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Automotive Detail Clay

1. How do I know when I need to clay?

After you wash and dry your car, run your fingertips over the top surfaces of your paint. If your paint feels rough and bumpy, it needs to be cleaned. The roughness you feel is the presence of harmful bonded contaminants such as factory fallout, brake dust, tree sap mist, road grime, paint overspray and more that have bonded to your paint finish. Many of these contaminants will wash right off if done so immediately, however, others bond to the finish instantly or day by day. To remove these bonded contaminants and bring back that "smooth-as-glass" finish, this will require an extra step, prior to polishing and waxing, commonly referred to as "claying". By using Sonus SFX Ultra-Fine detail clay, you can remove all of these bonded particles, restoring that "smooth-as-glass" feel, and properly prepare your car for waxing. By claying your car's paint, your car will not only feel incredible, it will make waxing easier and ensure that the wax that you apply functions properly.


2. How often should I clay my vehicle?

There is no definitive schedule that works for every car owner. Many factors play into how often you should clean your car's paint with clay. Where you live, how you garage your car, and how often you wash it are just some of the factors that determine how quickly your paint will become contaminated. However, you can easily determine for yourself when you need to clay by feeling your paint after each wash. If you feel a rough, bumpy surface, it is time to clay. As a general guideline, we recommend claying 3-4 times a year to keep your car's paint clean and healthy.


3. What is the best lubricant to use for claying? We recommend using the lubricant designed for each clay product.


4. How does detail clay work?

We frequently see detailing clay marketing information that reads something like this: “…clay pulls contamination off of your paint...” This statement sounds pretty ridiculous when you realize that you must lubricate the surface you’re claying. How in the world do you pull on something that’s wet and slippery? This myth was born from a fear of telling people the truth. Clay is an abrasive paint care system. Yet used properly, detailing clay is not abrasive to your car’s paint; it is abrasive to paint contamination.  Yes, that's right, detail clay is an abrasive.

Detailing clay is an abrasive system. If not used properly, detailing clay can cause light surface marring. There’s no need to fear if you use proper lubrication.

An easy way to think about detailing clay is simply this: detailing clay is a “selective polish” with a built-in applicator. Its job is to “polish away” dirt and surface contamination from paint, glass, chrome and plastic without polishing the surface itself. A pretty simple concept, isn’t it? Detailing clay technology has been around for many years, with roots dating back to the 1930’s. That’s when the idea of combining polybutene (a soft plastic resin material) with abrasives was first put to paper.

Enough with the techno-speak; here's how detailing clay works:

  • Detailing clay works by hydroplaning (floating) over the surface you’re cleaning on a thin layer of clay lubricant.
  • When the clay (polish) encounters surface contamination, it abrasively grinds it away.
  • Detailing clay shears off any foreign material above the level surface of the paint.

Those are scary words to most car enthusiasts, but it’s an accurate description. You can see the end results of this “grinding” work by inspecting your clay. Does your clay have large particles sticking to it or does it have what appears to be a dirty film? It’s the latter, of course, and it’s proof that your clay is doing its job gently polishing away contamination.


5. I have a new car, do I need to clay it?

Yes! Although there might not be much contamination, what there is you would not want to protect over. We recommend the Sonus SFX Ultra-Fine Detailing Clay for new cars followed by a paint cleaner like the Ultima Paint Prep Plus to make sure your surface is totally clean prior to your protectant. An excellent choice would be the Ultima Paint Guard Plus.


6. Should I clay or polish first?

Clay first for sure. The purpose for claying is to remove bonded contaminants, things like pollen, pollution and other things that are stuck to the surface of your paint and do not come off with regular washing. Claying is the most effective way to remove bonded surface contaminants. This will allow your paint polishing process to be more effective because you are working on smooth paint instead of trying to polish through contaminants to get through to the paint. Polishing on the other hand is intended to remove defects like scratches as well as oxidation and staining. Polishing will also increase the shine and clean your paint to paint to prep for your wax or sealant.

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