Best Clay Bar Kit for a DIYer

Detailing your vehicle fosters pride of ownership. More importantly, it protects your car’s finish and keeps it looking its best, which helps its resale value stay strong. One treatment that’s excellent to get the grit and grime off from months of driving is a clay bar. The gunk that often doesn’t come off in the car wash usually isn’t permanent; a clay bar often removes it.

You’ll find clay bar kits available from some of the most recognizable brands, but which one should you get? If you’re a do-it-yourselfer – whether you’ve detailed dozens of cars or are just figuring out how to claybar a car – we have what you need. Learn what clay bar detailing is, what you should know, and the five best kits to consider.

What is a Clay Bar?

A clay bar is a small, pliable block of synthetic clay used to remove impurities from the surface of a vehicle’s paint, glass, fiberglass, and metal. Clay bars are typically used after washing and drying a vehicle, and before waxing to ensure the best possible finish. 

 When using a clay bar, you will typically lubricate the surface of the paint with a detail spray or quick detailer, and then gently glide the clay bar over the surface of the paint to remove contaminants. The clay bar is effective at removing dirt, grime, road tar, and other contaminants that washing alone cannot remove. When used properly, a clay bar can help to restore the smooth, glossy finish of a vehicle’s paint and improve its overall appearance. 

What to Consider When Buying a Clay Bar

Not all clay bar kits are exactly the same, and doing a bit of research will help you choose the right one for your project. Consider: 

  • Type of clay bar. There are three main types of clay bars, somewhat akin to sandpaper grits. You’ll find fine, medium, and heavy clay bars, and they perform the way they sound. Fine clay bars are ideal for minor touchups while medium is a good all-purpose choice. Heavy is best for a particularly bad finish with lots of contaminant on it. 
  • Size of the clay bar. Clay bars come in various sizes, from small bars that are suitable for spot cleaning to large bars that can be used to clay an entire vehicle.  
  • Brand. There are many different brands of clay bars available, each with its own unique features and benefits. We’ll show you five choices from three of the top brands. 
  • Price. Clay bars range in price from a few dollars and up, but a DIYer won’t need a massive chunk of clay. Consider your budget and the level of performance you are looking for when choosing a clay bar. 
  • Lubricant: Clay bars typically require a lubricant to be used in conjunction with them to help remove contaminants from the surface of the paint. Some clay bars come with a lubricant included, while others do not. Consider whether you will need to purchase a lubricant separately or if it is included with the clay bar. 

Best Clay Bar Kits

While not an exhaustive list, these are five of the best clay bar kit options that you can find. They’re all competitively priced and are effective in the hands of a DIYer and a professional detailer alike. 

Mothers California Gold Clay Bar Detail Kit

To pull your car’s luster out from under the bug guts, sap, and road tar without breaking the bank, the Mothers California Gold Clay Bar Detail Kit is a great choice. It comes with two pieces of synthetic clay that you can use for small touchups or go over the full vehicle in one go. The kit includes 16 ounces of detailing spray as well as a microfiber cloth to wipe up after you’ve tackled the job.

Chemical Guys Complete Clay System Kit

From one of the most trusted names in detail supplies, you can get a kit to clay bar cars from start to finish. The Chemical Guys Complete Clay System Kit has 100 grams of synthetic clay as well as a spray bottle of their Clay Luber. Along with these basics, they also give you a stripping wash to prep the surface, wet wax, a microfiber towel, and an applicator sponge.

Meguiar’s Smooth Surface Clay Kit

If your project is on the large size, you might need more clay. The Meguiar’s Smooth Surface Clay Kit includes all the basics – detailing spray for lubrication and a microfiber towel – as well as three 80-gram pieces of synthetic clay. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done every time.

Mother’s Ultimate Hybrid 1-Step Ceramic Clay and Coat Kit

To clean and protect in one go, the Mothers Ultimate Hybrid 1-Steo Ceramic Clay and Coat Kit works wonders. Lay down a bead of the ceramic detailer and work it over with the clay tool – not a block of clay – for a faster, single-step job to get rid of contaminants. It also comes with a microfiber cloth to wipe down afterward.

Shopping for clay bar kits and other detailing products? AutoZone has what you need. Find detailing clay bars, spray, and cleaners for top brands in stock online or in-store to keep your car sparkly clean. 

FAQ/People Also Ask

What kind of clay bar should I use? 

Fine clay bars are the most common in kits, and they are usually the easiest to use as well. If you have stubborn stuck-on substances, you may need to step up to a medium or heavy clay bar. 

Is it worth it to clay bar? 

Keep your resale value higher, maintain your car’s appearance, and prevent unnecessary corrosion by using a clay bar to remove contaminants. 

Can clay bar scratch your car? 

If you don’t start with a clean vehicle or you aren’t regularly working the clay over a wetted surface, it can scratch your car.  

Do you clay bar wet or dry? 

Keep the surface wet with detailing spray when you’re using a clay bar. 

When should you not clay bar a car? 

You shouldn’t clay bar a car unnecessarily, and never use a clay bar on areas that are already damaged. 

Do you wash again after clay bar? 

It isn’t necessary to wash the car after claying it, but it can help to remove residue and prep the surface for wax. 

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Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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