This week’s post from Proje’ is about how to clay bar, clay towel or clay mitt your car. We know our car detailing, and our car detailing products, so we’re going to look at when and why to use a clay bar instead of a clay disc, and what specific products you should be using for the best results. I’ll take you through the best way to clay your car, and then the fastest, easiest and most efficient way to wax or seal your car after you clay it, because that’s a really important part of the process too. Remember that waxing and sealing adds protection back on to a car’s bodywork after you clay it!
Step 1: How to Tell if Your Car Needs to Be Clayed
The first thing I want to make sure is that you aren’t going through the claying process for the wrong reasons. A lot of people get in touch with us wanting to buy clay kits because they have a scratch on their car. Well, a clay bar isn’t going to do that! What a clay bar does is remove any roughness from the surface of your car, that’s caused by general contamination from the air – dust, dirt and debris – the three d’s! These contaminants can cause your paintwork to chip, which can eventually lead to oxidisation and rust issues in the long term. So, after your car has been washed, take a thin glove or plastic bag and put it over your hand. Then rub gently against the surface of your car. If the surface isn’t glassy smooth, then now is the time to clay!
If you have a white or light-coloured car, you may be able to see tiny little flecks of yellow or red on your clean surface, that won’t have come out during the standard washing process. That’s ok too – a clay bar will take care of it!
Step 2: Getting Down to the Clay!
So your car is clean and you’re ready to get down to claying. Hopefully you’ve already purchased your Proje’ Traditional Clay Bar. When you take it out of its packet you’ll notice how sticky it is. That’s how we’re going to get your surface super-smooth; the bar will lift everything straight off your paintwork. So the first thing NOT to do is drop it! If you do that, the bar is done. It is sticky enough to remove microscopic particles from your car’s bodywork, so you’d better believe it’ll pick up dirt from the ground! To avoid accidentally wasting the entire bar, break it up into palm-sized sections. You’ll notice our clay bars are nice and pliable, so this won’t be too hard to do.
Before you put the bar on your car, remember: lubrication is the key to clay barring properly. I’ve seen out there on the web that people use Windex or just regular water, but I really wouldn’t recommend this. These will be a bit abrasive, and the key to a good lube is one that lets your clay bar glide across the surface, so that you don’t risk scratching the surface in any way. Our Throwback Clay Lube is formulated with special wetting agents that increase lubricity and reduce friction. It’s one of our favourite products, so go ahead and get that before you get started too.
So, this is the traditional method. It’s worked for years, so why change it? Go one panel at a time, and saturate the surface with the clay lube. At this stage I should say that it’s impossible to over-lubricate, so go right ahead and spray away. Remember, too little lubrication could mean your clay bar gets stuck to the surface.
Dip your clay bar in water and then wipe it across the freshly-lubricated surface. You don’t need to press too hard – the clay bar is powerful enough. Move in a horizontal direction for the most effective coverage. When you first move your bar across the paintwork, it will most likely cling a bit. Don’t panic – this is the clay bar pulling all the dirt out from the paintwork; it means it’s doing its job. If the car is really in need of a good claying, you’ll be able to see the contaminants on the surface of the bar each time you remove it from the surface. Personally, I find that really satisfying! As you wipe the bar back and forth, you’ll feel the surface start to get smoother, and the bar will start to move more easily. That means it’s doing its job. You can go ahead and repeat the process panel by panel, giving the bar regular rinses and using a different piece if you’ve picked up loads of visible contaminants as you go. Remember to keep spraying regularly!
When Should I Use the Clay Bar?
The clay bar is best for if your car’s paintwork is really rough. It’s the most effective way to get everything out, but it’s also the most time-consuming. So only really use it when your car has that sandpapery feel to the touch. Remember also that you need to wax your car after claying, so you’re looking at a fairly long process, although it is one that will get your car super-smooth and shiny. To save a bit of time, you could wax and clay at the same time – get some Proje’ Old School Paste Wax and apply it with the clay bar – so you’re claying and waxing at the same time. Wax is plenty lubricating enough to take a clay bar without causing any damage to your car, so this would save you a bit of time for sure.
