Often overlooked by casuals, pre-washing and snow-foaming has quickly become a key step in properly caring for and cleaning a car.
Snow foam is much more than just a pretty foam. Choosing the best snow foam could be the difference between effectively pre-washing your car, or wasting your time.
The best snow foams offer great cleaning power, are PH Neutral, and provide a rich foam blanket over your car.
Keep reading to learn more about the best car snow foams on the market today.
What does Snow Foam Do To A Car?
Snow Foam is a chemical solution designed to loosen dirt and grime, making for an easier and safer wash.
The snow foam solution encapsulates dirt and contamination on your vehicle, lifting it from your car, providing lubrication to make for a scratch-free wash.
Snow foaming your car has 3 main benefits:
- Added cleaning power
- Minimizes chances of scratches
- Softens up hard and stubborn dirt
Some are so effective that you may be tempted not to wash your car properly afterwards.
Covering your car in snow foam and rinsing it off is not the same as a traditional contact wash. It will not clean your car as well as a wash mitt and soapy water.
Fortunately, if you want to be lazy like me, you can use your foam cannon for contact washes. Buy a car soap that works in foam cannons, cover your car in soap and agitate the soap with a mitt.
Just remember that the proper stages of washing paintwork go like this:
Snow Foam > Contact Wash > Dry
Skipping any of these stages could result in a poor finish.
Remember, to apply snow foam you will need a foam cannon or a foam gun.
If you don’t yet have one, make sure to check out the 5 Best Foam Cannons before you buy a snow foam.
If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can use a foam gun on a hose, but they’re nowhere near as good.
Choosing The Best Snow Foam
There is an incredible number of snow foam solutions available to buy. For example, Amazon has 100+ snow foam products listed for sale.
Unfortunately, many of them are unproductive and don’t offer much more than a pretty layer of foam on top of your car.
Depending on your location, there are 2 snow foams which are most commonly used among detailers.
People in the US use Chemical Guys HoneyDew Snow Foam.
People in the UK & Europe use Bilt Hamber Auto Foam.
That being said, there are plenty of other good options. You just need to know the qualities that make a good snow foam.
When looking for a quality snow foam:
- Thick Foam doesn’t always mean it’s better – There are many snow foams which offer a thick, creamy foam but fail to provide any meaningful cleaning power.
- The Foam should rinse off easily – While you’re generally looking for foam that clings to the car, you don’t want one that leaves a sticky & streaky residue behind
- PH Neutral – PH Neutral products are non-acidic and are safe to use on glass, plastic trim, and paint.
- Last Stage Protection Safe – Products that are “LSP Safe” will not strip sealants, waxes, or ceramic coatings from your car.
- Value For Money – Washing your car can be an expensive hobby. There are many snow foams that you can buy for cheap that will provide the same results as “premium” options.
You also need to keep in mind that there are other variables at play that could change results.
The power of your pressure washer, dilution ratio and whether you pre-rinsed the car or not will change the snow foams effectiveness.
I’ve written a guide on how to apply snow foam. It’ll help you to better understand the product that you are using and let you get the thick foam that you desire.
Outside of testing purposes, I’ll only ever use Bilt Hamber Auto Foam, because I know it works for me.
When you find a product that works for you, you should stick with it.
what’s the best Car snow foam to buy?
The “best snow foam” will vary from person to person.
Just because I’ve had a great experience with all of the products listed below, doesn’t mean that you will necessarily achieve the same results.
Below is a list of the most popular snow foams on the market. All of which I’ve used in the past and found to be effective.
They can be split into 5 different categories:
- Best Overall Snow Foam: Bilt Hamber Auto Foam
- Best UK Snow Foam: Autoglym Polar Blast
- Best US Snow Foam: Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam
- Premium Snow Foam Experience: GYEON Q2M Foam
- Snow Foam & Cannon Bundle: Chemical Guys Torq Foam Cannon & 3 Premium Soaps
The detailing world is forever advancing and so are the products used. This article is kept up to date as much as possible by including any new snow foam products that are released.
