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Clay Bars used to be one of the best-kept secrets of the professional detailing shop. Seriously, ever wonder how they manage to get your car’s paint that much cleaner than you ever do at home, no matter how hard you try?
Well, it turns out they were able to provide that deep clean that left your bodywork looking and feeling great by using a simple piece of clay. These days, though, the humble clay bar is a secret no longer.
You too can now employ this underrated, little known but frankly incredibly useful little tool at home, helping you achieve a pro detailing shop’s level of deep clean right on your own driveway – and for a fraction of the cost too.
Read our guide featuring the best clay bar kits on the market.
The Best Clay Bar
We’ll kick off the list with this clay bar detailing kit from Mothers. You’ll see this company appear time and time again on lists of car cleaning and detailing products, and with very good reason – they have a reputation for producing good stuff.
They keep up that stellar reputation here with this high quality kit, and they have also added a real element of value here. For a price tag of less than 20 bucks, you are getting a box chock full of premium items.
The clay bars first, since that’s what we’re here for after all. Not only are you getting premium quality clay here, but also you’re getting two bars of it, each bar weighing in at 100 grams. A very useful instant detailing spray is a great addition (and is designed to work as the lube for the clay), whist the included microfiber towel means you’re getting everything you need for a high quality clean all packaged into one convenient box.
That is terrific value for high quality products from a respected manufacturer.
Complete Clay Bar Kit
Includes 2x Bars, Detailer Spray & Microfiber Towel
100g of Clay per Bar (200 Grams Total)
- Weight1.5 lbs
Containing 1x bottle of lubricating spray and 1x 100g clay bar, this kit from Chemical Guys, with its price tag in the region of 20 dollars is one of the more expensive listings.
However, there is a good reason why Chemical Guys are another of the companies who feature heavily on our lists, and again it is the simple fact that they make premium detailing and car cleaning kits. In this kit they have managed to put together probably one of the best clay bar kits on the market today.
It’s the level of detail that has been put into the design and manufacture of the bar itself that makes this stand out – and also explains why this kit is one of the most popular amongst pro detailers.
This bar is of a unique, elastic yellow construction. It is designed to effectively pull away and remove surface containments of all kinds, whilst simultaneously being kind enough to use on a range of surface types – paint, glass, metal and plastic can all be cleaned with this bar.
The bar has also been designed to be extra long lasting, making up, to a certain extent at least, for the fact there is only one in the kit. Add in the fact that the clay positively glides over surfaces with the help of the included lube spray and you are looking at one very well designed product here.
High Quality Lubricant Spray
1x 100g Flex-Clay Bar
- BrandChemical Guys
- Weight1.32 lbs
Clay bars for cars can often be sent out to you in plastic bags or pouches, to be ripped open, used once, popped away in a drawer or up on a shelf in the garage for the next time. Since these products are not designed to be very frequently used, the clay often sits for a while, gathering dust and grime until the next time you take it down – and it’s too dirty to use.
No such problem with this great little kit from Towel Motors however. They have really put a lot of effort into the packing and presentation here, with the clay bars packed into a (non-stick) plastic tray housed in a very useful and hardwearing tin. That is going to help look after the clay long term, so it in turn can help look after your paintwork.
The clay itself is good quality too, being a medium grade that makes it easy to rip and mould into easily used pieces. That medium grade also provides the right balance of lifting power to tackle a wide range of surface containments and deep ingrained dirt whilst also being gentle enough to protect against paint surface swirls.
2x 160 Gram Bars
Useful Storage Tin
Easy to Knead Formulation
- BrandTowel Motors
- Weight1.04 lbs
This really is an old friend’s reunion right here, isn’t it? Meguiar’s is yet another extremely well regarded manufacturer of premium car cleaning products, which have taken a well-deserved place on many previous Car Bibles buying guides.
They are back here with another well thought out automotive clay bar kit that again contains everything you need in one convenient box. So first up we have 2x clay bars here, each bar weighing 80 grams, making them the smallest on the list. We also have a high quality lubricant spray and a very useful microfiber cloth – so it really is everything you need in one box.
It should be noted that this kit also has a pretty high price tag of around 25 bucks, which makes it the most expensive kit on the list. That combination of high price and smaller bars may put some people off, however it probably is an appropriate price for a well put together kit from such a well regarded manufacturer as Meguiar’s.
