Venture down into the car washing rabbit hole and it'll quickly become apparent that a chamois and shampoo is barely scratching the surface of a proper job.
You'll also find that to properly clean your car you'll be spending a couple of hours to get the job done. Take snow foaming for example - immensely satisfying to do, but it does take a lot of time to do properly.
Sometimes what's best is something that works like snow foam but it is a lot quicker to use. That's where pre-wash comes in. It'll prepare your car the same as snow foam but is a lot easier and quicker to apply, and you don't need a pressure washer either.
The best pre-wash for your car
Auto Finesse Citrus Power Pre-Wash
The best pre-wash
Our current favourite pre-wash, the Autofinesse Citrus Power is a fantastic pre-wash that can help remove dirt without causing any damage to your paintwork. Safe for use on pretty much any surface, including polished wheels, the pre-wash also doubles as a degreaser and can be sued to clean engines too. It's also citrus-scented which is a nice touch.
Car Gods Pre Wash & All Purpose Car Cleaner
The best pre-wash for detailers
Another effective option for pre-wash, this all-purpose pre-wash will be excellent for preparing cars thanks to its ability to remove contaminants from the paintwork. It's suitable for use on paintwork, bare-metal, plastic and carbonfibre and can be used to give areas you may miss (inside the doors, the fuel filler cap, etc) a good clean.
CarPlan CDM101 Pre Wash Degreaser Spray
The best pre-wash for big messes
If your car is particularly dirty and you're worried a simple shampoo won't cut through the mess, this pre-wash could be your best solution. This pre-wash degreaser is designed to dissolve road grime, bird plop, tree sap, muck and other stubborn contaminants with ease and without damaging the paintwork. It's also suitable for use on paintwork, glass, plastic and even shiny chrome.
ValetPRO Citrus Pre-Wash Cleaner
The best pre-wash for bulk cleaning
Own a lot of cars or a little bit tight? This concentrated pre-wash will prep plenty of cars with ease thanks to the 1:8 dilution rate. Then simply spray it on your car like any other pre-wash and the results will be excellent. It's alkaline based to help remove insect and road grime and is infused with orange oil to leave behind a nice scent.
Pre-wash: the facts
What is it?
Pre-wash is an umbrella term for a whole host of products you apply to your car before the shampooing process. Pre-wash includes snow foam, all-purpose cleaner (APC), insect and grime remover, traffic film remover and, rather confusingly, pre-wash.
For this article, we're focusing on pre-wash that can be sprayed onto the car from a bottle and simply washed off with some water.
What's better, snow foam or pre-wash?
It's hard to come up with a definitive answer, but it is possible to compare the two. Pre-wash for example is easier to apply and requires nothing more than a hose to properly work.
Snow foam on the other hand is arguably better at dislodging deposits but you'll be needing a pressure washer with a foam lance for it to work. On a purely subjective basis, snow foam is a lot more satisfying to apply and infinitely cooler too. Well, that's what we at Parkers think anyway.