GYEON Q²M Foam
pH Neutral: ✓
Cleaning Power: ★★★★☆
Foam Thickness: ★★★☆☆
Size: 1000ml / 4000ml
GYEON as a brand focus on delivering a premium experience.
This means you’ll receive a product with immense cleaning power and premium packaging.
Unfortunately, It also means they charge a lot more than the competition.
If you’re looking for a value snow foam, you can write this one off.
The recommended dilution ratio for GYEON Q2M Foam is 1:5, this is probably a generous recommendation that guarantees results.
If you were to use it at 1:5 for every wash, you’d be going through the product at an alarming rate. You should dilute the product according to the level of contamination on your car.
As stated earlier, thick doesn’t always mean effective.
GYEON proves this as the actual foam itself is very thin and somewhat runny. In some cases, the foam struggled to cling to the car for the recommended 5-8 minute dwell time.
This goes against my logic. I like seeing foam sat on a car for extended periods, I feel that it works better. Though I cannot deny the cleaning power that GYEON snow foam has, despite struggling to cling to the car.
If you’re interested in buying GYEON you can pick it up in a 1L bottle or a 4L container.
Like most snow foams, it’s much better value for money if you buy a bigger quantity.
But if value for money is important, you’re probably better off buying a different product altogether.
GYEON Q2M Foam is a very nice product with awesome branding. It’s a nice gift to give to hobbyist detailers, but it’s definitely not economical.
Autobrite Magi Foam
pH Neutral: ✓
Cleaning Power: ★★★★☆
Foam Thickness: ★★★★☆
Size: 500ml / 5000ml
Autobrite Magi Foam is a snow foam that likes to do things differently.
It has one unique selling point that everyone knows about, 30 minutes dwell time!
If you’re someone that likes to be efficient while washing your car, that’s certainly enough time to clean all 4 wheels and more!
The recommended dilution ratio of Autobrite Magi foam is 1 or 2 inches into the bottom of your foam cannon. Depending on the size of your foam cannon this could be anywhere between 1:5 and 1:10.
Following the recommended dilution ratio, this has probably been one of the most impressive snow foams I’ve used.
Unlike other snow foams, the recommended dwell time is 30 minutes.
When using the Karcher K2 on full pressure, Magi foam creates a thick and rich foam. Clinging to the car for up to 30 minutes without drying (in a shaded area).
Weirdly enough, while it may produce the best foam, It doesn’t really have the cleaning power that you’d expect.
I’ve found that I can get around 80-90% of my car clean using Magi Foam but it really struggles with harder dirt, bugs and tar.
Autobrite Direct Magi Foam comes in 1L and 5L bottles.
If you choose to buy the 5litre bottle you will save up to 80% on every liter used.
Even if you don’t wash your car that often, snow foam doesn’t have an expiry date so you’d be silly not to choose the 5L container with such incredible savings.
Overall it’s a great product that deserves to be on the list. It’s good value for money and has good enough cleaning power for the price.
One last thing!
If you’re in the market for a new snow foam lance, the Autobrite Direct lance is considered one of the best.
It also comes with a 500ml bottle of Autobrite Magi Foam that will allow you to test the product yourself!
Autoglym Polar Blast
pH Neutral: ✓
Cleaning Power: ★★★★☆
Foam Thickness: ★★★☆☆
Autoglym Polar Blast is apart of a 3 step exterior car care range, designed to wash and coat your car using products specifically made to be applied using a foam cannon.
If you want to buy the collection to try it out, it’s cheap enough, you can buy it here.
Anyway, back onto Polar Blast.
The packaging recommends starting with a 1:5 dilution ratio. I’ve found that on regular maintenance washes I can get away with using dilution ratios as low as 1:10.
Like any other product, Buy It, Try It, See what works for you. Don’t be afraid to go outside of the recommended ratios.
Using the recommended dilution ratio of 1:5 (200/1000ml), I found that the foam was thick enough to lie on the car for the full 10 minute dwell time.
Towards the end of the 10 minutes, you’ll find that 25% of the product has run off of each panel taking a lot of dirt with it.
If I was to compare the thickness between two other products, It’s thicker than GYEONs foam, but not as thick or as rich as the Autobrite Magi Foam.
