Clay Bar

Overview

A clay bar is useful in removing any embedded surface contamination that still remains after washing your vehicle.  This contamination takes on many forms — brake dust, sap, rail dust, bird poop, ect.  Sometimes this contamination is not always visible on the paint, but can be felt.  After you clay bar your vehicle, you will notice that the surface feels as smooth as glass and is now properly prepped.  At this point, your car is ready for polishing or application of protective layers.

Note: You can also clay your glass, wheels, lights, and more!

FACT CHECK: Clay bar does NOT remove light scratches and swirls.

Frequency

We recommend using a clay bar about twice a year.  Remember to always clay bar your car if you are planning on polishing.

Prior to Use

A clay bar is the second step in the DIY Auto Detailing Guide and should be performed after washing and drying your vehicle.  The more contaminants on the vehicle, the more likely imperfections can be added during the clay bar process.

Choosing a Clay Lubricant

The two most common clay lubes are quick detailer and a combination of water and shampoo solution.  The clay bar lubricant provides a slick surface that lets your clay glide over the surface of the paint.  Using too little or no lubricant can result in poor performance and marring of the paint.

We recommend a mixture of Optimum No Rinse with the proper dilution for clay lube.  The beauty of using ONR is that the product is dilutable and you are less likely to run out of lube mid-detail.  Simply make more clay lube if you do run out.

Dilution ratio for ONR clay lube is 2 ounces of ONR to 1 gallon of water.  We recommend using distilled water instead of tap water.

How-To Clay

  1.  Wash and Dry your vehicle
  2. Break off a small piece of clay and begin to work it in your hand to form a flat shape
  3. Working in small 1.5 ft by 1.5 ft sections, mist the clay bar lube over your working area
  4. Gently glide the clay bar over your working area using overlapping passes in all four directions.  Do not use a lot of downward force to remove stubborn spots.  Simply continue to spray lubricant and glide the clay until all the contamination is removed
  5. Continue working on your area until all the contamination is removed.  You can tell when this has happened when the clay begins to glide effortlessly across the paint and you cannot hear any contamination being picked up by the clay
  6. Wipe off excess clay lube with a microfiber towel
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 until the entire car has bee properly clayed

IMPORTANT: Knead the clay after each section to reveal a fresh section.  If you cannot reveal a fresh section on the surface of the clay, break off a new piece of clay.  Toss used clay and never use it again.

Types of Clay Bars

Nanoskin Clay Bar Alternative

Nanoskin Clay Bar Alternative

There are some new types of clay bars on the market, known as clay bar alternatives.  We highly recommend testing them out and witnessing the results on your own.  They are much easier to use than a standard claybar and can speed up the claying process.

Facts and Tips

  • If you drop a piece of clay, throw it away!
  • Work on small areas, approximately 1.5 ft by 1.5 ft or the distance between your two shoulders
  • Always use little to no pressure, let the clay work the contaminant out
  • Avoid using a clay bar in direct sunlight
  • Clay can be used on many surfaces.  Try it out on your glass, wheels, headlights and more!
  • Store your clay in an airtight bag or container.  Mist some quick detailer on it to help keep it moist for the next time you use it
  • You may want to re-wash your vehicle after using a clay bar to help remove any loose contaminants and/or clay residue

Related Blog Posts

 

Next Step:

Compounding

Polishing

Waxing