The Best Pressure Washer for a Foam Cannon Car Wash

An electric pressure washer is the best pressure washer for a foam cannon used for washing cars and other surfaces that require you to turn the washer on and off frequently.

Pressure washers use the flow of water to cool & lubricate their pumps.  Consistently leaving a gas pressure washer running without water flowing for more than a minute or two will damage its pump.

An electric pressure washer, on the other hand, automatically turns off when flow through the spray gun stops, making them great for washing cars, weed killing,  and other tasks that require intermittent use.

Beware of buying a pressure washer simply because it comes with a foam cannon.   Usually these stock foam cannons are of low quality and will need to be replaced by the high quality cannon we’ve suggested below.

If you already have a foam cannon and are looking for the best pressure washer to connect to it, you should determine the factory recommended pressure & flow (PSI & GPM) required to achieve its best results .

You may also need to buy a fitting to adapt your pressure hose to the cannon if they are different sizes.  Most pressure hoses and foam cannons have 1/4″ fittings.  Some, however, are 3/8″.   You can find these at your local hardware store.

Lets take a look at the best pressure washers for a foam cannon on the market along with a good foam cannon recommendation if you don’t already have one.

The Best Options on The Market

Sun Joe SPX 3000

Being Amazon’s best selling electric pressure washer, most consumers are happy with their purchase, especially given its affordability.   However many owner’s note that it has a cheap feel to it with valves that often need replacing.  The 20 foot hose included may be a little short for your car washing needs. It’s also a little bulky and could be difficult to store.

Max PSI: 2030

Max GPM: 1.76

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Sun Joe Electric Pressure Washer Amazon Link
Sun Joe SPX 3000 Electric Pressure Washer

Craftsman 1900

The Craftsman brand is well respected in the industry, so getting a moderately priced machine from them is going to be a good buy.   If anything goes wrong, you know you can get some excellent customer service from them.

This is a lightweight pressure washer that is easy move around your home. It’s 35 foot extension chord and 25ft long hose water hose add to it’s maneuverability.

MAX flow 1.2 GPM

MAX PSI of 1900

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Craftsman 1900 Electric Pressure Washer Amazon link
Craftsman 1900 Electric Pressure Washer

Stanley SLP2050

With a detachable pressure washing tank unit, this design allows for more flexibility of use than most pressure washers. The 1.4 GPM output sits inline with what most experts recommend for washing cars. And Stanley seems to have designed it specifically for ease of use in car washing.  

It does crank up up 2050 PSI, so be careful not to get to close to your vehicle at the narrow angle spray tip.  The price point is a little high for this one, but the increased versatility and power make it worth the price.

MAX PSI 2050

MAX GPM: 1.4

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Stanley SLP2050 Electric Pressure Washer review
Stanley SLP2050 Electric Pressure Washer

Greenworks 1500

Another compact pressure washer is easy to move around and has a very attractive price point.   You won’t get quite as much power out of this one as the larger electric washers out there.  But if all your looking for is something to wash your car and some light cleaning around the house, this is a great buy if you have a small budget.  It even comes with a generic foam cannon.

MAX PSI: 1600

MAX GMP: 1.2

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Greenworks 1500 electric pressure washer
Amazon image link

The Verdict

All 4 of these are going to be good options and one may suit you better than another based on your specific set of needs.

Overall our pick for the best pressure washer for a foam cannon is going to be the Sun Joe SPX 3000.

Our pick for the best pressure washer for foam cannon car wash

With this model you’re getting a compact pressure washer that connects to a foam cannon easily and has the right kind of mobility to take care of small jobs around the house like washing your car, or even an airstream trailer.

It stores well and boasts 1.76 GPM output, which a little higher than most electric pressure washers and in line with what experts recommend for car washing with a foam gun.

Plus the price point is very attractive and with Stanley you get a trusted brand with a robust customer service team there to help if anything goes wrong.

Runner up for the best pressure washer for a foam cannon is the Greenworks 1500.

This model is great if you’re strictly using a pressure washer for foam cannon car washing and other small jobs.  You probably don’t need to spend the extra money on a more powerful machine.

If you decide to go with the Greenworks, just be sure the foam cannon you purchase does not require more than 1.2 GPM and 1,600PSI to be effective.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below we address some concerns that often come up for people in the market for a pressure washer

Does a foam cannon really work?

Foam cannons, also called foam lances, have been proven to work.  There’s much debate, however, about whether an expensive one, such as one from Chemical Guys is really worth it.

A large subset of users say that the generic foam cannons will do the trick, and it seems with some luck, will last for years.

However, most users say that the more expensive varieties not only last longer, they give you that thick snow foam professional detailers covet.

Soap variety, water temperature and mineral levels in your water can also effect how lathery your snow foam gets.

The general consensus on automotive detailing forums and subreddits is that the MTM foam cannon below is the foolproof option here.

**Important: The MTM foam cannon recommends a minimum 1.4 GPM @ 1,100 PSI for best results.   All of the pressure washers above meets these minimums besides the Greenworks 1600.

