Sometimes washing your car just isn’t enough. When you wash your car and dry it, you may sometimes still find that the finish feels a little rough or bumpy. This is because dust and other tiny particles embed themselves into your car’s finish. If this happens to your car, you may want to consider using a clay bar.

However, before you run out and buy one, you must first be aware that using a clay bar is a time-consuming and detailed project. Using a clay bar can preserve the life of your paint and restore its smooth finish, but it is not an easy task and can take a day or two.

That being said, if you are determined to press forward, you should start with a clean car and only a piece of the clay bar. If you use the whole thing and accidentally drop it, you will have to throw it away and go buy a new one. So, divide it into a few pieces.

If you only use a piece at a time and it falls to the ground, you can just throw the dirty piece away and grab another. Do not use a clay bar that has dropped to the ground! The small particles of dirt and dust it grabs will scratch your paint, if you try to use it again.

You will need to apply a lubricant to each area of the car, before you begin rubbing it with the clay bar. Lubricate an area about 24 inches in diameter. If you do not use proper lubrication, you can do some very real damage to your paint job.

Lightly rub the clay bar over the area you have lubricated, covering the area thoroughly, but gently. As you work, occasionally stop to knead the clay and reshape it, giving you some fresh clay surface to work with.

Finally, once you have finished the entire process and are satisfied that the finish feels smooth, you will need to wash off the lubricant from the entire car. Then, make sure you re-wax it properly, as the clay bar will have removed the wax. Waxing will preserve and add longevity to the paint you have just cleaned.