What’s the best way to remove contaminants and pollutants from your car’s paint job? If you ask professional car detailers, they will tell you it’s the clay bar. The clay bar is an unsung hero in the automotive detailing industry.
Clay bars deep clean automotive paint to preserve the shine of the vehicle and remove stubborn impurities. This article will show you the best clay bar products on the market to restore your car’s beautiful luster.
Before heading online to order this product, take time to read clay bar reviews. In this guide, we show you the most important factors to consider before choosing a clay bar. The article also covers the must-have features and specifications to have in the product.
We’ve also researched the top benefits of clay bars and how to use them for best results. This piece will show you how to shop confidently for high quality clay bars.
Best Clay Bars Comparison Chart
Mothers 07240 California Gold Clay Bar System
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Chemical Guys CLY_113 OG Clay Bar & Luber Synthetic Lubricant Kit
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Griot’s Garage 11153 Paint Cleaning Clay 8oz
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IPELY 4 Pack 100g Car Clay Bar
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Senrokes Clay Bar Car Detailing Clay
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Meguiar’s C2000 Mirror Glaze Detailing Clay
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Best Clay Bar Reviews – Editors’ Picks
1. Mothers 07240 California Gold Clay Bar System
This professional-grade clay bar system from Mothers is designed to remove particle-sized debris and contaminants from your paint. The product can get rid of stubborn pollutants you can’t remove with washing and polishing. It leaves your car clean and shiny.
The California Gold Clay Bar system can remove caked grains of metal, paint overspray, and tree sap. It also removes bird poo and other surface contaminants from your vehicle.
The clay bar can eliminate airborne deposits from the environment, keeping your ride germ free. It is safe to use on every paint type, including clearcoats. Unlike many clay bars on the market, this Mothers product extremely pliable.
The company claims regular use of this product provides an enduring payoff for your vehicle. It can improve the depth and clarity of paint jobs, leaving your car’s surface smooth. The kit comes with 2 clay bars, a Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer, and one microfiber towel.
2. Chemical Guys CLY_113 OG Clay Bar & Luber Synthetic Lubricant Kit
This light-to-medium duty clay bar has a special formula that restores battered paintwork to a glasslike smoothness. The professional detailing product eliminates accumulated contaminants that break down the paint. You can use it to remove debris which can scratch paint and prevent detailing agents from sticking.
The OG clay bar comes with a professional lubricant for hitch-free application. It is suitable for any exterior part of your vehicle. You can use it on the paintwork, carbon fiber, clear plastics, glass, and polished and unpolished metals. The texture is gentle and does not chip off paint.
The clay bar features Chemical Guy’s Flex-Clay Technology, allowing it to conform to the contours and curves of a vehicle. This makes it effective for removing contaminants such as brake dust, rail dust, and materials that lodge in hard-to-reach places. The clay luber makes application fast and easy.
3. Griot’s Garage 11153 Paint Cleaning Clay 8oz
This cleaning clay is great if you want to remove contaminants from your paintwork or prepare it for intensive detailing. Designed for light and heavy contaminants, this clay pulls stubborn embedded debris and particles from your paint.
The product can remove bird droppings, tree sap, metal residues, and other contaminants. What you get is a smooth and shiny surface ready for detailing work such as polishing and waxing.
This clay bar is very sticky and pliable, which allows you to use it with ease. Spray the lubricant on the surface and glide the clay bar on the paint to remove impurities. The lubricant ensures the clay bar slides smoothly across the surface, leaving a clean, smooth, and shiny finish.
Griot’s Garage claims regular use of this product can protect your paintwork from oxidation. From the raving reviews the product receives, we are sure the clay delivers great results.
4. IPELY 4 Pack 100g Car Clay Bar
First, you need a lot of lubrication for this product to do its magic. If you are on a budget, this 4-pack clay bar provides an affordable way to rid your paintwork of contaminants.
For people who are not into the big brands, this product is effective, long-lasting and cost-effective. You just need to know how to use the clay bar and apply plenty of lubricant.
The IPELY car clay bar is suitable for most surfaces. You can use it on your paintwork, glass, and polished metal. The product is safe for carbon fiber, exhaust tips, and clear optical plastics such as the headlights and taillights.
The manufacturer advises that you use this car clay bar with a generic lubricant. You can make it of a mixture of water and detergent or other suitable cleaning agent. We suggest you get a quality clay bar lubricant like the one from Chemical Guys or Griot’s Garage.
5. Senrokes Clay Bar Car Detailing Clay
Another wallet-friendly and extremely popular product, this package includes four clay bars and one microfiber towel. The product features a high quality design and a smooth texture. This allows it to glide smoothly over the surface without leaving scratches.
Like every quality clay bar, this product requires considerable elbow grease to get the required results. Soak it in water and use adequate lubrication to remove contaminants from your vehicle’s surface.
