Best Tone Bars: Clean your paint the right way (2023)

Best Clay Bar Reviews and Recommendations

To use a clay bar on your car you need a lubricant. This kit from Mothers has both in one package. You get a 100 gram bar and a 16 ounce bottle of Mothers California Gold Instant Detailer to get the job done. While other bars allow you to choose between fine or coarse tone, the latter being better left to an expert, the Mothers bar is intended to be DIY-friendly for beginners. The bar is more malleable than other bars, making it easier to adapt to the vehicle and easier to use. So it's okay if you've never fitted a vehicle with tone grilles before.

One latch should be enough to completely conceal a full-size car or most SUVs, which is good since Mothers doesn't have a place to store the latch when you're done. That means you'll likely throw away what's left. However, if you have spare Instant Detailer, you can still use it to give your vehicle a quick (cinnamon-scented) shine.


  • Brand: Moms
  • Model: 07241
  • Weight: 3.53 ounces


  • tone bars and details
  • DIY friendly
  • Low price


  • No rod storage
  • Cannot choose coarse or fine tone
best value

Chemical Guys Medium Clay Bar

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Chemical Guys markets its products to both professionals and serious DIY enthusiasts. Because of this, they offer clay bars in three grades: heavy, light, and medium. What is the difference? The density of the clay. If you have never toned your vehicle before, you may need high density. If you do it frequently, light is probably fine. For the average job, choose Medium. The bars are also color coded in case you fancy having more than one around.

The center bar is designed to work on your paintwork, removing contaminants, flash rust, rail dust and other paintwork problems. It also works to clean plastic, wheels and even glass and remove stubborn dirt without risking scratching your precious paintwork. Chemical Guys has their own Clay Luber - available by the gallon so you never run out of water - but this bar will happily handle whatever clay lube you use. This clamshell bar even comes with clamshell packaging that can be resealed to keep your bar safe until next use.


  • Marke: Chemical Guys
  • Modell: CLY_402
  • Weight: 3.53 ounces


  • Medium density for your average user
  • Comes in a reusable blister pack
  • Color coded if you have more than one class


  • Plastic wrap difficult to remove
  • Softer than other bars
  • Color means dirt is harder to see

The Griot's Garage Clay Bar is more than just a bar. It's more than twice the size of the other bars on this list. Griot's comes in a large tub rather than a single bar, letting you only take a small amount of clay from the container at a time. You never have to mess up more clay than you need, you don't have to worry about throwing away an entire bar because you dropped it on the floor, and you can use a small amount to do the extra gritty parts of the job , such as sills and wheels. The storage tub keeps the rest safe and clean until the next use.

Griot's says the tub can clean about seven vehicles, depending on the size of the vehicle and the amount of dirt. That makes this large package a great deal if you're planning multiple trips. This is a light clay so it cannot remove the most stubborn of dirt, but for the average vehicle this is a great and easy-to-use way of smoothing out your paintwork, as well as cleaning your glass and other shinework.


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  • Brand: Griot's Garage
  • Model: paint cleaning clay 11153
  • Weight: 10.4 ounces


  • big bar
  • Resealable tin
  • Extra malleable


  • Bar may be too big for some hands
  • Light density will not remove the worst dirt
  • Softer and stickier than other brands

Meguiar's C2100 clay is labeled as aggressive, meaning it's ready to remove even the most stubborn contaminants such as road tar, paint spatter, rail dust and even industrial fallout. If it's stuck to your paint surface, this will remove it. Plus, it can do the same for glass, metal, and even plastic surfaces. While this product will remove virtually all contaminants from your paint, there are some trade-offs. This tone will take more elbow grease from you, the person rubbing the paint. Such an aggressive bar is likely to leave what is known as tone damage, tiny scratches in the finish that require machine polishing and waxing. This extra step is only part of the game when it comes to making your vehicle's paintwork as smooth as possible.

