Soften up the dust, dirt and caked-on grime with the best snow foams from just £8
Even the most hardened car-cleaning enthusiast will agree that sometimes a quick wash can be best. And the best snow foam is the detergent that can make that a possibility.
It can act as a pre-wash, softening grime and getting under dirt to help lift it away from the paintwork before you get to work on it with a cleaning cloth or turn up the wick (slightly) on your pressure washer to blast it all away.
Most snow foamers will use it in conjunction with a snow foam lance attachment to their pressure washer, but you can also use them with a manual spray bottle or a garden hose attachment.
Every snow foam is a little different, but in essence they’re all pH-neutral cleaning solutions that, as the name suggests, will cover your car in a dense white foamy layer. You cover the car from tip to toe – including glass, plastic trim and the wheels – and leave it to do its work. How long depends on the instructions, but is usually somewhere between five and 15 minutes. Enough for a cup of tea, in other words.
Once you return, you’ll need to rinse it off, but the bodywork should be substantially cleaner, and importantly comparatively free from dirt and grit, allowing you to finish the job with a cloth and shampoo followed by a coat of wax. Another helpful feature is that most snow foams will gently lubricate the bodywork, meaning that you’re less likely to leave scratches or swirl marks.
READ NEXT: The best car wax to buy
How to choose the best snow foam for you
There’s a wide range of snow foam on the market, from cheap bottles from brands you’ve never heard of through to pricy products from high-end detailing companies. As such, some are more effective than others. Better products leave a dense foam layer that will last longer on the car, or may simply be more effective at getting under the dirt.
If you’ve worked hard to build up layers of sealants or waxes, look for snow foam that won’t strip it away.
Beyond that, the snow foam you choose will largely come down to price or familiarity with a particular brand.
As mentioned above, most users will apply their snow foam through a specific lance attachment for their pressure washer. These aren’t always universal, so make sure you choose one that’s compatible with yours. They usually have a bottle into which you’ll pour the snow foam concentrate. And depending on the size of your car, this may need to be refilled several times.
There are plenty of good pressure washers on the market. But if you’re on a tight budget, you can try a pump-operated pressurised spray bottle instead. Just bear in mind that you might not get the same spectacular results.
READ NEXT: The best pressure washers to buy
Is there anything else worth looking out for?
Double-check that the foam is pH neutral; while it’s unlikely to affect your car’s paint, you don’t really want anything that’s even slightly caustic on your driveway or running off onto the garden. It’s also worth checking how much concentrate you need to use per litre or half-litre of water, as some are much more economical to use than others – and can even be stretched out a little further than the manufacturer’s recommendations without seriously affecting cleaning power.
Any other tips?
Watch the weather. On the one hand, it’s a bit annoying when the rain arrives while you’re still applying snow foam. On the other, applying it in hot weather can mean the foam starts to evaporate before you’ve had a chance to rinse it off, leaving an ugly residue behind. While you can leave most snow foams to work for up to half an hour, it always needs rinsing off before it dries.
How we test snow foams
We test snow foams two at a time: we carefully dilute each snow foam as instructed and, using a Karcher pressure washer, we apply it to one side of a compact SUV, half of the rear, and half of the windscreen and bonnet. We then leave it for the specified time before rinsing it off and removing any remaining dirt with a microfibre cloth or sponge.
During testing, we take care to examine the consistency and “grip” of the foam, and how effective it is at removing or breaking up caked-on grime, whether that’s on the windscreen or windows, the bodywork or the wheels. If a foam is particularly thick or thin, we may also run test sprays at different dilution levels to see if this affects the foam’s consistency, or makes it more or less effective.
READ NEXT: The best pressure washers to buy
The best snow foam you can buy in 2023
1. Bilt Hamber Surfex HD: Best snow foam and shampoo
Price when reviewed: £24 for 5l | Check price at AmazonIt’s not actually described as a snow foam – it’s more of an all-purpose cleaner and degreaser – but Bilt Hamber Surfex HD creates an impressive foam nonetheless. It clings and cleans as well as many specialist foams, if not better, and you can get away with diluting it further if your car only needs a light clean. What’s more, you can also use it to wash your car, while some of its more enthusiastic users recommend using it for a wide range of house and garden cleaning jobs. Surfex HD isn’t just an effective snow foam: it’s also a great all-round car cleaner.
Key specs – Available sizes: 5l; Recommended dilution (water to concentrate): 20:1 (light soiling), 10:1 (heavy soiling)
2. Autoglym Polar Blast: Best-value snow foam
Price when reviewed: £15 for 2.5l | Check price at AmazonAs the name suggests, Polar Blast does a great job of blanketing your car in thick foam, which will cling to every surface and lift off any stubborn grime over around ten minutes. It has a pH neutral formulation that won’t get rid of any wax or sealants, and you can dilute it down to a 5:1 ratio without losing any density. At roughly £15 for 2.5 litres, it’s also cheaper than other specialist snow foams, while still delivering a brilliant clean.
Key specs – Available sizes: 2.5l; Recommended dilution (water to concentrate): 5:1
3. Angelwax Fastfoam: Best snow foam for effective cleaning
Price when reviewed: £14 for 1l | Check price at AmazonAngelwax’s Fastfoam is sold as a professional-grade snow foam and it’s certainly a top performer. You can get a fantastic thick and creamy foam with a pressure washer lance, but even with a sprayer you can get a good lather. The recommended dilution is 9:1, so a litre goes a little further than it does with some rival snow foams, which helps make up for the fact that it’s relatively expensive. And while it has to be left for ten minutes to do its work, the wait is worth it: you won’t have to put in too much elbow grease afterwards to give your car a thorough clean.