Most users report that this foam cannon gives you a nice lathery layer of soap or snow foam our of your pressure washer on your car, which is what you’re looking for in a foam cannon.

amazon image link

Does a foam cannon need special soap?

Foam cannons will yield different results depending on the type of liquid soap you use.

While it won’t hurt your foam cannon to use a generic soap not specifically designed for foam cannons, it may not give you the snow foam that auto detailers covet.

You should, however, strive for the correct water to soap ratio in order to prevent damage to your cars wax and paint.  Too much soap can be difficult to rinse completely, leaving a film that can damage your paint when left to dry.   Use a liquid soap specifically designed for cars.

Some even claim to make their own car washing soap and achieve great results.

Though there is some debate about it, many auto enthusiast believe that a thick lathery film of soap helps to lift dirt off the paint.   This is thought to prevent damage to surface wax & sealants when scrubbing.

Others feel that the main purpose of a foam cannon is to simply disburse the soap to the surface of the car more efficiently than a sponge & bucket.  The belief is that any liquid car soap will do.

If you want the thick snow foam layer that many professional detailers aspire for, you should use a car shampoo specifically designed to lather.

Meguires and Chemichal Guys are two of the leading foam cannon soap brands auto enthusiasts love.

Do you need a pressure washer for snow foam?

Some kind of soap dispenser, or foam cannon is needed to foam your soap, creating what enthusiasts call snow foam.

There is, however,  a wide variety of foam cannons on the market, each requiring a specific specific PSI and GPM output required to optimize performance.

Many foam cannons need at least 1000 PSI and 1.2 GPM.  Some require a minimum 2000 PSI and 2.0 GPM.

There are some foam cannons that don’t require a pressure washer.  You can simply connect them to your garden hose spray gun.

However, don’t expect the same results from a garden hose foam cannon as you get from one that connects to a pressure washer.

The most efficient way to get a thick lather that lifts dirt off the surface of the vehicle is with the use of a high quality foam cannon attached to a pressure washer

Is 2000 PSI Too Much to Wash a Car?

Experts recommend that you stick to around 1500 PSI when washing your vehicle to avoid doing damage to your car’s paint.

You can probably exceed 1500 PSI if your car is new or has recently been professional painted.   But if there are any chips or small abrasions in your paint, even some you can’t see, 2000 PSI could lift paint off the surface in those areas.

That being said most homeowners want to own one pressure washer that serves several needs, not just washing their car.

For instance, you might want to strip old paint of a deck or degrease your driveway.   For tasks like that, you’re going to want a pressure washer with a higher pressure output than 1500.

That’s why we most of the pressure washers we recommend up crank up higher than 1500.

Just be sure that if you elect to buy one of those stronger models, you adjust the PSI down when washing your car.  You can do this one of two ways:

  1. Use one of the quick connect tips included with the pressure washer that employ a wide angle spray.  20 degrees or higher.
  2. Simply stand far enough back from the vehicle so that damage from the spray is not possible

How long of a hose can you use with a pressure washer?

There are two hoses you’ll need to get a pressure washer working.  First a garden hose that connects to your water source.

Second, your pressure hose runs from the pressure washer to your pressure nozzle and/or foam cannon.

If you need a longer pressure hose, it’s possible to replace it with a longer hose.

Also, make sure you haven’t driven over your garden hose on accident before you get started!

However, it’s recommended that you check with the owner’s manual or manufacturer about how long of a hose you can replace the factory issue hose with.

The longer the hose, the lower the water pressure.   The lower the water pressure, the more susceptible the pressure washer’s pump is to over-exertion and damage.

GPM vs. PSI: The Cleaning Power of a Pressure Washer

When evaluating a pressure washer, it’s important to understand the difference between PSI and GPM, both of which are factors in the cleaning power of a pressure washer.

Some pressure washers may be good for washing a car, but not great for cleaning surfaces and vice versa.

PSI – Pounds per Square Inch – is the amount of force that comes through the nozzle at any given time.

GPM – Gallons per Minute – is the volume of water flowing through the nozzle

In other words, the PSI measures the force with which the water hits the the surface you are cleaning.  The GMP measures how much water comes out to carry debris on the surface away.

Both are important in determining how efficiently the flow will clean a given surface.

When you multiply the GPM and the PSI figures, you get what’s called Cleaning Power.  It’s measured in what professionals call Cleaning Units (CU).

A Helpful Video on How to Wash a Car with a Foam Cannon and Pressure Washer

Video foam cannon car wash tutorial

Conclusion & Summary

The main takeaways:

  1. Electric pressure washers are best for intermittent use due to the nature of their pumps’ cooling system.
  2. The Stanley SPH2150 is a great pick for a pressure washer for foam cannon car washing due to it’s combination of portability & cleaning power.
  3. The MTM PF22 is a great foam cannon that will produce thick, lathery snow foam that lifts dirt off your car’s paint.