Clay Bar: Make Your Car’s Paint Smooth Like Glass

Clay Bar: Remove Embedded Dirt From Your Car

After washing your car, you may touch it and notice it still feels dirty.

This probably isn’t because you did a poor job, but rather there is embedded dirt in your paint!

Pressing harder while washing will not fix this (it will actually cause more damage, such as scratches).  

The solution is a clay bar, which is used to grab and remove the embedded dirt and other particles to make your car’s paint feel smooth like glass.

Clay Bar Basics

You can use a clay bar to get rid of embedded dirt, paint overspray, and other contaminants on paint and glass. 

This process, also referred to as “claying,” is an essential step in the detailing process, especially on older cars that are driven a lot. 

A simple wash will not remove these contaminants, therefore the car is not fully clean without this step!

clean rear car door

When to Use a Clay Bar

Not all vehicles will need the clay bar process.

Newer vehicles with less miles may not need clayed if they don’t have many contaminants in the paint. 

This can be determined by feeling the car with your fingers after it is washed. If the surface feels dirty, it needs clayed.

Check carefully around sections of the vehicle where dirt is common, such as the bottom of the doors or front bumper. 

If you find that some sections need clayed but not others, you may only focus on the sections that need it.

Clay Bar Process

Before claying your car, you will need the necessary materials. The easiest way to have everything you need is with a clay bar kit. 

I recommend Mother’s California Gold Clay Bar System. The kit includes two 100 gram clay bars, Showtime Instant Detailer, and a microfiber towel. 

This is more than enough to last for more than one car!

This will ensure you have everything you need to start claying your car.

Alternatively, you may purchase the materials individually: clay bar, microfiber towel, and instant detailing spray (you may also use soapy water for lubrication, but an instant detailer will give additional shine).

Follow the steps below using your clay bar kit, working in sections at a time:

  1. Wash and dry the car

  2. Spray instant detailer (or soapy water) onto section

  3. Glide the clay bar back-and-forth across the lubricated surface. You will feel the clay bar grabbing the embedded dirt. Continue until the surface is smooth.

    • Use straight motions

    • Keep the surface well-lubricated

    • Check for and remove large particles in the clay

    • Knead the clay bar to reveal a fresh surface

  4. Spray instant detailer onto section and wipe with microfiber towel to clean residue after working a section. If using soapy water, wash the vehicle again after claying the entire car to remove residue.

  5. After finishing the vehicle, double-check your work and fix any sections that were missed.

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