What is the Best Clay Bar for Detailing your Car?

What is the Best Clay Bar for Detailing your Car?

One very important, and often overlooked step in the decontamination stage of detailing, is the process of Claying the car. If by chance you are new to the detailing scene, you might not have heard of claying (clay bar treatment as it can also be referred to), is a process in which you remove embedded contaminants from your car’s clear coat.

Detailing clay is specifically designed to glide effortlessly over the surface of your cars paint and grab anything that protrudes from the surface. The particles that it glides over the stick to the clay and is then removed from your vehicle.

By washing alone, these particles will not be removed from paintwork.

Best Clay Bar

This is why auto detailing clay is such a great tool to have in your arsenal, however, you must look for the best Clay Bar possible when you take the plunge into the world of car claying, as some of the cheaper clay bars can wreak havoc on your cars paintwork. It is also HIGHLY recommended to use a clay bar lubricant for whatever clay you are using, and never use dirty clay. ( More on this later )

For now, let’s start at the very beginning for those of you who might be new to this claying process. After this post, you should be well equipped to Clay your car to the highest standard possible.

What is Car Clay?

Clay bars are made from synthetic clay, not natural organic clay. Automotive detailing clay is engineered resin compound made for the specific purpose of removing contaminants from the surface of your car’s paint, glass, fibreglass and metal. A clay bar is just a piece of super sticky clay which is used to pick up all the embedded contamination from the surface of your car. This was first invented to clean boats, but it was adapted to help clean cars from contamination.

best clay bar

It works just like a razor works to remove hairs from skin, it shaves or sheers off paint contamination present on the surface as the clay bar glides on top of a clay lubricant fluid. Car Clay is extremely sticky and this is what helps it pick up paint contamination and embed it into the clay bar, thus removing it from your car.

Why use Car Clay?

Your car gets contaminated from road dirt/grime and brake dust as you drive on the roads. These contamination particles embed themselves into your cars clear coat which makes it very difficult to remove. Bonded surface contaminants cannot be removed by washing alone. 

You should Clay your car if you are looking to achieve the best possible results on your paintwork. This type of decontamination is a must before you undertake any paint enhancement treatment such as polishing etc.

To acquire the best smooth as glass touch and feel result it is ideal to always clay bar your vehicle before application of wax, glaze, polish or paint sealant!

How do you know if you need to clay your car? it is fairly easy to tell when your car needs to be clayed. The quickest way to tell is to Feel the paint with the fingertips of your clean hand.

  1. First, wash and dry your car.
  2. Now take your clean hand and feel the paint.

Does the paint finish feel smooth and glassy? If the answer is yes you don’t need to clay your car’s paint.

Does the paint feel rough or textured? If you feel little bumps or any kind of roughness or surface imperfections, this is a strong indicator that you need to clay your car’s paint.

A lot of times, if the paint is heavily contaminated, you will be able to see it with your eyes.

best clay bar


How to Choose the Best Clay Bar for your Car

There are a variety of different types of clay bars scaling from fine grade to aggressive grade.  Fine detailing clay bars are better in circumstances with less decontamination. This type of grade will pick up lighter contaminants from your paintwork pretty easily.

I would recommend a medium to aggressive grade clay on cars with heavy contamination.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking to buy the best clay bar for your car.

-Cost of the clay.

-The durability of a clay

-How contaminated is the paint you will be using it on ( you can determine if you need aggressive grade clay or something more fine grade )

I have listed below what I feel are solid choices for somebody who is unsure of which auto detailing clay they should go for, you cannot go wrong with the following products.

Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System

Mothers car care products have been around for a very very long time, and are popular amount amateurs and professionals alike.

Mothers gold clay bar is one that I would recommend for a lightly contaminated vehicle as it is a more fine grade of clay. This Clay bar Will perform for most levels of fall-out except for excessively heavy cases.

This product is fairly good value for money as it comes as a whole kit, so you will not need to buy the lubricant separately. ( You will want to use a lubricant when claying your car )

I would recommend this kit more so to beginners, as a way of getting started with claying as it comes with everything you need.

My Notes :

+ Good Value For Money as it comes as a whole kit

+ Suitable for cars with light to medium contamination

+ Cheap and Comes with Two Bars, and Microfiber Towel Included

More info on this product can be found here

Best Clay Bar

Meguiar’s C-2100 Professional Detailing Clay

If you are looking for a more aggressive detailing clay for your more heavily contaminated paintwork, you should look no further than Meguiar’s C-2100 Professional Detailing Clay. Because it is made by Meguiars, who are stalwarts in the detailing industry, you know you are getting a great quality product. The C-2100 should be more than capable of removing even the heaviest contamination. it is a little more expensive than some of the less aggressive clays, but should be much more effective if your paintwork is in a very poor condition.

it also does not come with a Clay Lube ( any type of clay lube should do), but the recommended lubrication for this is Mirror Glaze #34

My Notes :

+ A bit more expensive, but much more effective on heavy contamination

+ Safe and effective on paint, glass, metal, and plastic

+ Despite its aggressiveness, non-abrasive and safe on all surfaces.

