What do you think of when you imagine a wash bay or even a backyard car wash? Odds are, it’s spraying water and a lot of cleaning foam. It’s a common sight, but is it the best solution? The story behind foam is a bit more complex than just a simple answer, so let’s take a closer look at the role foam plays in cleaning.
What Is Foam?
It may seem like an easy question, but foam is more than it seems. Of course, soap and detergent mixed with water and air makes foam, but what is it really and what is it providing for your washing routine? Foam itself is created from the chemical reaction between the three different substances, but seeing foam doesn’t mean you’re seeing cleaning power in action. Foam itself offers very little in terms of cleaning power, but its ability to cling on surfaces makes it ideal for cleaning applications.
When mixed with a cleaning detergent, the foam allows these solutions to sit on surfaces for longer, increasing dwell time and helping to penetrate into caked on dirt, mud, grease, oil and other grime. This additional exposure allows the detergent to do its job better, so foam is really more of the sidekick to detergents, helping them deliver heroic cleaning to any surface.
How to Create Foam
Simple foam is easy to create – you probably see it every day while washing your hands or taking a shower. Soap plus water plus agitation equals foam. But that’s likely not sufficient for cleaning heavy equipment, food manufacture surfaces, farm machinery or any of the dozens of different things that you need to wash regularly.
That’s where foamers come in. Products like Hotsy’s Liquid Foamer, available from WET, are designed to mix with your other detergents or cleaning solutions, resulting in a far foamier mix. This is great for detergents that normally produce little foam, helping to create additional traction on surfaces to allow the soap to do its job.
It is also possible to create more foam using pressure washer attachments. The Hotsy Foam Cannon, for example, can connect at the end of the pressure washer and deliver a greater volume of foam. This is especially beneficial for detergents that require a long soak, particularly when used on inclined or vertical surfaces that would normally channel detergents away.
At the other end of the spectrum are defoamers. Some solutions are naturally inclined to foam or even overfoam in certain applications, such as in a parts washer or soak tank. Too much foam can reduce the ability of some detergents to clean effectively, as well, so using a foam suppressant can help ensure the detergent can work without excess bubbles.
Washing with Foam
Perhaps one of the best benefits of washing with a foaming solution is the visual impact that it makes. Sometimes, simply spraying a detergent – or just water – on a surface makes it difficult to know whether a given area has been treated or not. With a powerful and visible foam spray, you can see much more clearly and be certain that your detergent is doing its job.
When applying a foaming detergent, the best practice is to start from the bottom of what is being cleaned and work your way to the top. For a cargo trailer, for instance, start at the bottom of each side and spray up until the entire surface is covered. This allows you to make sure every inch is coated and given a chance for cleaning solutions to work on dirt and grime effectively.
As you move to rinse, however, reverse your approach, and spray from the top to the bottom. This ensures that the solution is fully rinsed away, and allows rinse water to travel down the surface. This gives the foam a final opportunity to carry detergents and drag away loose dirt as it rinses off. This also ensures that you’re not allowing dirty water to pass over clean rinsed surfaces, possibly requiring a second cleaning treatment.
Take Control of Foam with WET
If you need to add more foam action to your washing regimen, the team at WET can help. We offer a wide range of cleaning detergents, foamers and defoamers, helping you clean any surface or any type of dirt and grime more effectively. Shop our full selection online or call WET today at 865-525-1515 for help finding the right detergent or foam solution for your needs