With all the new products coming to the market last few years, it seems as though clay bars are becoming used less and less, especially with the enthusiasts and weekend warriors. Some have asked about their use and I wanted to quickly touch on it in this article.
Some of the new products that are making decontamination easier come in chemical form whereas others simply make the mechanical removal of contamination easier.
One of the most popular and my favorite chemical product is CarPro Iron X (also available in Cherry Scent). It is an iron remover that is very effective but also safe for the vehicle’s finish. Aside from really cleaning up the paintwork, it’s great to use on wheels to eliminate embedded brake dust. Iron X is extremely easy to use and it makes any further decontamination a breeze. Other great products include CarPro Tar X and Stoner Tarminator, which make removing tar a breeze. Even old, dried up tar that has been sitting on the paint for months will be removed completely or for the most part utilizing these products. My go-to tar remover is Tarminator, but I have enjoyed using Tar X many times. CarPro TRIX is also a good product for someone who doesn’t want to buy both Iron X and something like Tar X, but I find the individual products perform better and give quicker results.
The other products I mentioned are used by hand to mechanically remove contamination. Such products include the SM Arnold Speedy Surface Prep Towel and Pad, Optimum Opti-Eraser and NanoSkin AutoScrub Fine Wash Mitt. My favorite product however is the NanoSkin AutoScrub Fine Foam Pad used with the NanoSkin Glide lubricant. All of these products are meant to remove contamination much faster and easier than a clay bar. As mentioned, I prefer the pads instead of towels as I find they are much easier to hold and control whereas the towels can start folding over as you’re wiping a panel and that gets quite annoying after a while. The pads are also usable with a polisher such as the PC 7424 XP or the Griot’s Garage 6″ polisher. While I always use the pads by hand, the option to use with machine can make the process much easier and quicker for some individuals.
So, with all these products (some I haven’t even mentioned because they are very similar to the ones above), can we realistically say goodbye to the old, trusty clay bars? In my opinion, no. Reason being, many times we encounter contamination that is either too much for the newer methods to handle or simply takes too long compared to using a clay bar. One example is when some larger contaminants (dried up tar, tree sap, etc) really get into the paint and require quite a bit of scrubbing with something like the AutoScrub pads. This tends to take a while, but my main concern is always that it starts to really take a toll on my $50 investment! In such cases, I will reach for my trusty Clay Magic Blue or Red clay bar and eliminate the contamination rather quickly. This allows me to preserve my pads for the lighter contamination where it is much quicker than using a clay bar. Other situations where a clay bar has come in handy is removing paint transfer, usually from scuffs on a vehicle’s bumpers. Here I find that the newer prep pads and towels can’t do much work and not nearly as quick as a clay bar, so it’s surely a must having a few bars around.
In conclusion, I really can’t personally say RIP to clay bars just yet and probably not for the foreseeable future. However, the NanoSkin AutoScrub Fine Foam Pad has for a while now served for 80% or more of any decontamination, all of which used to be done via clay bar. In my experience and opinion, clay bars are still great and necessary tools within the detail industry, but the process has been improved upon very well with some of the newer technologies over the past few years.
Thanks as always for reading and I’d love to hear some feedback and opinions on the topic from readers and detailers alike!