Reusing a clay bar – How and how often to do it?

Claying your car is one of the most effective and efficient ways to achieve a cleaner car surface. Most car owners prefer using a clay bar before applying a wax. Besides, car owners who want their car’s surface to be smooth and shiny, resort to using clay too. And while using a clay bar once is advisable, using the same piece twice, isn’t. 

You can reuse a clay bar twice only if you manage to get rid of the contamination after the first wash. A simple ‘eye’ test to judge the reusability might be misleading as the clay might appear clean to our naked eyes but in reality, it may contain impurities. 

It’s always good to err on the side of caution when it comes to clay reuse. As mentioned, it might not appear to be a huge deal at first, but even if the clay is contaminated slightly, it can do considerable damage to your car’s surface. 

Having said that, there are no ground rules for reusing a clay bar. If you’re experienced with claying, there are ways in which you can reuse a clay bar effectively. 

Factors to keep in mind when reusing a clay bar

Let us understand how we can reuse a clay bar, and how often we should do it. And before we do that, we need to discuss a few important factors.

These factors are:  

  • Surface Evaluation
  • Paint Evaluation
  • Presence of bonded contaminants 
  • External environment & storage
  • Application
  • Reusability

Surface Evaluation 

Before you even touch your car’s surface with a used clay, touch the surface with your hands. Scan the surface to check for roughness. Is there a mark that didn’t leave with pressure water? Does the paint feel rough? Can you feel small grains, and particles stuck on the surface? If yes, it’s time to reuse the clay bar to get rid of the contamination. 

When evaluating your car’s surface, you need to make sure that you evaluate your clay bar as well. It’s possible that the clay bar might have bonded contaminants from a prior cleaning session. 

Paint Evaluation 

The roughness of the paint means that it contains dirt particles. These particles can be road grime, brake dust, or even mist. 

If you’re reusing a clay bar for cleaning and preparing your surface, it’s advisable to knead your clay to ensure that none of the particles come in contact with the paint. 

If your car’s old and the paint is not up to the mark, handle that issue first. Once you get the paint corrected, reusing the kneaded clay bar will be safer. 

Presence of bonded contaminants

Particles bond to a car’s surface instantly. The surface attracts these at all times. From grime to dust, you’ll find everything stuck on paint. By evaluating the presence of bonded contaminants, you get a clear idea if you should reuse a clay bar or not. 

For instance, if the surface is highly contaminated, you must not opt for clay bar reuse. Why? Because a used clay bar can pass existing dirt on to the clay and may harm the coating. 

External Environment & Storage 

Your car is generally exposed to snow, rain, salt, humidity, heat, and even industrial fallout. Each of these conditions invites debris and dirt to your car. So, it’s pivotal to know what you want to clean when reusing a clay bar before you touch the surface. 

Furthermore, the environment in which the clay is stored is extremely important for its durability. Ideally, a clay bar comes in a box and is stored with a lubricant so it doesn’t stick to the surface of the container. 

You need to ensure safe storage after you’ve used the clay once, knowing that you’re going to reuse it in the future. 


Most of the time, a reused clay may not even be the problem. It’s the way in which we’re handling the clay bar. When you’re reusing a clay bar, you should do it with caution. You don’t have the liberty to press it tightly. 

Simply glide it over the surface repeatedly with soft hands. You simply want to polish the surface and wipe the dirt off your glass, paint, and chrome without affecting any of those surfaces. 


Don’t just believe what the manufacturers tell you. Look for advice from people who’ve used similar products via forums or through personal contact. Most clay bar manufacturers claim that you just need to clean and air dry the bar before reusing it again. 

According to them, it offers the same decontamination effect upon reuse, however, I don’t think that’s possible. It’s impossible to clean the clay entirely. There ought to be a speck of dust, grain, or a minuscule particle that might get overlooked. And that tiny particle is capable of scratching the surface. 

How to reuse a clay bar? 

While reuse of a clay bar might be frowned upon, it can certainly be done. And it’ll do a similar job of floating smoothly over the surface. 

Thanks to the lubricant, there’s a small barrier between the clay bar and the paint, this will ensure that there’s no surface contamination. 

To reuse a clay bar, you must first get rid of the existing particles. Check extensively when looking for existing foreign objects. Additionally, spraying the panel with lubricant, and using a microfiber towel will help prepare the surface better. 

Here’s are 5 steps to help you effectively reuse a clay bar: 

  • Store the clay bar in its case after first use
  • Make sure the container isn’t contaminated
  • Clean the clay bar extensively for future reuse
  • Use lubricant/spray before touching the surface
  • Mold or knead the clay bar

How often should I clay bar my car?

There’s no definitive answer to this question as it’s subjective. 

Some car owners like to do it once every two months, whereas others prefer just 3-4 times a year. 

People who are overly particular about their car’s surface and aesthetics don’t mind doing it every month. The moment they find the paint to be rough, they are ready with a spray and a clay bar. 

You can easily determine if your car needs claying. Just touch the surface of your car, and see if it feels bumpy or rough. If it does, it’s time to clay your car. 

Nevertheless, claying your car too often is possible and should be avoided. I have written a detailed guide on how often you should get your car detailed here. Make sure to read it!

Is it okay to reuse a clay bar?

You can reuse it if you manage to maintain it well. For instance, if you haven’t dropped it. You can remold and use the clay bar if it is free from any dirt particles. 

Make sure to store it in its case, and spray it with lube before using it. 

In my opinion, a clay bar should just be used once. The good news is, that you do not need a complete clay bar to clean a car. You can easily cut off smaller parts and increase the lifetime of your clay bar this way.  

Key Takeaways 

  • Reusing a clay bar is not a wise option 
  • If you are reusing a clay bar, make sure you mold it
  • Remove the existent dirt before reusing a clay bar
  • Use clay lubricant before you touch your car’s surface with it
  • Store your clay carefully if you intend to reuse it
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge