What Is The Best Foam Cannon? – 2019 Car Wash Guide
If your car is your pride and joy, then you want to keep it clean. But visiting a car wash is time-consuming, expensive, and inconvenient.
A foam cannon brings professional, car-wash-quality cleaning to your driveway. It’s an attachment which creates a layer of foam to remove even the toughest dirt and grime. Interested in learning more? Here are the best foam cannons for 2019, plus a complete guide on how they’re used.
Your car is about to be cleaner than ever before!
Quick Picks: Compare The Top 3 Foam Cannons on the Market
- Best Overall – Twinkle Star Foam Cannon
- Best Cheap Option – Tool Daily Foam Cannon
- Best Value for the Money – McKillans Professional Grade Foam Cannon
- Honorable Mention – HassPro Foam Cannon
- Honorable Mention 2 – Dusichin SFL-001 Foam Cannon
- Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Foam Cannon
- Ease of Use
- Nozzle Attachments
- Maintenance Needs
- What is a Foam Cannon?
- Is a Foam Cannon Different than a Foam Gun?
- What are the Benefits of a Foam Cannon?
- Increased Cleaning Speed
- Reduced Risk of Scratches
- Overall Better Cleaning
- Helps Protect Paint
- More Environmentally Friendly
- How Do I Use a Foam Cannon?
- 1. Park Your Car in a Flat Area
- 2. Adjust the Water Pressure
- 3. Choose a Car Cleaning Soap
- 4. Use Proper Spray Technique
- Foam Mitt
- How Much Soap Should I Use?
- How Do I Maintain My Foam Cannon?
- What Type of Pressure Washer Should I Use?
- How Often Should I Use the Foam Cannon?
- In Conclusion
Best Overall – Twinkle Star Foam Cannon
Our favorite cannon overall features five nozzle tips, heavy-duty brass construction, and a quick-connect fitting.
- Powerful, easy-to-use foam cannon
- Includes five nozzle tips
- Connects easily to a pressure washer
- Durable brass construction
- The mechanism to lock spray in place is flimsy
Adjustable, durable, and easy to use, the Twinkle Star foam cannon is our favorite overall. It includes five pressure washer nozzle tips, a one-quarter inch quick disconnect fitting and a 33-ounce container.
Foam sprays up to 20 feet. The easy-grip value lets you adjust the spray anywhere from a jet stream to a wide fan. Just six ounces of soap will create enough foam to clean a large vehicle thoroughly.
Many foam cannons use plastic parts, but the Twinkle Star is built to last. All connectors are made of strong, rust-resistant brass.
It requires a pressure washer with 2.5GPM and 1000 PSI or higher, which means it’ll work fine with most standard pressure washers. Overall, it’s a versatile, easy-to-use option which cleans at a professional level.
Best Cheap Option – Tool Daily Foam Cannon
An affordable cannon which includes plenty of options for controlling the quantity of foam and type of spray.
- Versatile, powerful foam cannon
- Includes five nozzle tips
- Adjusting foam thickness is easy
- Maximum PSI can potentially damage your car
Tool Daily’s foam cannon puts you in charge. The included nozzle tips let you choose between five spray angles: zero, 15, 25, 40, and 65 degrees. It also includes a one-liter container which is easy to fill.
Once you’ve selected a nozzle, use the quarter-inch fitting to quickly and securely attach the cannon to the pressure washer. Turn the knob on top to change the foam level as you spray.
The cannon requires a pressure washer with 1000 to 3000 PSI, with a 4000 hard limit. Four thousand is too strong for most car care, so you’ll want to be careful.
While it doesn’t have tons of frills, it’s a solid foam cannon which won’t break your budget.
Best Value for the Money – McKillans Professional Grade Foam Cannon
High-quality components make this cannon a great choice if you’re looking to purchase a product which will last for many years.
- High-quality brass, copper and stainless steel components
- Durable, transparent foam container
- Built for heavy-duty use
- Foam can be watery (requires thorough mixing)
Many foam cannons aren’t subjected to excessive use, so they’re not necessarily built to last a long time. But this professional-grade foam cannon from McKillans is a notable exception. Featuring solid construction and high-quality components, it’s a foam cannon made for frequent, heavy-duty cleaning.
All connectors are made from real copper and brass so that the cannon can withstand high pressure and consistent water exposure. The foam container is made from durable, leak-resistant plastic. It’s translucent so you can easily gauge the water level. Finally, the stainless steel connector is easy to use and secure.
Adjusting the foam is easy. The control knob on top allows you to change the volume of foam while the nozzle changes the foam’s spray angle.
