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What is detailing clay and why should I use it?

By Nathan Baron, Owner and Chief Detailer of Baron’s Auto Detailing

Not to be confused with the clay that you used in your elementary school art class, auto detailing clay is an “engineered resin compound” used to remove contamination from your vehicle’s paint, metals, and glass.

So, what is this contamination that I speak of? Contamination can include several different ingredients, but the main ingredients of contamination are: brake dust (iron particles), overspray from roads that are being painted, environmental fall out, and industrial pollution. While these ingredients are usually not visible to the naked eye, removing them is critical both in terms of protecting your vehicle as well as maintaining its appearance. Over time, these contaminants will embed themselves into your car’s clear coat, eventually causing rust bubbles to appear and dulling down its lustrous shine. Whether you know a lot about cars or not, most people know that rust is not a good thing. Plus, who on earth doesn’t want shiny, bright paint? Once these rust bubbles appear, the damage is done and there is no financially sensible way to resolve the issue.

This is exactly why it is recommended to clay bar your vehicle twice a year. As owner of Baron’s Auto Detailing of Arlington Heights Illinois, I typically recommend that my customers have their vehicle clayed once in the spring (to remove winter grime) and a second time towards the end of summer.

So now you might be wondering how you’re supposed to know if your car truly needs to be clay barred and if so, how you even use a clay bar. While a Forma Car Care Clay Bar is certainly not going to break your bank at the low cost of $17.99, there’s no reason to spend your time clay barring if you don’t need to. In order to decide whether or not you need to clay bar, simply wash your car using a waterless wash or Forma Car Wash Shampoo. Then place your hand inside a sandwich bag and gently rub your hand over the dry, clean surface. If it feels gritty and bumpy even after it has been washed, that means it needs to be clay barred.

Here are the steps involved in successfully clay barring a car:

  1. Wash and dry your car
  2. Use a plastic bag to test the surface
  3. Spray a panel (no larger than 2×2) with Clay Lubricant or Detail Spray
  4. Gently rub a piece of the clay bar across the paint in up and down, side to side motions (IF YOU DROP IT, THROW IT OUT. DO NOT USE IT ON THE VEHICLE).
  5. Make sure to avoid circular motions (at first the bar will stick on the wet finish but as the clay removes the contamination, it will glide over the surface much easier)
  6. Make sure you keep the surface well lubricated
  7. Dry the panel with a Forma Semi-Plush Microfiber Towel and use a plastic bag to test the surface
  8. Repeat until the surface feels smooth
  9. Spray your clay with lubricant and store it in an air tight container

So now that you know why clay barring is so important and how to do it, let’s put the icing on the cake, or in this case, the sealant on the car. While clay barring your car is great for removing contamination from your vehicle, it is crucial to then seal your vehicle using a product like Forma Car Care’s Spray Sealant in order to lock out the paint from future contamination. Sealing your car after clay barring will provide you with months of protection and shine. So, what are you waiting for? Treat your car and protect that investment!

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About the Author : Nathan Baron

Nathan Baron
Owner of Baron’s Auto Detailing
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