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How to Clay Bar Your Car Like a Pro

Educational  ·  February 14, 2023

How to Clay Bar Your Car Like a Pro

A clay bar is a popular tool for detailing a car's exterior. It's incredibly effective at removing contaminants from the paint, especially the more stubborn ones that are challenging to remove. It helps to learn from the pros to get the best results possible when using one of those bars.

To clay bar your car like a pro, you need to master using the bar without dropping it or placing it on a dirty surface. You can avoid ruining your bar by cutting it into smaller portions. Also, remember to use the bar only after you’ve washed your car but before waxing or polishing to ensure you get the best results.

Read through this guide to learn about clay bars, how they work, and the 5 steps to clay bar your car like a pro for the best car detailing results possible.

What’s a Clay Bar, and What Do You Use It for?

Before you continue reading this how-to guide on clay bar car detailing, let’s clarify two things—what is a clay bar and how does it work. 

A clay bar is specifically designed for car exterior detailing. It's not clay, as the name suggests, but engineered resin that effectively removes dirt and other small particles stuck on a vehicle's painted panel.

They call it a clay bar because it has a clay-like texture. When you pair it with a clay lubricant (included with the product), the bar will remove all contaminants from your vehicle.

That should bring us on the same page, so we can start looking at a few tips to help you use clay bars like a pro when detailing your car.

5 Tips to Clay Bar Your Car Like a Pro

Clay bars are incredibly straightforward to use when detailing your car at home. However, the professionals know a thing or two about getting the most value out of each bar and making their vehicles look stunning.

Here are 5 key tips to clay bar your car like the best clay bar car professionals do:

1. Careful Where You Put the Clay Bar

First and foremost, you must be mindful of any surface that the clay bar touches.

Remember: Clay bars are incredibly powerful in lifting debris and contaminants off a surface, and that's true even if the surface isn't your car's exterior.

So, if you put a clay bar on a dirty shelf while cleaning your car, even if only for a moment, the bar will be soaked with contaminants from that surface. The more saturated that bar becomes, the less effective it’ll be when you apply it to your car.

That’s also why you must not drop the clay bar on the floor.

Ask any pro, and they'll tell you—the moment you drop a clay bar on the floor, it's no longer helpful. You'll have to throw the bar away and get a brand-new one if you want to effectively continue clay-bar car detailing your vehicle.

2. Cut Your Clay to Smaller Pieces

As you read above, clay bars are incredibly sensitive because you can't drop them or place them on another dirty surface. Well, the pros have another trick up their sleeves.

What you can do is cut your clay bar into smaller pieces. Instead of using the whole clay bar all at once, portion it out so you clean your car using one small piece at a time.

That way, if you accidentally drop a piece, you still have a few portions left.

Dispose of the dirty piece and continue your detailing job with another fresh clay bar.

3. Do It After a Car Wash

If you're trying to detail your car to get it spotless, your menu of to-do tasks will include washing, drying, waxing, and polishing your vehicle, adding the clay bar somewhere in the process.

If you want professional-like results, you'll want to give your car the clay bar car treatment only after you’ve washed your car thoroughly.

Remember: The clay bar will pick up contaminants on your car's painted exterior, so if it’s still dirty, the clay bar will quickly become saturated with dirt.

Washing your car will remove most of the dust and debris from your paint. Then, you can use the clay bar to focus on the more stubborn or hard-to-see contaminants stuck on the surface.

4. Before Wax and Polish

Earlier, you read that you should use a clay bar after washing the car. That’s true, but you’ll also want to ensure that you do it before you proceed to wax and polish.

Each detailing task has a specific purpose. First, the wash clears most of the loose dirt and debris. Then, the clay bar removes any remaining contaminants.

Once that’s done, the wax-and-polish steps will protect your newly cleaned car exterior and keep it that way for longer.

As you can see, the clay bar plays a specific role in the clay bar car detailing process, so always perform it at the correct step for the best results.

5. Don't Use Water 

Last but not least, never use a clay bar with water. Instead, stick to using the lubricant that came with it or apply a detailing spray instead.

The lubricant ensures that the clay bar glides smoothly over your car’s surface as it picks up all contaminants along the way. 

Without that lubrication, there will be far too much friction for the clay bar to function correctly (or cause no scratches!)

Do You Wash Your Car After Using a Clay Bar?

No, you must NOT wash your car after the clay bar step.

Remember that you should only wash your car BEFORE using a clay bar. That way, the wash will eliminate all the loose dirt and debris, leaving the clay bar to focus on removing the stubborn contaminants stuck on your car’s paint.

For more helpful guides on cleaning and maintaining your car, stay tuned to the CarpartAU Blog. We update our blog daily to provide you with guides and solutions to common car issues. Keep reading, enjoy learning!


By Ray Hasbollah

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