It’s a bit pricier than the other options on the list, but it’s the best overall value, especially if you plan to use it often.
Honorable Mention – HassPro Foam Cannon
A feature-filled foam cannon backed by a two-year satisfaction guarantee.
- Includes cleaning glove, nozzles, and towel
- Foam pressure is easy to adjust
- Includes two-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Only includes three washer nozzles
- The reservoir can leak over time
The foam cannon is just the start of the cleaning fun here. It also includes a microfiber cleaning glove, towel, and three washer nozzles. The glove is especially effective at removing tough grime and corrosion.
It’s easy to use. The stainless steel connector attaches to the pressure washer in one twist. The 33-ounce reservoir bottle has a large, easy-fill mouth. Adjust the knob on top to control the foam’s strength. The cannon requires water pressure between 1000 and 2000 PSI.
Many foam cannons work great at first but quickly break down due to poor quality parts. HassPro offers a two-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects. If your cannon stops working for any reason, you can get your money back.
Although the cannon is well-made and reliable, HassPro’s two-year warranty is why this cannon gets an Honorable Mention. If you’ve been burned by cheap foam cannons which wear out only a few months after purchase, you’ll like the security found here.
Honorable Mention 2 – Dusichin SFL-001 Foam Cannon
A high-quality, adjustable foam cannon which is popular among a wide range of car enthusiasts.
- Versatile design easily cleans all types of vehicles
- Foam container is durable and see-through
- Simple to set up and easy to use
- Only includes three nozzle attachments
- Container can be heavy when full
Classic car collectors, four-wheelers, motorcyclists and other vehicle enthusiasts all love Dusichin’s SFL-001 foam cannon. It’s an all-purpose cannon which is simple to set up and easy to adjust to any vehicle’s needs.
The quarter-inch steel connector attaches quickly to just about any pressure washer. The 33-ounce container is semi-transparent so you can easily see when the foam is getting low.
The cannon requires a pressure washer with at least 1000 PSI and 2.0 GPM. Don’t use more than 5.3 GPS or 3000 PSI, as you can damage both the cannon and your vehicle.
This cannon has been around for a long time and is often considered a standard in automotive cleaning. While it doesn’t have many bells and whistles, it’s a reliable choice which should serve you well.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Foam Cannon
What cannons bring the suds and which ones are nothing but duds? When choosing a foam cannon, consider the following features:
PSI stands for pounds per square inch. It’s the standard unit for measuring pressure.
You’ll want to make sure your pressure washer can supply the appropriate PSI level required by the foam cannon.
The PSI required for a foam cannon is usually between 1,000 and 3,000 PSI. That creates about one and a half gallons of pressure per minute. You don’t want to exceed 4,000 PSI. Too much power from the pressure washer can damage your vehicle’s glass and paint.
Ease of Use
Is the foam cannon easy to hold and use? Most cannons have either a trigger or a nozzle to control the flow.
A trigger is easy to reach, but it’s presence behind the foam reservoir can throw off the balance of the cannon at times. A nozzle above the reservoir allows for more precise control but turning the nozzle can be difficult if your hands are wet.
No matter how careful you are, your hands and the foam cannon will probably both get wet. Make sure the cannon has a comfortable, ergonomic grip. You don’t want the cannon slipping away from you.
Many cannon have either nozzle attachments or an adjustable nozzle. Fan attachments produce a wide, fairly even spray which covers large areas quickly. Almost all cannons allow you to also spray a direct stream of thick foam.
You can find cannons with a variety of attachments. While they can be useful, you really only need a direct spray and a fan spray.
Even the best cannons will need regular maintenance. The nozzle should be simple to take apart, clean, and reassemble. For best results, you’ll want to clean the nozzle after every use. Otherwise, foam can dry inside and block the spray during the next use.
Also, check for an anti-siphon, which prevents the foam from sliding back into the water supply. While an anti-siphon isn’t absolutely necessary, it does help reduce the frequency of nozzle clogging.
What is a Foam Cannon?
A foam cannon is an attachment used to clean your car. It connects to a pressure washer. When activated, the foam cannon sprays a thick layer of foam across your vehicle.
The thick foam rolls down the sides of the car, removing the dirt along the way. By letting the foam do most of the work, you avoid accidental scratches which can be caused by dragging dirt with a sponge. Also, foam typically creates far fewer streaks than hand washing.
Is a Foam Cannon Different than a Foam Gun?
Yes! A foam cannon is a different car-cleaning accessory than a foam gun.
A foam gun attaches to a garden hose while a foam cannon connects to a pressure washer. You can’t connect a foam cannon to a garden hose, and you can’t connect a foam gun to a pressure washer.
