Reviews

The Best Clay Bar Lubricants (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Using a clay bar is a must for the perfect finish, but clay is nothing without the right lubricant.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

The Drive on YouTube The Drive on Facebook The Drive on Instagram

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON February 5, 2021

If all you do is wash and wax your vehicle, then it's not enough to detail your car. You can’t remove all of the stuck-on contaminants that adhere to the finish. A clay bar is a lump of clay that glides over the surface of your vehicle. It picks up everything, including bugs, tar, metal shavings, road grime, and anything else. What you’re left with is a perfectly silky smooth paint surface and the deepest blemish-free shine possible. 

However, you can’t do any of this without a lubricant. Rubbing a dry clay bar on your paint will cause swirl marks and scratches. Using a lubricant with your clay bar is a must to prevent damage and remove the contaminants. You can also find lubricants that perform multiple duties, such as detailing, cleaning, polishing, and waxing. This guide will help you find the perfect lubricant for your car.

Best Overall
Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

Remove embedded tree sap, metal shavings, bugs, and road grime with this detailing kit. Included is a 16-ounce bottle of instant detailer, a microfiber towel, and two clay bars.

Pros
Pros
  • Adds depth and clarity 
  • Paint feels silky smooth
  • Safe for all types of paint
Cons
Cons
  • Can leave a film 
  • Clay bars don’t last 
Best Overall
Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System
Best Value
Adam's Waterless Detail Spray
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

This 16-ounce bottle of detail spray is plenty for several vehicles. It’s a waterless formula that removes dust and residue to enhance gloss, depth, and shine.

Pros
Pros
  • Boost existing wax protection
  • Streak-free formula 
  • Safe for all surfaces
Cons
Cons
  • Thin formula 
  • Streaks when used with microfiber
Best Value
Adam's Waterless Detail Spray
Honorable Mention
TriNova Clay Bar Kit
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

Make life easier on yourself with this quick detailer kit. It comes with an 18-ounce bottle of quick detailing liquid, two clay bars, and a microfiber cloth.

Pros
Pros
  • Easy application 
  • Leaves paint looking wet 
  • Cleans and protects
Cons
Cons
  • Needs a lot of lubricant 
  • Clay bars not pliable
Honorable Mention
TriNova Clay Bar Kit
Clay Bar Lubricant Close Up
Amazon

Why Trust Us


Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Benefits of Clay Bar Lubricant

  • Smooth and shiny. Some clay bar lubricants contain additives that enhance your vehicle’s finish with extra cleaning or polishing power. The result is a slick, shiny, and smooth surface to reflect light better. 
  • Less damage. Lubricating is vital when using a clay bar because it helps the clay glide over your car’s surface without damaging the clear coat. The lubricant provides a thin barrier between the car and the clay. 
  • Easier and faster. Having a lubricant can help you clean your car faster. The lubricant makes the clay glide over the car’s surface easier. This helps it pick up more contaminants and reduce the amount of time it takes to finish your entire car.

Types of Clay Bar Lubricants

Synthetic 

Most clay bar lubricants that are on the market today are synthetic formulas. They will work on all surfaces and paint color types. The synthetic formula creates a super slick and wet feeling surface that allows the clay bar to glide and pick up contaminants. The lubricant protects your car from those picked up particles from creating swirl marks. 

Quick Detailer 

This type of lubricant will work with your clay bar. However, that isn’t the product’s primary intended purpose. What’s nice about it is that you’ll enjoy a beautiful sparkle and shine to the finished product. Many contain hydrophobic properties to prevent water spots. Using a quick detailer is versatile because you can use it on its own to clean dust and particles from your vehicle’s surface without using a clay bar. 

Soap and Water

This is the traditional method for lubricating your clay bar. While it works, it isn’t the best option or the gentlest on your car’s paint. Soap will work as a lubricant, and it will also clean your vehicle. However, it doesn’t have the same protective abilities that the other types have. The soap can also leave a residue on your car that will dull the shine. 

