A clean and well-maintained car looks great and preserves its value over time. A regular wash regime can also lead to the long life of vehicle components as dust, dirt and grime do not have a chance to damage the paint, trim and other exterior parts. However, when it comes to washing your car, you may find yourself faced with the choice between foam cannon vs bucket wash method. Each procedure has its own benefits and considerations, so let’s understand the differences to offer the best approach for washing your vehicle.

If you want to know the best way to wash your car, you may also want to have a look at a guide to car washing

Popular Car Washing Techniques: 2 Bucket Method Vs Foam Cannon

The foam cannon method makes use of a specialised car washing accessory in combination with a pressure washer or a manual pump to create a spray of soapy solution. This thick foam clings to the entire vehicle surface-reaching all corners of the exterior effectively. The detergent formula is then allowed to act for a couple of minutes so that all the dirt can be dissolved for easy removal. A washcloth, mitt or sponge is used to gently exfoliate the car body and dislodge any traces of dirt. Finally, the car is rinsed with cool water to remove the soapy solution and then dried with a micro fibre cloth. An additional layer of wax and polish can be added after this.

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On the other hand, the 2 bucket wash method makes use of separate buckets of soapy solution and clean water. The soapy mixture is agitated and applied to the car body using a soft sponge or washcloth. The soiled washing gear is then rinsed in clean water and the process is repeated again. This is a laborious method that can take more time; however, it is a more thorough method of cleaning the car.

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Foam Cannon: Pros and Cons

This efficient car washing accessory is used by professional detailers and commercial car washes to quickly cover the car with a thick layer of soap or snow foam as it is sometimes called. This way a vehicle can be sprayed with soap in a couple of minutes without much effort.

Here are some of the advantages of using a foam cannon.

Good Coverage and Foam Generation

It’s easy to cover the entire car in one go using a foam cannon. The thick foam us effective at loosening dirt and grime before you start scrubbing the car body. The cleaning process results in fewer scratches and swirl marks. Also, there is no need for aggressive scrubbing as the foam automatically agitates the dirt for easy removal.

Saves Time

The process of applying a soapy mixture to each part of the car can be time-consuming. With a foam cannon, the soapy solution is under pressure and can cover the entire car in a short time.

Now, let’s look at some of the disadvantages of a foam cannon

The Initial Cost of Equipment

The foam cannon car wash accessory must be purchased at an online store which turns out to be more expensive than using a regular bucket and garden hose. If the foam cannon requires a pressure washer, this is an additional investment which may not be an affordable option. The only upside to this is that you get good cleaning results.

The Foam May Not Cling to Vertical Surfaces

As the soapy solution is extremely slippery, it may have trouble adhering to doors, side panels and the underbody. With a manual washcloth, you could apply soap effectively to vertical car surfaces.

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2 Bucket Wash Method: Pros and Cons

The tried and trusted two wash bucket method is the traditional approach that many opt for. It requires two separate buckets, one filled with soap + water solution and another bucket filled only with clean water, along with a washcloth or mitt.

Let’s check out the pros of using the 2 bucket wash method


A budget-friendly option as it requires a bucket and sponge without any specialised equipment. You just need some car wash shampoo and a sponge and you’re ready to go.

Keeps Dirt Away From Washing Gear

The segregation of clean and dirty water helps reduce the reintroduction of contaminants onto the car body, which may cause scratches or swirl marks. You can get a thorough clean and manually access all corners of the exterior for effective washing results.

Uses Less Water

By prefilling buckets, you limit the use of water to a couple of litres. A nearby water source may not be required as you can carry the buckets inside a garage that doesn’t have access to a tap or hose. It’s convenient and environmentally friendly.

Here are some of the cons of using the 2-wash bucket method


Refilling buckets and applying soapy solution manually with a sponge may take a long time, especially if you own a big SUV or van. Each part of the car should be covered in turn which is quite a labour-intensive process. It’s a method that could take a few hours to complete.

Less Effective for Stubborn Dirt

Grime that is difficult to remove may require additional scrubbing with a brush to eliminate any stains. With a foam cannon, the soapy solution under pressure is more effective at loosening dirt quickly.

May Require a Grit Guard

A grit guard needs to be used in the bucket of water to separate accumulated dirt on the sponge. Otherwise, these fine particles may be reintroduced onto the painted surface which may lead to scratches or swirl marks.

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Pressure Washer: Adding to the Car Wash Equation

Some foam cannons come with an additional pressure washer attachment that doesn’t require you to manually pump it. The powerful spray adds a new dimension to your car washing routine as it can reach crevices and hard-to-reach areas to effectively remove dirt, grime and stubborn stains.

