How to Wash a Car with a Foam Cannon

How to Wash a Car with a Foam Cannon

We’ve all been there. It’s the weekend, and you should wash your car, but you’re short on time. Foam cannons dramatically speed up a car wash and provide proven results. This post shares how to clean your car with a foam cannon. 

To wash your car using a foam cannon: Mix a proper ratio of foam cannon soap and water, rinse off your vehicle, spray the car down top to bottom with a foam cannon, contact wash with a wash mitt, rinse off lingering foam and debris, dry off the vehicle with a microfiber towel, and apply a wax or sealant product. 

Tools required  

To clean your car with a foam cannon, gather the following tools.

  • Hose 
  • Pressure Washer 
  • Foam Cannon
  • Foaming Soap 
  • Wash Mitt
  • Microfiber Towels 
  • A wax or sealant to use post-wash 

Mix a proper ratio of foam cannon soap and water

Read the back of the foaming soap’s label to determine the recommended soap-to-water ratio for your product. For reference, if you’re using a product such as Stoner Car Care’s MOAB, you will use a 1 oz.:1 gallon soap-to-water ratio. Ensure that you follow the dilution ratios correctly, as using excessive amounts of soap yields ineffective results that are wasteful. 

Consider using distilled water for the foam cannon water. Distilled water is free of impurities, dries fast, prevents water spots, effectively dissolves chemicals used for cleaning, and leaves a smooth surface to ready a car's clear coat for waxes or sealants.

Rinse off your car

Use your pressure washer or hose to rinse off the vehicle before using any soaps. Water will remove light and large debris and provide additional lubrication for the following steps. Start by spraying the roof, working your way down the vehicle, and finishing with the wheels. 

Spray the car down top to bottom with a foam cannon

It’s time to foam up your car. Using your foam cannon, spray the vehicle's roof and work your way down, going from body panel to body panel. Make sure the majority of the foam clings to your car. If it’s immediately running off the sides, add more soap and shake to mix. Cover the entire vehicle in foam and wait a minute or two as the soap works to lift debris and stubborn contaminants. 

Once foam covers the entire vehicle, you can move on to the next step. 

Contact wash with a wash mitt

Wipe the exterior with a wash mitt, working from the top down using long side-to-side strokes. Ensure you cover all exterior areas, including often-neglected ones such as the back of the door handles, wheel spokes, behind the gas cap, etc. The foaming soap will do most of the work for you, so there’s no need to apply any additional pressure. We specifically recommend using wash mitts, as they’re designed to attract dirt and are easy to rinse off once they get dirty. 

Once you’ve covered all vehicle body panels, you will be ready to rinse.

Rinse off lingering foam and debris

The wash mitt and foaming soap will lift dirt, dust, and grime from the car. Rinse away any lingering soap and debris from the top of your vehicle. Contaminants will run down the car as you rinse, and this technique ensures no lingering dirt or soap will travel down areas. 

Because cars face the elements daily, a combination of heat and time can bake debris onto your exterior. There’s a slight chance the foamy soap won’t remove caked-on debris. If needed, apply a second coat of foam to an area, and repeat the steps above until you achieve the desired result. 

Dry off the vehicle with a microfiber towel

Water spots can form in minutes if you work in the heat or direct sunlight. We recommend using microfiber towels to dry off the exterior, as they are gentle on any type of finish and engineered to attract dirt, dust, and debris. Wipe from side to side and avoid circular motions that may cause streaking.

Frequently swap out microfiber towels as they get dirty or wet. If you use a soiled microfiber towel, you risk reapplication of water or debris. 

You will get multiple uses out of a microfiber towel if you clean and dry them correctly. To learn more about how to clean and keep your microfibers fresh, view our post

Apply a wax or sealant product

Your car should have a sparkling exterior, but nothing stands between your spotless vehicle and the outside world after you clean. We recommend taking another step to protect your finish by using a wax or sealant product. 

We recommend using a traditional wax product if you prefer a warm, natural glow to your car’s paint. Sealants, on the other hand, provide a glossier shine and protection that lasts longer than traditional waxes. Both products protect your exterior, so choose one to keep your car’s finish looking pristine. 

For information on proper wax and sealant application, view our blog post here

The Benefits of Using a Foam Cannon:

Using a foam cannon is fun and produces aesthetically pleasing results. In fact, there are several benefits to foam cannon use.


Benefits of Using a Foam Cannon

Cannons provide lubrication that allows you to remove dirt and debris safely.

Foam makes it easier to keep track of washed and unwashed areas.

The suds from a cannon do not become diluted.

Cannons reduce the risk of scratching the paint.

Foam cannons prevent cross-contamination with other products and used water.

Soap clings to surfaces, cleaning areas more effectively than a traditional wash might.

Cannons allow you to clean your car much more quickly than you otherwise would!


The downside of foam cannons lies in their cost. The initial cost of a pressure washer and foam cannon is considerable, but it’ll pay for itself over time. Properly cleaning your vehicle will protect it from surface damage and increase its value in the long term. 

You'll be in the zone when you see the foam

It’s easy to see why cannons have become a detailer staple for fast, effective washing. They save time and provide effective cleaning results. Don’t let the upfront costs deter you from experiencing one of the best car detailing processes. Get your hands on a cannon and follow these steps as you foam: Mix a proper ratio of foam cannon soap and water, rinse off your car, spray the car down top to bottom with a foam cannon, contact wash with a wash mitt, rinse off lingering foam and debris, dry off the vehicle with a microfiber towel, and apply a wax or sealant product. Enjoy the process, and enjoy your spotless ride!

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