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Detailing Your Car's Paint with Detail Clay

Detailing Your Car's Paint with Detail Clay

A car clay bar is an essential car detailing tool that targets the common enemy of every car finish: pollution that causes automotive paint contamination. It relentlessly pursues your car from the second it leaves the factory until your car meets its ultimate demise. It's in the air we breathe, it's on the roads we drive, and it attaches to your car's paint, where it bonds and begins a process of oxidation.

Paint Contamination Removed by Detail Clay Surface contamination, as shown by this diagram, is difficult to clean or polish off, yet paint cleaning clay removes it with ease.

When contaminants get a solid grip on your car's paint, washing alone may not be enough to remove them. Pre-wax cleaners also may not be able to exfoliate large particles. In this case, you have two choices: use a polishing compound, which removes a lot of paint material, or use a clay bar. A clay bar isn't a polish or a compound, it is a surface preparation bar that smoothes the paint and exfoliates contaminants.


Clay is not a cure-all or a replacement for polishing. It's a tool for quickly and easily removing surface contamination.

One of the many reasons for using a clay bar is the removal of brake dust. Brake dust contamination, which attaches to painted rear bumpers and adjoining surfaces, is a metallic surface contaminant that can be removed safely and effectively by using clay.

Pinnacle offers the most gentle detailing clay available on the market today. Pinnacle Ultra Poly Clay removes light to moderate contamination with very little effort. Its very low abrasive content reduce the chances of scuffing even the softest paint finishes. Customers report using this car clay as often as monthly with fantastic results.

Clay is also very effective on paint over-spray. If the over-spray is particularly heavy, you may want to seek the assistance of a professional. Tree sap and tar specks can also be safely removed with a clay bar. A heavier grade clay bar, like Four Star Ultimate Detailing Clay, may be more suitable for heavy overspray.

Recently, I have also started using clay on my windows (exterior) to remove heavy road film, bug deposits and water spots. It works very well, and seems to outperform even the best window cleaners.


Clay removes above-surface bonded contamination through the mechanical action of the clay bar rubbing against the vehicle surface. Detailing clay abrades the contamination, wearing it down in some cases, as a result of this mechanical action. However, detailing clay is not abrasive to the paint. The use of an approved clay lubricant prevents marring of the paint. The removed contamination sticks to the clay and is removed from the paint.


Detailing clay formulation determines the optimal function of the clay and its potential to do damage when used improperly.

As an example, a professional grade clay bar that’s designed to remove paint overspray is very firm and contains abrasives equivalent to heavy rubbing compound. Used properly it will remove heavy overspray without damaging the paint. Used improperly, it can leave some pretty significant surface marring. That’s why it’s a professional product.

Most consumer grade detailing clays are designed to be used as an annual or semi-annual paint maintenance tool prior to polishing and waxing. At this frequency, these detailing clay products work great. Simply use the clay as part of your major detailing regimen.

The problem we were beginning to see is that many car enthusiasts wanted to clay their vehicles frequently; as often as monthly. At this rate of use, some consumer grade detailing clay can begin to dull clear coat finishes. After all, it is an abrasive!

Sonus SFX Ultra-Fine Detailing Clay and Pinnacle Ultra Poly Clay are both so fine that they are safe to use monthly to keep paint smooth and clean. The clay easily removes the dirt and makes the paint finish feel super slick.


In 2007, the Ultima Finish Care company introduced an alternative to the traditional detailing clay bar called the Ultima Elastrofoam paint cleaning system. The product is a rubberized foam block that works like a rubber erasure. Like detail clay, it removes bonded contamination from paint, glass, chrome and plastic without the abrasive effects of harsh polishes. Plus, it overcomes some of the inconvenience of detailing clay, most notably the danger of dropping the clay bar and the inability to clean a clay bar when it becomes dirty.

Like clay, the Ultima Elastrofoam Paint Cleaning System quickly smoothes your paint to an ultra-slick and bright finish, preparing it for polishing and sealing. A single Ultima Elastrofoam foam block will clean you car up to twenty times, making Elastrofoam the most efficient paint cleaning tool available today.

Ultima Elastrofoam Paint Cleaner Detail Clay Alternative Ultima Elastrofoam Paint Cleaning System is a detail clay bar alternative that lasts longer than detail clay and eliminates clay limitations.

A single Elastrofoam cleaning block will clean twenty or more cars. The Ultima Cleaning Lubricant Gel is a patented gel lubricant designed to prevent scuffing while at the same time allowing a thorough cleaning.


At Autopia Car Care, we're fanatics about smooth, clean, glossy paint. With the advent of Sonus SFX Ultra-Fine Detailing Clay, Pinnacle Ultra Poly Clay and the Ultima Elastrofoam Paint Cleaning System, you can now clean your paint regularly without concern for reducing clearcoat thickness or scratching. It's the perfect solution for crystal clear, super smooth paint.

Sonus SFX Detail Clay Bundle
Ultra fine and gentle enough to use every time you wax!
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