Stuff We Use: Why Should You Use a Foam Cannon?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

stuff we use why should you use a foam cannon

On our never-ending quest to improve this place by listening to feedback from the B&B, we are taking a new tack with these product posts, choosing instead to focus on items we use and have purchased with our own meager income. After all, if we’re giving you the truth about cars, we ought to give you the truth about car accessories.

Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, most gearheads can be convinced that a clean car runs better. Logically, we know it does not – but since when did logic ever figure into automotive decisions?

This specific foam cannon is your author’s go-to choice when washing his Dodge Challenger or whatever press car is taking up residence in his driveway that particular week. Yes, dear reader, unlike American colleagues, those of us toiling in automotive journalism north of the border are expected to return their cars spotless and full of fuel. Still, a great gig if you can get it, of course – but I tend to wryly bring this up every time our fancy-pants Managing Editor kvetches about an inconvenient car swap.*

*There's a lot I like about Canada, but sometimes being a Yank has its perks -- Ed.

Back to the matter at hand. This foam cannon has served me well for over a year, frequently used yet exhibiting no cracks or damage despite its rock-bottom price of not much more than a couple of Big Mac meals. The red nozzle is easily adjusted with one finger, changing the foam pattern from a narrow stream to a wide fan. The top dial can be twirled on the fly to change the mixture’s thickness as needed. It features sturdy metal fittings on top of the unit that have never leaked or caused connection problems when used with my gas-powered pressure washer.

No matter which foam cannon you choose, it’ll completely change the way you wash your car. These things act as a way to supercharge the suds, covering your whip in what looks like a thick layer of shaving cream. It’s a great effect to behold, making the neighbors think you know exactly what you’re doing - even if this is the first time you’ve fired up a pressure washer.

And, yes, you’ll need a pressure washer to get the most out of a foam cannon. It mixes your favorite automotive soap, water, and air to create the solution which is blasted out of the nozzle and onto yer car. That process happens in the cannon’s canister, which is why that part of the unit measures approximately 32 fluid ounces. Once the foamy mixture is created, the cannon launches it in a thick stream onto your car, where it will attack and dislodge road grime. Note well: most pros let the foam sit on the car for a couple of minutes - but not in direct sunlight - which gives the stuff a fighting chance of properly loosening up dirt before you wash it away with clear water. From experience, we suggest making sure the foam cannon is properly and securely attached to the pressure washer’s quick connect lest the force of water send it flying and turn it into a projectile.

There are differing schools of thought regarding the size of a foam cannon’s neck; some users prefer the pencil-thin variants while others like the wide-mouth designs such as the one shown here. I’m in the latter camp, since the large opening permits easy premixing of suds and hot water to help prime the thing before letting fly with soap at yer car. Speaking of, the Mr. Pink car washing soap from the well-known brand Chemical Guys is a preferred product in this neck of the woods.

One caveat about the foam cannon I use relates to its metal connector points. While they are welcomed in terms of quality, they also increase weight significantly compared to plastic. This is a trade-off I’m willing to make, simply adjusting my grip on the pressure washer wand in order to support its mass instead of leaving it hanging at the end of the lance like a heavy millstone.

Speaking of Chemical Guys (CG), we also have familiarity with this foam cannon bearing the label of that brand. It is claimed every aspect of the typical foam cannon was “supersized” during the design of this thing, with a 2-inch head providing lots of suds and an easy grip. CG suggests the shape of its product whips the air and foam into a frenzy, creating a very thick and fluffy foam. From first-hand experience, we can confidently say this cannon does produce better soap coverage than the cannon yer author uses, but keep in mind the Chemical Guys product is over four times as expensive. Is it four times better? We’re not so sure. Its canister bottle is of equal size and while CG touts the clear see-through nature of its canister, the frosted white bottle on our cheaper model seems to work just fine. Those who are of the opinion a thin neck is better on a foam cannon, check out this unit available on Amazon.

See? Told ya this series would focus on items we’ve actually used. Now, get to cleaning.

[Image: pierpaoloperri/]

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3 of 26 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jun 01, 2023

    Tim, once all this foam is everywhere, how do you get rid of it? Does it take a while to break down? I think of the scene in the 1963 James Garner / Doris Day film "The Thrill Of It All", where boxes of soap end up in the swimming pool, creating mountains of foam.

    The Thrill of It All (1963) - IMDb

    • Keith_93 Keith_93 on Jun 03, 2023

      It naturally breaks down on your driveway in about 20 minutes, turning into kale. Just pick up the kale leaves and enjoy a delicious vegan meal, while admiring your spotless vehicle.

  • Jeanbaptiste Jeanbaptiste on Jun 02, 2023

    Call me lazy but pulling out, hooking up and then emptying out and putting away a pressure washer is a lot of work for just a car wash. While it looks cool, I don’t think I’m saving any time using one once I figure in all the setup

    While I’m at it. Using my hose link setup is a dream for washing my car. Takes away all the work of having to roll the hose back up. Y’all should do a review on that.

  • Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?
  • ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
  • SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
  • El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
  • Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.