WHAT IS A CLAY BAR?
Your car gets contaminated from road grime and brake dust as you drive. These particles embed themselves into your clear coat and make it difficult to remove. Washing the car won’t be able to remove this dirt. So how do you remove the contamination? Well, it’s a bar of automotive clay.
A clay bar is basically a piece of super sticky clay which is meant to pick up all the embedded contamination from your car. This was first invented to clean boats, but it was adapted to help clean cars from contamination.
How Is It Used?
After fully washing the vehicle, you want to spray some clay lubricant on your cars paint one section at a time. You can use a quick detailer, rinseless wash, waterless wash, or soapy water from your wash bucket for lubrication. Anything super slick to allow the clay to slide easily. The more lubrication the better so that the clay bar doesn’t mar the paints finish. Make sure to keep a good grip on the clay, because if you drop it you will need to throw it out. It will pick up all the tiny little rock pieces on the ground and you’ll end up damaging your paint.
After claying a section, the clay will start to pick up everything embedded in the paint. It may start to turn black indicating tar, or red indicating iron or brake dust. You can read about How To Decontaminate Your Car With Iron X if you want to dissolve the brake dust away before claying. Fold the clay over to a clean part of the clay and continue to the next section. Do the paint first, then you can do the windshield to restore some vision, your headlights to get some clarity and see better at night, or wheels to remove some stubborn brake dust.
Do I Need A Clay Bar?
There’s a pretty easy way to tell if you need a clay bar for your car. It’s called the baggie test. Next time you wash your car, grab a plastic bag from the grocery store or even a sandwich bag. Put your hand in the bag and gently glide your finger tips across the paint through the bag. The bag will help you feel the contamination on your car. If it feels rough or sounds like sand paper, your car is contaminated and needs a clay bar. Your car should feel smooth as glass and barely make any noise for a successful baggie test.
What Is Synthetic Clay?
Synthetic clay bars are generally more expensive, but last a lot longer. They are made from a synthetic poly-elastic rubber. The major difference between a traditional clay bar and a synthetic clay bar is that a synthetic clay bar can be cleaned if it’s dropped on the ground. Just rinse it off and use a little elbow grease with a microfiber to keep it clean.
Synthetic clay can be found in various shapes and sizes. Wash mitts, blocks, clay towels, and even a clay disk to be used on a polisher. This helps to save a ton of time while decontaminating a vehicle.
Chemical Guys clay disk on a Griot’s Garage 6″ Polisher
How Often Should I Use Clay?
There is no specific time frame. You do the baggie test and see if it needs to be decontaminated. If you park near train tracks, you will need a clay more often than someone who parks in a garage. The same is true for someone that does a lot of highway miles vs someone driving to the local store. We recommend a quick clay every 3-4 months to be safe. At the bare minimum right before winter to prep for the snow and right before spring time to clean the winter salt off for good.
A clay bar is essential to having a smooth, glossy finish.