Top Brands

Griot

Richard Griot founded Griot’s garage as a car enthusiast with a passion for car care. He developed a line of car care products that have become regarded as some of the best products on the market. The company’s goal is to help car owners have fun in the garage. The Griot's Garage Speed Shine Quick Detailer will have your car looking beautiful. 

Mothers

It all started with a single can of mag and aluminum polish in the '70s. The company has since grown to offer more than 100 unique car care products. You can trust that you’ll be able to find everything you need to care for every inch of your vehicle. Try the Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer on your car and make the paint shine. 

TriNova

The team at TriNova strives to create a comprehensive product line of specialized car care tools. Your vehicle is full of different materials, and each one deserves the best care and protection possible. TriNova knows that all-purpose products aren’t going to cut it. The TriNova Waterless Car Wash and Wax Kit

Clay Bar Lubricant Pricing

  • Under $15: You can find a quality bottle of lubricant in this price range. They tend to be smaller bottles for personal use. They may even come as part of a kit. 
  • $15 to $20: Quality lubricants come in this price range on their own or in a kit. They’ll have special additives that will enhance your finish, such as cleaners, polishers, or hydrophobic qualities. 
  • $20 and up: Lubricants in this price range tend to come in large volumes. They’ll also sometimes be concentrated. They may seem expensive but can give you a volume discount. 

Key Features

Volume

The size of the bottle you buy will depend on how often you use your clay bar. Larger containers are better when you’ll use them more. However, be careful buying a bottle that’s too big. You don’t want the lubricant going bad before you can use it all. A bottle that’s too small may run out before you complete your project, which will be frustrating. 

Formula

Look at the formula that’s used to create the lubricant. You’ll find lubricants that have extra additives. Some can clean, others protect, and others can polish. You’ll want one that works with your vehicle’s paint and clear coat. Innovative lubricants will have polymers that suspend contaminants that prevent swirl marks. 

Compatible Products

Consider the other products that the lubricant manufacturer makes. Many of the biggest names in car care have a complete line of products that are designed to work together. Some car enthusiasts find a company and swear that using only their products produces the best results. Other owners will cherry-pick products and create their routines for their desired results. 

Other Considerations

  • Ease of Use. The lubricant that you choose needs to be easy to use. Some only require you to point and squeeze the trigger handle. Others are more labor-intensive and require you to dilute the concentrated formula into a separate bottle. Look for a lubricant that distributes a decent amount of product without it being messy or too much. 
  • Ingredient Quality. The quality of the formula’s ingredients will make the difference between a decent and an impressive finish. Look for a lubricant that’s made of high-quality materials for maximum lubricity and paint protection.  It could have additives that give you additional benefits, such as cleaning, hydrophobic, or polishing qualities. 
  • Cost. Paying for quality is well worth it when the results are noticeably different. When considering cost, you also want to consider the volume of lubricant you’re getting. One container may seem expensive, but it is a bargain when you think of the container’s large size. There are also concentrated formulas that make a lot more lubricant than what comes in the small bottle. 

Best Clay Bar Lubricants Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System

If your car could look better, then this clay bar system is the solution. It removes tree sap, metal shavings, bugs, and road grime from the paint. It comes with a 16-ounce bottle of instant detailer, two clay bars, and a microfiber towel. You’ll love how it adds depth and clarity to your paint. It’ll feel silky smooth and clean, making it ready for polishing and waxing. You can safely use it on all types of paint. 


Unfortunately, this detailing kit can leave a film on your car. You can avoid this with careful application and buffing afterward. You may also find that the clay bars don’t last as long as other clay bars.

