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7 Tips for Using a Clay Mitt

Posted by Chris Walters on

In auto or car detailing, there is a process referred to as “claying”.  In the past, clay material was a soft resin compound most commonly made from synthetic materials and used to remove embedded paint contaminants. It has a similar pliability to modeling clay, and its natural gummy/sticky texture makes it perfect for grabbing on to and removing stuck-on paint contaminants.

JLG AVC Clay Mitt & QD

Recent developments in detailing technology have paved the way for more durable synthetic materials that mimic the natural “grabbing” action of the previous clay bars, but have a longer shelf life and aren’t as susceptible to being over-concentrated with dirt particles during use. Applying this new material to a microfiber mitt, towel and/or foam pad creates a very convenient way to remove embedded paint contaminants. 

Both versions of clay have distinct advantages and serve unique purposes. In this write-up, we’ll cover their advantages and walk you through some basic tips on how to properly use our Synthetic Clay Mitt.

First off, why do I need to clay my car?

We get this question, a lot. Claying is a hot topic as of late, and most people want to know “why”. Why do I need to clay my car? Well, believe it or not – when you wash your car with just soap & water, you’re leaving microscopic contaminants behind. Air born particles from brake dust, environmental pollution, industrial fall-out and even over-spray are too small to see with the naked eye. They adhere themselves to your paint and become difficult to remove with just soap & water.

Bonded Surface Contaminants

This is where claying comes in handy. Due to the sticky nature of the clay material, it’s able to grab these embedded particles and lift them away from the surface. This leaves behind an incredibly clean, and very smooth surface that is ready for wax/sealant application or even polishing (if there are surface scratches/defects that need to be corrected).

Clay Mitt removing bonded contaminants

Clay Mitt removing bonded contaminants

Clean paint after clay mitt

Synthetic vs. Natural?

There are multiple grades of “natural” clay available, and the same goes with synthetic clay materials. They both have distinct advantages, below we’ll try and help you choose what is right for you.

“Natural” clay advantages:

  • Usually much stickier than synthetic clay.
  • Does a very good job of grabbing on to and lifting away tough embedded particles.

Disadvantages:

  • You must knead the clay to bury any lifted particles into the interior of the clay, away from the painted surface.
  • If the clay becomes too saturated with dirt/particles, or you accidentally drop it on the ground, you should throw it away and start with a fresh bar.

Synthetic clay advantages

  • Easy and quick to use
  • Simply rinse away lifted contaminants/dirt/particles
  • Isn’t ruined if it is accidentally dropped on the ground. Rinse with clean water and inspect carefully to ensure no particles are stuck.

Disadvantages

  • Less sticky than natural clay.
  • May require slightly more working time depending on how contaminated the surface is.

How to use JLG Synthetic Clay Mitt:

The process is basically the same whether you’re using natural or synthetic clay.

  1. Ensure the paint has been thoroughly washed, rinsed & dried.

  2. All clay must utilize a lubricant to help it glide across the painted surface. You can use a detail spray, or a chemical specifically designed to lubricate clay.

  3. Working small areas at a time - saturate the painted surface with your detail spray/lubricant. We suggest spraying the clay mitt as well to ensure proper lubrication.

    Clay Mitt & Quick Detailer

  4. Lightly glide the clay mitt along the surface in a cross-hatch pattern. You’ll notice that there is some resistance/drag at first, but as you continue to glide the mitt and remove contaminants it will become smoother and smoother.

    Clay Mitt In Use

  5. Continuously check the clay’s surface for particles. Rinse as needed, and add more lubrication to the surface.

  6. Once you no longer feel any resistance/drag in that area, take a clean microfiber towel and wipe the paint clean. Feel the surface with your finger tips and compare to an area you haven’t clayed yet, you should notice a distinct difference in how slick the surface is.

  7. Repeat on all panels of the car until you have finished.

Note that depending on how contaminated the surface was, polishing may be required after claying to help correct any micro-marring that may have occurred. If no micro-marring is present, then we suggest to add protection (wax and/or sealant) immediately after claying.

 


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4 comments


  • Can you use it when you are washing the vehicle? is the car soap enough lubricant/

    Pat on

  • I’ve been in detail business since 1968—was around when “claying” got started in west-centralForida. For those who have rough finger(tips) and can’t really ‘feel’ paint after claying— try using clear plastic wrap such as found on cigarette packs(if available), or something similar. U will get a " true feel" of the paint surface. I would ONLY share this tip with JLG followers— AND I don’t recommend buying a pack of ‘weeds’ n smoking them to get the plastic wrap— there are other ways to get them.

    HAL HAIMBAUGH on

  • Before claying use a cheap plastic sandwich bag to feel the surface. It will feel like sandpaper. After claying it will be unbelievably smooth!!

    Anthony Janflone on

  • Great clay treatment tips!

    Bradford A. Barrett on

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