The first and one of the MOST important steps of claying your car is a very thorough wash. This is key whenever doing any sort of auto detailing. If you fail to wash the car thoroughly, you risk scratching the paint during any type of paint corrections you do with the loose dirt and debris.
Once the exterior has been washed and dried properly, make sure the car is parked in an optimal area with shade. If the car’s surface is too hot when you’re claying, you’ll end up leaving clay residue which is an extra step to remove.
What you’ll need- Clay and clay lubricant. There are many different brands of clay and there are different grades of clay. You will most likely want to use a fine grade, especially for your first time claying a car. Medium grade is used for more heavy duty jobs and if used improperly, can mar the paint. Both clay and clay lubricant can be purchased from auto detailing stores and sometimes auto repair shops. Often times, Quick Detailer is substituted for clay lube. I’ve also heard of detailers using car wash soap- however, car wash soap tends to increase the amount of clay residue left behind.
Take a small square of the clay (approximately 2 inches X 2 inches) and flatten it out so that it covers the palm of your hand. Spray the lube in a 1 and 1/2 foot square and rub it lightly back and forth with the surface of the clay. You will feel the difference from when you start an area- to when it is done. Especially on overspray jobs. Once you have finished a section, use a clean microfiber to wipe off the remainder of the lube.
Continue to work in small sections like this, in a manner where you’re able to keep track of what you have completed. Periodically, be sure to stop and fold your clay bar over itself, flatten it out again to fit your palm, and continue working with a fresh, clean surface. You don’t want to continue working with a dirty surface. The frequency of this step is dictated by how much contaminant you’re working to remove.
The #1 rule in claying- DON’T DROP THE CLAY! If you do, you might as well throw that piece away. If you try to use it on your car, all you’ll be doing is marring your clear coat with whatever it picked up off the ground.
Once you have finished using clay bar on the vehicle, you’ll want to hand wax as a protective layer. It will also add to the smoothness of the finish. Remember- you’ve just pulled out imperfections from the clear coat, leaving a void behind in their place. The wax will help to fill these voids in, and protect the clear coat around them.