LAST UPDATED: June 07, 2018

The Best Clay Bars For Cars (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice mothers california gold clay bar system Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System
Premium Pick meguiar’s smooth surface clay kit Meguiar’s Smooth Surface Clay Kit
Best Value ygdz 2 piece car clay bar YGDZ 2 Piece Car Clay Bar

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 turned out that we were able to provide that deep clean that left your bodywork looking and feeling great all thanks to a simple piece of clay. These days though the humble Clay Bar is no longer a secret.

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.

So read on for our guide to the pick of the best clay bar kits on the market today.

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.

Key Features
  • Complete Clay Bar Kit
  • Includes 2x Bars, Detailer Spray & Microfiber Towel
  • 100g of Clay per Bar (200 Grams Total)
  • Great Value
Specification
  • Brand Mothers
  • Model 07240
  • Weight 1.5 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.

Key Features
  • Multi-Surface Use
  • High Quality Lubricant Spray
  • 1x 100g Flex-Clay Bar
Specification
  • Brand Chemical Guys
  • Model CLY_113
  • Weight 1.32 lbs

There are contaminants all over the surface of your car, including the windows. This specially formulated glass cleaner is made of clay. It comes in a jar that secures tightly. The clay will clean your glass better than a liquid spray-on because it picks up the smallest contaminants. The 3.5 ounces of clay has a more dense formula than Griot’s Garage paint cleaning clay. This prevents it from sticking to the glass while you are working with it. It can effectively remove oil residues, overspray, and mineral deposits. An additional benefit is that with regular use, your wipers will last longer.
Unfortunately, you may find the blue dye in the clay leaching onto your hands. This can be unpleasant, but you can avoid it by wearing gloves during use. It also won’t remove hard water spots that are etched into the glass.

Key Features
  • Helps Your Wipers Last Longer
  • More Dense Formula
  • Won’t Stick to Glass
Specification
  • Brand Griot's Garage
  • Model 11049
  • Weight ‎6.4 Ounces

If you have stubborn and severely bonded-on contaminants, then you need a more aggressive detailing clay. This jar from Meguiar’s gives you seven ounces of detailing clay that can remove overspray, bug debris, road tar, rail dust, and fresh water spots. When done, your car will have a mirror-like glass finish. This clay formula is safe for use on your clear coat and single-stage paints. You can use it on paint, glass, metal, and plastic for complete bumper-to-bumper detailing. What’s nice about this clay bar is that you get plenty of clay for all of your detailing projects.

One potential issue with this detailing clay is that it works best with Meguiar’s M34 Mirror Glaze Final Inspection or diluted D155 Last Touch Spray Detailer. You may not get the best results if you choose to use something different.

Key Features
  • Restores a Smooth, Glass-Like Finish
  • Non-Abrasive and Safe on Clear-Coat
  • Removes Stubborn or Severe Bonded Surface Contaminants
Specification
  • Brand Meguiar’s
  • Model ‎C2100
  • Weight 7 Ounces

Detail your car with this pack of detailing clay. Each jar comes with two 100-gram bars of clay that are individually wrapped. This clay stands out because it’s a soft, ultra-fine grade material. This helps it to remove both large and small debris. You’ll appreciate how flexible it is, making it easy to get into tighter spots. You can safely use this clay on clear plastic, paint, glass, and polished metal. This clay can effectively remove tree sap, dirt, brake dust, fallout, and hard water spots.

Unfortunately, these clay bars are smaller than other brands so that you won’t get as many uses out of them. The clay can also “melt” and stick to the container if left in a hot location.

Key Features
  • Two 100-Gram Bars
  • Ultra-Fine Grade Material
  • Flexible for Tight Spots
  • Blend of High-Quality Polymers, Acrylics, and Wax
Specification
  • Brand Adam's Polishes
  • Model CBJ-18
  • Weight 7.1 ounces

If you’re looking for the best value product on this list, then this offering from IPELY could very well be taking home that particular prize.

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.

Key Features
  • 4x Pack
  • 100-Gram Bars
  • Excellent Value!
  • Works with Water
Specification
  • Brand IPELY
  • Model IPELY Car Clay4P
  • Weight 14.4 oz

Our second entry from Chemical Guys, and a product that is, in a lot of ways, 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.

Key Features
  • Flex-Clay Technology
  • Light Gray Coloring
  • 100 Grams
Specification
  • Brand Chemical Guys
  • Model CLY-402
  • Weight 1.6 oz

Slip this ergonomically shaped clay bar into your hand and enjoy quick and easy detailing of your vehicle. The bright red grip measures 1.87 inches to support your hand comfortably. A dark black foam pad is affixed to the bottom for plenty of cushion. A horizontal oval bump pattern grabs and lifts contaminants away from your vehicle’s surface. You can effectively remove paint overspray, water spots, fresh tree sap, rail dust, bird droppings, light oxidation, and brake dust. You can safely use this speed clay bar on chrome, paint, glass, and smooth plastics. What makes this bar stand out is that it can last for use on up to 20 vehicles before you need to replace it.

While this speed detailer works well on fairly clean cars, it isn’t really full-fledged clay. It won’t compare to using actual clay if your vehicle has a lot of contaminants. You may also find that the pad begins to separate from the red handle if you’re too aggressive with it.

Key Features
  • Patented, Rubber Polymer Technology
  • Restores brilliance to paint, chrome, glass, and smooth plastics
  • Reusable for Up to 20 Vehicles
  • Ergonomic Design
Specification
  • Brand Mothers
  • Model ‎17240
  • Weight ‎0.01 ounces

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?

clay bar for car

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:

  • Overspray
  • 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 from Wiki How to help you to make the most of it.

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!

clay bars for cars

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. 

Sources:

  1. How to Use a Clay Bar – wikiHow
  2. Car Washing Guide – Popular Mechanics