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Home » How to / Info » Use Detailing Clay

Clay Bar Technology

Clay bar technology evolved as a natural reaction to the need that arose for a way to safely remove bonded contaminants from clear coat paints without resorting to traditional rubbing or polishing compounds and the resulting scratches caused by the sharp, hard abrasive typically used in these formulas.

In the old days, if you found overspray or any type of unwanted substance on the hood, roof or deck lid of your car that washing didn't remove, you could simply go to the garage and grab any old compound, and together with a rag, you could quickly remove the offending contaminants. After that you could simply apply just about any companies wax and presto-chango, the problem was gone.

Not so simple anymore.

If you were to perform that same procedure to a modern clear coat today, you would see a horrible looking scratched-up mess everywhere you applied the compound, and the wax would do nothing to cover the scratches up.


Enter the Clay bar
Clay bars are non-abrasive bars of synthetic clay called Polyclay. They are somewhat like a high-tech version of Play-Doh?. They work in three easy steps:

1) - First you wash your car with a car wash solution that is specifically formulated for the unique chemistry used to make modern clear coats. Above all, avoid using common dish washing detergents because these products are extremely harsh and tend to dull the finish down with each use. Dish soaps are also hard on other materials and components such as rubber, vinyl and plastics, remember, when you wash your car with dish soap everything is subjected to the dulling and drying effects high alkaline soaps cause to your vehicle.
2) - Second you mold the clay bar into a pancake-looking flat wafer
3) - Third you lubricate the finish with a spray lubricant like Meguiar's No.34 Final Inspection
4) - Fourth you then rub the clay bar back and forth across the paint (somewhat like a bar of soap against your arm)

That's it! You are now claying your car's finish. As you're doing this, the clay bar will grab onto, lift, and pullout the contaminants that have bonded to the surface of your finish.

Generally speaking for most cars, only the horizontal surfaces need to be clayed, as it is the horizontal surfaces that contaminants tend to land on and if not removed within a reasonable period of time will then bond tightly to the surface. For extremely neglected vehicles, you can always evaluate the vertical surfaces and if need be, clay them too.

One important thing to keep in mind, if a vehicle's finish has bonded contaminants, it is highly likely that it also has below surface defects, for example, pore-embedding stains. For this reason, Meguiar's recommends for best possible results, always use a paint cleaner after claying to insure the finish is clean both on top of the surface as well as below the surface.


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