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Ask DI: What are Clay Bar Alternatives?

Ask DI - What Are Clay Bar Alternatives

What are clay bar alternatives? In recent years many new clay alternative options have come to market to give you more choices over a traditional clay bar. Clay bar alternatives include clay towels, pads, blocks/sponges, and wash mitts that utilize a rubber polymer as the claying material. In this article, I will give you a brief overview and the benefits of using a clay bar alternative.

General Clay Bar Alternative Benefits

  • Reusable and durable
  • Easy to clean and remove contaminants from the rubber material during use
  • Faster decontamination process due to larger surface area coverage

Clay Towels

  • Versatile claying coverage no matter if you are working in small or large areas


Clay Pads

  • Attaching a clay pad on a polisher is one of the fastest decontamination options and will allow you to cover large surface areas
  • Using the clay pad by hand is also an option
  • The fast and wide coverage comes with the downside that tight areas can be tough to get into
  • Due to the speed of using a machine, you should keep in mind that you could add additional defects into the paint


Clay Blocks/Sponges

  • More ergonomic so they are easier to hold and maneuver
  • Easy to use on a wide variety of surfaces and surface sizes


Clay Wash Mitts

  • This is a 2-for-1 product where you can clay during your wash process
  • It can help save time with wide coverage and washing at the same time
  • There is no need for a lubricant because the shampoo will add lubricity during use


Clay Bar Alternative Tips

  • Do not use clay alternatives with heavy cleaners, we have seen the rubber material “melt” with some strong chemicals, ie. decreasers, iron removers, etc.
  • Use clay lubes (i.e. Nanoskin Glide) as lubricants
  • Use shampoos as lubricants
  • As with a traditional clay bar always keep it wet and lubricated to prevent additional paint defects

There’s also nothing wrong with keeping it old school for that feel of a traditional clay bar gliding across the paint and feeling it pick up the contamination. The most significant benefit, in my opinion, is the larger coverage area to save time. My personal pick would be the Nanoskin Wash Mitt, why not wash and clay in the same process. Everyone has their own detailing preferences and there’s no right or wrong way per se.

Want to learn more about clay bar alternatives check out another Ask DI article Should I Use a Traditional Clay Bar or a Clay Alternative? and our Clay Bar Detailing Guide.

5 comments on Ask DI: What are Clay Bar Alternatives?

  1. hank dixon says:

    Hi I have a Chevy 3500 Silverado that has been sitting in the weather for a while it has good paint but needs to have contaminates removed what be a good clay bar to that I can use too get that smooth feeling back

    • Reece @ DI says:

      Hank – The Clay Magic Fine Grade Clay Bar is a great clay bar to remove a good deal of embedded contamination. If you want to try a clay bar alternative, anything listed in this article will work great!

  2. Thank you for sharing this information. It’s convenient having a clay pad with velcro. Claying with a machine saves a lot of time. For smaller areas or curves where the pad cannot reach, a clay bar is still needed.

    How do you wash clay towels and do they work well? Also how do you dry the clay towels? Air dry or tumble dry?

    • Reece @ DI says:

      With clay towels you simply want to run them under water and let them air dry. Don’t let them dry in direct sun or use any heavy cleaners on them as any heat or certain chemicals can negatively impact the rubber side of these clay alternative products.

  3. DMark1 says:

    I recently started using a handheld clay sponge pad and have been very happy with the results and super ease of use. I have basically made it the first step in the wash process. I soak it in the soapy wash bucket and the sponge holds enough soapy water lubricant to clay a nice section of the car. Its easy to wash off any contaminants with each swish therough the wash bucket, and I can completely clay the car in just a few minutes before continuing with the hand wash. I like it!

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