Key specs – Available sizes: 1l, 5l; Recommended dilution (water to concentrate): 9:1
4. Pro-Kleen Snow foam and Lance: Best snow foam and lance bundle
Price when reviewed: £40 for 5l | Check price at AmazonPro-Kleen’s cherry-scented foam is a good performer, with a choice of orange, cherry and apple fragrances, a non-caustic formula and a thick, dense foam. You’ll want to up the dilution rate from the recommended 3:1 to get this – around 2:1 is closer to the mark – but if other foams seem more concentrated, this one’s comparatively cheap. The best thing about it, though, is that you can grab it in a bundle with a lance adapter that fits the most common Karcher pressure washers, and it’s actually better than some budget third-party options. If you’ve just got a basic pressure washer and want to hit the grime with snow foam, this is a top starter kit.
Key specs – Available sizes: 1l with lance, 5l with lance, 5l; Recommended dilution: 3:1
5. GTechniq W4 Citrus Foam: Best snow foam for SUVs and vans
Price when reviewed: £14 for 1l | Check price at AmazonGTechniq’s foam has more going for it than a rather pleasant citrus scent. It’s pH neutral, biodegradable and formulated so it won’t attack existing sealants, waxes or polishes. Best of all, it creates an impressively dense coating of foam that defies gravity, which is a real plus on vertical panels where it gets plenty of time to work. What’s more, once the foam’s rinsed off after three to four minutes, you’ll have waved goodbye to a lot of road grime.
It’s a fine snow foam for any car, but an absolute winner for larger 4x4s and vans. Just be warned that the 200:1 recommended dilution seems to refer to the overall amount of water running through the pressure washer rather than the amount you should pour into the attachment. At anything below 20:1, you won’t get the required foam.
Key specs – Available sizes: 1l, 5l; Recommended dilution: 200:1
6. Car Gods Arctic Storm: Best strong foam with a great orange scent
Price when reviewed: £15 for 2.5l | Check price at AmazonWe wouldn’t recommend any snow foam for its smell alone, but the Car Gods Arctic Storm does have a particularly nice orange scent. As for the foam, well it sprays a little thinner than some of our contenders so we didn’t have high hopes for its cleaning performance. After five minutes and a pressure wash rinse, though, we were pleasantly surprised to find the once dirty panels gleaming and ready for a final scrub. It’s also very respectable value, making it a good alternative to the Autoglym Polar Blast.
Key specs – Available sizes: 500ml, 2.5l; Recommended dilution: 10:1
7. Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Pro Slick-N-Slide: Best 2-in-1 snow foam
Price when reviewed: £20 for 1.42l | Check price at AmazonWhere most snow foams are designed as a pre-wash, the Hybrid Solutions Pro Slick-N-Slide is more of an all-in-one product, acting both as a snow foam and shampoo. You just add one part concentrate to ten parts water and cover your car in foam, then rinse it off and the grime should go with it. The foam isn’t quite as thick or clingy as some of the other foams on this list, while some mud spots and seagull droppings wouldn’t go without a little manual scrubbing, but this formula did a fine job of clearing lighter surface dirt and splattered mud with minimum fuss. It even helped soften up the black dust on the alloy wheels, allowing it to be removed with a quick blast of the pressure washer. This might not be your go-to for a proper, full-on clean, but it’s perfect for a speedy freshening up when you’re short on time. It won’t damage protective coatings and it leaves your vehicle looking nice and shiny.
Key specs – Available sizes: 1.42l, 5l; Recommended dilution (water to concentrate): 10:1
8. CarPlan Demon Foam: Best cheap snow foam
Price when reviewed: £8.25 for 1l | Check price at AmazonNot everyone has the budget or enthusiasm to splash out on an expensive car-cleaning kits but CarPlan’s Demon Foam makes things super affordable. For a start, this is one of the cheapest snow foams available, although you may want to experiment a little with quantities if you’re using it with a pressure washer – it took three to four 50ml capfuls with 500ml of water to get a decent, thick foam going. However, you don’t even need a pressure washer. Buy the 2l version with a foam gun (around £20) and you just attach the whole thing to an ordinary hose pipe and off you foam. Cleaning performance isn’t quite on the same level as with the more expensive snow foams, but it didn’t take a lot more elbow grease to shift any stubborn spots of mud and seagull guano. Nobody will say that Demon Foam is the ultimate snow foam, but it’s a good option if you want to save some cash.
Key specs – Available sizes: 1l, 2l, 2l with foam gun, 5l; Recommended dilution (water to concentrate): 50ml per bucket
9. Simoniz SAPP0170A 2-in-1 Shampoo and Snow Foam: Best cheap snow foam and shampoo
Price when reviewed: £8.50 for 2l | Check price at Amazon
The Simoniz doesn’t deliver a thick foam like most of the others on this list, but its cleaning power is impressive nonetheless. As its name suggests, the suds are more like thick shampoo than traditional snow foam, but we were impressed by its ability to shift the worst of the road grime that our car was coated in.
After giving the Simoniz a few minutes to work in, all that was left to do was give the car a gentle rub down. Even baked-on bugs were loosened to the extent only a moderate wipe was required. Even if you don’t consider it as a true snow foam, this is extremely good value for its shampooing ability alone.
Key specs – Available sizes: 475ml; 1l; 2l and 5l; Recommended dilution (water to concentrate): 9:1