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Best Clay Bar Lubricants (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Keep your hood happy, and spray before you clay.

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON December 6, 2021

Things like road tar, tree sap, and bird droppings mount a slow assault on your pride and joy’s paintwork. And when it comes to dealing with these violators, a clay bar is your best line of attack. Claying a car requires specific action and the right conditions, though, and if you don’t have enough lubricant, you could end up doing more harm than good. Thankfully, there are tons of products on the market that provide a slick coating for your clay bar to glide across. We’ve made a buying guide, so you know what to get before putting clay to paint. We’ve also created a list of the top lubricants on the market and ranked them under a variety of categories.

Best Overall

Mothers California Gold Instant Detail Cleaner

Summary

This tried and tested formula is loved by automotive enthusiasts around the globe. It’ll leave your paint with a rich glossy finish.

Pros
  • Great finish
  • No wax or sealants in formula
  • Fantastic value for money
  • 24-ounce bottle
Cons
  • Can leave thin film over the paint after use
  • Not focused specifically for claying
Best Value

Quik Detailer By Meguiar's

Summary

This spray is unbeatable value for the money and doesn’t compromise on its ingredients to achieve a low price point.

Pros
  • Unbeatable value for money
  • 32-ounce bottle
  • pH-neutral formula
  • Safe to use on all surfaces
Cons
  • Bottle can leak
  • There are better products for lubrication
Honorable Mention

Chemical Guys Synthetic Lubricant And Detailer

Summary

This is the most focused clay bar lubricant on the market and unmatched in terms of lubrication.

Pros
  • Wetting and reflective shining agents
  • Ultra-thin coat
  • Fantastic lubrication
  • Synthetic formula and safe to use on any surface
Cons
  • There are more versatile automotive care products
  • Small container
  • Relatively high price point
Best Clay Bar Lubricants (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Our Methodology

The methodology I employed was to consider dozens of clay bar lubricants before choosing our top contenders. Some brands are already well-established in this niche, and priority was given to certain manufacturers’ products as they’re world-renowned. Other lesser-known brands were also evaluated to see if the young bucks could compete against the top-tier products for a fraction of the cost. The main features taken into consideration were quality of formula, value, volume, versatility, protective features, and longevity. We avoided products that don't provide adequate lubrication, or that leave a thick film after use.

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

Best Clay Bar Lubricant Reviews & Recommendations

Mothers California Gold Instant Detail Cleaner is a product from a trusted brand. This quick detailer comes in a 24-ounce bottle, so although the price might seem slightly high at a glance, it’s actually great value for money. This formula has no wax or sealants, so it acts as a great lubricant when claying, and it’s suitable for all types of paint, including clear coats.


Because this is a detailer, you get some extra benefits over standard lubricants. It contains color enhancers and shine fortifiers, bringing a deep, rich gloss to your vehicle’s paint. It’s perfect if you want to give your vehicle a quick touch-up, even if you’re not planning on using a clay bar. All you need to do between washes is rub it in and buff it off with a microfiber cloth. The only thing to be aware of is that this product could leave a slight film over your paint if you’re not careful when buffing after use.


Product Specs

  • Brand: Mothers
  • Model: 08224
  • Size: 24 ounces


Pros

  • Great finish
  • No wax or sealants 
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Can leave a thin film over the paint after use
  • Not focused only for claying
Best Clay Bar Lubricants Value
Quik Detailer by Meguiar's
Check Latest Price

If you’re trying to keep your car looking fresh on a tight budget, check out Quik Detailer by Meguiar's. At this product’s price point, you’d be forgiven for thinking it comes in a 16-ounce bottle, but you actually get 32 ounces, and it’s perfectly safe to use as a lubricant with a clay bar and is suitable for clear coat and single-stage paint.


Because it’s a detailer, too, it does more than just lubricate. All you need is a few sprays and a microfiber cloth to keep your car free of light blemishes, and its pH-neutral formula improves shine and texture and protects wax coats. This product doesn’t contain wax, so it won’t leave any waxy residue on unpainted rubber, plastic, or vinyl surfaces. But you should still pay special attention when buffing after use. The only issue worth noting is that the bottle is a bit fragile and can leak if it’s not looked after properly.

Product Specs

  • Brand: Meguiar’s
  • Model: A3332
  • Size: 32 ounces

Pros

  • Unbeatable value for money
  • pH-neutral formula
  • Safe to use on all surfaces high-quality

Cons

  • Bottle can leak
  • There are better products for lubrication

The Chemical Guys Synthetic Lubricant And Detailer is arguably going to provide the best clay bar lubrication on this list. It’s a detailer, but unlike the rest of the products, it’s a clay bar lubricator first and foremost, and delivers a slick surface, making it suitable for use with any clay bar. The formula consists of wetting and highly reflective shining agents that also help it form an ultra-thin coat. This allows clay bars to work smoothly, even on recently waxed or sealed surfaces.


