How to Use Auto Detailing Clay

How to Use Auto  Detailing Clay

How to Use Auto Detailing Clay

Clean With Detailing Clay!

If detailing clay is new to you, you might be thinking, “What is detailing clay and what can detailing clay do for my car?” The short answer is that auto detailing clay removes from the paint what washing cannot. For the long answer, read on!


Auto detailing clay is similar to the stuff you played with as a kid, but the clay used for detailing is usually much more elastic, especially in the case of Pinnacle Ultra Poly Auto Detailing Clay Bar.Auto Detailing Clay Bar is an engineered resin compound used to remove contaminants from the surface of your car’s paint, glass, fiberglass and metal. Detailing clay can be natural or synthetic, though most manufacturers utilize synthetic clays.

Auto detailing clay is similar to the stuff you played with as a kid, but the clay used for detailing is usually much more elastic, especially in the case of Pinnacle Ultra Poly Auto Detailing Clay Bar. The elasticity gives the detailing clay excellent durability as it is rolled, flattened, smashed and stretched over and over again.
Plus detailing clay is designed to stand up to the kind of contaminants that your childhood clay never had to face, i.e. industrial fallout, rail dust and brake dust. These contaminants pierce paint finishes, glass and metal and remain stuck on your vehicle through rain, car washes, and even polishing. The only way to remove these pollutants is – you guessed it – detailing clay.


How Does Auto Detailing Clay Work?

Detailing clay glides along the surface of your paint and grabs anything that protrudes from the surface. The particle sticks to the clay and is therefore removed from your vehicle. The surface being clayed should always be wet with clay lubricant to prevent loose debris from scratching the vehicle.

Used properly, detailing clay is completely safe and nonabrasive.Its a much better option than polishing to remove these contaminants because clay doesn’t remove any paint.

Used properly, detailing clay is completely safe and nonabrasive.Its a much better option than polishing to remove these contaminants because clay doesn’t remove any paint. Detailing clay glides along the surface of your paint and grabs anything that protrudes from the surface.

There are three different grades of clay currently available to the public. The first is a fine grade clay that removes light contaminants, generally used on well-maintained vehicles - Pinnacle Ultra Poly Clay is a good example of a fine clay. Another is a medium grade detailing clay designed to clean the vehicle once or twice a year. This grade of clay removes wax along with anything else on the vehicle. We’re talking CLEAN. Examples are Wolfgang Elastic Poly Clay, , and McKee's 37 Universal Detailing Clay.

Another option is an aggressive grade clay that is used on badly contaminated paint - this one will also increase your risk of claying-induced marring, so extra caution is necessary. Check out Meguiars Professional Detailing Clay if you need something more aggressive than your standard clay bar.

All detailing clay requires the use of a clay lubricant to prevent scratches as you gently rub the clay on the vehicle. Check out our Clay Page. There you will find all of the different clays and their coordinated clay lubricants.


What Does Detailing Clay Remove?

Your vehicle is under constant assault from airborne pollutants. Brake dust, industrial fallout, acid rain deposits and rail dust all can adhere to your vehicle. These contaminants often contain metal particulates, which accounts for the ease with which they penetrate the clear coat to attack the paint below. These contaminants then oxidize, and they allow rust to spread beneath the clear coat. Tiny orange spots today, total paint system failure tomorrow! Detailing clay removes these contaminants in order to keep the paint healthy and vibrant.

Detailing Clay also removes stubborn sap, tar, and bug remains. Detailing clay works wonder on glass as well. Try some the next time you’re washing your windows. You’ll be amazed at the results!


Do You Need To Clay?

Chances are, the answer is yes. The surface of your vehicle faces assaults from the environment every time it’s out in the weather. Each road trip brings new insults from roadway debris, exhaust films, and airborne pollution. They will splash, mar, and embed themselves in that beautiful paint job you’ve labored over. Vehicles can accumulate these contaminants any time, any place – even at the dealership.

The Bag Test: There’s a simple test that will indicate whether or not you need to clay. Wash and dry your vehicle, put a plastic sandwich bag over your hand and lightly rub your fingertips over the paint. If it feels gritty or rough, your paint is contaminated.

Use a high quality detailing clay bar, like Wolfgang Elastic Poly Clay or Pinnacle Ultra Poly Clay, and a clay lubricant to clean your paint before applying wax or polish.

Waxes and paint sealants will adhere better to clean paint and the shine will be more uniform and vibrant. Sounds like a win-win situation!


To Use Clay:

Clay is available in 2 to 8 oz. bars. Two ounces is enough to do three or four vehicles. On average, a vehicle will need to be clayed twice a year. At this rate, one 2 oz. clay bar will last you 18 months to 2 years if used on the same vehicle. If you buy clay in an 4 oz. bar, like McKee's 37 Universal Detailing Clay or BLACKFIRE Poly Clay, cut it in half and keep the unused portions moistened with lubricant in the storage case.

  • NOTE: To optimize both the quality of your claying and the clay's useful life, avoid soap and water as a lubricant. They will prematurely deteriorate today’s clay compounds. Use only clay lubricants. A good clay kit, like the The Wolfgang Polishin’ Pal Clay Kit, contain both the detailing clay and it’s corresponding lubricant.

