If you’re new to detailing and keeping your car’s paint pristine you might be unfamiliar as to how or why you should use clay on your car. In short, detailing clay removes dirt from deep within your paint and is one of the first things you should do if you haven’t detailed your car in a while. Additionally, if you just had auto body work done at one of our autobody shops, it might be a good idea to clay bar the rest of your car to help make the rest of your car look just as good as your new body panel or paint job! If your entire car was re-painted though, do not use a clay bar and continue on to the next step in detailing, waxing.

How to use Clay Bar

How Does Detailing Clay Work?

Do you remember those sticky hands you would get in gumball machines or at the arcade when you were a child? If you do, you probably also remember how easily they could pick up the tiniest particulate of dirt! Well, a clay bar is similar to that. The resin-based compound picks up contaminates deep within the microscopic imperfections of your clear coats surface. The particles stick to the clay and are enveloped by the protective clay as you rub it across your paint. 

Used properly detailing clay can be a safer and easier alternative to polishing. There are however some cardinal rules you should always follow when using a clay bar. 

The Cardinal Rules of Detailing Clay:

  1. Never use dirty clay or clay that fell on the floor: If you go back to the sticky hand reference we talked about above, detailing clay will pick up EVERYTHING, so if it falls on the floor at any time no matter how clean your floor is, throw it away.

  2. Always use a clay lubricant: You’ll be rubbing your clear coat with the clay bar so the spray will allow for you to easily do so and also prevent the clay from sticking to your car and scratch your paint. 

  3. Try to work in a shaded or covered area: The main reason you will want to do this is so your lubricant doesn’t dry up as your working. Additionally, it’s nice to work in a shady space and you’ll likely be working for a while so it’s a win-win.

How to Clay Bar Your Car After A Trip to the Body Shop

Before you begin clay baring your vehicle, it’s important to double-check you have the right supplies. Other than the equipment you’ll need to wash your car beforehand, you will need a clay bar, clay lubricant or detail spray, and a microfiber towel.

  1. Wash Your Car: Before we get into removing those microscopic dirt particles from your paint, we have to focus on the big stuff. Go ahead and give your car a good wash beforehand.

  2. Spray lubricant on a small section: Much like waxing, clay bars work best if you breakdown the panels of your car into sections, working in about a 2 square foot region at a time.

  3. Use The Clay Bar: After you’ve added a lubricant to your paint, break off a small section of your clay bar and gently rub the piece back in forth the wetted area. At first, you will notice some resistance, but as you rub the bar over the paint long enough you will feel the clay start to glide. When you notice this that means the contaminants are out of the paint and in the clay bar. 

  4. Wipe Down Your Newly Cleaned Surface: When you feel little to no resistance, go ahead and wipe up any excess spray with your microfiber towel. remember while your doing this to place your clay bar in a safe dirt-free place like the packaging it came in or on your clean car. 

  5. Knead Your Clay: After the excess liquid is wiped up it’s important to knead your dirty clay. You’ll notice after your first pass that the clay is likely now dirty or darker than before.  Fold your piece of clay repeatedly until its back to the original color. This folding or kneading action will help envelop those particles into the clay and give you a new layer of clay bar to work with.

  6. Repeat: That’s it! continue to work in two square foot sections until you’ve worked every area of your bodywork. After you’re done with your clay store it in the original packaging if possible, or in a zip lock bag. 

What’s The Next Step To Detailing Your Car After Auto Body Repairs

Now that you’ve removed all those nasty contaminants from your paint (and spent a few hours working a clay bar around your car) you’ll want to make sure no new contaminants come back in! Because of this, it’s important to always follow a claying with a wax or sealant. Importantly a calying leaves pristine conditions for the wax to set in and help smooth in the imperfections you’ll normally find in a clear coat. Don’t know how to wax your car No problem, visit our blog to learn more ways to keep your paint pristine after a visit to the autobody shop. And if you’re looking for a trusted autobody specialist in the greater Vancouver area make sure to give one of our locations a call to schedule your appointment today!