Detailing Clay

Using a clay bar is the ideal prep stage prior to applying a polish, glaze, sealant and wax. In order to achieve maximum shine, gloss and depth, the surface must be as clean as possible for light to pass through the clear coat and give maximum reflection.

Since you have just washed the vehicle removing the light contamination, most of the remaining contamination is tightly bonded to the clear coat.

Fig 01

Using the clay bar on your clear coat will help further remove both the macro-contamination (visible) as well as the micro-contamination (non-visible). With no contamination on the surface sealants and waxes can bond properly to the clear coat, which creates a more durable layer of protection. Sealants and waxes can not bond with dirt, debris and other contaminates, so there is little to no protection where contamination resides. Applying any product over contamination can grind contaminates into the clear coat  causing swirls, premature break down of detailing product, dirty applicator pads, and diminish overall results. Use a clay bar remove this surface contamination for a higher quality detail. To make the clear coat look even brighter use a polish as discussed in the next step.

Recommended Clay Bar Products:
Clay Bar
Clay Lube

Clay Bar Facts:

  • Using a clay bar on your paint does NOT remove swirl marks
  • Using a clay bar removes contamination and better prepares your paint for the next step
  • Dropped clay bars should be thrown directly into the garbage because of the high risk of picking up large contaminates that can seriously damage the vehicles finish
  • Shampoo & water mixture is another alternative for clay lube, however, re-washing the vehicle is recommended prior to moving to the next step when using this mixture
  • Re-washing after using a clay bar is recommended, but not necessary if you properly remove any excess clay lube with a clean microfiber towel and/or a quick detail solution.
  • When working a clay bar, it should be done in small sections
  • When your paints surface is not smooth you should use a clay bar
  • Clay bar will remove some bug smear, tar, rail dust and other contamination tightly bound to the clear coat.
  • Replace clay bar when it becomes heavily contaminated

Clay bar will remove both micro and macro contamination so the surface is smooth and clean. The actual process on how to clay bar might intimidate some people, but it is relatively easy once you get the hang of it. If you follow these simple steps you will have effectively prepped your surface for the next step.

Prep Stage:
At this point the vehicle should be freshly washed and dried. For ease of use and best results the vehicle should be worked on in a shaded area where the paint is
cool to the touch. If you have a 200g or larger size bar you should break it up into pieces. For ease of use take the piece of clay an flatten it (similar to a pancake shape). Keep the bar flat on the surface for constant contact.

Instructions for Clay Bar:

  • Working in 2' x 2' sections or small panels, mist the desired area with your clay lubricant(Fig 02).
  • Make sure to use enough clay lube so the clay does not skid or stick to the paint.
  • This can cause fine scratches and add more work to remove clay stuck to the surface.
  • Place the clay within the 2' x 2' area and gently glide the bar left to right (Fig 02).

Fig 02

  • You will feel the contamination being absorbed into the clay bar (fFig 03)

Fig 03.

  • Once the surface is smooth you are ready to move onto the next step.
  • Using a clean microfiber towel(s), buff off the remaining clay lube.
  • Now reshape the clay bar by compressing it and flattening it, so it exposes a fresh surface on the clay bar.
  • Move in a logical pattern around the entire vehicle repeating the previous steps until all the desired surfaces are completed.

Clay Bar Tips:

  • Listening to your clay bar can also give you a good indication if the surface is clean or still has contamination.
  • Some people prefer to re-wash their vehicle after using the clay bar to remove any missed clay lubricant.
  • If your towel begins to streak when removing excess clay lubrication, flip it over to a dry section or use a fresh towel.
  • Use plenty of clay lube to ensure smooth movement of clay bar.
  • Do not apply the clay lube in direct sun or to a warm surface.

After Using a Clay Bar:
The next step in the detailing process is polishing your paint. Polishing will remove imperfections in your paint such as swirl marks, scratches, water spots, oxidation and more. This is the part of the detailing process that the most dramatic results can be achieved.

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