A More Modern Approach – The Disc
As I said, clay bars are the traditional way to do it, and they work. I’m not saying not to use them, but I like my detailing to be a little quicker and easier, while still getting the same high-quality results. So, you could get a clay disc that attaches to a Dual Action (DA) machine polisher. The clay disc is the same material as the bar, but it’s been melted down to make the disc that fits on the machine. Now, this will save you about half an hour, but is obviously more expensive as you have to buy the machine itself first! The other downside is that the discs will mar the car pretty badly once they get dirty, and that will then cost you loads more time using a buffer to get your surface smooth. You never know when it’s going to happen really, so you need to be really careful when you use it! Wash them after each use and replace the disc regularly – every ten to twenty claying processes.
It’s the same process – lube the car thoroughly, even more so than with the traditional clay bar. If you don’t, you’ll leave a black mark across your car that can be a real pain to get rid of. Again, clay until you stop hearing the roughness, and make sure you keep spraying. Do it out of direct sunlight, so that the surface doesn’t dry up, and don’t leave the discs in the sun! If you’re careful, the discs are a lot more forgiving if you drop them – just wash them off in water.
Use your DA polisher on a low speed and work your way up if you need to, but to be honest, even the lowest speed will produce more motion than you ever could by hand.
Using a Mitt
Another modern approach is using the clay mitt. Our Clay Mitt is like a mitten; it fits directly over your hand, so you can move around flexibly and keep the mitt flat to the car surface. It also gives you that extra feel; you can tell when you’ve finished one area because the area will feel smoother to the touch and pass from within the glove! If you don’t have the time for a traditional clay process, this is the perfect solution, delivering superb results in less than half the time. You can also accidentally drop the mitt and the fact that the clay mitt works using a rubber design means it won’t be ruined by coming in to contact with the ground. It is also a great way for beginners to get in to the process of claying. We know that using a clay bar can be daunting because it has to be used correctly, but a clay mitt offers an introduction to lubing and wiping without the concern that you might stick to the paintwork of your car.
As with the other methods, make sure your car is washed and dried, and use plenty of lube. Even though the mitt won’t stick, lube makes it work so much better. Go horizontally, and rinse the mitt regularly, especially after you’ve finished. If you wash and dry it well, it will last for ages.
The Super-Quick, Optimum Way to Get It Done!
No matter how experienced you are in the world of auto detailing, waxing takes time and concentration. Sometimes you either need a quick fix or you have a recently-waxed car that you want to be super-shiny for a special event. If you want to save yourself a whole bunch of time, we’ve developed a product that can get it all done really quickly. If you use this method, you can get your whole car smooth and sealed quickly and professionally – not a whole day or even more!
First, make sure your car is washed and cleaned, using our Vital Car Wash Soap. This is the part where I never cut corners – a clean car makes for a shiny car. Then we’re going to skip the separate clay and wax process and use our Surge Quick Detail Spray instead. Surge Quick Detail Spray has been designed with efficiency and results in mind. This simple-to-use formula has been specifically developed not only to enhance shine, but also rejuvenate the existing surface, leaving behind that freshly waxed look. It uses a polymer that works on any kind of paintwork or existing wax surface to produce an immediate shine with just a spray and a wipe. This polymer creates a thin, protective film over your paintwork rather than a full wax coating, and it acts as a really focused cleaner too, so you’ll remove debris at the same time as you wax.
To apply the Spray, use one of our microfiber towels; they’re specially designed to work perfectly during all cleaning and waxing processes and they’re super-soft, which makes the whole job that little bit nicer! Again, wipe gently and horizontally across the surface as you would with the traditional claying process, and then flip the towel to the dry side after you’ve covered the car. You’ll see that after wiping the spray on to the car and then giving it a really good buff, you’ve got that waxy whine to your car but have put in a fraction of the effort. Now that’s what I call a time saver!
If you have any questions about any of the techniques or products that I’ve mentioned in this post, just contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the Proje’ team will be in touch with you! Remember that we stock only the best auto detailing supplies, so why not click some of the links in this blog post, or visit our products page to find out more?