Using a Clay Bar has long been a true detailer’s secret. Usually, a process undertaken by enthusiasts, the results are worth trying even if you’re new to detailing! Whilst it can be time-consuming, claying is the real difference between a great finish and a perfect finish. So, what is a clay bar and how can it help you achieve the ultimate detailing results?
Clay barring is a non-abrasive treatment that removes tiny particles of dirt from your car. These bits of iron, dust and dirt are too small for usual cleaning methods to clean. A bit like using a face mask rather than a face wash.
As for the bar itself, an automotive clay bar is a synthetic putty. It’s designed to be tacky and sticky so it can pick up the maximum amount of micro dirt. It’s also more durable and flexible than other kinds of clay and putty, so it can be more easily manipulated and last a full treatment of your car.
Just as important as the clay bar is the lubricant. Some people believe that water is enough of a lubricant, but they are wrong! A proper lubricant will prevent the clay bar juddering (making the process easier) and help avoid scratches too!
Whilst the visual effects of claying aren’t immediately obvious, you can easily tell if you run your hand over your paintwork. Even a freshly clean car will feel rough compared to a clayed car.
So, if there’s little visual difference, why should I bother?
Well, detailing, after all, is about the details. What we mean by this is that by leaving behind super-smooth paintwork, you will improve your final finish. Smooth paint provides a flat surface, which will allow wax to adhere to it better. With better adherence comes better shine, longer-lasting protection, and a more comprehensive layer. This should leave your car cleaner and shinier for much longer and we also think it’s a super satisfying process.
WHEN SHOULD I USE IT?
We would insist on conducting a thorough wash and pre-wash beforehand. Not just a blast with a snow foam but a full decontamination, using fallout remover and tar dissolver as well as a contact wash. This will help avoid the clay bar clogging up with too much dirt, stopping any new dirt from sticking to the bar
Although coming after a wash claying should come before using a polish or applying a layer of wax. Why? Well, if there’s any dirt left on the surface before polishing you may end up driving the dirt deeper into the paintwork, not only that you could even scratch your paint with tiny particles – leaving you two steps behind where you started.
AND HOW OFTEN?
Only before a full wax or ceramic application, which we usually recommend every 6 months to keep your car protected.
Another way to test if your car is ready to be clayed is the “plastic bag” test. After cleaning your car, grab a clear sandwich bag and use it to cover your hand. Rub your hand over the clean paintwork and if it feels rough then your paintwork could be due to the clay bar treatment. Why the plastic bag? The smooth surface of the bag helps highlight and imperfections more than just your finger would.
HOW TO USE A CLAY BAR
- Ensure your car is thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated before getting started
- Remove the clay bar from the packet. Make sure you keep the wrapper to place the bar on top of it and ensure it doesn’t pick up any dirt
- Tear the clay bar into 2 pieces and knead one half in your hands to warm it up. This will make it more useable, malleable, and tactile
- Working on a small section at a time, spray the paintwork liberally with the clay bar lubricant. This will help the bar glide easily over your bodywork.
- Make sure the surface is always lubricated
- With light pressure, slide the clay bar across the bodywork in straight lines, until the entire car’s surface is smooth to the touch
- Wipe the car panel down with a microfibre cloth before continuing with the next section
- Check if any spots need retreating using the plastic bag method
- Move on to waxing or polishing stages
- Never pick up a clay bar from the floor, no matter how clean you think it is. The clay bar’s stickiness means it will pick up any dirt from the floor, which if you use it, will just scratch your paintwork.
- Tear half of the clay bar off. As the clay bar is super sticky, it can easily become contaminated by dirt from elsewhere. To help avoid your investment going down the drain because of your butterfingers, we would recommend splitting the clay in two, so you have a spare one ready to go.
- Wear gloves. Wearing gloves helps make sure you get no bits of dirt on the bar from your hands
- Only use a clay bar once. Each time you use a clay bar, it should be fresh to help avoid scratching and swirling. Not only that, it’ll leave more surface area for your bar to pick up dirt
WHAT CAN YOU USE A CLAY BAR ON?
- Clear Plastic
- Polished Metals
- Carbon Fibre
WHAT CAN YOU NOT USE A CLAY BAR ON?
- Matte Paintwork
- Vinyl Wraps
- Textured Plastic
Clay Bar Kit
The Car Gods Clay bar kit comes with 500ml of clay bar lubricant and one detailing clay bar, so you can achieve super-smooth results yourself at home.