This is a large bar and it comes with a reusable tub to store what you're not using. However, even the 200 gram bar may not hold up for multiple vehicles as it can remove so much dirt from your vehicle. However, for surfaces that need it, this pro-level tone bar is hard to beat.


  • Marke: Meguiars
  • Model: C2100
  • Weight: 7 ounces


  • Aggressive clay for the worst dirt
  • 200 gram bar
  • Comes with storage tray


  • to use stiffer
  • Expect to have to machine polish after tone
  • Needs a lot of rubbing
Easiest to use

Mütter Speed ​​Clay 2.0

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Mothers reinvented the clay bar with their Speed ​​Clay 2.0. Instead of a malleable lump, Mothers took the clay bar and tied it to an easy-to-use handle. It also behaves more like an eraser than traditional clay.

No more folding the clay over and over again, with Speed ​​Clay you can hold the ergonomic applicator and rub the color comfortably. The rubber-polymer technology shears away and removes ink impurities as well as the clay's contaminated particles.

With Mothers Speed ​​Clay, you can actually polish your car as you wash it, rather than adding a second step and using a spray detailer or lube. You can even treat the car with clay while waxing. Less work and more shine is the goal, and thanks to this new clay system, you get exactly that. Unlike traditional clay bars, this bar is non-sticky. So if you drop it on the floor, which would ruin a regular bar, you can hose down Speed ​​Clay or dip it in your wash bucket and it's safe to use again on your paint. Thanks to the new technology, up to 20 vehicles can be cleaned with one bar.


  • Brand: Moms
  • Model: 17240
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces


  • Can conceal up to 20 vehicles
  • Easy to use applicator
  • No worries about drop bars


  • Less aggressive than clay
  • Applicator and bar can be separated
  • Mothers warn against fakes

How we selected the products

Best Tone Bars: Clean your paint the right way (1)

Why trust us

Our ratings are based on a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, "crowd wisdom" ratings from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always strive to provide real, accurate guides to help you make the best choices.

Learn more

To choose the best clay bars, we looked at brands that are known for offering the best detailing products. Your paintwork is the most noticeable part of your vehicle and probably the most expensive to repair, so proven products are important. We avoided products from unknown companies for the same reasons. Price is important, as is usability, or how well the clay sticks together when you use it without sticking to the paint. A reusable container is also important as you probably don't want to use all of the product at once and you don't want to just pop it into a grocery bag every time.

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Our product choices, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven't tested all of these products in real life, we did look at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and forums. We also look at price and specification in the context of the segment. And of course we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

shopping guide

There are major differences between the different types of clay bars. Natural and synthetic, different grits and even different uses. We've rounded up some of the top things to look out for and the things you should know.

Types of Tone Bars

composite strength

There are three main types of tone bars: fine, medium and aggressive. Fine clay bars are perfect for vehicles with low levels of pollution or for users who want to clean their paintwork but don't spend all day cleaning it. They will remove most of the contamination, but not all. They slide more easily over the paintwork and leave fewer scratches. Medium bars bridge the middle ground by removing more stubborn dirt while still being okay for the average user. Aggressive clays remove the most stubborn paint stains. They take more elbow grease to do that, though, and you'll almost certainly need to machine polish your paint after you're done with the clay.

glass cleaning

A clay bar is also a great way to clean your car's windshield. A mild wand can remove stubborn dirt that makes your windshield rough, obscures your vision when the sun is low and causes your wipers to leave water behind. It won't eliminate pitting, but it can make a big difference. While most bars are glass safe, make sure you're using the bar you intend to use.

Rubber polymer/synthetic

Rubber and synthetic clays like Mothers Speed ​​Clay 2.0 are more like a sponge with a handle. They have two very distinct layers, one for color and one for holding. They aren't actually clay, but the hand coating and properties of the rubber "clay" coating make them much easier to use. Easier to hold, they also don't require you to fold in debris and reshape the bar with each plate of your vehicle.