With a synthetic formula, it works exceptionally well on any surface, including glass. It leaves behind a pleasant scent, but thankfully no slick film like some other wax-based detailers. The only downside is that it’s on the higher end of the price spectrum, especially when you consider that it’s just a 16-ounce bottle.


Product Specs

  • Brand: Chemical Guys
  • Model: WACCLY10016
  • Size: 16 ounces 

Pros

  • Wetting and reflective shining agents
  • Ultra-thin coat
  • Fantastic lubrication
  • Synthetic and safe to use on any surface

Cons

  • There are more versatile automotive care products
  • Only 16 ounces
  • Relatively high price point

Adam’s Detail Spray is a good option for anyone who’s looking for a jack-of-all-trades product as you can use this spray as a clay lubricant, pad primer, quick polish enhancer, shine enhancer, wax enhancer, waterless dust remover, and a drying aid. It’s a great choice for people who don’t want their garage full of specialized automotive cleaning products, and you can also use it to add shine and hydrophobic properties to ceramic coatings and waxes.


It’s safe to use this spray on any type of paint, and you can even safely use it to clean glass, rubber, steel, chrome wheels, and your vehicle’s grates when you’re not using it to clay your car. You do pay a premium price for this spray’s versatility, and it’s only a 16-ounce bottle but if it means you won’t need to buy several other products, it could save you money in the long run. Although this is one of the most versatile products on the market, it doesn’t excel particularly well in any one area.


Product Specs

  • Brand: Adam's Polishes
  • Model: DS2-16
  • Size: 16 ounces

Pros

  • Extremely versatile product
  • Safe to use on any surface

Cons

  • Not outstanding in any one area
  • High price point
  • Only 16 ounces

Griot’s Garage Speed Shine is for people who use clay bars on their vehicles a lot as it comes in a 32-ounce container, so you won’t need to refill anytime soon. But, if you still need more, there’s also a 1-gallon option. It’ll work well with any clay bar and is suitable for all clear coats and types of paint. Because it works as a detailer and a clay bar lubricant, you can use it to keep your paintwork shining and smudge-free between washes.


The spray is safe to use on wheels, chrome, and exterior plastic trim, so it’s perfect for taking care of light splashes and bird droppings. Although this model works well as a clay bar lubricant, it has been known to dissolve carnauba-based waxes. So anyone who uses this style of wax might want to look elsewhere.


Product Specs

  • Brand: ‎Griot's Garage
  • Model: 11146SP
  • Size: 32 ounces

Pros

  • Large 32-ounce bottle
  • Great for keeping vehicles clean between washes
  • Relatively good value for money

Cons

  • Might dissolve carnauba-based waxes
  • Not specifically focused for claying

Our Verdict on Clay Bar Lubricant

We’ve chosen Mothers California Gold Instant Detail Cleaner as our best overall clay bar lubricant. This product is tried and tested, provides excellent lubrication, and leaves a shiny finish. If you’re working off a tight budget, then check out our value pick, Quik Detailer By Meguiar’s.

What to Consider When Buying Clay Bar Lubricants

There are tons of clay bar lubricants on the market, with seemingly minute differences separating the wheat from the chaff. Because some automotive detailing products have several uses, it can be hard to know which ones are suitable for lubrication. This buying guide will help you understand the right types of lubricants to use with a clay bar and what key features to consider.

Types of Clay Bar Lubricants

Clay Bar Lubricant

Clay bar lubricants do exactly as you’d imagine, lubricate and it’ll normally do it better than a quick detailer, although it won’t be as versatile. These lubricants use a synthetic formula, which works on all paint color types and prevents swirl marks.

Quick Detailer

You can use a quick detailer spray as a substitute for clay bar lubricant. Most quick detailers will lubricate well, especially synthetic ones. We don’t suggest using quick detailers containing wax, as these products aren’t best-suited for clay bars.

This type of lubricant is great for people who want a versatile spray, which can also be used to keep their car clean between washes. Some clay bar kits directly come with a detailer.

Clay Bar Lubricants Key Features

Formula

When it comes to clay bar lubricants, the quality of the formula is the most important thing to consider. High-quality formulas will provide good lubrication and won’t leave behind any unwanted film on the paint. Many formulas will have additives, so look for additives that produce your desired effect. For example, some additives will help protect any wax you’ve applied, while others will make the surfaces shine.

Volume 

Like most things, the more clay bar lubricant you buy, the cheaper it tends to be. So if you’re borderline obsessive over keeping your car in tip-top shape, you might go through a lot of lubricants. Likewise, if you have a large collection of vehicles, it makes sense to buy lubricant in bulk.

