Snow foam is a great way to breathe new life into your car’s paintwork, but if you’re not into car detailing then you might not be too familiar with it. If your regular car-washing routine is struggling to get rid of stubborn dirt, or if it’s leaving swirls and streaks on your car’s paintwork, then a quick snow foam could be just what your car needs. So, what exactly is snow foam, and how can it help your car look better than ever? Read on for our beginner’s guide to snow foam.
What Actually is Snow Foam?
Snow foam is what’s known as a pre-wash. That means you should be using it in addition to – not instead of – your usual car shampoo. Specifically, you should be using it before you actually wash your car. As you might guess from the name, snow foam creates a thick, clingy foam that lifts stubborn dirt off from the surface of your car, making it much easier for you to simply rinse your car clean. This results in a cleaner car straight away, while also making your contact wash more effective; if you have less dirt on the surface of your car, there’s less risk you’ll scratch or swirl your paintwork when you wash it with a sponge.
How Does Snow Foam Work?
The thickness of snow foam means that it clings to the surface of your car, so it spends more time in contact with the dirt. This means the cleaning agents inside the foam work more effectively to break down dirt, allowing you to simply rinse most of it away. Any dirt or traffic film that is left on your car will have been loosened, so your regular car washing routine will be much easier and more effective.
In some cases, snow foam can do such a good job of breaking down dirt that you might not even need to follow it up with a shampoo, but this might not always be the case – and that’s ok! Snow foam isn’t designed to remove really severe stains like tar spots, but what it does do is allow you to clean those things off more easily with another product.
Why Do I Need Snow Foam?
Your car’s paintwork will have bits of dirt, tree sap, tar, and anything else you can think of hitting it at high speeds as you drive around. These residues can get stuck on quite stubbornly, and trying to scrub them off or blast them off with a pressure washer can result in damage to your paintwork. Your car’s paintwork is a surprisingly complex thing, layered with protective waxes and sealants to prevent your car from rusting, so you really want to protect it as much as you can.
Snow foam breaks down dirt without having to resort to blasting it from close range or scrubbing, so it gives you a much cleaner finish that also protects your car against future damage.
Is Snow Foam Like Car Shampoo?
Not really. While they both break down dirt on the surface of your car, snow foam should be applied before a shampoo, and it should only be rinsed off with a pressure washer or a hose. You should never wipe off snow foam with a cloth; unlike car shampoo, snow foam doesn’t contain any lubricants to help the cloth glide over your car’s paintwork, so it can leave scratches and swirls on your car.
What About pH Neutral Snow Foam?
Regular snow foam is slightly alkaline. This helps it break down dirt more effectively, but it can also slightly affect the sealants on your car’s paintwork, too. While some professional-grade cleaning products are quite caustic, most of the ones you’ll find in shops are only very slightly alkaline and won’t affect your paintwork in any noticeable way. However, if you have a valuable or vintage car, you might not want to risk it. That’s why pH neutral snow foam is so popular – it’s chemically neutral, so it’s safe to use on even the most sensitive and valuable car paintwork.
How Do I Use Snow Foam?
You need three things to snow foam your car; a bottle of snow foam liquid, a snow foam lance, and a pressure washer. The pressure washer forces the liquid through a mesh inside the snow foam nozzle; the mesh agitates the liquid into a thick foam. Snow foam should ideally be thick and clingy – if it’s watery it can just run off your car before it has time to break down any dirt. If you’re having trouble getting thick snow foam, read our guide to getting thick snow foam here.