The Best Foam Cannon of 2018: Better than a Car Wash!

Jun 18, 2018 | Detailing, Reviews

Pressure washers have become more affordable in the past fifteen years. Nowadays, they’re affordable enough for ordinary people to buy and use them. And ordinary people should use them. A pressure washer is a lot better at removing stubborn dirt and grime than an ordinary garden hose.

But, the truth of the matter is, a pressure washer by itself won’t cut it. What you need is a foam cannon to attach to your pressure washer. Using a foam cannon and a pressure washer is the ideal way to clean your car to perfection, while minimizing scratches and other abrasions.

Below, we will compare a few of these products and explain what we like and dislike about each. Afterward, we will tell you what you should look for when shopping for a foam cannon and how to properly use one.

Top 5 Foam Washers

NameMaximum PSIPros 

TriNova

3200

  • Straightforward and comfortable to use
  • Sturdy and well-built. Made of high-grade materials
  • Produces a thick, sudsy foam and a lot of it

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MATCC

3000

  • Extremely affordable
  • Adjustable and sturdy foam lance, made of quality brass
  • Adjustable spray nozzle and water regulator
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SudMagic

3200

  • Heavy-duty construction. Its components were designed to last
  • Adjustable nozzle and foam thickness
  • Produces lots of foam
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MTM Hydro

5000

  • Sturdily-built and well-made
  • Produces a thick, sudsy foam
  • Doesn’t leak
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Gilmour

40-90

  • Affordable
  • Produces a decent amount of foam
  • Works with an ordinary garden hose
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TriNova

Maximum PSI

3200

Pros

  • Straightforward and comfortable to use
  • Sturdy and well-built. Made of high-grade materials
  • Produces a thick, sudsy foam and a lot of it

Check Price

MATCC

Maximum PSI

3000

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Adjustable and sturdy foam lance, made of quality brass
  • Adjustable spray nozzle and water regulator

Check Price

SudMagic

Maximum PSI

3200

Pros

  • Heavy-duty construction. Its components were designed to last
  • Adjustable nozzle and foam thickness
  • Produces lots of foam

Check Price

MTM Hydro

Maximum PSI

5000

Pros

  • Sturdily-built and well-made
  • Produces a thick, sudsy foam
  • Doesn’t leak

Check Price

Gilmour

Maximum PSI

40-90

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Produces a decent amount of foam
  • Works with an ordinary garden hose

Check Price

1. Best Overall

TriNova Foam Cannon

Our Rating

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With sturdy construction and a lot of adjustability, the TriNova Foam Cannon is a top-of-the-line product for a fairly affordable price. A wide neck reduces the chance of pressure damaging the finish or the bottle itself. While you can find cheaper products, the TriNova Foam Cannon delivers the most for the least. And that is why it’s our #1 pick for this list.

Pros and cons

  • Straightforward and comfortable to use
  • Sturdy and well-built. Made of high-grade materials
  • Produces a thick, sudsy foam and a lot of it
  • Requires only 800 PSI of pressure
  • Adjustable fan and chemical injector
  • Lines on the back of the bottle are cosmetic and don’t specify amounts

2. Best Value

MATCC Adjustable Foam Cannon

Our Rating

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The MATCC Adjustable Foam Cannon is the most affordable product on this list. But surprisingly, it’s one of the better ones. With a quarter inch quick connector made of stainless steel, it boasts sturdy and durable construction. True to its name, it features an adjustable water regulator, which lets you decide how sudsy or how watery you want your foam to be. It also features an adjustable spray nozzle, which lets you choose how wide or how vertical you want the spray pattern to be.

Pros and cons

  • Extremely affordable
  • Adjustable and sturdy foam lance, made of quality brass
  • Adjustable spray nozzle and water regulator
  • With a properly-mixed solution, you can get a lot of foam out of it
  • Requires a somewhat higher pressure of 1000 PSI to work
  • Can spray a little too much foam and use the bottle up quickly

3. Best for Extra Foam

SudMagic Foam Cannon

Our Rating

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There isn’t a lot we can say about the SudMagic Foam Cannon. It’s a sturdily-built, well-made and incredibly functional product.