Best Value
Adam's Waterless Detail Spray

Detail your car and make it look beautiful with this 16-ounce bottle of detailing spray. It will boost your existing layer of wax protection. You can use it as a quick waterless detailer. Once applied, it has hydrophobic qualities that will help your car dry faster with fewer water spots. You can use it as a clay bar lubricant or with a polishing pad to remove dust and residue. The finished result is stunning, with an enhanced glossy shine and depth of your paint, wheels, and glass. 


Unfortunately, the formula for this detailer is a little thin. This can make it hard to work with and require you to reapply often. While it’s a streak-free shine, it can leave white streaks behind when you use it with a microfiber cloth. 

Easiest to Apply
TriNova Clay Bar Kit

This 18-ounce bottle of cleaner and lubricant will make you vehicle shine. It comes with two clay bars and a microfiber cloth. The spray bottle is easy to operate, and the lubricant is easy to apply to your car. After it cleans and protects, it’ll leave your car’s paint with a high shine wet look. With this lubricant and clay system, you can remove bugs, road grime, tar, and any other contaminants on the surface of your car. It stands out for its ability to remove brake dust and embedded metal. 


One drawback of this lubricant is that you’ll need a lot of it. This can cause you to go through the bottle faster than other brands. The clay bars aren’t as pliable as other clay bars on the market. 

Most Comprehensive Kit
Visbella Clay Bar Auto Detailing Kit

Get everything you need to clay bar your vehicle with this complete kit. It includes a spray bottle of quick detailer, two clay bars, a clay container, and two microfiber towels. This kit is perfect for light to medium-duty cleaning. The quick detailer lubricates your vehicle to allow the clay bar to glide over the surface of your vehicle easily. This prevents swirl marks while also removing tree sap, water spots, road grime, bird droppings, tar, and bug smears. You can then use the microfiber clay to wipe your car clean and finish with a polish and wax. 


Unfortunately, you’ll need to use a lot of this lubricant while using the clay bar. This can cause you to go through the lubricant faster than other options on this list. 

Honorable Mention
Nano Shock Lubricant Sealant

This one-gallon bottle of lubricant will give you plenty of lubricating power for clay baring multiple vehicles. It’s a special formula that will clean and wax your car. It stands out because it also seals your vehicle’s surface while lubricating. It’ll enhance the gloss and shine of your vehicle’s surface. Then it’ll help maintain that shine by repelling water and giving UV protection. The formula is a hydrophobic polymer to achieve these results. This lubricant is safe for use on chrome, plastic, and glass. It’s durable enough to last for up to three months. 


Unfortunately, you’ll need to be careful to not get a defective batch. It shouldn’t be globby, goopy, or have chunks in it. It also loses some of the hydrophobic abilities over time.

Honorable Mention
Glide Detail Spray Lubricant

This clay bar lubricant is a component of the Autoscrub car care system. It’s a water-based and silicone-free formula. You can safely use it on glass, chrome, and plastic. This bottle of lubricant is concentrated in a 16-ounce bottle. To use it, you’ll pour this concentrate into a spray bottle with water for a 40:1 mixture. Mix well, and then spray on the surface of your vehicle. It can safely help you to remove minor contaminants, fingerprints, bugs, and dust from your vehicle. 


Unfortunately, you’ll need an extra spray bottle and mix the formula before you use it. This presents a risk of incorrectly mixing it and causing it to not work as well as expected. It also doesn’t smell as pleasant as other lubricants on this list. 

Honorable Mention
Griot's Garage Speed Shine

This 35-ounce bottle of speed shine detailer lets you get to work fast. Using this detailer enables you to finish your entire car in just five minutes. The unique formula can lubricate your vehicle for use with a clay bar. It’ll safely lift dirt away so the clay bar can gently remove it. The finished surface will be smooth and glossy. You can safely use it on any painted surface, including matte and vinyl surfaces. It’s useful for removing fingerprints, dust, bird droppings, and dirt. 


Unfortunately, the spray nozzle on this bottle isn’t the best and can make it difficult to spray the lubricant on your vehicle. The lubricant formula is also quite thin, making it runny and hard to keep in place where you need it. 

