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.
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BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON January 29, 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.
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.
- Adds depth and clarity
- Paint feels silky smooth
- Safe for all types of paint
- Can leave a film
- Clay bars don’t last
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.
- Boost existing wax protection
- Streak-free formula
- Safe for all surfaces
- Thin formula
- Streaks when used with microfiber
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.
- Easy application
- Leaves paint looking wet
- Cleans and protects
- Needs a lot of lubricant
- Clay bars not pliable
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.