Senrokes’ clay bar is safe for use on a wide range of surfaces. You can use it to clean paintwork, glass, polished metal such as chrome, glass, and lacquer. This product is not suitable for transparent plastic surfaces such as your headlights.
Avoid dropping the product to prevent contamination with dirt and debris. But you can cut off the contaminated part to reuse the bar. After application, store this product in a clean plastic bag or wrap and keep away from children.
6. Meguiar’s C2000 Mirror Glaze Detailing Clay
Meguiar’s reputation as a leading brand in the car detailing industry is evident in the Mirror Glaze. This quick car claying product removes bonded contaminants on the vehicle’s surface with ease. You can use it to pull out bug debris, rail dust, water spots, overspray, and road tar.
The C2000 is safe and suitable for varieties of auto surfaces. You can apply it on paint, glass, plastic, and metal.
The non-abrasive formulation is ideal for clearcoat and single-stage paints. After application, this clay restores your car’s body to a glass-like smoothness with a rich color depth.
For best results, the company recommends using its M34 Mirror Glaze Final Inspection lubricant. This will allow the clay bar to glide across the paint without friction. You can use a generic lubricant or even the venerable soap and water mixture if you are on a low budget.
What Is a Clay Bar?
A clay bar is a resin compound. It is designed to remove surface bonded contaminants on a vehicle’s paintwork, metal, fiberglass, glass, clear plastic, and related surfaces.
The clay is similar to the earth kids play with, but it has been engineered for pliability and durability. Clay bars can be natural or synthetic, but most manufacturers sell the synthetic type.
Clay bar plays a crucial role in auto detailing. The product helps restore the smoothness, and clarity of vehicle surfaces.
It achieves this by pulling out contaminants such as rail dust, brake dust, and industrial fallout which stick to your car and pierce the paintwork. Normal washing can’t remove these stubborn impurities. If left on the car, these pollutants can reduce the ability of detailing products to adhere to the paint.
Unlike other detailing products that come in liquid or gaseous form, clay bar is often solid or semi-solid. It is elastic and you can roll, flatten, stretch, and smash it during use. The product also requires considerable physical effort to deliver excellent results.
Clay Bar Buying Guide
Clay bars used to be the preserve of car detailing professionals. However, the product is now available to everybody, allowing you to achieve a showroom perfect paintwork.
But you won’t get the best results if you don’t know how to choose high-quality clay bars. That’s what we show you in this buying guide.
This buying guide provides the important questions to ask when shopping for clay bars. It also highlights the essential clay bar features and specifications.
Top 7 Considerations When Buying a Clay Bar
Here are things to consider before choosing a clay bar:
When choosing a clay bar, make sure the product is safe for use on the surface you want to decontaminate. Most top clay bar brands are suitable for clearcoats, paintwork, polished metal, clear plastic, glass, and other automotive surfaces.
However, some models may only work for specific surfaces and cause potential damage to others. It is best to select a brand ideal for multiple surfaces. That way, you can get maximum utility from the product.
The best-detailing clays come with lubricants that allow the product to slide gently across the vehicle’s surface. If you don’t use a lubricant, the clay will chip off your paintwork.
Some manufacturers instruct users to apply a soap and water mixture as lubricant. But for best results, get a dedicated lubricant along with your clay bar.
Does the color of a clay bar matter? Yes, it does.
Lighter color allows you to see the amount of contaminant the bar has pulled off your vehicle’s surface. That way, you can change the side you are using to avoid transferring contaminants to other areas. The predominant color is blue but there are brands that make their clay bars white, yellow, and other hues.
This determines how well the clay bar can conform to the contours of the vehicle. A pliable bar will make it easy to remove dirt and debris from crevices and hard-to-reach places on your car. It also allows you to remold the bar or knead it to get a clean area when one part becomes dirty.
The size of a clay bar is important because it determines the amount of grip you have on the product. Remember that clay bars require significant elbow grease to remove bonded contaminants. So you need a large surface area that will allow you exert enough pressure on the target surface.
Another reason for choosing a big-sized clay bar is that it allows you to split the product. For example, you can split the bar into two or three parts and use one at a time.
That way, the whole bar doesn’t become contaminated after a single-use. If you drop one accidentally, you still have fresh clay bars to complete your auto detailing.
Ease of Use
This is related to the point about pliability above. A quality clay bar should be elastic, but not too soft that it sticks to your car’s surface. The product should glide easily across your paintwork or whatever surface with enough lubrication.
Some clay bars are notorious for their shape-shifting properties, which annoys many users because it slows them down. Users have also complained about products that require abnormally high amounts of lubrication. When in doubt, look at the user reviews to get real-life feedback about a clay bar’s effectiveness.
Most clay bars are affordable. Even many of the popular brands that ship with specialty lubricants sell for less than $30. The only difference you will find is that some brands are more pliable and abrasive than others.