2x 80g Bars
Plus Lubricant Spray & Microfiber Towel
- Weight1.9 lbs
This is a great value clay bar set from YGDZ. It’s worth noting however there are no bells and whistles in this kit. That means no microfiber cloths, no lubricant or post clay bar wax included here.
This is just a simple set of two high quality clay bars. That keeps the price of this set nice and low (you’ll get change from a 10 dollar bill), and all the money you are spending goes on the bars.
These are nicely made, if somewhat basic, clay bars that are very easy to tear and work into the right shape. That makes them perfect for use as a larger lump to tackle big areas like the hood, and you can also fashion smaller lumps to get into smaller areas of detailing.
It’s also a nice feature to see that the bar comes in several colors, one of which is white. We like to see white clay bars, and are kind of surprised that more companies don’t offer them. After all, what shows up dirt better than white? With a white colored clay bar you can really tell when you’ve picked up all the dirt.
2x 100 Gram Bars
Soft & Easy to Mold
Available In White
- Weight7.2 oz
4 – yes that’s right 4 – clay bars in one packet, with a price tag of under 15 bucks. Given how infrequently you need to use a clay bar for the best results (something we’ll chat about below in the buying guide) this could very well be all of the clay bars you will ever need in one convenient purchase.
No only does this product represent phenomenal value though, it’s also a very high quality, premium product. Whilst this time they are not available in white (boo!) they are again easy to tear and form into the perfect sized pieces for tackling any part of the vehicle – making these one of the best clay bars for detailing on the list.
Another very useful feature is that these bars can be used with plain water. That means you don’t need to invest in expensive lubricant sprays – simply wash the car down thoroughly, wet it with normal water in a spray gun and get to work.
Like we said already, excellent value for a very well designed product.
Works with Water
- ModelIPELY Car Clay4P
- Weight14.4 oz
Our second entry from Chemical Guys, and a product that is, in a lot of way, very similar to the two previous products on the list. This is a single bar, not a kit so you are going to get that Chemical Guys premium product level, at a lower price than the full kit we looked at earlier. This could be perfect then if you still have some lubrication or detailing spray left, and just need a replacement bar.
Of course, this being Chemical Guys, the price is going to be a little higher, and this single bar will set you back about the same price as the 4 pack we looked at above. Again though, it really does come down to that Chemical Guys name, and whether you think it is a better idea to spend your budget on one, premium product.
In use, the bar is a medium grade clay. This means it will be nice and easy to tear mould, making this a premier clay bar for detailing. It works hard to remove a range of staining and containments, and is safe to use on a multiple surfaces on the vehicle. It’s nice and light in color, making it easy to see the dirt you’re lifting away.
Light Gray Coloring
- BrandChemical Guys
- Weight1.6 oz
Our final product is another 4 pack of bars very similar to the IPELY – so perhaps we went a little early in declaring that product the best value on the list, as we clearly have a dead heat here.
This product from LEOBRO is another example of phenomenal good value. As with the IPELY, these are not the bells and whistles, carefully formulated clay bars you will get from Mothers, Chemical Guys or one of the premium brands.
But what you are getting are good quality, if basic, clay bar car cleaners – and what’s more, you’re getting a lot of them, for a pretty low price. Same as the IPELY, this clay will happily work safely with just water as lubricant, making these a really simple product to use.
It’s also nice to see they are all individually wrapped, so you can pop the spares away in a drawer or up on your garage shelving knowing they will keep safe and clean until you need them.
100 Grams per Bar
Very Low Price
- Weight14.2 oz
Best Clay Bars for Cars Buying Guide & FAQ
Despite being a relatively simple product, there is quite a range of options out there – and also a range of prices.
That’s why we’ve put together this buying guide to go through some of the features to bear in mind when selecting your product. Are you looking for the best clay bar kit, or are you more interested in finding the best clay bar for detailing?
Either way, we’ll go through some of the features to look out for when shopping for one of these products. We’ll also take a look at the best way to use your new clay bar and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these useful little tools.
Aren’t we kind to you, huh?
Things to Consider When Buying Clay Bars for Cars
Like we said, these products are lovely and simple and that is part of their appeal. But just as with any product, each one is going to have a slightly different design, and each design will bring – or omit – different features. So when you’re buying, consider:
Color – This may just be a thing that bothers us, as no one else seems to care much (not the first time that has happened), but we think the color of the bar is something that you should consider. It just stands to reason that a lighter color bar – either white or gray – will show the dirt better, allowing you to see when a patch of bodywork is completely clean. But most manufacturers make them blue, so it probably doesn’t matter too much!