When it comes to detailing products, most companies tend to offer a small bottle that will cost you an arm and a leg per liter or make you commit $30+ into snow foam that you’ll never finish.
Autoglym only sells Polar Blast in a 2.5-liter container and it’s fairly cheap too. I really like this pricing strategy, it has the everyday consumer in mind.
BEWARE! “Polar Wash” is another snow foam type product but it is a car shampoo rather than a snow foam. If you want the (pre-wash) snow foam, make sure to buy POLAR BLAST!
Auto Finesse Avalanche
pH Neutral: ✓
Cleaning Power: ★★★★★
Foam Thickness: ★★★☆☆
Size: 1000ml / 5000ml
When using a 1 Litre snow foam lance, Auto Finesse recommends you use 1 to 2 inches of product, this works out to be approximately 1:10 dilution ratio.
I love it when a product has such a high recommended dilution ratio.
Normally, this means it has great cleaning power and you’ll often find that you can get away with using even higher dilution ratios (if you want to save money or product).
Using the recommended 1:10 ratio will leave you with a sudsy foam that runs from the panels and takes the dirt with it.
After 5 minutes of dwelling, you’ll find that a lot of the foam has already slid off the panel, leaving you with around 40% of the foam to wash off and a car that’s 90% clean.
Like most snow foams, you are able to buy AF Avalanche in a 1L bottle or a 5L container.
If you opt for the 1L bottle you’re paying up to 75% more per liter than what you would when choosing the 5L container.
Overall the 5L container is very competitively priced.
Of course, Bilt Hamber Auto Foam is head and shoulders above this product when it comes to value for money.
But…when compared with any other product that is listed in this article, AF Avalanche offers great cleaning power at a very competitive price.
Bilt Hamber Auto Foam
pH Neutral: ✓
Cleaning Power: ★★★★★
Foam Thickness: ★★★☆☆
When it comes to snow foams Bilt Hamber Auto Foam is the obvious top dog.
I’m a results-based person, this is a result-based product so I absolutely love it.
It’s almost unbelievable that a company can create a product that has the best cleaning power on the market and still be able to make it much cheaper than its closest competitors.
Unfortunately, if you’re someone that enjoys the experience of snow foam, this may not be for you.
Bilt Hamber Auto Foam produces a relatively thin and runny foam. It also very well known for its strong chemical smell. Making it one of the least enjoyable snow foams to use.
When it comes to a dilution ratio, Bilt Hamber doesn’t really recommend a specific ratio.
Instead, they suggest that you can dilute it as much as 1:100.
I found that 1:10 was perfect maintenance washes, though If you’re looking to save money, you could probably get away with using dilution ratios between 1:15 and 1:20.
It’s already by far the cheapest snow foam in the UK & EU anyway. Skimping on product to save money is probably not something you need to do.
Unfortunately for those that love foam, even when I used dilution ratios of 1:5, It would run from the panels fairly quickly, leaving very little dirt or foam on the car after 8 or so minutes.
Because it’s such a runny foam that encourages dirt to slide off of your car, It’s super easy to rinse off. You definitely don’t have to worry about residue being left behind when using this one.
Bilt Hamber Auto Foam is only available in a 5L container though it’s much cheaper than its competitors.
If you don’t care about the smell of a product and don’t need “luxurious” foam thickness, Bilt Hamber Auto Foam is the ultimate result based snow foam.
The cleaning power and excellent value for money make this the most desirable snow foam on the market (in my opinion).
Chemical Guys HoneyDew Snow Foam
pH Neutral: ✓
Cleaning Power: ★★★★☆
Foam Thickness: ★★★☆☆
Size: 500ml /1900ml / 4500ml
If you’re at all familiar with detailing brands, it should come as no surprise to see the Chemical Guys snow foam on this list.
The Chemical Guys are notorious for being quirky and in your face, the branding really shows it.
They’re also not afraid to hype up their own products. But does their snow foam live up to the hype?
On the bottle, the recommended dilution ratio is 1-2oz to 5 gallons of water. I used around 3.5oz of product in a 33oz bottle. This is a 1:10 dilution ratio or thereabouts.
