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Clay Bars ~ What they are and how they work

Using Clay Bars to Remove Paint Contamination, Overspray and Industrial Fallout.

What is paint contamination?

Paint contamination is tiny metal shavings from rail dust, brake dust, and industrial fallout. This contamination affects all paint finishes and can cause serious damage when left untreated. Paint contamination can be felt as a "rough or gritty" texture on the paint's surface which lead to tiny rust spots.

Stage 1:

Metal shavings land on the paint's surface.

Stage 2:

Shavings start to oxidize.

Stage 3:

Rust forms in the paint.


Actual photo of rust spots from paint contamination.

Where does it come from?

There are three major causes of paint contamination:

1. Rail dust - produced from the friction of train wheels against railroad tracks. Over 70% of new vehicles are shipped by rail. Rail dust can contaminate a new car's finish before it even reaches the dealership. Anytime a vehicle is parked or travels near a railroad it is subject to rail dust contamination.

2. Brake dust - particles produced from the friction of brake pads rubbing against the rotor. This metal on metal friction disperses tiny particles of bare metal into the air and on the highway where it collects on passing vehicles.

3. Industrial fallout - another word for pollution, industrial fallout is a byproduct of our modern industrial age.

How to test for Paint Contamination:

After washing and drying your vehicle, put your hand inside a plastic sandwich bag and lightly run your fingertips over the paint's surface. It should feel smooth as glass. If the surface has a rough, gritty or pebble-like feel, it indicates the presence of paint contamination. This needs to be removed with a Clay Bar before applying a wax protectant.

Removing Paint Contamination:

There is no wax, Natural or Synthetic, or any chemical treatment that can prevent or protect against this contamination. Compounding with an abrasive polish may remove paint contamination but it can only be performed a few times before removing too much of the top, clear coat finish.

The best solution is the use of a Clay Bar. Developed in Japan nearly five years ago, Clay Bars safely remove rail dust and industrial fallout by "pulling" it off the surface. It does not "cut" or perform any abrasive action normally associated with polishing or compounding.

The latest evolution in Clay Bar technologies are made in the U.S.A. of entirely man made polymers. These Clay Bars perform all the functions of traditional Clay Bars but have a number of advantages:

1. Polymer Clay Bars do not dry out with age.

2. Polymer Clay Bars do not decompose with repeated applications.

3. A single non-abrasive grade works on all paint conditions and is clear coat safe.

4. Polymer Clay Bars are easier to work with. It pulls, stretches and refolds easier that normal Clay Bars.

5. Polymer Clay Bars leaves almost no residue on the surface making clean-up very easy.

How to use Clay Bars:

Clay Bars should always be used on freshly washed, clean surfaces. Dirt on the surface could cause scratches.

Caution: Use only as directed and with an approved Clay Bar Lubricant to reduce friction between the Clay Bar and the vehicle's surface.

Work on areas of about three square feet. Lightly mist the surface with the lubricant. Glide the Clay Bar across the lubricated area until finish is smooth and the contaminants are removed. When used as directed in the conventional method of polishing, contaminants can be removed from the surface without causing scratches. When used as directed, there is no (0%) polishing force applied to the surface while the Clay Bar is grabbing the contaminants, pulling them from the surface. Wipe the surface with a clean, dry Microfiber Towels and continue in sections until the entire vehicle is complete.

Mist surface with lubricant,
rub Clay Bar across surface.

Wipe off any residues with a Microfiber towel.

As the Clay Bar becomes soiled, simply pull, stretch and refold to expose a new, clean side. When the Clay Bar becomes totally soiled (dark colored) discard it. A 2 oz. Clay Bar should clean at least 5 to 7 cars. Do not use a Clay Bar dropped on the ground.

After claying, the surface should be as smooth as glass. Remove any remaining smudges with a clean dry towel. Microfiber towels, like our High-Quality Microfiber Towels, are perfect for removing the residues left behind by Clay Bars. Mist the surface with the lubricant if necessary to make the final wipe down easy.

Tech Note: Clay Bars will not remove scratches, swirls marks, dull or oxidized paint, or restore surface gloss. This is accomplished by polishing the surface after claying. Please keep in mind that polishing alone will not remove paint contamination.

Polishing and Finishing:

After claying the surface, you have two options. If the vehicle's paint is in like-new condition (good paint gloss and no swirls), you can finish by applying your favorite wax or paint sealant. If the finish shows any swirls or lacks luster, polish with a swirl remover or finishing polish and then apply a final coat of wax or paint sealant.

Frequency of use:

Polymer Clay Bars will not remove paint or the clear-coat finish. It can be used as often as necessary to keep the surface free of contamination and smooth.

Always apply a protective coating of Car Wax or Paint Sealant after claying the surface.

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