If you are a complete novice, get the highest quality detailing clay you can afford. Professionals can achieve stellar results with low-quality clay bars with sufficient lubrication.
6 Most Important Clay Bar Features and Specs
The following are some important clay bar features and specifications:
Weight is an important specification buyers need to check before buying clay bars. Most brands make lightweight clay bars that fit in your palms.
The weight can help you determine how long the product will last. If you think it is too heavy, clay bars are easy to slice into smaller sections.
Again, color is one feature to look out for when buying a clay bar. We already mentioned the reasons the product’s color is important above. Except you prefer a deeper hue, we advise buying the paler colors.
Clay bars can be natural or synthetic. Most brands offer the synthetic type, which is more affordable. Synthetic clay bars are also as effective as their natural counterparts and often include performance-enhancing additives.
Choose a product that you can mold easily to conform to the different parts of your vehicle. But the clay bar shouldn’t be too soft, otherwise, it will stick to your ride and create a mess.
Number of Bars
Many brands sell their clay bars in packs. Some brands offer 4-bar packs at affordable prices.
If you are looking to cut cost, these multi-bar packages will be an excellent choice. But make sure you are not sacrificing quality for quantity.
Clay bars have abrasives which allow them remove fine particles on surfaces. Manufacturers label the grade of abrasiveness from ultrafine, fine, medium to heavy-duty.
It is important to choose a product with the abrasive level safe for your vehicle. If it’s too harsh, the clay may damage your paintwork. Meanwhile, a lower level of abrasive may not remove the contaminants on a very rough car.
Clay Bar vs. Clay Mitt –What’s the Difference?
The clay bar and clay mitt are detailing products. Both use clay as their active ingredients and remove contaminants from a vehicle without scratching the surface. But that’s how far their similarities go.
A clay bar is small and rectangular. The clay mitt is designed to fit over your hand like a wash mitt. This makes the clay mitt easier to use than a clay bar. A clay mitt provides more surface area to exert pressure on the vehicle.
By design, clay mitts are also easier to use than clay bars, which you must hold as you apply it over a vehicle. Because of their smaller size, clay bars provide less utility compared to clay mitts.
At most, you will get 20 applications from a clay bar. A regular-sized clay mitt can last up to 100 applications.
Another big difference between the two is that clay bars are more fragile than clay mitts. You must store clay bars in a plastic or container to prevent them from drying out. If you drop the bar, it becomes contaminated with dust and debris. You either cut off the affected area or dump it in the bin.
A clay mitt requires no elaborate storage processes. If you drop a clay mitt, you pick it up and wash it before the next application.
Differences Between the Clay Bar & the Clay Mitt: Which Is More Effective?
If you ask car detailing professionals, the clay bar is the undisputed winner between the two. Experience shows that the clay bar is the most effective for removing surface contaminants from vehicles. But clay bars take time to get that perfect finish.
If your car has a very rough surface and you need to prepare it for detailing, use a clay bar. For fast jobs on new paintwork, the clay mitt will come handy. Professionals use the clay bar to do the heavy lifting before finishing with the clay mitt.
Since we are talking about detailing products, we suggest you read this comprehensive car wax buying guide.
Benefits of Using Clay Bar On Your Car Paint
Here are some benefits of claying your car paint:
Applying clay bar removes bonded surface contaminants from your car’s paintwork.
Because clay bar removes contaminants on your car’s paint, it restores the vehicle’s smooth and sleek finish.
Clay bars make the car paint receptive to other detailing products such as polish and wax. It does this by removing impurities that will prevent the products from sticking to the paintwork. This will make waxing and polishing easier and your car will retain its shine for longer.
Clay bars can protect your paint from the effects of the elements, making it last longer while reducing repair costs.
Meanwhile, check out this guide if you are having trouble choosing a car window cleaner.
How Does Auto Detailing Clay Work?
An auto detailing clay removes particles on your car paintwork via a barrier of lubrication. Rather than touch the paint directly and risk chipping it, manufacturers always insist you apply lubrication. The lubricant creates a film upon which the bar glides while pulling off the contaminants on your paintwork.
As you move the clay bar over your paint, it catches anything that is stuck on the surface. This leaves the paint free of contaminants, making it sleek and smooth.
If you use the clay bar correctly, your paintwork should be free of the particles. It removes the roughness without dulling the paint.
The trick is to apply the right amount of lubricant. This shields the paint while allowing the clay bar to lift contaminants off its surface.
What Does Detailing Clay Remove?
Detailing clay removes bonded impurities from your paintwork and other surfaces on your vehicle. The product can remove:
- Brake dust
- Rail dust
- Industrial fallout
- Tree sap
- Bug remnants
- Acid rain deposit
Many of these contaminants contain metals, which allow them to stick to a car’s paintwork. Left untreated, they will penetrate the clearcoat and compromise the basecoat and primer. This causes oxidation and promotes rust. Detailing clay can remove these contaminants and maintain your paintwork.
