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Foam Cannon vs Hand Wash: Which Is Better For You?

hand wash vs foam cannon

Do you need to wash your car but don’t want to take it to a car wash? In that case, you have two main options: to use a foam cannon or simply wash the car by hand.

Which is the better option? Honestly, that’s a tough question to answer for most handymen. That’s why we put together this comprehensive guide: to help us get to the bottom of the best way to wash your car!

By the time you finish this guide, you’ll know the best way to make your ride look as good as new before you take it out on the town.

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Overview of Foam Cannon

foam cannon
Image Credit: Roman Zaiets, Shutterstock

If you’ve never used a foam cannon before, you probably have a few questions about how it works. And we’re going to do our best to answer those questions.v

Foam Cannon vs Foam Gun

First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between foam cannons and foam guns. Foam guns are a bit more basic: they are something you can attach to you garden hose to more easily wash your car. If you don’t have a pressure washer, this is pretty much your only way to foam clean your car.

If you do have a pressure washer, though, you can use a foam cannon. The cannons work with the pressure washer to apply a thick coat of foam to your car in no time flat.

Why Use a Foam Cannon?

“Efficiency” is the biggest benefit of using a foam cannon. With a good pressure washer, you can actually pump out up to 5 gallons of foam per minute. Not only does this provide solid coverage for your car, but it saves plenty of time vs washing by hand.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

The biggest downside of foam cannons is something we already mentioned: you must have a pressure washer to use it. If you don’t already have a pressure washer, you will need to buy one. And that makes this option a much more expensive one than simply washing your car by hand.

Pros
  • Very fast
  • Saves time
  • Good coverage
Cons
  • Requires a pressure washer to use, unlike a foam gun

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Overview of Hand Washing

hand wash
Image Credit: sasint, Pixabay

On the face of it, washing your car by hand is the simplest thing in the world. All you really need is soap, water, cleaning rags, and a whole lot of elbow sweat. But when you compare handwashing to using a foam cannon, you might be surprised what there is to learn!

Delicate Work

One reason that many handymen prefer to wash cars by hand is that they can handle the car with the utmost care. Even though pressure washers are generally safe, it’s natural to worry about damaging your car by using a foam cannon. When hand washing, you don’t have to worry about that.

Nooks and Crannies

Some handymen don’t like to use foam cannons because they still find dirt when they are done. This is especially true of little nooks and crannies that the foam cannon may not easily reach.

When hand washing your car, you can give as much attention as you need to every little nook and cranny. And this is ultimately the best way to make sure there is no dirt left on your car after washing.

Why Not Both?

Obviously, we are comparing using a foam cannon vs simply handwashing your car. But here’s a good question: why not do both?

Many handymen have discovered that the best way to clean their car is to combine both methods. The idea is to use the foam cannon first and clean as much as possible. Then, wash the car by hand to take care of any dirt that might still be left.

This approach takes a bit more time. However, because the foam cannon works so quickly, using both methods may be faster than you think!

Pros
  • Very cheap
  • Easy to pay attention to little details
Cons
  • Takes much longer than using a foam cannon

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Are Foam Cannons Better Than Handwashing?

Now, let’s jump into the big question on your mind: is using a foam cannon better than washing your car by hand?

The honest answer is “yes and no.” There are certain things that foam cannons do better. They are faster, and can deal with tough dirt a bit easier thanks to the power of the pressure washer. And, of course, the cannons are great at spreading foam on your car.

At the same time, many who use foam cannons later find they missed a spot and have to go back and wash by hand. However, by employing enough care and attention, you can achieve the same level of cleanliness by simply handwashing your vehicle.

Are There Alternatives to Foam Cannons?

Maybe you don’t want to “pull the trigger” (so to speak) on a foam cannon. That brings us to an obvious question: are there any good alternatives to foam cannons?

We’ve already mentioned the best alternative: a foam gun. These guns attach to your garden hose, and they usually have solid features such as aerators and foaming tips.

It’s possible to buy simpler and cheaper alternatives, but most of these do little more than mix a bit of soap and water together. At that point, you’re better off simply washing by hand.

foam wash
Image Credit: Pavel L Photo and Video, Shutterstock

How Can I Make Handwashing Easier?

Why do people turn to foam guns and foam cannons in the first place? Simple: because washing a car by hand is often a long and annoying process. But are there any ways to make this process a bit easier?

You can save a bit of time by parking the car away from sunlight. This prevents premature drying and helps make you more comfortable while you work.

You’ll also save time by putting all of your different cleaning materials close together near the car. This will help you minimize that annoying “back and forth.”

Finally, we recommend rinsing the tires off first (since they are likely the dirtiest part of the car) and then washing the car from the top down. This approach keeps you from accidentally cleaning the same area twice!

Why Do Some People Combine Methods?

Earlier, we mentioned that some handymen like to use a foam cannon first and then hand wash their car. But what are the real advantages of combining methods like this?

For some handymen, this approach offers the best of both worlds. You get all of the efficiency and power that comes from using a foam cannon. But you also get the pleasure that comes from hand washing, plus the peace of mind of knowing that you get a second chance to tackle leftover dirt.

Plus, the whole point of the foam cannon is that it works quickly. If you are adding the foam cannon to your existing handwashing routine, you get many advantages without sacrificing much of your time.

When to Use a Foam Cannon When to Hand Wash
When you have a pressure washer You don’t have a pressure washer
When you are short on time You have enough time
When you want solid soap coverage You want to give your car the “personal touch”
When you have really tough dirt The dirt is relatively mild
When hand washing doesn’t do enough When the foam cannon misses something

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Conclusion

So, foam cannon vs hand wash: which is better for you and your car?

It’s mostly a matter of preference, but we really prefer the foam cannon. It’s quick, powerful, and efficient, making it the perfect choice for a busy handyman.

But if you don’t own a pressure washer, or just want to take your time cleaning your vehicle, there is nothing wrong with washing a car by hand. And you might just get better results than your neighbor using a foam cannon!


Featured Image: 1 – Karolina Grabowska, Pexels, 2 – Roman Kosolapov, Shutterstock

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