Does the best clay bar really exist? And if it does, how do you really know it is the best there is to be had?
What even makes "the best" or qualifies anything to be the best?
But I get it.
We all want the best if we want anything at all, right?!
I think it is important before you go running off reading clay bar review after another, that you at least understand the clay bar process and how to clay bar your car.
So let's take a brief moment to understand the basics and allow me to "myth bust" some of the bad information that continues to circulate the Internet from people willing to repeat bad and unverified information.
The clay bar actually has a few names.
Since it comes in different forms, it is a subject that becomes instantly confusing. In the name of keeping it simple, I will just give a brief description of what is the clay bar:
A synthetic type of moldable/malleable "clay" that is like very firm sculpting clay or Playdoh if you are familiar with what Playdoh is.Now there are different types of "clay bars" in the form of synthetic, rubberized material that is attached to blocks, cloths, and handles.
Whether you really can find the best clay bar or not matters not. Any form of detailing clay is used to decontaminate your car paint specifically, but can also be used to decontaminate any hard surface of your car: paint, glass, chrome, hard plastic, etc.
Think of the clay bar process this way:
Everywhere in the world there is this thing called air pollution. Air pollution can be made up of endless forms of contaminants. These contaminants settle onto the surface of your car.(as seen in the diagram)
Since not all air born contaminants are created equal, some of these air born contaminants can settle onto your car and etch or bond to the surface of your car paint, glass, chrome, etc.
The different types of decontamination bars, mitts, sponges, cloths, etc., are all used to remove these contaminants that will not come off during the traditional car washing, waxing, or even polishing process.
Simply put: the clay bar shears away these bonded contaminants as you rub this "object" back and forth across the surface you are trying to decontaminate. (see video at bottom of page for a video tutorial on using a clay bar)
Since the clay bar or any other type of decontaminating "tool" will be tacky, you will be required to use some form of lubricant that allows you to rub your choice as the best clay bar, back and forth across your paint until the bonded and unwanted particles have been sheared off the surface.
It all depends.
The simple answer is that after washing your car and you have dried it off, feel your paint by swiping the palm of your hand across the paint surface. If you can "feel" your paint and hear your paint, you will know you need to be using a clay bar on your car.
"Paint should be seen, not heard"
The unwanted "pollution" that has bonded to your car paint can be seen if you have a light colored car. The "pollution" will appear like tiny little specs of dirt and often will look like rust specs. (much of the pollution attached to your car paint will literally be ferrous in nature. Which is a glorified term for iron/metal)
As you glide your hand across the surface, you will also be able to "hear" your car paint. Which isn't actually your car paint speaking to you. It is the noise made as your hand slides over all these tiny particles that have become a semi-permanent fixture on your cars paint.
Since your car will be exposed to pollution constantly, and since not every area of the world will have the same amounts of air born pollutants, it all depends on how quickly these unwanted forms of pollution attach to your cars paint and how often you are willing to go through the process of decontaminating your cars paint and glass.
I know; shocking, right?!
But let's take a moment and define what we mean when we say scratching. Because really what is going to happen is not what I would call "traditional" scratching, but abrading.
And this abrading will happen at different rates based on you and your situation.
"If using a clay bar will "scratch my paint" Darren, then why would anyone use detailing clay in the first place?"
One of the many terms I have made popular thanks to my YouTube channel. I am constantly informing people that every choice you make, in this case whether to use the best clay bar to decontaminate your car paint (or simply wash, polish, and wax directly over all these bonded contaminants. (because that is what you are doing if you don't remove them) will have trade-off's.
In the case of using detailing clay to clay bar a car, you will have to accept that some amount of abrading will be taking place.
But for if you want silky smooth paint that is contaminant free, you will need to use some type of decontamination "tool" to remove these bonded contaminants.
Yes. There are in fact chemical products (Iron X as an example) that you spray onto your cars paint and chemically reacts and "neutralizes" the ferrous metal particles.
The problem with these are a few:
"So Darren, what should I do?"
I can't tell you for sure, but I can help you come to a decision.
Most people (myself included) start off with a choice in a quality clay bar and perform the decontamination process using the clay bar first. Once you have clayed your car followed by your choice as the best car wax, then see what you think and move forward from there.
Most people find that the abrading caused by the clay bar process is insignificant enough after a heavy-handed application of wax, that they simply don't feel the need to over-think the moment past that.
Likely you will come to the same conclusion once you experience how silky smooth your car paint will feel once you have washed, clayed, and waxed your car.
It is a glorious fee! (trust me on this one!)
Often people simply ask me what I would do. So I am going to tell you what I would do...
If you have made it this far into this page, give yourself a big high-five!
For you would be among the few. Most people simply don't have the patience to read through an entire detailing tutorial to learn all the many "details" of any given subject.
My goal has been to help you become a more informed car owner so that you can also make a more informed decision. I hope the time and effort I have put into this page has helped.