However, they both work in the same basic way. Both the gun and cannon create a layer of foam. But their level of strength is different. The cannon is much stronger and creates thicker foam. It’s more effective at removing tough dirt and sludge.
Foam cannons are better than guns. The only reason to choose a foam gun is if you don’t have a pressure washer and don’t want to buy one. However, while a foam gun is better than a garden hose, it won’t clean nearly as well as a cannon. It’s not as powerful.
What are the Benefits of a Foam Cannon?
Foam cannons typically provide the best way to clean your car at home. Some of the key benefits include:
Increased Cleaning Speed
Foam cannons are fast to use. You can cover even a large truck or SUV in just a few minutes. It’s a far faster way to clean your car than using a sponge or even a foam gun.
Reduced Risk of Scratches
Cleaning your car by hand does increase the risk of scratching your car’s paint accidentally. Tiny bits of dirt and debris can become trapped in the sponge or cloth.
A foam cannon helps reduce the risk of scratching in two ways. The foam removes more tiny bits of dirt and debris than car wash soap is typically able to. Also, the pressure washer helps dirt slide down the surface of the car, while hand scrubbing can rub particles into the paint.
(Of course, sponges can still be safe and effective. Check out the Best Car Wash Sponges for recommendations.)
Overall Better Cleaning
Using the foam as a presoak produces a deep, noticeable clean. Allow the foam to sit for a few minutes so it can loosen baked-on grime. The dirty foam is then easily washed away by the pressure washer.
Helps Protect Paint
Many soaps offer paint protection properties. A foam cannon is a great way to apply these protective soaps. The foam distributes heavily and evenly. Also, it’s easy to reach the entire vehicle, even the top of the roof.
Not sure which soap is best? Check out our recommendations for the Best Car Wash Soap right here.
More Environmentally Friendly
Using a foam cannon to clean your vehicle has less of a negative impact on the environment than washing with a bucket and a sponge. Cleaning by hand wastes far more water. Water ends up dripping between the bucket and the vehicle. Plus, more water is required because it’s applied at such a low pressure.
Using a pressure washer allows you to spray water with targeted precision. Additionally, because the water is sprayed at high pressure, less volume is necessary to remove dirt.
How Do I Use a Foam Cannon?
Foam cannons aren’t just an effective way to keep your car clean. They’re also tons of fun to use. Here’s how to keep your car clean with a foam cannon:
1. Park Your Car in a Flat Area
The foam from the cannon uses gravity to pull dirt away from your car. If your car is parked at an angle, the foam won’t flow evenly. Instead, you’ll want to park your car on a flat surface.
Remove any large debris from your vehicle, such as leaves or branches before you begin cleaning. Also, make sure the surface of your car is cool to the touch. If it’s hot, the foam can dissipate before it has a chance to remove the dirt.
Additionally, you want to wash your car on a calm day. Wind can seriously impact your ability to spray the foam evenly and precisely.
2. Adjust the Water Pressure
Most cannons vary between 1000 and 2000 PSI. You might need to do some experimenting to find the correct pressure.
The cannon should produce a thick, even coat of foam. One easy way to measure the consistency is to spray a vertical surface, like the side of your house. If the foam stays in place vertically, it’s the proper consistency for car cleaning.
Determining the correct pressure is more of an art than a science. You can adjust the pressure as needed when washing your car.
However, be careful not to set the pressure too high. Using too much water pressure is the number one mistake made by foam cannon newbies. Anything higher than 3000 PSI risks damaging your paint and car.
3. Choose a Car Cleaning Soap
Pretty much every foam cannon will include recommendations for the type of soap to use. While you want to pay attention to these recommendations, they’re not necessarily gospel.
For example, many manufacturers say you should only use their brand of soap with their foam cannon. Most of the time, this is simply a ploy to get you to buy their soap. Any similar soap from a different brand should work without a problem.
However, you do want to heed any warning about specific ingredients or types of soap. For example, some smaller nozzles might become clogged if you use soap, which is too thick.
4. Use Proper Spray Technique
You’ve prepared your car, connected your cannon to your pressure washer, and selected your soap. Now you’re ready to start spraying!
Start at the top of the car and work down. Let gravity move debris away. Be careful when spraying around the underside of your car. You don’t want to accidentally blast gunk from underneath your car upwards onto your paint and windows.
Spray the foam at an angle instead of straight on. Hold the tip of the sprayer about two to three feet away from the vehicle.
Once the foam is applied, let it set for about five minutes. You then have two options for washing off the foam:
Don’t rub the foam by hand. Instead, remove the cannon and use the pressure washer. Spray from the top of the car down.
