The best prewash for preparing your car for cleaning

The simpler alternative to snow foam will still give some impressive results.

A bucket in front of a soaped up car

by Ryan Gilmore |

We're massive fans of snow foam here at CAR. Not only is it a lot of fun to apply to your car but it's effective for dislodging muck and grime so you don't end up leaving nasty paint scars when it comes to shampooing time.

Problem is that it can be a rather time-consuming affair, not to mention that you'll be needing a pressure washer with foam lance and plenty of water. And while it's immensely satisfying to do, prewash is a more effective way of preparing your car for proper cleaning.

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Prewash is simpler to apply, you just spray it on using a pressure sprayer and wash it off with water. It'll help dislodge those embedded deposits but without the need to plaster your car in foam. We've selected our favourites right here.

The best pre-wash for your car

Autobrite Direct LTD Citrus Wash

The best car prewash
Autobrite Direct LTD Citrus Wash
Amazon

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An incredibly versatile option from Autobrite, Citrus Wash works not only as a prewash but as a heavy degreaser and APC depending on the dilution. This means that this one product can be used to clean everything from gentle dust right up to a murky engine bay.

Infused with citrus oils, this is a clever way of preparing and we found it to be really impressive when we put it to the test. In fact, the only downside we could find was that it's not biodegradable.

Read our full review of Autobrite Direct LTD Citrus Wash here

Auto Finesse Citrus Power Pre-Wash

The best premium prewash
Auto Finesse Citrus Power Pre-Wash
Amazon

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A premium prewash that's designed to shift more embedded bits of dirt, this is the Bug and Grime Remover from Auto Finesse. safe on waxes and sealant, this spray will be effective at removing embedded dirt and grime and can even be sued to degrease engine bays. While its not designed for diluting, it's easy to use, the packaging is fancy and it has a lovely scent.

CarPlan CDM101 Pre Wash Degreaser Spray

The best prewash for bird poo
CarPlan CDM101 Pre Wash Degreaser Spray
Amazon

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A powerful option from CarPlan, this pre-wash is perfect for removing road grime, mud, tree sap and even bird leavings. It's a fantastic degreaser and easy to spray on and wash off. It's safe to use on paintwork, glass, plastic and chrome too, meaning you'll be able to prewash the exterior of your entire car, even the windows. Just be aware that one bottle won't last very long as it's not dilutable.

ValetPRO Citrus Pre-Wash Cleaner

The best prewash on a budget
ValetPRO Citrus Pre-Wash Cleaner
Amazon

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This is a concentrated prewash which makes it a really good value option as one litre will make eight litres of prewash (at an 8:1 dilution ratio). Dilute it into a spray bottle with water and spray it onto your car as you would with any other prewash. This prewash is alkaline-based (9.5 pH value) to help remove insect and road grime and is infused with orange oil to naturally enhance its cleaning power. Like most other prewashes, it's safe to use on wax and sealants too.

What you need to know about prewash

Just what is prewash?

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what prewash is. It's an umbrella term applied to pretty much any product you apply before the shampooing stage. This includes snow foam, all-purpose cleaner (APC), insect and grime remover and traffic film remover.

For the sake of this article, we're stepping away from snow foam and focusing on products that don't foam up, don't require a pressure washer to work, and most importantly are called prewash.

How is pre-wash different to snow foam?

Prewash is usually added to the name of most snow foams because you use it before washing your car properly. However proper prewash is different and it's worth knowing what that is. Whereas snow foam is a thick white foam, prewash is translucent.

Snow foam also requires a pressure washer and foam lance to work whereas prewash can be sprayed on from the bottle. We've listed our favourite snow foam below, but be sure to read all about snow foam here.

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