Lubrication – Never use a clay bar on a dry surface, it has to be lubricated with something otherwise it could damage the paint. Premium products will usually specify that you use a lubricant / detailing spray, and the best clay bar kits will come bundled with a high quality spray. Some other bars – usually more basic ones – will happily work with plain or soapy water though.
Size – Don’t worry about the actual size or shape of the bar in terms of how it will feel in the hand – you’ll be ripping pieces off of the bar anyway. Just bear in mind the size of the bar in terms of overall value. 100g is about average size, and gives enough clay to thoroughly clean an average car a few times.
Why Choose a Clay Bar Kit for Detailing?
You should choose a clay bar for one of the best reasons there is – it works! As we mentioned in our introduction at the top of this article, clay bars have been part of the armory of professional car detailing shops for a long, long time. The pros use them because they know they are highly effective – and now you know too.
An automotive clay bar will tackle all surface containments that are left behind even after a through clean and wash of the bodywork. So we’re talking:
- Brake Dust
- Industrial Pollution
- Tree Sap
- Oil and Tar Stains
A normal car clean won’t touch these containments, even with something powerful like a foam cannon. A clay bar can tackle these imperfections without causing any damage to the paint surface, making it an extremely effective cleaning aid – and that is why you should choose a clay bar for detailing.
Tips for Using your Clay Bar Kits
These are relatively straightforward products to use, however if you’ve never used them before it’s always handy to check out a guide to help you to make the most of it – click here for a really good guide from Wiki How.
If we could just add a few extra bits of advice, it would be:
1) Clean the car well before you use your clay bar. So you’ve cleaned it already, and think you’ve done a good job? Stop, have a beer and read this Ultimate Car Washing Guide. Then go back and do it again. The clay bar is designed to tackle surface imperfections that a good clean can’t touch, but it will also clean up any other surface dirt and debris left behind. Clean the car thoroughly to remove the easy stuff so that the clay bar can tackle the hard dirt better.
2) Bit of a basic one, but this tip could be a lifesaver – at least as far as your paint is concerned. If you drop the piece of clay you’re working with onto the floor, then throw it away. That same surface magnetism for little pieces of containment that makes these products so effective also means they Hoover up little bits of debris from the floor – like tiny stones and pieces of grit. Start rubbing that on the bodywork and you’re going to quickly create scratches and swirls. So if you drop it on the floor, the next destination is the trash!
Best Clay Bar FAQ:
Q: What is a Clay Bar?
A: It is a bar of resin compound, specially engineered to be effective at lifting surface containments from car paintwork.
It is almost always a synthetic clay, although some natural products are available (and are insanely expensive. Does your car need an organic clay bar? No, no it does not).
Q: Can Clay Bars scratch my car?
A: They can, but if used correctly they won’t. Just remember to throw away any clay that falls on the floor. Also avoid Hard clay bars. They are especially abrasive, and should only be used by pros. All the bars on this list are a Medium grain or softer, so don’t worry about that.
Q: Can they be used on car windows?
A: They can be, but only if the product specifies so. As we said above, some bars are more abrasive, and they should not be used on glass. But the bar should state either on the instructions or the product details when you buy it the surfaces it can be safely used on.
Q: How do I clean my Clay Bar?
A: You don’t. You tear off a piece and form it into a small cake shape, clean until it gets dirty then fold it over into itself, like kneading a piece of dough. That gives you a fresh, clean surface to use. Once you turn the cake into itself several times and it starts to come up dirty every time, throw it away and tear off a new piece from the bar.
Q: Do I need a Clay bar if I have Ibex protection?
A: As Ibex is essentially a paint sealer, it should be safe to use a clay bar as the clay is only looking to pick up containments on the surface. However, you should check with the dealer or garage before you proceed just to make sure.
Our Top Pick for Best Clay Bar
There are a lot of really good products on this list, and we don’t say that just to give ourselves a pat on the back! The quality is really outstanding across the board, which made this part very hard indeed.
After a lot of thought, we went with Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System as our Top Pick. Not only does it pack a pair of large (100 gram) bars, it also has that excellent lubricant / detailing spray and a very handy microfiber cloth. It states right there on the box that it’s a value pack, and it’s hard to argue with that considering the amount of high quality product you get in the box for what is a very reasonable price.