The best clay bars and clay bar kits for your car

The automotive equivalent to a fancy clay face-mask, one of these clay bars will transform your car.

Polishing a white car

by Ryan Gilmore |

People who own a hermetically sealed Porsche 911 Rs with 35 miles on the clock probably bang on about two things; their return on investment and keeping their car in pristine condition. One of the ways in which they do this may be clay barring their car, a process that removes contaminants from the paint to give a smooth finish.

Whether you drive a classic Jaguar XK120 and spend hours cleaning the centre console with detailing brushes or simply want to inject some pizazz into your car, good treatment with a clay bar will give immediate and noticeable results.

A clay bar works by removing contaminants from your car's paint that are usually missed during regular washing. Clay bars will remove metal particulates, tree sap, overspray and tar from your car, injecting shine and glossiness.

We've broken down what you'll need to properly clay bar your car, from full kits for starters to replacement clay bars and even a cheater's option.

Full clay bar kits

Autoglym Clay Detailing Complete Kit

The best clay bar kit for beginners
Autoglym Clay Detailing Complete Kit
Amazon

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If this is your first time trying clay barring and your current arsenal for car cleaning is nothing more than a bucket and sponge, Autoglym has you covered. Not only does this kit include a clay bar and lubricant, but it also offers a small bottle of polish and a microfibre cloth, ideal for getting the best finish.

Pros Cons
• Everything you could need to get started • Pricy
• Top-quality • Bottle of polish is on the smaller side

Meguiar's Quik Clay Bar Starter Kit

Great quality clay bar kit
Meguiar's Quik Clay Bar Starter Kit
Amazon

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If you're already a bit of an amateur detailer, but want to take it to the next level with a clay bar, then this is the option for you. You'll need to supply your own cloth, but the quality of the clay and lube is exceptional. This kit should be enough to clay three average-sized cars.

Pros Cons
• Great quality • You’ll need your own microfibre towel
• Will do three clay barrings per set

Clay bars

Bilt Hamber Auto Clay Bar Regular

Top quality clay bar
Bilt Hamber Auto Clay Bar Regular
Amazon

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We've tested this clay bar and found it to be fantastic. Bilt Hamber offer a selection of different clays perfect for different occasions. We've selected the regular option as it'll cover most cars and do heavily contaminated paint but soft (for really good paint) and medium (paint in fair condition) are also available. This clay bar is also water activated which means there's no need for lubricant, comes with a handy plastic storage box and 200g of clay means you'll be able to clean a lot of metal.

Pros Cons
• Great value and quality • You only need this much clay if you're clay barring a lot

Meguiars Clay Bar Replacement

Meguiar's replacement clay
Meguiars Clay Bar Replacement

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Clay is often the first thing to need replacing in a clay bar kit. If you're using Megauir's clay bar kit, then this clay is the perfect replacement clay. It even comes with a storage case to keep it safe.

Pros Cons
•Works well with other Meguiar's products •Expensive for one bar

Halfords Clay Bar

Great value option
Halfords Clay Bar

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Trying to clay bar but don't want to fork out for a premium brand? In that case, this clay bar from Halfords will still work perfectly at removing contaminants from your paint.

Pros Cons
•Good value option •You'll still need the other equipment (lube and a microfibre cloth)

G3 Pro Deep Clean Clay Mitt

An ergonomic solution
G3 Pro Deep Clean Clay Mitt
Amazon

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Designed to last five times longer than a normal clay bar, the G3 clay mitt works like a normal clay bar but is easier to apply. The mitt will make application easier, but just remember that you still need the lubricant.

Pros Cons
• Ergonomic mitt design will make application easier than a regular clay • Clay is reported to smear occasionally

Accessories

Dodo Juice Born Slippy Car Lube

Proper lubrication
Dodo Juice Born Slippy Car Lube
Amazon

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Proper lubrication is essential to avoid your clay from streaking. Dodo Juice clay lube is formulated to not only prevent smears but to enhance the effectiveness of the clay you're using. You can even buy a refill to cut down on waste.

Pros Cons
• Great car lube • Not essential

Meguiar's Supreme Shine Microfibre Car Cleaning Towels

Dry it properly
Meguiar's Supreme Shine Microfibre Car Cleaning Towels
Amazon

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No matter what you're doing to your car, a good selection of microfibre cloths will be invaluable. Meguiar's microfibre clothes are designed for use with cars and you'll be safe from swirls and scratches on your paint. This pack of three means you should always have one spare if you need it.

Pros Cons
• Finish the job properly • One of the more expensive microfibre towels

The cheater's option

Autoglym Magma Liquid Clay

The cheater's option
Autoglym Magma Liquid Clay
Amazon

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Can't be bothered or don't have the time to clay bar your car? Autoglym Magma will give you approximately the same results with nothing more than a quick spray. This Autoglym product won't collect all contaminants like a proper clay bar but will remove metal particulates, improving your paint's finish.

Pros Cons
• Does the job quickly • Not as effective as a proper clay barring

Clay bar FAQs:

What should I do before clay barring?

Detailers recommend properly washing your car before going over it with a clay bar. Give it a once over with some snow foam then a shampoo to dislodge the larger pieces of dirt and then, once it's dried, remove the embedded dirt with the clay bar.

How to use a clay bar:

  1. Wash your car as normal (use a good car shampoo to get better results) and make sure your bodywork is still damp, don't dry it too much.
  1. Squirt some lubricant or detailing spray onto your body panels and add a little to your clay bar.
  1. Run the clay bar over the surface to remove contaminants, regularly folding it over so it remains clean.
  1. Using a microfibre cloth, dry the panel.
  1. Repeat as much as you want, you'll be looking for a surface as smooth as glass.

Do I need lubricant?

Technically you don't need to use lubricant, but it'll make your life a lot easier. It won't be as disastrous as trying to run an engine without lubricant but it will give you more of a work out and it won't be easy at all.

When do I replace my clay bar?

It is fairly obvious when you'll be needing a new clay bar because it'll start disintegrating in your hand.

The only other occasion you should replace one is if you drop it on the ground; it'll be too filthy to rub all over your shiny paintwork after this.

How often should I clay bar my car?

It may be tempting to grab the clay bar every time you wash your car considering the fact you'll be replacing it every six months but hold fire. Most detailers only recommend clay barring your car if you're intending to polish it because of the tiny scratches (called marring) that a clay bar introduces to your car's paintwork. These scratches aren't bad in any way (they make polishing easier) but you really should be polishing your car after a session with a clay bar.

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