While next time I’d probably use more soap, I was pleasantly surprised by the type of foam that was produced. The way it came out and sat on the car, it looked almost like a silicone sealant.
As for dwell time and “clinging” to the panel, there’s no specified dwell time on the bottle.
After playing around with the product myself and comparing it with youtube videos I found that the product was almost completely gone from the car within 5-6 minutes.
By the time I’ve cleaned the wheel wells and filled up my two buckets, the foam is ready to wash off. It’s definitely not a long enough dwell time to detail all of your wheels.
Now for the most important feature. Yes, it does smell of honeydew.
It’s nice to smell honeydew when you open the bottle but it’s certainly not a feature I care for. The smell doesn’t linger on the car, not that you go trying to sniff the paintwork of cars.
Pleasant feature but fairly pointless.
I think that overall this snow foam is good enough. It comes with good cleaning power and the foam quality is great.
The 1-gallon container is very competitively priced which is a pleasant surprise. A lot of the time their products come at a premium because they’re regarded as one of the best in detailing.
My only 2 negatives about this product are the short dwell time and the fact they call it a touchless wash, which is deceiving, to say the least.
Should you rinse before snow foam?
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this debated and still, there’s no definitive answer.
If your snow foam packaging tells you to pre-rinse do it. If not, it’s a decision you need to make yourself based on your own experiences.
The argument for rinsing before snow foam:
You want to rinse the car beforehand to remove all of the light dirt and dust allowing the snow foam to work on the deeper, more stubborn dirt.
The argument for applying snow foam to a dry car:
Applying snow foam to a dry car will increase dwell time because the car isn’t already lubricated. Thus allowing the product to work for longer before running from the panel.
My personal choice:
I always apply snow foam onto a dry vehicle. I’ve found that most products are better applied to a dry vehicle. The increased dwell time that it offers allows me to get ready for the contact wash or quickly detail the wheels.
The amount of effort I’ve seen people put into arguing over it is rather funny.
I believe that the difference is negligible. It may be a case of the product being 2% more effective in one scenario over the other. There is no way it’s as significant as many make it out to be.
How to apply snow foam to any vehicle
Applying snow foam to your vehicle is incredibly easy. Make sure to follow these 6 simple steps
- Find a suitable work area
- Follow the recommended dilution ratio
- Adjust your equipment settings
- Apply the snow foam
- Let the snow foam dwell
- Rinse the snow foam off your vehicle
Find a suitable work area
Finding a suitable area to snow foam your vehicle is easy enough. The only things that you need to worry about are staying out of direct sunlight and the legality of washing your car in the street.
Depending on your location you may actually find out that snow foaming and general use of car wash products (that are non-eco-friendly) are banned.
It’s believed that the products entering the water supply are damaging to the environment. As a result, you will have to follow certain rules and regulations while washing your car.
Research and follow the rules and regulations of your state before and during washing your vehicle.
If you follow the rules, you will not have any legal issues, though you may have some pesky neighbors and eco-warriors that think they know better and want you to stop.
Follow the recommend dilution ratio
When it comes to mixing and diluting snow foam you will work to a “Product:Water” ratio.
Following the manufacturers recommended ratio will guarantee results.
As you become more familiar with the product you’re using and its capabilities feel free to start testing out different dilution ratios.
Adjust your equipment settings
The settings you use when applying snow foam to your vehicle can have a big effect on the quality of foam.
If you have an adjustable pressure washer make sure that it’s on a high setting (The setting you would normally wash your car with).
If you have an adjustable snow foam lance you should mess around with the spray width to see what gives you the best result.
I like to have a nice wide spray that allows me to apply thick layers of foam without the worry of blasting my previously applied snow foam off the panel.
Applying snow foam
Start at one side of the vehicle and begin to spray the foam from top to bottom while sweeping left to right, almost as if you’re giving your car a new paint job.
For the best results, make sure that you have covered every inch of the car with snow foam before moving on.
How long to leave snow foam on for?
Like dilution ratios, manufacturers package their product with a recommended “dwell time”.
