How-To Use A Clay Bar

What is a clay bar and why do I need to use one?

Ingrained into the painwork of most cars, even new ones straight from the dealer sometimes, are dirt and contaminates from the air and road. Over time these build up in your paintwork and will make it feel rough, even after it’s been waxed. Clay bars take out those imperfections and the paint will then feel like polished glass. Smooth, in other words.

How often do I need to use a clay bar on my car?

It depends how much milage you do and what milage it is (ie. Motorway, B roads etc). The best thing to do is to keep checking your paintwork, say every couple of weeks, for any of that feeling you had before you clayed it originally. If it’s still as slippery as polished glass, don’t bother.

Are there any drawbacks?

Some slight negatives are that, as the clay bar takes the ingrained dirt out of the paintwork, scratches already there will be more noticeable. It can also slightly dull paintwork if the paint isn’t in too good a condition. If your car’s paint is good though, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

How easy is it to clay a car?

It’s a very simple and easy job, although it can be time consuming if your planning to clay the entire vehicle in one go. Plan about two and a half hours for an entire average sized car.

What do I need to buy?

Various manufacturers sell clay bars, but you can just Google the words and you should find a seller. You will also need to buy Clay Lube. This is a slightly oily liquid that helps the clay slide about well.

If you need a clay bar you can buy one here

How do I Clay Bar my car?

  1. Wash your car throughly. It doesn’t matter if it’s still wet when it comes to claying as the water will help the clay bar along anyway.Prepping the car paintwork for clay bar work
  2. Tear off a section of clay about 5 cm x 5 cm (2 inches x 2 inches). Mould and warm the clay in your hands until it is soft.
  3. Spray a good amount of clay lube onto your bodywork and clay bar and try to work within an area of about 20 cm x 20 cm (8 inches x 8 inches) at a time. Always keep the area really well lubricated.Using a clay bar with dodo juice clay lube
  4. Rub the clay up and down (or side to side) the paintwork. Don’t put any pressure on the clay, just enough to keep it from sliding out from under your fingers. Golden rule: if you drop your clay throw it away! Note. As you use the clay you will hear a slight ‘rasping’ sound as the clay does its job and picks up the contaminates, this is normal. If the noise becomes a scratching sound, immediately stop and check your clay bar for any larger pieces of dirt. If this is the case throw the piece of clay away.
  5. After each 20 cm x 20 cm area you cover, check your clay bar for dirt. It should look like dark lines within the clay bar, and also minute pieces of dirt. If there are lines in the clay, simply re-mould the clay again in your hands and carry on. Once the clay is obviously very dirty, throw it away an use a new piece. (Click picture for a detailed image). Clay bar Used clay 400px
  6. Once you’ve finished claying your car, give it another good wash and also dry it this time.
  7. If you feel that you can use your clay again next time, wrap it in cling film and put it in a plastic container to keep it from crumbling.
  8. Give your car one or two coats of good quality wax to protect the paint and bring that lustre back again.Protecting the paint work with carnauba wax after clay bar cleaning.
  9. Sit back and admire all your hard work.water beading after the clay bar process and using carnauba wax.

Top Tip

Dirt and contaminates also build up in you car’s windscreen, but a clay bar can also be used on glass, just take the same steps as you would when clay barring your paintwork. Once you’ve clayed the windscreen, use a glass cleaner and perhaps a glass sealant product to add that finishing touch.

Questions

Got any questions or queries? Just leave a comment at the bottom of the page and we’ll answer you as soon as possible.

Have you got a thought on this How-To? What How-To would you like to see on this site? Got any cleaning tips to share? Let us know in the comments box below.

10 responses to “How-To Use A Clay Bar”

  1. automotive detailing supply

    I need some car detailing supplies, do you know of any good companies? I need a headlamp restoration kit

  2. Grayson Berry

    The car was left under a tree overnight
    and so got loads of resin on it by nxt
    morning.

    Can the clay get that off??

    Gray

  3. Paolo Rodil

    Last year I bought a second hand 1998 Mitsubishi Lancer. The wear and tear of the car is very evident in the windshield. Wiper scratches are very visible and lots of acid rain and water marks that couldn’t be removed anymore from treatment. So I just decided to replace the windshield and the backglass (not OEM). Anyway so I’m very happy with both my new windshield and backglass and promised myself that the best way to go is to preventive maintenance. But this is proving to be difficult. Maintaining a spotless windshield is harder than I thought.

    when I drive in the morning with direct sunlight hitting the windshield and the proper angle, I can see some sparkles or glitterlike dots in the screen. Since its new, it could never be pitting or sandblasted. I thought maybe its just manufacturing effects like the ones at the back having the effects of glass tempering. Then I figured it must be the lint left by the cloth I use to wipe off the glass cleaner. Even the microfiber cloth I bought seems to be leaving lints.

    1. How do I remove the lint that seems to be stuck in the windshield, this is both on the outside and the inside?
    2. Is it ok to just go back to using newspaper to wipe the glass?
    3. I was thinking of claying it but to clay you still have to lubricate. Ergo you still have to wipe. Which just may then again leave lint.

    It’s just annoying to have a brand new and clean windshield only to see these invisible objects sticking on it when enough sunlight hits the glass.

  4. paolo rodil

    Hi Chris. Thanks for your tips.

    I tried to look for “proper” glass cloth but I just managed to find those micro fibre glass cloths. I purchased some at the same time I did find a 3M glass and windshield cloth which had the texture of the one you were exactly describing, just like a large version of a sunglasses cleaning cloth. This one worked better.

    I also tried your tip of washing the normal microfibre cloth in clean water. one thing i did notice was its a little difficult to use the 3M windshield cloth to wipe off the glass cleaner from the windshield. so what i did is use the normal microfibre cloth to wipe off the glass cleaner, which is actually easy to dry. when the winshield is already a bit dry, I use the 3M windshield cloth to full dry and buff. The wiping is more smoother and it doesn’t leave any lint. it also removes excess lint, if there are any from the wiping of the glass cleaner by the microfibre cloth. The microfibre glass cleaning cloth I bought didn’t any good so I’d use it somewhere else.

  5. Gabriel

    I have 3M film on the hood, front bumper, rocker panels on my car. There are little orange rust particles on some areas. Will a clay bar work on the 3M film to remove them? will it have a bad effect on the film?

    Thank you
    Gabriel

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