Claylube is a specific liquid that helps to lubricate the surface when claying. Without this lube, the clay will leave a lot of marring due to it being fairly rough and having a very high level of friction when moving.
Claying vs. contamination
When you are cleaning a surface, it might not be enough to just wash and dry. There can be contaminants that get trapped in the microscopic dents of the surface or even contaminants that bond to good with the surface to be removed by washing. Iron fallout is one of those contaminants. The roughly edge particles can either get stuck in the uneven surface of the subject, but they can also oxidize to a point where they are ‘glued’ to the surface. A normal mechanical wash will not remove these particles in most cases. Claying is one of several methods of removing this contaminant. There are also other ways like chemical cleaning, but they are aimed at removing just one kind of contaminant, while claying removes all kinds of contaminants. An iron fallout remover is one of those chemical cleaners.
The need for claylube
When 2 objects touch each other and move in different directions, the surface will ‘grind’ against each other. This is called friction. The level of friction depends on the 2 surfaces. Clay is fairly rough and soft, which means that it forms to the shape of the other surface and that the level of friction is quite high. If we would clay without a medium that reduces the friction, the paintwork might get damaged. And detailing is all about preventing damage and restoring/maintaining paintwork.
Claylube is a special liquid that helps the clay to glide more easily over the paintwork, without preventing the clay from cleaning.
Moving clay without lube can be tiresome, but the claylube makes it a lot more easy. To make it more user friendly, most claylube have fragrances added to them. They can also contain polymers (but natural and synthetic) to help it in its performance. These additives can sometimes make a big difference in how easy it is to work with a certain claylube.
Claylube isn’t always made from the same stuff. Sometimes a manufacturer notices how a quick detailer is fairly slippery, and they might sell is as a /claylube combination. Other manufacturer make 1 dedicated product that is only supposed to be used for 1 purpose.
Many claylubes are made from: water, oils, polymers that help bonding these 2 liquids, fragrance, coloring and a surfactant.
But there are also claylubes on the market that contain mainly polymers to help it perform in a certain way. When certain manufacturers realized that they had to create an emulsion of water and oil to make the claylube perform better, they noticed that this was a similar process to making a certain kind of wax. If they would add wax to the emulsion, they could create a claylube that also contains wax. This could then be used to leave a tiny layer of wax on top of the surface after wiping it off. This is the basic principle behind a quick detailer/claylube product.
It’s impossible to say which product is the best for your situation. First you have to figure out what clay to use, depending on the contaminants on the surface and how many of them are on your surface. This tells you what grade of clay you need to use. In case of much contaminants on very hard paint, you need a rough clay to clean the surface with. If the surface has little contaminants and is very soft, you need a very gentle clay. Certain claylubes do more then others. When you are using a very rough clay, you want to minimize the chance of marring, meaning you want a claylube that lubricates very good. A slipperly lube. But when you are using a very gentle clay, you don’t need the same level of lubricants. Depending on your situation, you either need product A or product B. It takes knowledge and experience to get the perfect combination.
Marring is inevitable
A certain level marring will always be there after claying. Even when you pick the perfect combination of clay and claylube, there will still be a few spots of marring on the surface. Marring is a very gentle surface imperfection caused by the clay. This is very shallow and very easy to remove. Most of finishing polishes and pre-wax cleaners will remove marring. You can minimize marring by using enough claylube (which needs to be applied generously) and by turning the clay over quick enough. You also need to take care that the clay is clean. And even then, a certain level of marring can not be prevented. A quick wipe with a follow up product and it’s gone.