Auto Detailing Clay: A Brief Guide for Students Pursuing Auto Careers

professional automotive detailing
Clay removes dirt that other car cleaning products can’t

While washing with soap and water serves its purpose in the detailing world, there are certain contaminants and dirt that it simply can’t remove from the surface of a vehicle. In these cases, detailing professionals turn to auto detailing clay for help. At first, the thought of rubbing a bar of clay all over a vehicle may seem strange and unusual. However, detailing clay is a highly effective means for removing dirt and grime that’s bonded with a vehicle’s surface.

If you’re considering a career in detailing, read on for a brief guide to detailing clay.

What is Auto Detailing Clay?

Do you remember playing with Silly Putty as a child? If so, detailing clay is like a heavy duty version of it. There are two types of auto detailing clay: medium and fine grade. Fine grade clay is gentler, so it can be used on a monthly basis, while medium grade clay is more heavy-duty and should only be used once or twice a year. For professional automotive detailing purposes, fine grade clay is usually the way to go.
Detailing clay is a resin compound that is used to pick up contaminants that have bonded to a vehicle’s surface. There are natural and synthetic versions on the market, but most detailers and car enthusiasts opt for a synthetic version.

What is Auto Detailing Clay For?

Detailing clay is used by professional detailers and vehicle owners to pick up contaminants that have pierced a vehicle’s paint, glass, or metal surfaces. These contaminants could be anything, including brake dust, rail dust, tiny pebbles, small amounts of tree sap, and more. The clay is designed to grab and remove particles that can’t be freed by washing with traditional automotive soap and water.

Detailing clay is highly effective, which is why many auto detailing professionals turn to it for help getting a vehicle as clean and shiny as possible. However, detailing clay is not an alternative to polishing a vehicle since it won’t remove swirl marks and small scratches. Even so, it does make an excellent addition to the detailing process.

auto detailing
Auto detailing clay isn’t a replacement for polishing a vehicle

You can test if a vehicle needs to be clayed by using the “plastic bag test”. Take a plastic sandwich bag and place your hand inside. Then, gently run your hand over a small, discreet surface of the car. If the surface feels gritty, the vehicle needs to have a thorough claying performed.

How Do You Use Auto Detailing Clay?

When using detailing clay, it’s very important to always use a clay lubricant. Without the lubricant, the clay bar can be extremely abrasive on the surface of the car and cause the contaminants its picking up to scratch the vehicle. Always remember to start the process with a clean surface. After you’ve thoroughly cleaned and dried the car, spray lubricant on a small section of the vehicle. Take your clay bar and work it in your hands until it’s in the shape of a flat, circular saucer. Then, gently glide the clay over the surface of the vehicle where you applied the lubricant.

The clay bar may feel rough and like it’s sticking to the vehicle the first several times you pass it over the surface. This is normal, and means the clay is working and just picking up the contaminants. If the clay starts to appear dirty, you can fold the clay over and start fresh. Once the clay bar glides smoothly over the surface of the vehicle, dry the area with a microfiber towel, admire your work, and move onto the next section!

auto detailing course in Toronto
After using the clay bar, wipe with a microfiber cloth

It’s important to note that detailing clay will remove any protective waxes or coatings, so in order to protect a vehicle against sun and water damage, it will need to be re-waxed before it’s returned to the client.

Do you want to enroll in an auto detailing course in Toronto?

Contact Automotive Training Centres today to learn more!

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