The hands-free method minimizes the risk of scratches. It’ll clean your car thoroughly, but doesn’t always reach every corner of the vehicle. Also, the hands-free way doesn’t always remove baked-on dirt, especially from underneath the car.
Microfiber cleaning mitts allow you to tackle tough build-up. Spray foam in a section of the vehicle. Then gently scrub with the mitt. Make sure the matt is made from micro-fiber to avoid scratching the car.
Because you operate the mitt with your fingers, you have tons of control over the pressure and direction. You can target specific areas much easier by hand than with the cannon.
That’s the basic way to clean your vehicle with a foam cannon. But sometimes issues can occur. Poor foam consistency is the number one potential problem. Here’s a closer look at how to create the best foam:
How Much Soap Should I Use?
The type and amount of soap used has a big impact on foam quality.
Only use soap made specifically for vehicles. Avoid dish soap or any formulas used for general purpose cleaning.
Choose a highly-concentrated soap. You’re already adding the soap to water in the cannon’s reservoir. Adding diluted soap initially usually ends up with thin, weak foam.
The ideal foam should have the consistency of shaving cream. Unfortunately, there’s no universal formula for creating this ideal foam. Start with the amount recommended by the soap’s manufacturer, but don’t be afraid to experiment if the foam doesn’t have a consistency you like. After all, it’s just soap and water; you can’t hurt anything by trying out various soap and water ratios.
Consider the volume of the cannon’s reservoir. Most are about one liter. For a one-liter reservoir, the standard amount of soap to add is around six ounces. But that’s a general estimate which is far from set in stone.
If the foam is weak, try shaking the reservoir before adding more soap. Thicker soaps can cling to the bottom of the reservoir. Shaking it up helps ensure the foam’s thickness stays consistent from the first spray to the last.
How Do I Maintain My Foam Cannon?
Mechanical issues are another common problem. You need to clean the nozzles after every use. Soap buildup in the nozzle is a major cause of poor spray consistency. Soap hardens as it dries and blocks the spray. Additionally, soap buildup can affect the soap-to-water ratio during future cleanings.
Here’s how to prevent soap buildup:
After cleaning your car, detach the cannon’s reservoir. Pour out any remaining soapy water. Rinse the reservoir thoroughly with clean tap water. After rinsing away all traces of soap, fill the reservoir with water.
Spray the clean water through the cannon. To avoid wasting water, spray towards your garden or lawn.
Finally, remove the nozzle from the pressure washer. Run it through some tap water briefly. Holding the nozzle under tap water allows you to clean it at angles which can’t be reached when using the pressure washer.
Although cleaning the nozzles can feel like a hassle, it’s the best way to keep your foam cannon working great over long periods.
What Type of Pressure Washer Should I Use?
Two types are available:
- Gas powered
- Electric powered
Gas-powered pressure washers are the strongest. They have the highest flow rate and pressure output. They’re also the most mobile option because they don’t need to be near an electric outlet. However, they’re also more expensive to maintain, because gas costs more than electricity.
Electric-powered washers aren’t quite as powerful. Plus, using an electrical device when you’re washing your car does pose certain risks, so you need to be careful. However, they’re the most affordable option and generally the easiest to use.
Pressure washers have two measurements you’ll need to note:
As mentioned above, PSI stands for pounds per square inch. It’s the standard measurement for the unit’s pressure. You’ll want a pressure washer with a PSI of at least 1,000. Two-thousand is usually ideal, although some cannons can work with a PSI as low as 750. Never set the pressure above 4000. It can damage your paint.
GPM stands for Gallons per Minute. It’s the volume of water which the cannon can project. When washing your car, you want a minimum GPM of 1.75. A GPM around two is ideal, while anything above three is usually too much.
The volume and pressure of the water impacts the quality of the foam coverage. Faster and stronger isn’t necessarily better. If the GPM is too high, the amount of water can dilute the foam.
How Often Should I Use the Foam Cannon?
The best foam cannons attach quickly to a pressure washer, so setting up your gear shouldn’t take long at all. Most car lovers use a foam cannon every time they wash their car. After all, once you’ve seen how well foam cleans, you’re probably not going to want to use anything else!
For protective maintenance, clean your car about once every two weeks. Fortunately, cleaning your car with a cannon is much faster than using a sponge.
Don’t wash your car by hand. Not only is it a slow and tedious process, but it won’t get your car very clean. In order to truly make your car shine, use a foam cannon. It’s the fastest way to remove tough dirt and grime. Even better, the foam does most of the cleaning! With the right soap and foam cannon, you can enjoy professional-quality car cleaning right at home.