Your car’s wheels also carry a lot of these contaminants. Check out these wheel cleaner reviews to restore your vehicle’s shoes to mint condition.
How to Use a Clay Bar in 8 Easy Steps
Follow these steps to use a clay bar to detail your vehicle:
- First, wash and dry your vehicle to remove any superficial impurities from the surface. This will allow the clay to pick the contaminants stuck to the paint easily.
- Apply a clay bar lubricant to a small area of 2 square feet. Depending on the brand, you may need to buy a dedicated lubricant or make one yourself.
- Glide the clay bar gently across the lubricated area with a back-and-forth motion. You will notice the clay bar grab initially; a sign it is picking off impurities from your car. Once the bar can move smoothly over the lubricant, you have a clean paint.
- Wipe the lubricant with a microfiber towel. If the clay leaves a residue on the vehicle, apply some lubricant and clean it off.
- Repeat the steps for the entire vehicle.
- After claying the whole vehicle, use the bag test to check if the paint is clean. To perform a bag test, place a plastic bag over your hand and slide it over the paintwork. If the vehicle feels rough to the touch, you still have impurities on the surface.
- Douse the clay bar in lubricant before storing in an airtight plastic bag or the original casing. This will keep it moist and ready for more applications. Keep the clay away from extremely hot or cold temperatures so it doesn’t lose elasticity.
- Perform other detailing procedures. Wax your paint after claying to lock in the smoothness and prevent other contaminants from sticking to the surface.
Another way to protect your paintwork is to apply the best ceramic coating for cars. This product seals your vehicle’s paintwork and delivers a shiny finish.
FAQs and Answers
Here are frequently asked questions about clay bar and answers:
- Q: What are the supplies I need to use a clay bar?
A: To clay your vehicle, you need a clay bar, a detailing lubricant, and a microfiber towel. Some brands include all the supplies in their kit, but you may need to buy them separately to save cost.
- Q: Is clay bar detailing better than polishing?
A: Clay bar detailing removes impurities from the surface of your paintwork. This prevents those contaminants from damaging the paint and causing oxidation. Clay bars have some abrasive, but they use a lubricant to minimize paint removal.
Polishing restores a car’s paint by removing a fine layer on the surface. What polishing does is to peel off the old paint to reveal a fresh layer.
Aggressive polishing can have a negative effect on the paintwork and expose the bodywork to rust. If you are not a professional, polishing can push surface contaminants into the paint.
Clay bars remove the impurities without the risk of damaging the paint, if you use it correctly. But you can combine claying, polishing, and waxing to give your car a clean, shiny, and decontaminated paintwork.
- Q: Is a clay bar safe for other parts of the vehicle?
A: Clay bars are safe for use on a wide range of surfaces. You can use them on any smooth part of your vehicle, including the paintwork, glass, plastic, and polished metal.
It is crucial to check the coarseness of the clay before applying it. If the product is too abrasive, it may not be safe for delicate surfaces.
- Q: Can clay bars damage my car’s paint job?
A: A clay bar will cause no harm to the paint on your car if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Most claying mistakes are related to insufficient lubrication.
If the lubrication is low, there will be friction between the clay and the paint, which can cause chipping. There is a problem if you have to drag the clay over the paint.
- Q: How often should I clay my car?
A: This depends on the amount of contaminants on your paintwork. If you do clay detailing correctly, one or two times is enough per year. You only need to wax the paint after claying to ensure contaminants don’t have access to the vehicle’s surface.
- Q: Should I use a clay bar after dropping it on the ground?
A: A clay bar collects dirt, debris, and other impurities when it touches the ground. Applying it to your paint can damage the clearcoat and even lower layers in severe cases. But this does not mean you can’t use the clay.
If possible, cut off the contaminated area. Otherwise, throw the clay away.
- Q: Will a clay bar remove oxidized paint?
A: No, a clay bar can only remove surface bonded contaminants, not oxidized paint. You will need to polish your paintwork to get rid of oxidation.
Are you a diehard car lover or just want to protect your auto investment? A clay bar is an indispensable detailing product for keeping your paintwork in good health.
If a bag test reveals your car’s paint is contaminated, the best car clay will restore its shine. Clay bars don’t require any specialist skills or tools. So long as you read the instructions and apply copious amounts of lubrication, your car will look like new.
However, knowing how to follow instructions is not enough. You need to choose a quality clay bar that will meet your needs.
That’s why reading clay bar reviews is an important step before heading to the shop. Reviews show you the best brands and the important specifications and features to look for in a clay bar.
We hope this article has shed light on clay bars, their uses, and what you can use them to achieve.