Claying A Car: How To Use A Clay Bar Properly
Did you know claying a car can increase your vehicles value? Or did you know that claying a car can remove debris from your paint? As time goes on, the exterior of your vehicle can become covered in contaminants like dirt, grime, and pollution that regular washing alone cannot remove.
That’s where claying a car comes in. Using a clay bar is a simple and effective way to decontaminate the paintwork, remove embedded contaminants, and restore the smoothness and shine of your vehicle’s exterior.
Claying a car is a simple process: To clay a car, wash the vehicle down using an automotive grade soap. Afterwards follow up with a clay bar and lubricant and guide it across the paint of your car. Make sure it’s stays lubricated and use gentle pressure to remove any dirt, pebbles, or contaminates. Fold the clay bar in so you don’t press more contaminates into your vehicles paints.
- There’s multiple grades and styles of clay bar (light grade clay bar, medium grade clay bar, heavy grade clay bar, and synthetic grade clay bars)
- Everyone can properly utilize the claying process at home
- Claying a car can increase vehicle resale value
- Claying a car is one of the proper car detailing steps
- A clay bar is incredibly cost effective and removes contaminates
- Claying a car should be done before any buffing occurs on a vehicle or you can damage the paint
The Basics of Claying A Car
What is a clay bar and why is it important?
A clay bar is a tool or detailing product used in car detailing to remove bonded contaminants from the surface of the paint. It is made from a mixture of clay and synthetic particles that are slightly abrasive.
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These particles help to pull the contaminants out of the paint, leaving the surface feeling smooth as glass. Claying your car is important because it provides a deep clean that cannot be achieved through regular washing alone.
A clay bar is one of the most important tools in proper car care. Not only is it the best way to remove debris from any contaminated surface on your cars paint, but this will also help completely clean the area and ensure you’ve removed all contaminants from your vehicle.
How does a clay bar work?
A clay bar works by creating a bond with the contaminants on the paint surface. When you glide the clay bar across the surface of your car, it picks up the dirt, grime, and other contaminants, pulling them out of the paint and trapping them in the clay. This process helps to decontaminate the paint and create a smooth surface.
When should you use a clay bar on your car?
You should use a clay bar on your car when you notice that the surface feels rough or textured, even after washing. This roughness is an indication that there are embedded contaminants that regular washing has failed to remove. Claying a car before applying any type of polish or wax, as a smooth surface will allow these products to adhere better and provide better results.
If you take your hand and feel the surface of your paint you might feel bumps. This usually means your car needs a good claying.
Step-by-Step Guide to Clay Your Car
Gather the necessary materials
Before you begin claying your car, gather all the necessary materials. You’ll need a clay bar, clay lubricant (usually included with the clay bar), a microfiber cloth, and a spray bottle filled with water or clay lubricant.
Recommended clay bar: The image below is my recommended clay bar in general. The Mothers clay kit comes with everything you need to properly clay a car. Not only does Mothers make it super nice and provide 3 different clay bars, they also include a microfiber towel for wiping the area clean and their recommended quick detailer.
The detailer not only looks great, but this clay kit is so easy to use and it’s insanely cost effective for everything you get. Give this clay kit a try on your car today. I promise, you’ll love the results!
Wash your car before claying
Start by washing your car thoroughly with a car wash soap to remove any loose dirt and debris. This will ensure that you don’t create any scratches or damage when you start claying.
Recommended Car Washing Soap: I used to love a lot of the Chemical Guys soaps until I found Top Coat. Their “Poly Wash” is incredible. It doesn’t use a bunch of harsh chemicals that can ruin your paint, it has water repellant capabilities to prevent mud and water from sticking, and literally less than a cap full gets you a full wash.
There is no other car soap or detergent I recommend, give this stuff a try and you’ll be amazed with the results!
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Use the two bucket method here to be safe than sorry. If you need a guide on this, refer here.
Apply clay lubricant
Once your car is washed and dried, it’s time to apply the clay lubricant. Spray the lubricant onto a small section of the paint surface, ensuring that it is evenly covered. The clay lubricant acts as a barrier between the clay bar and the paint, allowing the clay to glide smoothly across the surface.
I always recommend a synthetic clay bar for beginners like the one Mothers makes. Otherwise opt into a traditional clay bar. The synthetic one is just super easy to use and gets decent results, but for the best results a normal clay bar always takes the crown. Both are pretty easy to use though
Why You Need to Clay Bar Your Car
Removing embedded contaminants
One of the main reasons to clay bar your car is to remove embedded contaminants from the paint surface. These contaminants can include things like dirt, pollution, brake dust, and other particles that have bonded to the paint. Regular washing alone cannot remove these contaminants, but claying a car.
Preventing scratches and swirl marks
By removing the embedded contaminants with a clay bar, you can prevent scratches and swirl marks from forming when you wash or polish your car. The contaminants can act as abrasive particles, scratching the surface of the paint if not properly removed beforehand.
Improving the shine and smoothness of your paint
Claying your car not only removes contaminants but also improves the overall shine and smoothness of the paint. After claying, the surface will feel incredibly smooth, and the paint will have a deep, reflective shine.
To further this reflection and clarity, you should perform or have a paint correction done on your vehicle.
Proper Car Claying Techniques
How to properly clay your car
To properly clay your car, start by breaking off a small piece of the clay bar and kneading it into a flat, oval shape. Then, take the clay and glide it across the lubricated surface of the paint, using light pressure.
Move the clay back and forth in straight lines, working on small sections at a time. As you clay, you’ll feel the contaminants being pulled out and the surface becoming smoother.
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Fold the clay inward when it starts to get filled with stones so you don’t scratch your car. Make sure you clean up any excess lubricant and finish up with a detailing spray to remove the water spots from washing before if any are left.
Tips for claying your car
- Work on small sections at a time to ensure thorough cleaning and prevent the clay from drying out.
- If you drop the clay on the ground, throw it away and use a new piece. The clay can pick up small particles that can scratch the paint.
- Keep the clay lubricated at all times to prevent it from sticking to the paint surface.
- Fold your clay inward often to prevent further scratches from appearing
Common mistakes to avoid when using a clay bar
When using a clay bar, there are a few common mistakes to avoid:
- Using too much pressure: Applying excessive pressure can result in scratches or damage to the paint. Use light pressure and let the clay do the work.
- Not using enough lubricant: Insufficient lubrication can cause the clay to stick to the paint and potentially leave marks. Keep the surface well-lubricated at all times.
- Reusing the clay: Once the clay is full of contaminants, it won’t be as effective. It’s best to use a fresh piece of clay for each car detailing session.
Finishing Touches: Waxing and Polishing
Why should you wax your car after claying?
After claying your car, it is essential to apply a protective wax or sealant. The clay bar treatment can remove any existing wax or sealant on the paint, leaving it exposed. Waxing your car after claying will provide a protective barrier against UV rays, oxidation, and other environmental contaminants.
You can also substitute for a ceramic coat if you prefer enhanced protection instead. Both options work though.
The importance of polishing your car
If your car’s paint has any swirl marks, light scratches, or imperfections, polishing can help restore its appearance. Polishing removes a very thin layer of the clear coat, leveling out the surface and removing any minor imperfections.
As I somewhat stated above, getting a paint correction or some polishing done immediately after will give you that brand new show room finish.
The rubbing compound removes any scratches and the polish restores the reflection in your clear coat.