The forceful water stream has enough pressure to dislodge dirt with little effort. You can complete the car washing process in less time with better results. The pressure washer can even be used to clean garage floors, outdoor furniture, etc.

However, the high-pressure wash can damage delicate painted surfaces of the car if not used properly. You need to maintain a safe distance while using this accessory. Using a pressure washer also requires access to a power outlet and water supply. The equipment is more expensive than a manual foam cannon and you should consider this investment if it aligns with your needs and resources.

With a pressure washer and foam cannon, you have the added advantage of different nozzle types that are suited for various purposes. For example, wide coverage of snow foam for the car body, while a more concentrated spray for the wheels and underbody. Checkout here The Difference Between A Car Wash And Car Detailing?


When it comes to foam cannon vs 2 bucket car washing, both methods have their advantages. If you are looking for convenience and time-saving, then the foam cannon is perfect. On the other hand, if you are looking for an affordable way to maintain your car, then the 2 bucket method is more suited to your needs.

Some car owners get the best of both worlds by using the 2-bucket wash method with foam cannon. This approach allows for eliminating dirt from the vehicle because after applying the snow foam, a manual scrub with soap and water is more effective than just a rinse. By utilising the foam generated by the foam cannon and incorporating a separate bucket of water for washing and rinsing, it provides a comprehensive way of achieving a clean and well-maintained car.

You can read more interesting articles on the Carorbis blog. Here you can find insights and news on the automotive industry as well as updates on your favourite car and bike accessories. Read through DIY guides, How-To posts and advice on all things auto-related.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is a 2 Bucket Wash?

Ans. It is a method of washing a vehicle using 2 separate buckets of water. It is often used by professional detailers to avoid scratches and swirl marks on the car body and to maintain the integrity of the paint. There is a ‘wash bucket’ containing a mixture of water with soap and a ‘rinse bucket’ containing clean water. The wash mitt is dipped in the soapy solution bucket and used to clean dirt off the car body. The wash mitt is then rinsed in the clean water bucket to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on it. The washing process continues with a minimum chance of dirt being recirculated back onto the vehicle body, thereby reducing the chance of scratches or swirl marks on the paint.

Q2. Can I Use Wash and Wax in a Foam Cannon?

Ans. ‘Wash and Wax’ is a 2-in-1 product that contains a cleaning solution and a waxy substance that adds a shiny finish to your car paint. Foam cannons are compatible with a ‘wash and wax’ solution and can be used without any problems. The thick foam generated by the foam cannon helps in loosening dirt and grime from the vehicle’s surface while the wax provides a protective coating on the paint. While the soap is surfactant based, the wax has polymer sealants that leave a shiny coating on the car’s body surface. This method saves time and effort and can be used as a quick wash on a regular basis. Although you may not get the same results as a detailed wax after a wash, this method is perfect for washing your car at home.

Q3. Can You Use Car Wash Soap in a Foam Cannon?

Ans. Car wash soap is recommended for use in foam cannon as it creates a thick foam that can act upon dirt, grime, grease and debris in an effective way. The car wash shampoo must be diluted with the appropriate amount of water before adding it to the foam cannon as it comes as a concentrated formula. Once you apply a thick coating of foam all over the car body, allow it to rest for a few minutes in order to dissolve all the dirt effectively. Then use a wash mitten to scrub gently and exfoliate the dirt and grime. A soft brush is helpful to lift off more stubborn stains. Finally, rinse the entire car with water and use a clean, dry microfibre cloth to remove any remaining moisture.

Q4. Can You Use Snow Foam in a Bucket?

Ans. Snow foam is usually used in a foam cannon pressure washer and is not designed to be used directly in a wash bucket. When snow foam is used in a foam gun, it creates a thick, soapy solution that effectively removes dirt and grime without much effort. If you were to use snow foam in a wash bucket, you would not be able to get the desired foaming effect and it may not provide the same level of cleaning. It is recommended to use traditional car wash shampoo that mixes well with water and produces the right amount of foam for an effective clean with bucket washing.

Q5. Which is the Best Two Bucket Wash Vs Pressure Washer?

Ans. The 2-bucket wash method is a cost-effective and convenient way to clean your car and requires basic equipment you can find around the home. A pressure washer is a bit of an investment, but you will get professional results with it. Bear in mind that you will require access to a power outlet and a water supply for the pressure wash method. Also, the bucket wash method saves a lot of water which makes it environmentally friendly.

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