New clients often ask us what a clay bar treatment is, and why it’s important. To learn more about this cutting-edge treatment, read on.

Formerly reserved for professional detailers, car dealers, and other car care specialists, auto detailing with clay bars has begun to make its way into the garages of auto collectors and do-it-yourselfers thanks to the products’ ease of use and fantastic results.

Clay bars were developed in Japan in the late 1980s to remove overspray and minor flaws from vehicles at body shops. Back then, the preferred—and only—method of dealing with surface imperfections in the U.S. was compounding. Unfortunately, compouding removes tiny layers of clear coat every time you do it, resulting in cumulative damage to the car’s finish. Clay bars, on the other hand, are not abrasive and do not damage paint if used with the correct lubricant.

Clay adheres to and easily removes microscopic debris, like industrial fallout, rail dust, and brake dust, which feel rough, dull paint, and create rust spots within the paint. This rust is difficult to remove and often takes the paint with it. A paint job that’s been clayed will feel remarkably smooth, with the silky shine that comes from a perfect polish.

The benefits of clay don’t stop at your cars’ paint jobs. Chrome, coated metal, and glass are subject to the same environmental contaminants as paint. Clay can clean these surfaces, too, and will not scratch metal or glass. Clay also easily removes tar, sap, overspray, and grime.

Clay bars are used with a lubricant, which is essential to the performance and safety of clay bars. Lubricant provides the necessary slick surface for best results. Beware of using soapy water with clay, since detergent can cause the clay to deteriorate.