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How to Implement a Foam Lance into your Wash Routine


Using a foam lance is not only fun, but it is an additional step that can be taken towards safely maintaining your paint.  Introducing a foam lance into your wash process allows you to remove even more dirt and grime from your paint before you actually touch it with your wash mitt.

In Todd’s Article:  How to Properly Wash and Dry a Car, he covers the 3 bucket washing method with grit guard inserts (1 bucket for wheels and tires and 2 buckets for washing your paint).  This method is a fantastic way to safely wash your vehicle while greatly reducing the chances of introducing wash induced swirls or marring.  Wash induced damage occurs when dirt particles are introduced into your wash water and are then rubbed on your paint as you are washing.  The two bucket method works to reduce contamination in your wash solution by ensuring that the majority of the dirt particles are left in your rinse bucket and are not transferred back into your wash solution.  A foam lance can be implemented after your initial rinse, but before you begin washing with your wash mitt, to help remove heavier contamination from the vehicle’s surface before you even touch the paint, therefore reducing the chance of contaminating your wash water during your wash process.

Washing Process when Utilizing a Foam Lance

  1. Wash Wheels and Tires using a dedicated wheel bucket and wheel cleaning tools.
  2. Rinse the entire vehicle to remove loose dirt and debris from the surface.ATD | How to Implement Foam Lance into Wash Routine
  3. Cover the vehicle in foam.  Begin with the horizontal surfaces, starting at the highest point (i.e. the roof), and then proceed to the sides of the vehicle until the entire exterior has been covered.ATD | How to Implement Foam Lance into Wash RoutineATD | How to Implement Foam Lance into Wash Routine
  4. Allow the foam to dwell for several minutes, but do not allow foam to dry!  During this time, the soap is working to loosen the dirt and contamination on the surface of your vehicle.  Foam will begin to slide from the surface of the vehicle as time passes.  The following photo shows the foam approximately 1 minute after application.  There is still a thick layer of foam clinging to the vehicle.
    ATD | How to Implement Foam Lance into Wash RoutineThe photo below shows the vehicle approximately 3 minutes after application.  After several more minutes, the bulk of the foam will have slid from the surface, carrying dirt and debris with it.
    ATD | How to Implement Foam Lance into Wash Routine
  5. Rinse the remaining foam from the vehicle, again starting at the highest horizontal surface and then work around the vehicle until all of the foam has been rinsed away.ATD | How to Implement Foam Lance into Wash Routine
  6. Steps 3-4 may be repeated at this time if there is remaining solution in your foam lance.
  7. Proceed with the standard two bucket wash process to remove the remaining light dirt from the surface.
  8. Carefully Dry The Vehicle using Waffle Weave Drying Towels or a blower like the Metro Vac N’ Blo.
  9. Admire your clean vehicle!ATD | How to Implement Foam Lance into Wash Routine

While I do not use a foam lance for every wash, I find it particularly useful when my vehicle is heavily soiled or when I want to use it with a product like Chemical Guys Citrus Wash to help remove any existing sealant or wax prior to polishing.

Hopefully you will find your foam lance to be a fun and effective tool in your detailing arsenal!

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Zach McGovern
Attention To Detailing Peoria
Peoria, IL

17 comments on How to Implement a Foam Lance into your Wash Routine

  1. Alex Boyce says:

    Great article Zach! Love the step by step explanation, this will help many people I’m sure.

  2. Hugo says:

    Pretty good article, wondering what kind/brand of foam gun did you use.

    • Hugo – I am using the Detailed Image foam lance with Chemical Guys Honeydew Snow Foam. There is a link to the foam lance at the very beginning of the article. Thanks for reading!

  3. John Talvan says:

    Great article Zach! A few questions for you. First, did you use city water, and was it with or with out a water filter/softener system? Last, how many onces of CG Honeydew were in your 32oz bottle with the remainder of volume being filled with water? I have been doing some testing and am just not getting the results I see(YouTube) other people getting.

    • Hey John,

      The pressure washer is hooked up to city water – no softening or filtration. The foam lance reservoir, however, was filled with softened water simply because I like to use warm water from inside the house. My city water is very hard water, but I have been able to create good foam despite the claims that hard water makes it more difficult to create nice, thick foam. There is an adjustment knob on the top of the foam lance that controls the amount of soapy solution that is dispensed while spraying. I tend to set this at the maximum setting for best results. I typically use 3-4 oz of soap in the foam lance. Hope that helps!

  4. David says:

    Zach, thanks for the article. Best one I’ve read. I never knew to let the foam sit on the car for several minutes!!

    My question: Is it highly beneficial to use a foam product or would a regular car wash soap work too? (maybe not as well)


    • Hey David – thanks for reading! I have had great luck with many high quality shampoos. I used chemical guys honeydew snow foam in this particular example, but I also regularly use Citrus Wash, Optimum Car Wash, and have used many others in the past with great results. Depending on the concentration of the product you are using, you may need to use more than just a few ounces of product. You will have to experiment with whatever shampoo you choose to find the best results.

  5. Stan says:

    nice info Z… i see you have the Karcher PW. saw the reflection from the front bumper.

  6. Jim F says:

    Hi Zach. I love the photographs. I’m using a Gilmour foam gun with the super-foamy ‘pink stuff’ from Chemical Guys. When I do a 2-bucket wash after foaming the car, the question of which soap to use in the bucket arises. Currently I’m using TurtleWax ICE car wash concentrate, but I could use a more diluted form of the pink stuff, or an easily rinsed car soap like ArmorAll car wash. Do you have any reason to prefer one car soap over another after the foaming step?

    • Hey Jim – I’m assuming you are referring to Mr. Pink Shampoo? Mr. Pink is a fine maintenance soap that can be used for traditional 2 bucket washes. Refer to the product label for the correct dilution ratio. For maintenance washes, you want to use a shampoo that will not damage your layer of protection (assuming your car is not coated and is protected with a traditional sealant or wax). I tend to use Optimum Car Wash for my traditional washes, but there are many other great options available such as Mr. Pink.

  7. Mitch says:

    Zach enjoy reading your tips here and on other sites. Question for you is how do you rinse. I read where you need to run clean water through the foam lance after you get done to keep it working properly. So do you keep the lance on and fill it with clean water to rinse or do you do that later. Thanks

    • Mitch, I have not read that, however once the soapy solution is all used up from the foam lance, clean water will cycle through it. So if you prefer, you can simply continue to spray water though the foam lance for a little bit to rinse the nozzle out. The bottle can be detached afterwards and rinsed and left to dry.

  8. Morgan says:

    I go panel to panel with foam gun in one hand and mitt in another. Spray car with foam, then spray wash mit, then wash. The thick suds acts as a barrier between the mitt and the paint.

  9. Sunil says:

    Hi Guys,
    I need a clatification,Need you help .
    I having pressure washer gun and foam lance which is in below image link .


    Now my question is what i need to give input to this gun , I need to give only air with high pressure? or water with pressure?


    • Fill the foam lance reservoir with soap and water. Connect the foam lance to your pressure washer, and then operate the pressure washer. High pressure water flowing through the lance will create foam spray.

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