Automotive Clay Bar is an engineered resin mixture that auto detailers use to remove contaminants and pollutants from the surface of your car’s paint, glass, fiberglass, and metal. Detailing clay can be natural or synthetic. However, synthetic clay bar is most common these days.
Since clay bars are clay-like, they are very elastic. This elasticity means they can be easily molded and stretched. This is perfect for using on cars we need to roll, flatten and pull the clay bar for different sections of the vehicle.
I. What is Clay Bar Treatment?
A Clay Bar Treatment is the process of using a clay bar to remove containments from the surface of your car. Common containments that pollute and slowly destroy your vehicle include things like rail dust, brake dust, and industrial fallout. These pollutants can penetrate through paint, glass, and metal and settle on those components even after several car washes and polishing.
In short, if you care about your car, you should consider doing a clay bar treatment. We've included a step-by-step guide below so that you can try it out yourself, but be careful not to damage your car. Click To Tweet
When detailing clay is used correctly, it is 100% safe, and nonabrasive. In fact, it is less abrasive than polishing or buffing the surface.
How frequently should you do a clay bar treatment?
At Washos, we recommend claying twice a year, but you can do it as often as you want as long as you know what you’re doing.
It’s pretty easy to determine whether you should clay right now. Massage your hand along your car. Do you feel roughness? If so, it’s time to clay and draw those particles out of the paint.
II. How Does Clay Bar Treatment Work?
As we mentioned earlier, auto detailing clay bars are a resin mixture designed to remove containments from surfaces. When you glide the clay bar along the surface of your car, it picks up anything extending from the surface. The dust and dirt get stuck to the clay, and so you’ve successfully removed the containment.
An important note to keep in mind is that you always spray lubricant or detailer spray before claying. The lubrication stops loose debris from scratching your car.
Clay is better than polishing because the polishing process sometimes removes a thin layer of paint, while claying is nonabrasive.
III. What is in a Clay Bar Kit?
If you’re just starting out with claying, we recommend buying a clay bar kit. You can find these kits being sold on Amazon and automotive product websites. We recommend Meguiar’s G1016 Smooth Surface Clay Kit. It is highly rated and has everything you need to get started.
In a typical clay bar kit, you will find:
Clay Bars usually come in 2 to 8 oz. bars. Typically, 2 ounces is enough to do three or four vehicles. We estimate that one 2 oz. clay bar will last you 18 months to 2 years if used on the same car.
A Microfiber Towel
Microfiber towels (sometimes called microfiber cloths) are one of the most essential tools used by car detailing experts. A microfiber is an incredibly tiny synthetic fiber. It is approximately 1/100th the diameter of a human hair. The fiber is made from a blend of two materials: polyester and polyamide. Polyester and polyamide are blended at different ratios to create different types of microfibers. This results in a broader range of microfiber towels for unique applications
Detailer Spray or Lubricant
It is essential to use the detailer spray or lubricant before starting the claying process. The lubricant form as a thin film over the surface so that they clay bar doesn’t stick to the surface or damage it with the debris. Additionally, it is harder to clay without lubricant since the clay doesn’t glide over smoothly
There are two common types of clay lube: quick detailers and a combination of water and shampoo solution. At Washos, we recommend using detailing spray over the water and shampoo solution.
The solution may damage the clay bar, which will lead you to using more clay. The detailer sprays are engineered to complement the clay bars and give them that smooth flow across a variety of surfaces.
IV. What are the Best Clay Bars?
Clay bars come in different colors, at various price points, for multiple purposes. However, the most critical factor for you to consider when deciding to buy a clay bar is aggressiveness. Clay bars aggressiveness generally ranges from consumer grade (medium grade) to professional grade (fine grade).
Consumer grade (medium grade) clay bars are gentle and will need more work when cleaning extremely contaminated surfaces, while professional grade bars are aggressive and will swiftly remove contaminants.
If you know what you are ready and have plenty of experience claying, then only do we recommend buying the professional grade (fine grade) clay bars. The fine grade bars are more effective against dirt, but they can also damage your paint easily.
The Meguiar’s G1016 Smooth Surface Clay Kit is an excellent kit for beginners.
How to Store Your Clay Bar
Store the clay bar in its original case, or in a sealed plastic bag. Spray it with the lubricant to keep it wet. Do not allow the clay to freeze and do not store it in temperatures above 200° F.
V. How to use a Clay Bar
Carefully follow these steps to learn how to use a clay bar on your car:
1. Clean your car
Before using a clay bar, we suggest that your vehicle should be washed and dried to eliminate most of the surface containments.
2. Use detailer spray
Start by spraying a small area of your car with the lubricant or detailer spray. Keep the sprayed area less than 2 feet.
3. Glide the clay bar
The next step is to gently slide the clay bar back and forth across the freshly lubricated area. You can initially anticipate the surface to pull the clay while it is taking out all the contaminants. When you can feel the clay gliding effortlessly, then you will know that the area is clean.
4. Check the clay bar
You should keep monitoring the clay to verify that you’re using a fresh side. After you’ve used both sides, you can fold the clay a couple of times, press it, and then straighten it. You can now continue, but you should keep checking to see if any pieces of dirt could damage the surface of your car.
If the clay seems to be discolored, or rough, then you should throw it away and start with a fresh piece of clay.
5. Check your work
After you’ve finished claying an area, wipe the area down with a microfiber towel. You can also use the lubricant to remove any clay residue. To check if it’s clean, slide your fingers across the paint. If it’s smooth, then you’re solid. Otherwise, you will need to re-clay that area. Remember to re-lubricate as required.
Repeat these steps until you’ve cleaned the entire vehicle. You can use clay on glass and chrome, too.
6. Finishing up
You can finish up with a wax. The wax will fill any gaps left from the contaminants and it will shield your paint from corrosion.
VI. Clay Bar Alternatives
A popular alternative to clay bars is mitts or clay mitts. They’re efficient and do the job as well. A typical clay mitt is a rugged microfiber mitt with one side made of a rubber polymer coating that picks up surface contaminants like tar or bugs.
There is one downside to using mitts though. They are known to cause more damage to the paint than an automotive clay bar. If you use a mitt, then make sure you’re generous with the lubricant to avoid any damage. The most popular mitt brand is Nanoskin Autoscrub Wash Mitt.