Honorable Mention
Dodo Juice Born Slippy Clay Lube

This spray bottle of lubricant may look funky, but it puts in some serious work. This 500ml bottle is plenty of liquid for cleaning your vehicles. You’ll like this bottle for its oversized and comfortable spray head. There are also concentrated versions of the lubricant available for refills. It comes in a super slick formula that gives you a maximum amount of lubricity. It also contains cleaning agents, which help remove the contaminants stuck on your vehicle’s surface. This high-quality lube is compatible with top-quality clay bars, even those designed for use with just water. 


Unfortunately, you need to be careful using this lubricant. For the best use, don’t dry your vehicle after washing. You also should be careful not to over-saturate your clay bar while working with it. 

Honorable Mention
Chemical Guys Synthetic Lubricant Kit

This clay bar and lubricant kit is a two-part system that comes with everything you need to clay bar your vehicle. You’ll get a 16-ounce bottle of lubricant and a medium clay bar. The large size of the clay bar lets you clean eight to ten cars. It can clean the surface of your vehicle plus remove any oxidation. The scratch-free blend will protect your car; it’s light, soft, and non-abrasive. The lubricant is a synthetic formula that increases the lubricity, reduces friction, improves effectiveness, and extends the life of your clay bar. 


One issue with this kit is that the clay bar is a light- to medium-duty clay. If your vehicle needs heavy work, this won’t do the job. However, you can use this lubricant with any other clay bar, so you can still use the lubricant.

Honorable Mention
All American Spray Clay Bar Lube

Spray this lubricant on your vehicle surface and use it with your clay bar. It will help you quickly and easily remove contaminants. It’s ideal for use before you wax. This lubricant is safe for use on glass, polished metal, clear plastics, and paint. It will effectively remove overspray, debris, and anything else stuck on the surface of your vehicle. This gives you a smooth and clean surface that’s ready for polishing and waxing. What’s nice about this detailer is that it’s professional quality and ready for use as delivered. 


One drawback of this lubricant is that it comes in a one-gallon container, which makes it bulky and heavy. You’ll want to have a separate spray bottle to pour it into for application on your vehicle. It’s also a bit more expensive than other options. However, the results are worth the investment.

Tips

  • Always work with clean tools when cleaning your car. You don’t want to work dirt and debris into your car’s paint. This means never dropping your tools on the ground and thoroughly rinsing them after each use. 
  • Wax or seal your car’s paint after you clay bar. This will create a protective layer over the clear coat. The paint will stay cleaner and look like new for longer. 
  • Don’t be afraid to use plenty of lubricant with your clay bar. Detailing clay has a tacky texture that shouldn’t be used without a lubricant. You’ll know you need more when the lubricant begins to dry. 

FAQs

Q: What can I use to lubricate a clay bar?

You can use a specifically formulated lubricant, a quick detailer, or soapy water. All of these will sufficiently lubricate your vehicle so that the clay bar can glide over your vehicle’s surface without damaging it. 

Q: Can you make your own clay bar lubricant?

Yes, you can. Soapy water is going to give you the slippery surface you need. Be sure to use automotive soap that’s designed for picking up and carrying away contaminants. Do not use this mixture: four ounces of rubbing alcohol with three to five drops of liquid detergent. Both of these ingredients will damage your vehicle over time. Alcohol is drying, and liquid detergent lacks the lubricity that auto soap has. 

Q: Should I clay bar before buffing?

Yes, for a clean finish, you should clay bar before you polish and buff. A polisher doesn’t remove things; it just smears them around. Using a clay bar will remove everything so that you can buff and polish a perfectly smooth surface. 

Final Thoughts

For a reliable and top-performing kit, the Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System will add depth and clarity to your paint while making it feel silky smooth. For a more affordable option, the Adam's Waterless Detail Spray will boost your wax’s protection ability and leave a streak-free finish.