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  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    This is a very common question...

    Here's the skinny...

    Claying after washing and drying

    The most common process is to wash and dry the car, then after drying the car, clay the car section-by-section and after claying a section, while the surface is still wet with your clay lubricant, use a microfiber polishing cloth to wipe that section dry.

    Some people may choose to wash and dry the car a second time after the claying process to insure all residue and any loosened dirt or abrasive particles are completely removed. This would be on the AR side of the spectrum because if you do a good job of wiping the paint clean with a good quality microfiber polishing cloth immediately after claying a section then for the most part that section is clean and ready to work on.



    Claying while washing but before drying
    Another way to clay the paint that is common and popular with professional detailers is to clay the paint during the washing process while the car is still wet as a step-saver to reduce the amount of time invested in the job in an effort to maximize profits.


    Three Factors - Time, Labor, Profit


    Enthusiast Detailer
    If you're an enthusiast detailer, only working on your own cars then time, labor and profit are not usually factors that influence your process. You can invest as much time and labor into your car because your profit is your enjoyment of the process and the results.


    Professional Detailer - Anyone detailing a car for money
    If you're a processional detailer then you understand that your profit is directly determined by the amount of time you invest into the job plus the cost of materials. Your labor is a given if you're working by yourself and if you hire workers to help you then the cost of their labor must also be factored in.

    Because profit is greatly influenced by the amount of time invested into each job, it's only natural to look for ways to save or reduce time. One way is to clay the car immediately after washing the car but before drying the car. The goal is to save a step by not having to dry the car after washing and the re-wetting the car with a lubricant to clay the car and then drying or wiping the car a second time to remove the lubricant. The goal being to get a car washed, clayed and then dried with as few steps as possible.


    Clay the car after washing but before rinsing
    Some detailers will wash the car and as mentioned above, clay the car after washing each panel using their car wash solution as the lubricant. I've called on and worked with detail shops where the detailers kept their clay bars in their buckets of wash soap as a normal practice. I personally wouldn't recommend this practice as it would be too easy to contaminate the clay but I've seen this done at a lot of production type detail business.

    The problem with the above process is that after you wash a car or even just a panel what you have effectively done is loosened dirt, road grim and abrasive particles on the surface and if you now run a clay bar or clay patty over this surface you could grind any of the loosened dirt particles into the clay bar and over the paint possibly scratching the paint.


    Clay the car after washing and rinsing but before drying
    A better variation of the above is to wash the car, then RINSE the car thoroughly, with a lot of emphasis on the word thoroughly to insure all loosened abrasive particles have been flushed off the car. Now while the car is still wet with rinse water but free from any loosened dirt or abrasive particles, now use detailing clay and a clay lubricant or your car wash solution by dipping your clay bar into your bucket of car wash soap to clay the various panels on the car and then give the car a final rinse before drying.

    The above variations of claying after washing but before final drying can all save a detailer some time, the important thing is to focus on the task at hand and do everything you can to avoid instilling scratches into the paint during the claying process. There are some that will say even if the paint is accidentally scratched during the process that it's no big deal as these scratches will be removed in the next steps when the paint is polished and then waxed.

    How dirty a car is will also be a huge factor as it relates to any potential for inflicting scratches during the claying process especially if a person chooses to clay the car immediately after washing a panel but before rinsing the panel and flushing off all the loosened dirt, road grim and abrasive particles.


    There's no hard rule that says any of the above methods is better than the other because it really comes down to personal preference and even skill level. Lots of Pro detailers are completely able to do any of the above with no problems at all yet I've read threads on forums where usually an enthusiast has tried one of the step-saver methods above and accidentally inflicted scratches into their car's finish.


    My take...
    My personal preference is to wash and dry the vehicle and then use a dedicated spray detailer formulated for detailing clay and clay the car using a dedicated claying process and after claying each section, wipe the section clean and dry using a microfiber polishing cloth.


    Mike Phillips
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  2. #2
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    What good microfiber do you use that can dry and clean the paint off?

    Mike - Mirror Detailing - Powder Springs, GA
    R.I.P. Matt Eddy(SouthrnStyle) 11/26/2010

  3. #3
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirror Detailing View Post
    What good microfiber do you use that can dry and clean the paint off?
    Any quality microfiber should work, I usually use whatever I have that's clean and ready to go.

    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  4. #4
    Senior Member turbos17's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    Once again Mike you continue to amaze!

  5. #5
    Senior Member jjkacz's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    Thanks Mike, I just learned a time saver!
    JJKACZ

  6. #6
    Senior Member Shane731's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    Personally, I go ahead and wash, rinse, water blade most of the water off, use my clay and lube to go ahead and clay, and then wash again, rinse, and dry. But that's just me.
    Shane


  7. #7
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    that seems like the thorough way 2 go ciera....its lookn like a tuff call 2 make, but clayin b4 rinsing seems like a solid split

  8. #8
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    I have always washed and rinsed a car, then pulled it in the garage and clayed it with clay lube, then pulled it back out and washed and rinsed it again, then dried.
    2004 Pontiac PBM GTO
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  9. #9
    Senior Member AudiTTman's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    Hey Mike, speaking of using MF towels after claying, do you really see any difference between a towel that has a 70/30 blend- to a 80/20 blend?

  10. #10
    Senior Member ICEMAN's Avatar
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    Re: Do I need to wash my car after I use detailing clay to clay the paint?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike.Phillips@Autogeek View Post
    Any quality microfiber should work, I usually use whatever I have that's clean and ready to go.

    exactly!! i have never had to rewash a car after claying. I have always kept the area very wet with detail spray while claying and make sure i wipe it off right away. its a very simple process.

    i have never had to use a certain type of microfiber towel, i just use any good clean one laying around.
    17 Tucson | 2015 Mustang Ecoboost Premium PP | 89 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10

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