But if you’re not going to get through a large volume quickly enough, you should be aware that it could go bad. When lubricants freeze and thaw, some of the ingredients can separate and won’t easily redissolve, which renders the solution useless.

Versatility Versus Quality

Because some quick detailers are jack-of-all-trades products and masters of none, you’ll need to decide if quality or versatility is more important to you. You can save a significant amount of money if you opt for one product that has several uses, but chances are it won’t be a top-level lubricant. The best middle ground for some people will be a spray that mainly acts as clay bar lubricant, but has some agents that help it act as a quick detailer.

Clay Bar Lubricant Brands

Mothers

Tradition is important with the team at Mothers, and you won’t see much change over the years with the core formulations. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Mothers’ polish became one of the preferred brands due to its ability to give mag and aluminum a high shine polish. It may not be considered professional quality, but it’s readily available and perfect for the average car owner who is looking for affordable car care products.

Meguiar's

As one of the oldest car care products on this list, Meguiar’s is probably the most well-known worldwide. Founded in 1901, this once family-owned company is now under the 3M umbrella of brands. What started as a furniture polish company has grown into a staple brand name in the car enthusiast community. As a part of this, the company sponsors and staffs over 100 car shows worldwide and supports over 3,500 car clubs. While the product line features high-quality formulas, the company’s mission is to fuel a passion for cars and focus on the human side of the automotive industry.

Chemical Guys

The founders behind Chemical Guys wanted to create more than just a company, they wanted to build a lifestyle. They were successful in their efforts as there is now a worldwide following of car enthusiasts who exclusively use the Chemical Guys line of car care products. There is a culture of fun, authenticity, and empowerment that comes when using Chemical Guys car care products. Each product’s development was approached from the ground up using only the best quality chemicals, small-batch waxes, and innovative coatings. Car owners that appreciate an innovative company that isn’t afraid of change will like what they find with Chemical Guys.

Adam’s Polishes

Founded in 2000, Adam’s has grown to become a company that sells care products worldwide. The company’s founder prides himself on not being normal. His passion for cleaning and polishing spreads throughout the company, and it’s not uncommon to see the founder pressure washing the warehouse forklifts. You’ll find products for both the interior and exterior of your car and ceramics for extra protection and improvement in looks. Beginners will appreciate the emphasis on a learning culture where you can learn the best application practices and car care. If you aren’t satisfied with any product you purchase from Adam’s they will refund your purchase price plus ten percent.

Griot’s

While Griot’s may not be as large of a company as the other brand’s on this list, it’s a formidable one. Founded in 1988, the company is privately owned and has 70 dedicated employees. Its products are made in the United States in Plainfield, Ind. From its beginnings, the company has a lifetime guarantee on everything the company sells. Each product is thoughtfully and carefully created from concept to production to ensure the best quality possible. You’ll find a focus on timeless products that have a proven history of performance over trendy and fad products that can’t guarantee results. The team at Griot’s is so confident in their products that everything sold is also covered by a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.

Clay Bar Lubricants Pricing 

You can buy a quality clay bar lubricant for under $15. They typically come in a bottle that contains enough product for several applications. Higher quality products can easily cost $20 or more. However, there’s a caveat to buying these products because you don’t want to focus solely on price. A low-cost lubricant may seem like a bargain until it doesn’t perform well and comes in a small bottle that isn’t enough to last a single application. A more expensive bottle may seem out of your budget but is actually a great bargain because it’s a large bottle that will last for several applications.

Tips and Tricks

There are a few handy tips and tricks we’ve learned during our decades of washing, waxing, and clay barring cars. And today, we’re imparting them to you.

  • Before you apply the lubricant and start working, make sure the surface is clean, dry, and spotless.
  • The most contaminated panels are usually the roof, hood, and bumpers, so you’ll need to use more lubricant here.
  • If you drop the clay bar on the ground while using it, it’s a good idea to replace it immediately.
  • When you clay bar a car, focus on one small section of the car at a time and move around until you’re done.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q: Do you need lubricant for a clay bar?

A: Yes, using a clay bar without lubricant can cause marring and leave small, hard-to-remove pieces of clay behind. The clay could also drag capture particles across the paint and scratch it without proper lubrication.

Q: Can I use water as lubrication for a clay bar?

A: Water on its own doesn’t provide enough lubrication for a clay bar. It’s not slick enough to allow the bar to glide over your vehicle’s paint with ease. Make sure you get some lubricant.

Q: Can I make my own clay bar lubricant?

A: To prevent the possibility of scratches or other damage to your car, we recommended that you use a product that’s designed specifically for clay bar lubrication.

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