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Detailing Library - Clay Bars

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A clay bar is the most effective method for removal of embedded contamination from the surface such as over spray, bug remains, tar and industrial pollution. This contamination is often not visible to the naked eye, but quite obvious to the touch. The surface will feel rough and gritty and lack any real shine.

The clay bar is used with a lubricant to allow it to flow smoothly over the surface. Once complete, the surface will now feel smooth and slick to the touch and ready for polishing or waxing.

Clay bars can be used on painted surfaces, headlights, glass and even wheels.

A newer technology item introduced is the ZAS Surface Prep Towel or sometimes referred to as a "clay cloth". The clay cloth speeds up the claying process greatly, however special care needs to be taken not to introduce excessive marring to the paint.

How Often Should I Clay

For cars that live outside or in a high pollution area such as inner city suburbs we recommend claying on average twice a year and whenever you machine polish the paint.

For cars that are garaged and always cared for, clay as required by checking the condition of your paint. Upper surfaces may not require a clay bar, but be sure to check areas like lower door panels and behind wheel guards.

Clay Lubricant

A clay lubricant is used to provide a thin film for the clay bar to glide across the surface and remove the contamination. Although a dedicated clay lubricant is always going to be the best option, there are a couple of other products you can use.

The most popular for professionals is a quick detail spray. When choosing a quick detail spray as a clay lubricant, avoid any that contain waxes or sealants. For claying, a quick detail spray used purely for cleaning is preferred compared to other products that fit more in the “spray sealant” category.

The second option is a strong solution of car wash. When mixing your own car wash solution for claying, check with the manufacturer for the recommended dilution for this task.

How To Use A Clay Bar

  1. Wash the vehicle. Drying is optional but in hot conditions recommended
  2. For larger clay bars, break off a portion approx. 100g. Knead and shape the clay into a flat surface with your hands.
  3. Working in small sections, mist the clay lubricant over the area to be clayed.
  4. Gently glide the clay over the surface using straight, overlapping motions moving side to side, up and down. Avoid using force to remove the contamination, but allow the clay bar to do the work.
  5. Once the surface is clean the clay bar will glide freely over the surface. Wipe the surface clean with a microfibre towel.
  6. Reshape the clay bar to produce a new clean surface and repeat steps 3-5 until complete.

Frequenty Asked Questions

Q. What do I do if I drop my clay bar?

A. Throw it away. Any contamination picked up from the floor can seriously damage the paint.

Q. Do I need to wash my car after claying?

A. Yes to remove any loose contamination from the surface. The clay lubricant will often streak the surface. Washing will remove this.

Q. What "grade" of clay bar should I use?

A. We recommend and only supply "fine grade" clay bars. Anything stronger can and will scratch the paint. If using a medium or heavy grade clay, polishing afterwards will be required.

Q. How do I know when to throw the clay bar away?

A. There is no definitive answer for this, but we always like to say once you can no longer refold a fresh surface, look at the clay, and if it looks too dirty to use on your paint then it's probably time to let it go.