Which one is better and what's the difference between Bilt Hamber touch-less and auto-foam?
This is a question gets asked a lot when it comes to Bilt Hamber pre-wash snow foams and we are trying to solve this puzzle with this weeks blog post.
But, before we start, a quick overview of what Bilt Hamber auto-foam and touch-less is.
Bilt Hamber auto-foam
Bilt Hamber auto-foam is extremely popular amongst car enthusiast as well as professional valeters and detailers due to its performance, incredible cleaning power and value for money.
Bilt Hamber auto-foam is not a pH neutral snow foam but an alkaline based pre-wash in the pH 13 range.
Bilt Hamber touch-less
Bilt Hamber touch-less is Bilt Hamber's newest pre-was snow foam and was out of stock at Bilt Hamber in the UK within a few of days after its release in 2021.
Like Bilt Hamber auto-foam, touch-less is at pH 12 not pH neutral. Additionally, touch-less is eco-friendly due to it's sugar based formula and bio-degrable.
What are the differences between Bilt Hamber auto-foam and touch-less?
From a high level point of view, there are no major differences between auto-foam and touch-less from an experience perspective. Both products foam almost identical - Meaning, they both do not foam up much which makes no difference to their cleaning abilities. Low foam can look a bit boring on cars but has nothing to do with the cleaning abilities.
Both products can be applied with a pressure washer snow foam gun, like the Autoglym Polar Blaster, but also a pump sprayer or trigger. Both use the recommended PIR of 2 to 4%. If you dont know what Panel Impact Ratio (PIR) is and want to know how to calculate it, check out this video by the Good Luggage Automotive Detailing channel that we support.
What I noticed is that touch-less seems to stay wet a bit longer which can be an advantage in warmer weather, ensuring the product does take longer to dry on the paintwork.
Looking at the cleaning abilities of both products, it seems that touch-less has a slight edge over auto-foam especially in the winter. However, I would be splitting hair as it could be down to the environment, part of the body panel and so on. It seems both products perform the same in most scenarios.
The main differences comes when rinsing. Touch-less can be rinsed with a low pressure such as a garden hose, while auto-foam needs high pressure to avoid streaking. This might not be a concern for the majority of users as they would have a pressure washer anyway to apply either auto-foam or touch-less. Although, both products can also be applied with a foamer like the Kwazar Hand Foamer.
Summer vs. Winter wash
Most of us spend more time washing and caring about their cars in the summer. Not only are the days longer, it is also much more comfortable to wash a car in warmer temperatures. On top of that, the risk of rain is slightly reduced during the Irish Summer.
While I personally try to keep our cars "presentable", it becomes a challenge in the wintertime when it seems to be raining from October throughout March.
My strategy so far was to only pre-wash the car during the week with snow foam, then rinse and call it a day because the car gets dirty the next day anyway. A standard contact wash is done on weekends with mostly pH neutral products.
This has not changed but I find that touch-less works slightly better when it comes to winter contamination and traffic films. Bilt Hamber themselves have tested that and came to the same conclusion that touch-less works better removing certain traffic films.
So is touch-less better than auto-foam?
Not necessarily. Auto-foam, due to the higher pH grade, will rejuvenate ceramic coatings and waxes better than touch-less. Looking at my own results when applied to paintwork that got treated with an SiO2 detailer such as Autoglym Rapid Ceramic Spray or ADBL Ceramic QD I noticed a higher degradation of protection with touch-less. Auto-foam did not degrade these LSP's as much and also helped rejuvenate paintwork that had ceramic coat or paste wax applied.
Touch-less seems to be slightly better TFR in certain scenarios, rinses better and is more eco friendly. Touch-less is also slightly higher priced but neglectable in the overall scheme of things.