Even though the manufacturer probably recommends shorter dwell times than you can get away with, it’s best you stay close to the recommendations to avoid the product drying on your car.
If you’re working in direct sun and/or it’s a really hot day, you may even need to decrease the dwell time just to be safe.
Trust me, this is not a lesson you want to learn the hard way. It’s way more effort to remove dry product than it is to put a little more elbow grease in during the contact wash.
Rinse off the snow foam
After you’ve let the foam dwell for a suitable time you can now rinse it off.
You will find that some products have very little foam left on the car when you come to wash it off and that some will wash off a lot easier than others.
Once rinsed your car will look 80-90% clean. While it may be tempting to quit and call it a day, it’s important that you still continue your wash regime like norma to ensure your car is clean and protected.
Snow Foam FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
I’ve already covered the basics of snow foam but it has probably left you with some more questions.
I’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding snow foam and answered them, hopefully giving you complete comfort with snow foam as a product.
Does Snow Foam Really Work?
Yes, snow foam works and can be very effective. In most cases, it will not be a completely touchless wash but it still plays a key part in breaking down dirt and contamination on cars.
The more dirt you can remove from your car before performing a contact wash the better. It will make for a much safer wash.
A lot of the time, when people complain about snow foam being useless, or ineffective, it’s the users’ fault. They’re either using it wrong or have completely unrealistic expectations from the product.
Unfortunately, because of the way it’s marketed, the latter is pretty common. Don’t expect snow foam to be a miracle product that will wash your car for you. it’s nothing more than a pre-wash
Is snow foam worth it?
If you already have a pressure washer and foam cannon there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t also own a snow foam product. You are able to get 5 Liters of snow foam for <$30. It’s not an expensive product
That being said, if you’re new to detailing, have a limited budget and don’t already have the necessary equipment it may not be worth it.
For any detailer, a pressure washer is a must, but if you’re trying to get by on a budget the $60-$100 that you’d invest into a good foam cannon and snow foam may be better spent elsewhere.
Snow foam is a brilliant pre-wash but if you’re not able or willing to invest in the right stuff, you can get by with rinsing your car and taking more caution during the contact wash.
Do you need to wash your car after snow foam?
After snow foaming, it’s important that you still do a proper contact wash using the two-bucket method with grit guards. This will help to remove any remaining product and dirt from the car.
Another reason to continue with a proper wash regime is if you’re looking to polish and/or wax your car. Trying to finish your car with dirt on the surface is a big no-no, it will only create more scratches and swirls in the paint.
Can you get away with just snow foaming? Yes. Is it recommended? No.
Can snow foam damage your car?
People are so worried about products damaging their cars that they forget the biggest threat (themselves).
Most damage that occurs to your vehicle will be from silly mistakes and not paying attention.
The only thing that can really go wrong while applying snow foam is that you smack the car with your pressure washer lance or blast some paint off with ridiculously high pressures.
At most, some snow foams may strip your last stage protection (wax, sealants & ceramic coatings). Make sure that the products you buy are LSP Safe & PH Neutral to avoid this issue.
As long as you follow the instructions specified in this article, the product instructions and only use industry-leading snow foams you will not damage your car while detailing.
Can you snow foam an engine bay?
You can snow foam an engine bay. Should you snow foam an engine bay? That’s a different question.
When using snow foam and water in your engine bay, you’ll have to cover up key components, otherwise, you risk mechanical and electrical problems.
Most modern wiring looms are watertight but it’s always good if you can cover electrical components up further before washing. (Because you know, Electrics…)
The process would be to snow foam, agitate it with a detailing brush, and then wash the foam away using a garden hose.
I personally prefer to dilute All-Purpose Cleaner in a spray bottle and use that as my cleaning aid. It’s much, much safer.
Can you snow foam a convertible soft top?
If you have a soft-top vehicle and aren’t already aware, cleaning the soft top is completely different from any other part of the car.
Cleaning soft-top vehicles with detergent-based products will leave behind unwanted residue.
If your soft-top is in desperate need of a wash it’s time that you invest in some proper products for it.
In fact, here’s a list of the best soft top cleaners that money can buy.