Clay & Dry Your Paint | Autoblog Details | Complete Detail Ep. 5

At the end of our last video we left the paint wet after our wash and rinse. We did that for a very specific reason, lubrication. For episode 5 in our series of 10, we're gonna show you the steps to safely use clay and avoid mistakes commonly made during this abrasive process today on Autoblog Details.

Watch all of our Autoblog Details videos for more tips on car cleaning and maintenance by professional detailer Larry Kosilla. While you're at it, check out Larry's other video series on how to diagnose, fix, and modify cars, Autoblog Wrenched!
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[00:00:00] At the end of our last video, we left the paint wet after our wash and rinse. We did that for a very specific reason: lubrication. For episode five in our series of ten, we're going to show you the steps to safely use clay and avoid mistakes commonly made during this abrasive process. Today on Autoblog Details. Typically, after a wash and rinse, the next step will be to dry the paint.

[00:00:30] However, because we discovered the paint was rough to the touch back in episode one and because we're performing a paid correction, claying the paint now becomes necessary. First, remove a piece of clay from the clay bar, usually cutting off about 1/3 of the bar is sufficient. Then, flatten that piece into a hamburger shape between your two palms or on the windshield. Next, spray the area you're working with hose water. In this example, we're focused on one corner of the hood. Then, use the wash mitt and soap, used from the previous step, as your lubrication. Hold the mitt in your left hand and squeeze the foam on the paint while you glide the clay across the surface.

[00:01:00] Remember, clay works through friction, not pressure, so quick back and forth movements is ideal with minimal downward pressure. As the clay picks up the contaminants, you'll hear and feel it working through your fingertips. The scratchy sound will silence and the bumpy or sticky gliding will become smooth. Once you feel this smoothness, move to a new spot. Further wiping will only have diminishing returns and potentially scratch the clear coat.

[00:01:30] If your glass feels rough to the touch, claying it now can be helpful with your time management. Use the same process as you would on the paint. In step nine on this series, we'll be going over the process to properly clean your glass in the most efficient order. So by claying it during this phase of the process, we can speed up the window cleaning step later and remove any potential mess or dripping on the spotless paint at that point. As the clay bar becomes full of brown or yellow contamination dots, it's now time to knead the clay by folding the hamburger shape inwards and twisting.

[00:02:00] Reflatten into a hamburger shape and begin claying again with lots of soap and water. Keep in mind that claying your car is typically not a long process. Giving more than 20 to 30 minutes is an exception for a normally sized car. Once the entire car has been clayed, wash the clay bar in water before returning it to the plastic jar for its next use. However, if the bar is full of contaminants or you dropped it on the ground at any time, throw it away. It's not worth the risk of scratching your paint.

[00:02:30] Clay is a tool that should only be used when you need it, meaning it's not a prerequisite for washing your car. You do not need to use it for every wash, every other wash, or every month or every year. It's simply a tool. Let me give you a quick example. Scenario one: I clay the paint on Saturday at 1:00 PM. Then I park under a sappy tree next to train tracks. I may need to clay it again at 2:00. Or scenario two: I clayed it last year. I drive it daily, but I maintain it properly and the surface doesn't feel rough. My point is, clay is like the emergency room. You use it when you need it, but you don't go there when you don't.

[00:03:00] If you do need the clay for every wash or go to the emergency room every week, you need to change where you park and how you drive, so keep that in mind. Next, I like to quickly rewash the paint in case any clay was left behind or contaminants were pulled up, but left on the surface. I know, it's a bit of overkill, but it's a quick step. Then, give it a final rinse and you're ready to dry. Drying your paint is very much an afterthought when washing your car, but it is one of the post important aspects of maintaining its appearance.

[00:03:30] But because this Autoblog series is about the process of a full restoration, including compounding and polishing your bad paint, not just maintaining good paint, using drying lubricant at this particular point in time would interfere with the next step of compounding. Instead, just use a dry microfiber towel and compress air to prepare for this technical and finicky compounding phase in the next video. With the paint dry and contaminant-free, it's now time to compound and polish the paint. To watch the next step, visit

[00:04:00] If you found this video helpful, please share and keep up with all the latest detail videos by liking or subscribing to the auto blog page. I'm Larry Kosilla from It's now time to break out the polisher. See you in the next episode.

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