The finish on the bottle is made of threaded brass, which prevents it from stripping. Accompanying that is a stainless steel filter and a bottle made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Altogether, the SudMagic Foam Cannon is an incredibly sturdy and durable product.

Pros and cons

  • Heavy-duty construction. Its components were designed to last
  • Adjustable nozzle and foam thickness
  • Produces lots of foam
  • Comfortable to use
  • Can leak a bit
  • Brass fittings wear out somewhat quickly

4. Best Professional Option

MTM Hydro PF22

Our Rating

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The least affordable product on this list, the MTM Hydro PF22 is a well-designed foam cannon. However, what holds it back, admittedly, is its price tag.

There’s no denying that the MTM Hydro PF22 is sturdily built and does its job well. It produces a thick, sudsy foam when used with a gas-powered pressure washer. The bottle feels thick and durable, despite being plastic.

However, the MTM Hydro PF22 doesn’t work too well with an electric pressure washer, at least not without the 1.1 orifice, which is sold separately by MTM. It also requires a little more pressure than other units, at 1100 PSI.

Pros and cons

  • Sturdily-built and well-made
  • Produces a thick, sudsy foam
  • Doesn’t leak
  • A little pricey for what you get
  • Doesn’t work very well with an electric pressure washer, without a separate attachment

5. Best with Garden Hose

Gilmour Cleaning Spraying Foamaster

Our Rating

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The first thing we should note about the Gilmour Foamaster II is that it isn’t a foam cannon. It’s a foam gun. We will explain the difference between a foam gun and a foam cannon below, but in essence, the Gilmour Foamaster II isn’t meant to be used with a pressure washer. Instead, it is meant to be used with a garden hose.

As a result, it can’t produce the thick, sudsy foam a foam cannon can. That isn’t ideal, but if you can’t afford a pressure washer at the moment and only have a garden hose to work with, then the Gilmour Foamaster II will serve you well.

For a foam gun, it produces a surprising amount of foam. It’s comfortable to use and has a nifty dial to adjust the foam concentration to how you want it.

Pros and cons

  • Affordable
  • Produces a decent amount of foam
  • Works with an ordinary garden hose
  • Doesn’t produce the thick, sudsy foam you get with a foam cannon and pressure washer

Why Should You Use a Foam Cannon?

You may be asking yourself why it’s necessary to buy a foam cannon in the first place. If you’ve been using a standard garden hose to wash your vehicle, you might find it hard to see the benefits of using a foam cannon and a pressure washer. But the truth of the matter is, using a foam cannon and a pressure washer is a lot more efficient than using a garden hose and a sponge.

When you’re using a garden hose and a sponge to clean your car, what you’re actually doing is dragging the dirt around in circles. With a hose and a sponge, you can end up with streaks and even scratches to your car’s finish.

With a pressure washer, you can get rid of most of the dirt. And you can do it far more efficiently than you can with a garden hose. That’s because the pressurized water from a pressure washer can remove stubborn dirt far better than the low PSI water from a garden hose can.

However, for a true detail job, a pressure washer by itself won’t cut it. What you need is a foam cannon. A foam cannon is a nifty device that you can attach to your pressure washer. What it essentially does is create a thick, sudsy layer of soap or, in other words, a foam. The dirt and grime on your car are emulsified by that foam. When you wash the foam down with a pressure washer, the dirt and filth roll right off with it.

Simply put, using a foam cannon together with a pressure washer is the ideal, two-punch combo for auto detailing. A pressure washer is only half of the formula. The rest of it lies in the foam cannon. That’s why it’s important you choose the right foam cannon for the job.

Foam Cannon vs. Foam Gun

There is one thing we should clear up first, though. That is the difference between a foam cannon and a foam gun. These two products have similar names and they’re used essentially for the same purpose, but they also work very differently.

The main difference is that a foam gun is designed to be used with an ordinary garden hose. A foam cannon, on the other hand, is designed to be used with a pressure washer.

Just as we recommend using a pressure washer over a garden hose, we also recommend using a foam cannon over a foam gun. A foam cannon, as its name implies, is simply more powerful and can create a thicker, sudsier foam.