Follow these steps:

  1. Wash and dry your vehicle.
  2. Spray a small area with clay lubricant, no bigger than 2 square feet.
  1. Gently rub the clay bar back and forth across the wet area. It will grab at first. This means that it is pulling contaminants out of the paint. When it glides
    freely, the paint is clean.
  2. Wipe the area with a microfiber towel and use the clay lubricant to remove any clay residue. Rub your fingers across the paint now; it should be as smooth as glass. If it’s not, repeat the process. Reshape the clay bar as needed to expose a clean surface. Keep the clay well-lubricated.
  3. Continue these steps until you’ve clayed the entire vehicle. Clay does a marvelous job on glass and chrome, too.
  4. Store the clay bar in its original case if possible, or in an airtight plastic bag. Spray it with lubricant to keep it moist. Do not allow the clay to freeze and do not store it in temperatures above 200° F.
  1. Always follow claying with a wax or sealant. Clay will removing existing wax and may leave tiny holes where contaminants have been removed. They must be sealed in order to protect the paint from corrosion.

  • Note: Detailing clay does not remove oxidized paint or fill in blemishes. If your paint is mildly oxidized, clean the paint with clay and then use a polish to remove the oxidized paint. If the oxidation is severe, polish first because the oxidized paint may flake off as you clay and ruin the clay bar. (See our polish how-to.)

Clay Bar Alternatives

Thanks to the recent advancements of modern detailing, we now have an alternative to the original clay bar – one that can be washed and re-used hundreds of times and one that DOESN’T have to be thrown away if dropped!

Synthetic clay bar alternatives, like the Speed Master Clay Towel, Speed Master Clay Mitt, Cobra Clay Mitt, or Nanoskin Autoscrub Towel - Fine Grade, are made using a rubberized coating that mimics the design of traditional clay bars and are found in a variety of different mediums – including pads for use on a polisher, wash mitts, and towels. Perfect for both professional detailers that are looking for an economical solution to the disposable clay bars, as well as detailing enthusiasts that value a good technological advancement, synthetic clay bars are a great alternative to your traditional detailing clay!

Depending on your chosen medium, claying your car can be done the same time as washing your car! Using the Speed Master Clay Mitt allows you to remove insect remains, tar, sap, industrial fallout, and other above-surface contaminants using only your car wash as lubricant!

While these clay bar alternatives are much easier than your traditional clay bars, some maintenance is required. Luckily, BLACKFIRE Synthetic Clay Mitt Cleaner will effortlessly separate all the contamination from your synthetic clay mitt and leave it clean and ready for your next decontamination – extending the life and keeping your synthetic clay work it’s best!

Click on image to see this video



Then use a pre-wax cleaner, like Pinnacle Paintwork Cleansing Lotion, to fill in minor swirls and scratches prior to waxing. If your paint is in good condition, proceed to waxing.


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Pinnacle’s Ultra Poly Clay is the single finest clay composition available today.
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Pinnacle Ultra Poly Clay is our ultra fine grade of detailing clay, designed for frequent, gentle cleaning of your vehicle.
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Clay Disc for the Polishin’ Pal enables you to clay without getting clay residue or lubricant on your hands. One side of the disc has hook & loop material to attach to the Polishin’ Pal.
Clay Disc for the Polishin’ Pal (Disc Only) - WG-DISC
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Wolfgang Elastic Poly Clay Bar - WG-9000
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Speed Master Clay Mitt
Speed Master Clay Mitt - DSM-CLAYMITT
Our Price:  $24.99
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When you feel the need… the need for a speedy contaminant removal! The Speed Master Clay Mitt is contamination’s ...more
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Speed Master Clay Towel
Speed Master Clay Towel - DSM-CLAYTOWEL
Our Price:  $24.99
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The convenience of a towel and usefulness of clay in one! The Speed Master Clay Towel is the perfect compromise ...more
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Speed Master Clay Combo
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Speed Master Clay Towel Wash Kit
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BLACKFIRE Bucket Clay Kit
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Kit includes McKee's 37 Universal Detailing Clay and a bottle of McKee's 37 Universal Clay Lubricant
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McKee's 37 Universal Detailing Clay lets you clay your way to a silky smooth finish with a bright glossy shimmer!
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Wolfgang Polishin’ Pal Clay Kit
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Pinnacle Paintwork Cleansing Lotion will restore and preserve your car's original beauty.
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Cobra Clay Mitt
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Paintwork Clay Pad Applicator
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Meguiars Professional Auto Detailing Clay, meguiars C2000 clay bar, Detail Clay cleans better than polishes! Clean your car with Meguiars Detailing Clay Bar, Overspray Clay.
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Meguiar's Smooth Surface Clay Kit, meguiars detailing clay,
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Meguiars Professional Detailing Clay – Aggressive - C2100
Meguiars Professional Detailing Clay – Aggressive - C2100 - C-2100
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Mothers California Gold Clay Bar - Mothers California Gold Clay Bar Paint Saving System, detailing clay bar, 2 clay bars
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Speed Master Clay Mitt
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When you feel the need… the need for a speedy contaminant removal! The Speed Master Clay Mitt is contamination’s ...more
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Speed Master Clay Towel
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The convenience of a towel and usefulness of clay in one! The Speed Master Clay Towel is the perfect compromise ...more
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Cobra Clay Mitt
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Our Price:  $39.99
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No more messy clay bars! Cobra Clay Mitt uses the hi-tech, rubberized coating attached to one side of the mitt to ...more
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Nanoskin AutoScrub Fine Grade Wash Mitt
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Paint decontamination with a wash mitt! The Nanoskin Autoscrub Wash Mitt is a fast, easy way to remove above ...more
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BLACKFIRE Synthetic Clay Mitt Cleaner
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Make sure your decontamination step is not a re-contamination step! BLACKFIRE Synthetic Clay Mitt Cleaner will ...more