Remove debris and prep your car for the best shine possible with the best clay bar products.
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
If you've ever washed your own car, you know just how stubborn some types of grime can be. Road tar, tree sap and brake dust are just three of the things that can make you feel like it's impossible to get your car 100% clean. That's when you need a clay bar kit, which are made specifically with these troublesome things in mind. Clay bars are designed to remove that annoying crud your soap, water and sponge couldn't. They even remove things you can't see, to help create a smooth and crystal clear shine.
If this is your first time searching for a clay kit, we've got you. Below are our top picks for the best clay bar out there, and we've even included some accessories (like a clay towel). Read on to check them out, and if you're new to detailing clay bars, check out the info and tips down below to be sure you're giving your car the full clay bar treatment.
If you're looking for a tried-and-true clay bar, MATCC's Car Clay Bar is the one. There are other paint cleaning clay options out there, but for those who want the classic clay bar product to remove paint surface contaminants, we found this detailing clay with lubricant is the best to work with. It's durable, easy to use and the price includes more than one. We like the value, and the results big time on a car's paint.
There are true clay bars, and there are clay mitts. We selected Adam's Premium Clay Bar Mitt for beginners because it's so darn easy to use. You don't have to worry about dropping it, and if you do, you can simply rinse it off with no penalties. It'll also last for roughly 30 to 40 uses removing bonded contaminants for a smooth surface, much longer than a traditional clay bar. If you're new to claying, Adam's clay mitt with proper lubricant is a great place to start for great looking paintwork.
If you're not new to claying and want some serious clay to get a big job done, look no further than Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Detailing Clay. This stuff is, as the tin says, aggressive. It'll take out stubborn iron fallout from paintwork like a champ. Baked on tar and tree sap is no problem. Paint overspray dissipates. It's pretty great stuff, but indeed aggressive. The company also makes a less aggressive formula, but if you're working with some dirty cars, this is our top synthetic clay pick.
"Cheap" doesn't mean poor quality, folks. AutoCare's clay mitt does a fine job for the price -- almost $15 less than Adam's mitt. However, we found our other mitt pick to perform better simply from a construction standpoint. Note Adam's is a medium grade clay for more stubborn contaminants, while AutoCare's is a finer grade. It's not as aggressive, which makes it a great choice for the casual auto detailer simply looking to keep their car paint spotless.
A perfectly fine choice for the casual clay-er or experienced user, Mothers' Speed Clay 2.0 is a great product. We especially love its design, which is easier to use than a standard bar of auto detailing clay. Like all of our top picks, it removes debris and contaminants like brake dust quite well with spray lube and leaves an ultra slick and shiny paint surface behind.
No matter if you pick a clay bar or clay mitt, you need lubrication for the product to work on paintwork when auto detailing. Chemical Guys' Clay Luber is our favorite spray clay lube. This lubricant creates a seriously slick surface to use a clay bar or mitt on, and helps leave behind an incredibly soft painted surface after the fact. It's best to buy this stuff in bulk because, trust us, you need a lot of lubrication during the clay bar detailing process.
What is a clay bar? A clay bar is specially formulated to pull out dirt and debris from a car's paint, often too stubborn for just car wash soap. You'll see a clay bar get dirtier over time as it pulls out grime from on top of the paint clear coat, and even under it.
How do I use a clay bar or mitt? It's a fairly simple tool to use, but it takes time -- like all auto detailing steps. Lubricate a portion of the vehicle, with something like Chemical Guys' Clay Luber, and then wipe the clay in the area going up and down (or circular motions, if you'd like). Focus on areas with a lot of surface contaminants buildup as needed. Then, with a clean microfiber towel, wipe away the lube residue left on the car's paint.
Can I reuse a clay bar? Yes! All of our top clay bar kit picks are good for multiple uses. Check the packaging to see how many times a specific paint cleaning clay bar or mitt can be used with clay lubricant before it's time to pitch it.
What happens if I drop a clay bar? You need to throw it away. That's the short answer. Definitely don't take a chance using a clay bar you've dropped on the ground because you don't know what's now stuck in the clay. The last thing you want to do is rub debris and scratch your paint. If you have a clay mitt, you can simply wash off the mitt and get back to work, however.
What do I use after a clay bar? Basically, the steps go as so: Wash, clay, polish, glaze and finally, wax.
In clay bars CNET Cars trusts
If you really want to get serious about rocking a shiny car, a clay bar with proper spray lubricant is a great way to get there. You won't be disappointed in the paint results and choosing one of the products above will give you CNET Cars-approved results. Happy claying!