It’s important that you can tell these two apart, so you don’t accidentally buy a foam gun instead of a foam cannon.

What else do I need before I can use a foam cannon?

As mentioned above, a foam cannon is used with a pressure washer, as opposed to a foam gun, which is used with an ordinary garden hose. But, a pressure washer is a better option for cleaning your car than a garden hose.

While we could write an entire article like this one about pressure washers, what we recommend, in short, is an electric pressure washer with a PSI in the 800 to 1900 range. A weaker pressure than that won’t be as effective at taking off dirt and debris. But if you start to get closer to 2500 PSI, you risk damaging the paint on your car.

You can also look at gas-powered pressure washers. These are more efficient and deliver a higher PSI. However, they’re also more expensive and quite a bit noisier than their electric counterparts.

What Features to Look for?

The first thing you should pay attention to is if the foam cannon you’re looking at can be attached to your pressure washer. A pressure washer with a quarter inch nozzle will require a foam cannon with a quarter inch fitting. That’s all there is to it, matching the dimensions of the foam cannon sleeve to the pressure washer nozzle.

Another important detail to pay attention to if you’re shopping for a foam cannon is the bottle size. Of course, the larger the bottle, the more foam you can create with your foam cannon and pressure washer. We recommend a 1L bottle. If you have a larger car or if you want to spray a second coat on, a 1L bottle is ideal. That way you won’t have to refill in the middle of detailing your car.

We recommend a foam cannon with a brass body. The brass body allows it to handle more pressure. These foam cannons are usually more durable and have better construction, too.

How to use a Foam Cannon

To properly use a foam cannon, what you want to do is add about an ounce of soap to your bottle and fill the rest of it with water. Then, attach it to your electric or gas-powered pressure washer.

Before you start foaming your car, we recommend you rinse it first. Rinsing it will get rid of the heavier, looser and more abrasive dirt and debris. That will help reduce the chances of you scratching your car’s finish. When you do this, it’s important that you start from the top of the vehicle and work your way down. That’s so you don’t accidentally re-introduce dirt to areas you’ve already cleaned. With your pressure washer, you want to try and rinse out as much dirt as you can before you start foaming.

Below is a great video using the TriNova foam cannon listed above.

Once you’ve finished rinsing your car, attach your foam cannon to your pressure washer wand. If your foam cannon has an adjustable fan, you can make it wider or more vertical. A fan that’s more vertical will you give you a longer reach, but less surface area, while a wider fan will you give you more surface area, but a shorter reach.

Also, if your foam cannon has an adjustable chemical injector, you can adjust it to spray a more watery mixture, or you can spray a thick, sudsy foam.

Keep the pressure washer wand about three or four feet away from the car’s surface. Work in straight lines and try to cover as much of the vehicle as possible. Once you’re done foaming the car, give it a moment to emulsify any dirt that’s on the surface. Then, you can wipe the foam off or rinse it off with your pressure washer.

After you’re done, you can proceed with an ordinary, two-bucket wash.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that using a pressure washer together with a foam cannon is the ideal way to clean a car. If you’ve been using a garden hose and sponge up until now, the whole process can seem a little confusing. But it’s actually very straightforward and simple once you get the hang of it. In short, the most important things to remember are:

  • A foam cannon differs from a foam gun in that it requires a pressure washer to be used.
  • While a foam gun and garden hose aren’t bad, they aren’t the best either. For a true detail job, you need a foam cannon and a pressure washer.
  • We recommend a sturdily-constructed foam cannon with a 1L container, at least. An adjustable fan and chemical injector are nifty additions too.
  • Lastly, it’s important to remember that a foam cannon isn’t meant to replace a two-bucket wash. However, we still recommend investing in a foam cannon. Not only will you get better results, but you will better protect your vehicle from scratches and unneeded surface damage as well.

Hopefully, our guide on what to look for in a foam cannon and tips on how to use one will help you keep your vehicle as clean as the day you bought it.

Richard Reed

Writer for TheVehicleLab.com

The Vehicle Lab

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