The best clay bars

Get the ultimate glossy look by introducing a clay bar into your car cleaning routine

A polished classic car

by Ryan Gilmore |

The world of car cleaning (or detailing if you prefer) can be really confusing to understand. You'll see 'double bucket' methods, tyre dressing and it seems that there are more products on sale then there are cars on the road. One such phrase you may have heard of is clay barring your car. It sounds odd at first, but it's a genuinely excellent way to make you car look amazing.

Clay bars remove contaminants that regular washing will miss. It'll give your car a smooth, almost glass-like look. We've rounded up everything you could need to properly clay bar your car, even a quick spray that'll look almost as good while using no effort.

And once you've made your paintwork flawless, you may want to keep it looking good with ceramic coating.

The best clay bars

Meguiar's Quik Clay Bar Starter Kit

Editor's pick
Meguiar's ME G1116 Quik Clay Bar Starter Kit
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Including a detailing spray for lubrication and a clay bar, this option from Meguiar's will have you sorted for clay barring your car. There's enough in this set to do three medium-sized cars to an outstanding quality. Just remember, you'll need to supply your own microfibre towels to remove the clay residue.

Pros Cons
• Great quality • You'll need your own microfibre towel
• Will do three clay barrings per set

Autoglym Clay Detailing Complete Kit

Brilliant beginners option
Autoglym Clay Detailing Complete Kit
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Everything you could need to clay bar is included in this handy set from Autoglym. Not only does it come with a detail spray and clay bar, but it also includes a bottle of polish and a microfibre towel for drying your car. The size of the products may not be as big as others but for a beginners kit, it'll be ideal. Plus, Autoglym has the Royal seal on it, meaning it's good enough for the Queen's Bentley.

Pros Cons
• Everything you need to get started • Small volume of polish
• Top-quality

Pure Definition Clay Bar Kit

The full set on a budget
Pure Definition Clay Bar Kit
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Thinking about clay barring your car for the first time but not sure about the prices for some of the premium detailing brands? Have a look a this kit from Pure Definition that will give you almost everything you could need for less money. The kit includes a clay bar and a lubricant to get the best results possible.

Pros Cons
• Good value for money • You need microfibre towels
• Includes lubricant

Bilt Hamber Auto Clay Bar Regular

Buy your clay in bulk
Bilt Hamber Auto Clay Bar Regular
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Containing a whopping 200g of product, this clay bar from Bilt Hamber could clean a fleet of mucky Hummers without running out. Available in three versions, we've selected the regular because it's perfect for heavily contaminated paintwork and summer use. Soft and medium are also available. It is also water activated (no need for lube) and comes in a handy plastic container for storage. Just remember that the majority of detailers recommend replacing your clay every six months.

Pros Cons
• Great value and quality • You only need this much clay if you're clay barring a lot
• Lasts ages

Meguiars Clay Bar Replacement

The perfect replacement clay bar
Meguiars Clay Bar Replacement

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If you own the Meguiar's starter kit but have used your clay up, then this clay is the perfect replacement. Offering 80g of clay it even comes with a storage case to keep it safe.

Pros Cons
• Works well with other Meguiar's products • Expensive for one bar
• Very effective

Autoglym Magma Liquid Clay

Cheat option
Autoglym Magma Liquid Clay
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For a quick fix, you can't go wrong with the Autoglym Magma Liquid Clay. This product won't collect all contaminants like a proper clay bar but will remove metal particulates and improve your paint's overall finish.

Pros Cons
• Does the job quickly • Not as effective as a proper clay barring
• Convenient

Halford Clay Bar

A budget solution
Halford Clay Bar

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This 100g clay bar from Halfords will still remove nasty contaminants from your car's paint but without the price tag. A perfect option for anyone who needs to replace their clay but doesn't want to pay premium prices.

Pros Cons
• Good value option • Doesn’t include other equipment
• Effective

Meguiar's Supreme Shine Microfibre Car Cleaning Towels

Dry your panels properly
Meguiar's Supreme Shine Microfibre Car Cleaning Towels
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Microfibre towels are an essential thing to have in any garage and this pack from Meguiar's is ace. A microfibre towel will give you the best finish and make your car shine. The pack of three will ensure you always have one handy.

Pros Cons
• Designed for use on cars • Supreme shine demands premium price
• Effective

What you need to know about clay bars:

How to use a clay bar:

  1. Wash your car as normal (use a car shampoo and not washing-up liquid, it can damage the paint). Make sure your bodywork is still damp before beginning to clay bar it.
  1. Squirt some lubricant or detailing spray onto your body panels and add a small amount to your clay bar.
  1. Run the clay bar over the surface to remove contaminants. As it collects contaminants, it'll get dirty. Fold it over regularly to get the best results.
  1. Using a microfibre cloth, dry the panel. Check to see the finish.
  1. Repeat if necessary, you'll be looking for a surface as smooth as glass.

What can you use a clay bar to remove?

Clay bars are designed to remove embedded dirt and contaminants that no amount of regular washing will dislodge. Clay bars are designed to remove:

Tar

Tree sap

Metal particulates

Overspray

Surface rust

Grease

Dead insects

Where can you use a clay bar?

The good thing about clay bars is that you can use them on pretty much any external part of your car. This includes the bodywork, plastic fittings and even glass areas. Just remember you need to wipe away clay residue with a microfibre cloth.

We'd recommend not using a clay bar on your wheels, instead invest in some proper alloy wheel cleaner. This is because of the iron and brake pad contaminants that build up on your wheels are best treated with a specialist cleaner.

It also goes without saying but don't use a clay bar on your interior, it'll only end badly.

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