Key Features


Knowing your goals and knowing how much work you are willing to put in is key to choosing Strength. If you haven't spotted any serious contamination, or just want to remove a buildup of insect gut and road tar, then a fine clay is all you need. You want to make your car a concours winner and are already planning machine polishing and finish correction? Then the aggressive tones will help you get there.


How much clay you need depends on the size of your vehicle, how dirty it is, and how aggressively you want to rub. Most clay comes in a 100 gram bar. With a mild tone that should cover a few vehicles. With a more aggressive tone or a more contaminated vehicle, you'll likely need more. In that case, a 200 gram bar or a product that gives you multiple 100 gram bars in one container is probably a better choice. If you only need 100 grams, don't buy a larger size. The clay can dry out over time.


Clay bars must be used with a lubricant, either one specially formulated for the purpose, or a spray detailer or spray wax product. If you don't use one, the clay can stick to the paint and damage it. The most important thing here is that the surface becomes smooth so that the latch can slide over it. So if you already have a favorite product on the shelf, it should be fine.

frequently asked Questions

Q: How can I practice with a clay bar if I've never used one?

The easiest way to try clay barriers is to choose a trim piece closer to the ground that is less visible, or use or try it on a painted piece that you don't care. A visit to the local junkyard can give you an inexpensive slab to work on. Spray both the painted piece and the clay bar liberally with lube. Start with light pressure and measured movements.

Q: How do I know if the Clay Bar actually works?

Select a spot on the paint that you want to remove and make sure it is a smudge and not a scratch or chipped paint. After spraying the clay bar and a small area around that spot, move the clay bar across the clean surface of the stain and make a few passes. Lift the clay bar, fold it over and make another pass. If it slides smoother than the first pass, it's removing debris.

Q: Will clay sticks scratch my paint?

Fresh clay bars, straight out of the box, shouldn't scratch your paintwork. However, picking up sharp objects can scratch your paintwork. Watch the path of your clay bar as you move across the color. Pause from time to time to inspect and knead the clay bar yourself, folding it in for a fresh finish. Dig up and discard any debris you can see. When you drop the bar on the ground, it's time to throw it.

Q: Can I put clay on the touch up paint?

The short answer is probably not. Depending on the application and age of the touch up paint, the clay bar could eventually remove it leaving you with the original paint chip. If you happen to swipe across the touch-up paint while doing this, you probably won't do any harm, but make note of these spots as you go to avoid them.


  • Break your clay bar into two (or more) pieces if you're worried about falling. Smaller pieces may even be easier for you to hold while you work, and having an extra piece on hand can help reduce the stress of the clay bar. You can also buy two clay bars instead of one if you prefer.
  • It is almost impossible to put your clay bar back in its original packaging after the first use. Properly store your clay bar for next time by placing it in a plastic bag or sealed jar. Also spray some lube inside the container/bag for extra moisture.
  • To prepare your vehicle for clay barring, first wash it as you normally would. Rinse the vehicle well and then wash it thoroughly. Prepare your clay bar and lube and clay bar the car. Then rinse and wash your vehicle again. This should remove any clay residue and any floating debris still on the paint.

Final Thoughts

Mütter California Gold Clay Kit Expresswon our pick for Best Tone Bar Overall based on its price, the fact that it contains almost everything a DIYer needs, and because the coarseness of the tone strikes a great balance between effectiveness and beginner-friendliness. Now get out there and smooth out your paint hood.

Why trust the drive

The Drive strives to be the web's premier destination for news, features, reviews and guides about modern automotive culture.

The Drive was founded as a /DRIVE YouTube channel before evolving into a full-fledged online publication in 2015. The Drive brings you the best of what's new in the world of speed, from gear reviews to the latest industry coverage - all from a veteran team of writers and editors with many decades of combined real-world experience. Our ratings are based on a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, "crowd wisdom" ratings from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always strive to provide real, accurate guides to help you make the best choices.


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