Mechanical Decontamination

Mechanical decontamination is the process of removing above surface contamination from the car’s paint, glass or any smooth surface that washing and wiping will fail to remove.

Why can’t I just wash this contamination away?

When a vehicle sits outside, environmental fallout such as, dust, exhaust fumes, jet fuel, tree sap and many other particles can land on the paint surface of vehicles. If left untreated for a period of time, these particles can bond to the vehicle and will not come off with a normal wash method.

What do I use to remove this contamination?

The detailers secret no more! A Clay Bar is used to remove above surface contamination without marring or abrading the paint. 

What are the benefits of claying?

-Claying will remove bonded contamination from the surface of the paint which will enable abrasives from compounding and polishing procedures to effectively work better thus making polishing easier. 

-After Claying, products such as paint sealants and waxes will bond and adhere to the paint more effectively thus enhancing gloss and shine more vividly.

-Claying will leave the car feeling silky smooth to the touch. 

Do I use a clay bar straight on the paint?

Yes, however a clay bar must be used with a clay lubricant. 

Are there any downsides to using a clay bar?

Yes, but only one! If you drop a clay bar on the floor it should be thrown away. When a clay bar is dropped on the floor there is a risk that it will pick up abrasive dirt or other contaminates. If you attempt to use that same clay bar on the car, there is risk of scratching the paint with the dirt caught in the clay bar. Throw it away and use a fresh clay bar. 

Are there alternatives to a clay bar?

Yes. Technology has dramatically advance since the clay bar was introduced to the detailing industry in the early nineties. 

Clay Mitt – Claying doesn’t only come in putty-like form, some manufacturers have found ways to manufacture washmitts with a surface that acts the same as clay. A clay mitt is a microfiber towel with a clay like material on one side.

Clay Sponge – much like the clay mitt but with a sponge backing for wiping clean.

Clay Pad – A round disk that connects to the backing plate with a surface that acts like a clay bar used on a polishing machine. By far the most effective and fastest way to mechanically decontaminate. 

The Difference Between Compounding & Polishing

Compounding otherwise known as the major correction step in a paint correction procedure. A compound is a liquid or paste containing very heavy cutting abrasive technology used to remove below surface defects such as swirl marks, deep scratches and water spot etchings. The compounding procedure is also carried out after dry or wet sanding has been carried out to level paint, remove orange peel, RIDS (random isolated deep scratches) and denibbing marks (sand marks left behind after repairing RIDS)

Polishing otherwise known as the minor correction step in a paint correction procedure. A polish is a liquid or paste containing light to medium abrasive technology used to refine the compounding procedure and add gloss and clarity to the clear coat. Polishing will remove light defects from the paint as well. 

Due to paint hardness, there may be many variables when choosing the correct machine, compound, polish, cutting wool, microfiber disk or foam pad combination for a particular paint system. 

Detailers will always carry out a test spot to determine what the best combination will be. The least aggressive combination should always be tested first. Once a test spot has been dialed in, the same procedure will be replicated to the whole car. 

Following the compounding & polishing procedure the paint is LSP (Last Step Product) ready. By now the paint should show superb gloss and clarity and no swirling, scratching or water spot etching and is now ready for application of a protective product such as a quality wax, sealant or coating to protect the finish. 

Why a Detailer v Car Wash Cafe?

A lot of people ask “why would I spend extra money with a detailer when I can get a much cheaper wash and detail with a car wash cafe or alike?”

Well.. There are many reasons

Here are a few to consider:

1.  Skill- Proper car washing and detailing is a skill. Using specific washing and drying technique to reduce potentially marring your car’s paint work takes skill. Proper technique when using a polisher to enhance the gloss and clarity of the paint takes skill. Proper use of equipment and product to clean exteriors, interiors, engines and other delicate parts of a car takes skill. 

2. Knowledge- You can ask any detailer any question about any facet of detailing and I can assure, you will get a knowledgeable answer. Detailers never stop researching, testing and learning to further enhance their knowledge of their profession. Maybe we won’t have the answer to your question today.. I can assure, you will have it by tomorrow! 

3. Care- Detailers take extreme care when transforming your car to a showroom finish. Detailing is our livelihood and passion. Care comes naturally.

4. Equipment- Detailers have an arsenal of equipment to fulfill each job to the best potential possible. From steamers, extractors, various polishing machines, pads, chemicals, microfiber towels, wheel care products etc. The list goes on and on. What may be appropriate for one vehicle may not work on the next, so a variety of equipment is important. 

Some incidents I have witnessed at various car wash cafes and alike include:

 -Incorrect to zero decontamination procedures prior to polishing followed by poor polishing technique resulting in horrific buffer trail marks also known as holograms or severe swirling. A complete no no in the detailing industry. It would be like watching a doctor about to perform surgery without first scrubbing their hands.

-The use of the same wash mitts and/or drying towels car after car. This effectively transfers abrasive dirt particles from car to car, which in essence is turning what should be a clean wash mitt into a form of sand paper. I have even witnessed wash mitts and drying towels dropped on the floor, picked up and continued to be used. 

Detailers have dedicated towels for, paint, wheels, engines, interiors and glass. If it gets dropped it gets washed and decontaminated before being reused. 

Detailing is an art form. It takes skill, knowledge and care to the extreme. Yes, you will pay a premium compared to a car wash cafe but I can assure you, the difference is outstanding.

A full detail on a car can take many many hours and sometimes even days depending on the service you are after.

If you are offered a $100 full detail including polishing from a car wash cafe and told to come back in 1 hour, let me warn you,  your car is in trouble. 

At the end of the day you get what you pay for. 

If you have pride in your ride, send it to someone who has pride in their industry. Aquire the services of a detailer.

Thanks for reading

Robert Cooper