Clay is putty-like substance that is used to remove contaminants from a surface. Clay removes particles that can’t be removed by washing or are difficult to remove with chemical cleaning.
Clay allows a user to remove particles that are either stuck to the surface or are trapped in microscopic gaps of the surface. Clay itself will actually become dirty over time and needs to be used with care. After claying, the surface should feel smooth, leaving a deeply cleaned surface. Further cleaning can be needed to achieve a perfectly clean surface.
How its used
In general its recommended to use clay in combination with clay-lube. This is a specially formulated liquid that helps the clay to glide over the paintwork, minimizing the risk of creating marring or any paint damage. The clay-lube is sprayed on the surface and the user rubs the clay over the wet surface. In many cases it is enough to wipe a certain area once, but it can be needed to wipe an area more times to clean properly.
After an area is done, the clay-lube can be rinsed off or wiped off.
The invention of clay
The original inventor of the polymer detailing clay is Mister Tadao Kodate, a japanese scientist who was looking for a safe way to remove contaminants from bodywork without using harsh chemicals or polishing compounds. The original clay bar was introduced in America in the early 1990’s by Auto Wax Company. When Dennis Dehn – a Auto Wax Consultant – was hired by Auto Wax Company to demonstrate the AWC products in Japan. When showing the products in a detailing competition he used a compound to get the paintwork smooth and clean. When he look beside him, he saw the other competitor using some type of putty with a spray liquid, rubbing the paint.
The first company to patent the detailing clay was Auto Wax Company (later called: Auto Magic), who holds the patent for detailing clay until 2014. 9 out of 10 clay bars sold where manufactured by Auto Magic under the brandname Clay Magic.
Clay comes in a few different grades. A hard/rough grade removes more contaminants, but has more chance of marring. A soft/gentle clay removes less contaminants but decreases the risk of marring. Using a clay that is to rough will results in a surface that is affected more then needed, a clay that is to gentle will not give the desired effect. It takes experience to judge what clay is needed.
Clay removes dirt by grabbing the contaminants and dragging it from the surface. This means that you have to turn over the clay often. Even with care and good quality clay-lube, it is very difficult to have no negative effect on the surface at all. The marks usually created by claying is called marring. Marring are very shallow marks in the surface of the paintwork that are very easy to remove. Most pre-wax cleaners, finishing polishes and some all-in-one (AIO) products can removing marring with great ease.
Claying doesn’t only come in putty-like form, some manufacturers have found ways to manufacture washmitts with a surface that acts the same as clay. This reduces the chance of dropping the clay, making it unusable.
Besides putty-like clay and claymitts, there are also claysponges. These are small sponges coated with a surface that is very similar to the coating on the claymitts. These can be coated on both sides or just one side. Some claysponges are even coated with 2 different grades of clay.
- Cleaning up the wheel and arch at the start of a detail can make a big difference to the end result. Even as part of a general wash, ensuring the wheel arches are fully cleaned out is important to ensure that the car doesn't have a clean bodywork but then muddy covered arches which stand out a mile away!...
- Cleaning the wheels on a car or bike can make a big difference. The wheels come into contact with various types of grime and dirt that might prove to be very difficult to remove. A simple guide will give insight into cleaning the wheels with less risk of damage or swirls....
- The snowfoam lance is an attachment for a pressure washer that pushes water and a soap micture through a nozzle with a very fine filter in it. This makes the soap mixture foam as soon as it leaves the nozzle. The foam is sprayed over the surface you want to clean. In turn, the foam will soak the dirt, making it easier to rinse off the dirt before washing....
- Hose slides are small tools that prevent any hose from getting stuck behind the wheel of a vehicle. Hose slides are offered by many different brands and manufacturer but are all basically the same....
- The engine bay is an important part of the car, and many detailer want it looking like it is brand new, or even better: custom build. This means cleaning of a lot of dirt, grime and oils that are hard to remove. This basic guide will give you some pointers before you start....
- Tyre blooming is the discoloration of the rubber in a tyre. This usually shows as brown rubber that is hard to clean off. In general, it won't get washed off and it might stain towels or applicators. Blooming doesn't cause immediate damage, but over time it could shorten the lifespan of the tyres by a small amount....