How to: Pre wash stage

A guide to the pre wash stage of car cleaning.


Pre wash & Snow foam products are used to remove as much dirt as possible, without touching the car. I do not use a pre wash or snow foam on every wash, judge this on the level of dirt on the car, in Summer months when road grime is reduced I find a thorough rinse before washing is enough. Pre wash & snow foams are used to knock any heavier dirt off the surface before you wash with a wash mitt, this reduces the chances of picking up larger pieces of dirt into the mitt and then causing scratching.
Please note I have based this guide for people with a low level of equipment, so applying the pre wash via a pump sprayer and rinsing with a hose, if you have a snow foam lance obviously use this. Also pay attention to the dilution ratios on the product.


1: Start with a dry car and spray the pre wash or snow foam onto the surface, spray below the window line as this is where the main accumulation of dirt is. I find spraying onto the car dry makes the product cling better.
2: Leave the product to work, weather conditions will play a part in how long you leave the product on, in Winter and colder months you will get a much longer dwell time, in Summer you may only get afew minutes so I recommend keeping an eye on the panels and make sure it isn’t drying. Another tip is if you have moved the car before washing, the bonnet will retain some heat, take note as this will dry the product out quicker than say the doors. You do not want the solution to dry on the car as this can cause streaking and staining.
3: Rinse, thoroughly rinse the car starting at the top of the panel to the bottom.

A big debate is which is better pre wash or snow foam. I find this comes down to personal opinion. For me a pre wash has slightly better cleaning ability and is more effective at removing bug splatter. I find snow foam more versatile, more cost effective, I will cover another use for snow foam in the wash stage soon. Both will do a good job of pre cleaning the car. I do not recommend just using this stage alone, always wash the car with a mitt and dry properly after, otherwise you will risk heavy water spotting and marking.