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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Can a clay mitt or towel dethrone the traditional bar? We find out | Hagerty Media

Welcome back to another article in which I try to make detailing sound less scary-but still difficult enough that people pay me to do it! After my last article about how to prep your daily driver for winter, I received a lot of questions and even a couple complaints (or was it the other way around?).
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/can-a-clay-mitt-or-towel-dethrone-the-traditional...
27 REPLIES 27
TeutonicScot
Intermediate Driver

Good info Matt. I too have a been a user of nothing but traditional clay bars for some time. I've seen the pad in Griot's catalog as well as the towels at a local parts store and was always a little skeptical. Have you tried either of them on non-clear coated paint or acrylic lacquer?
May have to give them a try...
esiedlecki
New Driver

Awesome writeup! Will clay (or these alternatives) remove water spots?
Sajeev
Community Manager

They almost always will. 

esiedlecki
New Driver

Excellent! I know what I'm doing this weekend. 🙂
MattFink
Detailer

Let us know how it works out for your ride! Clay bars (or pads/towels) are usually really good at removing water spots.
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

Since I am somewhat **bleep** abotu keeping my cars clean, I looked forward to the results of this comparo, as I have contemplated clay barring. The results aren't that surprising, as there is always some resistance to "new! and improved!" Sometimes technology advances and provides a superior result and sometimes "new and improved" just simply isn't! 🙂
MattFink
Detailer

Give it a try! Especially if you plan to wax your car anyway, might as well clay first to really make it shine.
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

Hmmm, substitute "obsessive" since a**l got blocked 🙂
whoneeds8
New Driver

Good work on the comparison! Last year I bought the Griot's Synthetic Clay and used it on my daily driver. I was also surprised how well it worked and how much easier it was to use. I always clay bar my cars semi-annually. But I usually curse way too much while doing it because I'm always dropping the clay. It's slippery and annoying. When I dropped the Synthetic Clay: just spray it, wipe it off, and keep going. So great!
MattFink
Detailer

Thank you! Great feedback!
elldorado2000
Intermediate Driver

You would be surprised how well plumbers putty works. I wouldn't do a Ferrari Enzo with it, but it's works good enough for my Tahoe.
deckerbilt
Intermediate Driver

The clay bar (don't know about others) works wonders on the windows getting the oil film off that is so hard to do other ways. Pulls the grime out of the pitting too making old, pitted windshields not quite so bad.
MattFink
Detailer

That's a good point. I definitely have clayed windshields before, especially on older cars. Good advice.
40Ford
Detailer

Have you tried either of them on non-clear coated paint or acrylic lacquer?
I'd like an answer to that too. Thanks in advance!
dhaugh
Intermediate Driver

I've always wanted to try to clay bar a car though it seemed like so much work and I do not have a soft touch, for anything! I'm going to go out and buy this stuff today and as soon as it's warm enough I'm going to wash all the play cars with the Griot's one during their spring bath and service. I love stuff for dummies!! Now if only I were brave enough to tackle the swirls on the old giant black
Series II XJ12, I'd sure like to try though I'm positive I'd screw it up, permanently.
MattFink
Detailer

Glad to hear you aren't afraid of trying it anymore! Please report back how it goes!
luv2fly2
Intermediate Driver

Great article, Matthew, and thanks.
I use the clay bar and the Griot's pad. I always use lots of soapy water with either. Good to know about the clay towels. I'll have to give them a try. The effort with any of them is worth the result. And ceramic spray wax applied carefully will keep the surface slick for a long time. By carefully, I mean spray on a wet surface about a 3 x 3 ft. area and spread evenly with a fiber cloth or towel, rub it in a bit and immediately Pressure Wash it off, or it will streak. Clay and ceramic- the way to go.
MattFink
Detailer

Good tips about ceramic spray.
Stradakat
Pit Crew

Great article, Matt. I’ve been using Griot’s clay for years. I like its softer, more malleable consistency vs. some the other clay bars you find at local auto parts stores. This really makes a difference when doing that last autumn wax job when temps are cooler and the softer Griot’s clay is easier to kneed. But recently I have been using the Griot’s pad you tested and like it a lot. Faster than clay, no kneeding, no worries if dropped and just as easy to use in cooler temps. And I have used the Griot’s pad on my windshield to eliminate windshield wiper skipping caused by car wash wax residue. Yes, during cold WI winters we have to result to automatic car washes to get the worst of the salt and road grime off our vehicles. Can’t wait for that first hand care wash of Spring.
MattFink
Detailer

Love to hear others with the same results I have found going from clay bar to pad. Appreciate the feedback.
kareski
Pit Crew

Great article. I stumbled upon the Griots Synthetic clay a few years ago. I tried the regular clay and my hands could not handle it. With Griots I found it was much easier combining two steps into one, wash/clay. During the first time I used it on my MGB I noticed less effort in the waxing and polishing. I use in on my other cars making the job more bearable. With all this new publicity Griots is getting I hope the price does not go up. I better order a few extra.
MattFink
Detailer

Haha, good point. I buy all the products myself so let's hope reporting on good ones doesn't end up costing me more money!
M4chi1
New Driver

If there’s a ceramic coat on the car is clay still recommend for cleaning?
MattFink
Detailer

There's a huge variety of "ceramic coatings", so it is hard to say for sure. If most cases a mild clay that you could get at a local auto store will be perfectly safe for ceramic coating. If you are nervous, you can always try an iron removing spray product to chemically removing contaminants. Advanced Auto sells a 'Meguiars Iron Removing Spray Clay' that you could try (then let us know how it goes, I haven't tried it yet!)
HistoricAfton
Intermediate Driver

I teach my high school auto students how to detail vehicles and raise a little money for the program. The cars come out spectacular. Staff think they are getting a vacuum and a wash and when they get their cars back they are shocked at how well they turn out as close to new as possible. Several staff have had us detail cars they were selling. They all sold right away and at the asking price. I like to brag that we are twice as good and half the price of the pro's in town (free labor helps). We have been using "clay bar mitts" for about six or seven years. They work great and you can clay bar the entire car in less than 10 minutes with two students on the job. Which means we can get a car done in two or three class periods. I save my good ones for the top 2/3's and use a separate rag for the bottom third because there is so much road grim and tar. Make sure you wash the rags thoroughly and don't expose them to solvents, it will melt the sticky stuff on some of them. The baggie test is the best way to demonstrate the value of claybaring to someone. Wet a surface and run the baggie over one part. The comparison is shocking when they feel all the little bumps on one side and smooth as glass on the other; they will be converts. If you are going to polish or wax, washing twice is also a good idea to get that last 3% of dirt off. Never wax a car without the clay bar mitt first. If you don't, you just drive the contaminates into the paint and cause swirl marks. It goes without saying, don't use a polisher and compounds until you clay bar or you will just be making swirl marks all over again.
Spuds
Advanced Driver

Put my order in.Also some CarPro Iron X Iron Remover 500 ml. Spray.Cool.
Tim
Instructor

Looking forward to trying the pad. I always put off using the clay bar because of how long it takes and how much work is requires.

Also, good tip on doing the windshield. I'm hoping that will reduce the appearance of minor pits that make the windshield more difficult to see through when the sun shines on the windshield.