Using a clay bar on the car is one of the necessary steps required to give a car a full decontamination.

Clay is a product that pulls out contaminants from the paint work, making the surface extremely smooth before a form of paint protection is applied to it. There are several forms of clay bar available on the market, with various intensities depending on how contaminated the paintwork is.

How to clay bar a car

The first step is to carry out a safe wash on the car. Use a high quality shampoo for this to ensure that the paintwork is left in a great condition. After this, I like to follow up with a chemical decontamination by applying a fallout remover to the paint and if needed, a tar remover as well. The benefit of this is that you’ll end up taking out a lot of contaminants before applying the clay to the body work.

At this stage, you’ve got the option of using either a clay mitt, or going down the route of a more conventional clay bar. The end result is the same, except that clay mitts are easier to use. The downside with clay mitts is that you can’t see what contaminants you’ve picked up.

In the case of a clay bar, you can easily see this.

You’ll also need some form of lubrication regardless of if you’re using a mitt or bar. I personally like to use a high foaming shampoo to act as a lubricant. The aim here is to minimize scratching as much as possible.

In the case of a clay bar, tear off a small amount and knead it into a small circle. Then, dunk this into your shampoo and gently move the clay back and forth across the panel. This should be carried out slowly to ensure that you properly pick up the debris on the paint work. When the clay starts to get dirty, fold it over and flatten it out again to have a clean section to work with.

You should also be periodically using the car shampoo as a lubricant as well.

In the case of a clay mitt, the same principle remains of ensuring that there is plenty of lubrication using car shampoo. However, you can’t fold this in on itself. Also, it must be noted that you must not use a grit guard to clean the clay mitt. It will destroy the membrane on it which is used to remove the contaminants from the car.

A great option is the Autoglym Clay Kit which even includes Super Resin Polish (more information below)

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Autoglym VPCLAYKIT Clay Detailing Complete Kit
  • Everything you need to remove surface contaminants and stubborn deposits from paintwork

Last update on 2022-10-01 As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

For those that would prefer a clay mitt, I can highly recommend the G3 option.

Last update on 2022-10-01 As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

How often should I clay bar my car?

I’ve read online that veteran detailers will use a clay bar on their car every other month. I’d like to point out that unless you park your car in an area where it is exposed to an extreme amount of contamination, that you shouldn’t do this.

I would say that on average, you don’t need to clay bar that car more than twice a year. Remember than when using a clay bar, there is the small possibility that you’ll install scratches and swirls on the paint. This should only be done when really required, and never after a wash.

Do I need to polish my car after using a clay mitt?

This really depends on the level of scratches and swirls that it is on the paint. It may be that even before the claying process your car required to polished. However, I can appreciate that not everyone has access to a machine polisher. In that case, a great alternative is to use a polish with fillers in it, such as Autoglym Super Resin Polish. This will help to get rid of light scratches and swirls and also add a small level of protection to the car.

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Autoglym SRP001 Super Resin Polish, 1 Litre
  • Removes light scratches, scuffs and marks

Last update on 2022-10-01 As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.