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 () 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.