber Paper
Could it be a drink, something like bubble tea or a slushy? Or a kind of entertainment – “Hey, we’re going to have a snow foam party tonight! Wear something warm and waterproof!”
Banish these imaginative thoughts from your mind immediately. Snow foam is simply a pre-wash product for your car. Of course, if you’re a petrol head, you already knew this, but some of us are new to the game.
It loosens all the dirt, grease and grime that accumulates on your car (or truck, van or trailer) so that when you come to the washing phase, you won’t be rubbing it all against the lovely, shiny paintwork and dulling it or, worse, compromising its integrity. If you have a new car or you’ve been vigilant about keeping your car clean and waxed, it’s possible to get away with just this phase of cleaning, but generally it’s best to think of snow foam as a pre-wash.
As much fun as it looks, you need to stock up on a few bits before you can get going. Number one is that you’ll need a way of applying it.
Top of the range is a pressure washer. It is worth the investment, especially if snow foaming your car is likely to be a regular feature. They start from about £55 and go up (sometimes quite steeply) from there. You can also hire one if this is likely to be something you’ll only do once in a while. HSS Hire Tools has outlets nationwide and does a highly rated one from Karcher for about £30 for a 24-hour stint.
Then next bit of kit to get is a lance. This is the thing that will turn the pre-wash into snow foam. They consist of a bottle to hold the cleaning solution and a nozzle with a trigger handle so you can spray your car with the stuff, and it’s powered by that pressure washer and are available at the likes of Amazon.
At the other end of the scale is a hand-held spray bottle. You won’t get the foam, but the chemicals in the products will still work. Just remember to dilute the solution about 10 times more than the recommended mix and bear in mind it’s going to take a bit more hand action to cover the car.
You can also use something called a foam cannon, which you attach to one end of your garden hose and then spray. These start around the £20 mark. Again, you won’t get the exciting-looking thick foam, but it will do the job.
Finally, there are pump sprayers, which you can pick up for less than £10 and which work much like a hand-held spray bottle but with more oomph.
Follow the manufacturer’s instruction for mixing the snow foam solution with water in the lance bottle. With all the other methods, go for a 1:10 dilution. Also, do your snow foaming out of direct sunlight and don’t let it dry.
Some folks recommend just doing the lower half of your car, as this is where the most grit and dirt accumulate, and they don’t see the point of lathering up the whole shebang, but you can of course cover your whole motor. In either event, start at the lowest point you aim to pre-wash and work up from there. You’re aiming for a thickness that will cling to the car for the roughly five-minutes it will take to work, then rinse with water, using your lance or one of the other options.
The only question that remains is, which snow foam to get. Below are our top picks to cover all the angels.
Best for: A reliably strong dirt-loosening formula
Apply this snow foam with a pressure washer or foam gun to cover your beloved motor in a thick white blanket of pre-wash before the main shampooing stage and you’ll reduce the risk of damaging the paintwork with scratches and streaks. Its pH neutral formulation won’t adversely affect any polish or wax already there, so you’re doubly protected. A bit pricier than some, but it’s a particularly powerful formulation and you can see how hard it works by how much grime comes away when you rinse it off. A little pricier than some rival brands, but we think it’s worth the money.
Best for: coming with its own dispenser gun
A snow foam that comes with its own dispenser nozzle gun is a great idea and saves all that messing about having to get extra bits to apply it. The only other thing you need for this one is a garden hose. It’s easy to use and has a nice smell, which the manufacturer says is cherry, but it’s a bit sweeter than that – think bubble gum – and not chemically. With this one you do need to apply some elbow grease, but after rinsing and giving it a bit of a buff, you’ll get a good streak-free shine.
Best for: doing the job in lickety-split time
Used with a lance, this snow foam produces a satisfyingly thick coating that clings to the car and only needs two to three minutes of resting time to do its work. Further, the powerful formula only needs a 1:5 dilution for most cleaning jobs, so a litre (the smallest size it comes in) is plenty for quite a few pre-washes. If your car isn’t particularly dirty, you can even dilute down to 1:15, so it will last even longer. It washes off cleanly, without leaving any residue and is safe for all surfaces, including aluminium and, of course, your paintwork.
Best for: a good-value buy
Priding itself on not containing harsh chemicals and being pH neutral, this snow foam is gentle to your paintwork but ferocious toward dirt, grime, pollen and oily greasy on your car, making it a great pre-wash to loosen all the nasties. Mix it up with a 1:5 solution of water to formula for that looks-like-new glossy shine. The foam sticks well, allowing it what’s called ‘dwell time’ to get to work. The 2.5 litre size, which we give the price for here, makes it good value for money in these straightened times.
Best for: being kind to Mother Earth
A snow foam for the eco-watchers, as this one is biodegradable, non-toxic and non-acidic, so it’s kind to the planet and your paintwork. It was developed by a world leader in molecular nanotechnology and has been at the forefront of innovation for over 20 years, so it’s safe to say these folks know what they’re doing when it comes to looking after your motor’s good looks. The citrus formulation helps to cut through the grease and oil that your car picks up as you drive it about, as well as loosening any particles so you don’t end up rubbing them – and scratching them – into your motor’s lovely sheen.
Best for: those who like a well-known brand name
The first thing you’ll notice about this snow foam is the sweet, fruit-like scent, which makes a nice change from the detergent-y smell of some others. The foam clings well, did a good job of lifting the dirt and grime off, and left a streak-free shine. It’s also a good price for a five litre container. The Turtle Wax name has stood the test of time – it’s a well-known brand that reliably does what it says on the tin. Just let it ‘dwell’, that is, rest, on the car for about five minutes, then rinse off and voilá! A car ready to be shampooed.
Best for: using on waxed, coated or sealed fnishes
Another with a nice smell, this snow foam has been specially formulated to stick to waxed, coated or sealed finishes. In fact, the manufacturer claims that if the foam doesn’t stick to your car, then it’s a done deal that your paintwork needs a wax, seal or coating refresh. Although the manufacturer recommends you use it with the Meguiar’s Ultimate Snow Foam Cannon Kit, you can use the product with any pressure washer and it really does give a good, thick coating that hangs on where others simply slide away. Not the cheapest, but will loosen dirt and grime so you don’t end up smushing it into that nice lux shine you’ve got going on.
Resin Glass Banding Tape Of course you can use this snow foam on your car, even if it’s been developed with the larger vehicle in mind – think vans, trailers, trucks, buses, tractor. It comes in a big five-litre container, making it great value for money. It works to loosen the grit and grime from paintwork, alloys, aluminium, glass, even the engine bay – basically, your whole motor. It produces a great thick foam and, if you’re in a rush, you can even stop after this step in the cleaning process, as once you rinse the product off, your car is going to be pretty darn clean.