More info on this product can be found here

best clay

Griot’s Garage 11153 Paint Cleaning Clay

Another top product from Griot’s Garage, this is a great all-round clay bar that I would recommend to almost all scenarios. It is also good value for money given the size of the clay bar you get in this package.

Again, this one doesn’t come with its clay lubricant in a kit( Again, any quick detailer or similar should do the trick ), but the recommended clay lube for this product is Griots Garage Speed Shine

My Notes :

+ Good All-rounder

+ Affordable and good value ( 200g+ of Clay )

+ Griots Garage is another trusted name in the detailing world

More info on this product here

Best Clay Bar

Chemical Guys  OG Clay Bar & Luber Synthetic Lubricant Kit, Light/Medium Duty

Chemical guys here with a great kit as usual. Their OG kit is another great package to get you into the world of automotive car claying. This kit is aimed towards light and medium contamination so should be perfect for almost all scenarios apart from excessively heavily contamination.

This kit also comes with its own chemical guy’s clay lube, so you won’t have to buy it separately.

My Notes :

+ Great product as usual from chemical guys

+ Light / Medium contamination – if you need a heavy version, you can get it here

+ Flex-Clay Technology

More info on this product here

best clay bar

Meguiar’s G1016 Smooth Surface Clay Kit

Meguiars, enough said! Includes 2- 80-gram bars, clay lubricant, and microfiber towel, this is another kit that is excellent value for money. The Meguiars Smooth Surface Clay Kit is a complete detailing clay kit from one of the oldest names in car care. Everything you need to clay your vehicle is right there in the box, even a high-quality microfiber towel.

My Notes :

+ Trusted name and brand

+ Light / Medium contamination, but I find this can work in 99% of scenarios

+ Great kit to get started

More info on this product here

best automotive clay bar

Now that you are hopefully all set with a good product, it is time to begin!

How to Clay your Car

Using Clay Bar on your car is a pretty straight forward process, but in general, the steps you want to follow will be

Step 1.

Wash and dry your car thoroughly to remove as much of the dirt, grime, and other contaminants from the surface as possible. It would also be a good idea to use a product like Iron X before you wash the car which will start removing a lot of contamination before you even get to the Clay Step.

Step 2.

Break off a small piece of clay that you will be working with and shape it into a flat surface by rolling it in between your palms to warm it up.

Step 3.

Spray a small area with clay lubricant to begin. Clay Lubricant or some other form of lubricant is important.

The clay bar lubricant provides a slick surface for you to glide your car clay over. If you use the clay on paint without clay lube, you’ll notice that the clay won’t slide across your paint and you can easily add marring and leave behind pieces of clay on your paint which can be a pain to remove. Many detailers use a quick detailer as their clay lube, but whatever you have at hand should do. .

Step 4.

Gently glide the clay bar over your working area using overlapping passes going left to right or up and down.

Note: You do not want to rely on a lot of downward force to clean the paint. You should allow the clay to absorb the contamination. Stubborn contamination can require a good amount of time, clay lube and passes to remove.

Step 5.

Wipe the area with a microfiber towel and use the clay lubricant to remove any clay residue. Rub your fingers across the paint now; it should be as smooth as glass. If it’s not, repeat the process. Reshape the clay bar as needed to expose a clean surface. Keep the clay well-lubricated

Step 6.

Continue working on an area until all contamination is removed. You can tell this has happened because the clay will slide effortlessly across the paint and you will not hear any contamination being picked up by the clay.

Continue until the whole car is finished.

Important Notes

-Reshape your piece of clay after each section so that there is a clean fresh surface exposed. If you cannot reveal a fresh surface, break off a new piece of clay.

-If you drop the clay, THROW IT AWAY!

-A heavy grade clay bar will almost always leave behind some marring that needs to be polished to remove

-Store the clay bar in its original case if possible, or in an airtight plastic bag

-It’s good practice to re-wash your vehicle after using a clay bar to remove any loosened contamination and to remove excess clay bar residue ( This is a must for me) 

The wash should go much quicker since there should be nearly no contamination on the vehicle and you should be able to sheet dry very effectively since your paint will be ultra-smooth. After the re-wash, then you want to polish your paint.

In Summary

Hopefully, I have given you some good information to start claying your car. Once you do this step once, you will never go back once you see the results you can achieve by completely removing all contamination from your cars paintwork using car clay!

As always, I am interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences with car clay. If you have any product recommendations please let me know in the comments, I would love to hear them.

Until Next time,

Happy Detailing!

About the Author – Darren O Hara

Darren is the founder of the DriveDetailed blog and is a keen detailing enthusiast living in the rainy south of Ireland. When he is not cleaning his car he is always researching ways he can improve his techniques and enjoys testing out out new products.

Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.

You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork

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15 thoughts on “What is the Best Clay Bar for Detailing your Car?

  1. Hi Darren, thanks for the detailed info, I always like a clean car however never done a full detail before. After reading this I feel a bit more confident now, thanks again, John.

    1. Hi John

      Glad to hear it was useful to you! Sometimes these more advanced detailing steps seem daunting , but it’s really hard to go too wrong. Trial and Error and you will find the best steps and techniques that work for you.

      All the best

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