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  • Writer's pictureAutowash


Updated: Dec 19, 2023

A car with bugs splattered onto it

You love your car, so you want it to look its best. That is why Autowash is here! To provide you a premium touch-free wash experience that makes it easy to keep your car clean, without risking scratches or damage. However, washing alone isn’t always enough. Over time some types of contamination form bonds with the surface that washing alone cannot remove. In this article we’ll help you understand what these stubborn contaminants are, where they come from, and most importantly how to remove them!

Different contaminants on vehicles


Your vehicle's surface is continually exposed to various contaminants like overspray, rail dust, water spots, bug remnants, tree sap, and more. So what are these residues and where do they commonly come from:

  • Overspray: Did you know that aerosolized surface coatings like paints, stains, lubricants, and similar chemicals can travel MILES on a breezy day if not contained? It’s true and that is how your car can, and often does end up with overspray. Driving past a collision repair shop with improper filtration, the city repaints the crosswalk lines, or your neighbor decides to spray wood stain on their fence. All of these and many more sources are putting fine particles of contamination into the air. Those particles land on your vehicle, harden, and leave the surface rough and potentially dull.

  • Raildust: If you have ever seen the tiny rust-colored dots on a white car and wondered where they came from, you’re looking at rail dust. It gets its name from cars transported by train where fine metal particles from the rails and train wheels grinding against each other would deposit on the cars they were carrying. Rail dust, also known as industrial fallout, can come from any number of metallic sources like car break pads, industrial manufacturing, catalytic converters or anywhere fine metal particulate is created.

  • Baked-on Bug Guts: We all know how gross and messy they can be, but bug guts can also be very hard to fully remove. The front of your car typically is hot from engine heat. That combined with heat from sun and the nature of what is in those gooey little splats makes for some very stubborn residues. The longer they’re on the harder they are to remove!

  • Water Spots: Neighbors sprinklers? That rouge puddle? Spring rain followed by intense sun? There are all kinds of ways to end up with water spots, but ultimately, they are the minerals left behind when the water evaporates. If they don’t come off with washing, clay can typically solve the problem.

  • Tree Sap: When it is fresh, its sticky. After a little time in the sun it dries to a hard bonded drop. When this sticky residue finds its way onto your car and dries it can be almost impossible to wash away. You could risk scratches and pick away at it with your fingernails, or a clay bar may be able to solve the problem.

Clay & Seal kit link


So now you know WHAT is stuck to your car, but WHY should be concerned? All of these contaminants can cause your vehicle to look dull, but on top of that they actually make the surface rough to the touch and if a surface is rough to the touch, it has more “grip” which allows contamination to stick, making the surface difficult to clean or dry. Removing bonded contamination is better for the long-term health of your vehicle's surfaces, but it also means that it is easier to maintain. Dirt will be less prone to sticking and when you wash the process is more effective.

Detailing a car


After claying, sealing your vehicle's surface is crucial for protection and aesthetics. While that clay was removing all those stubborn particles from the paint it was taking any protection you had with it. This means your paint, after a clay bar treatment is essentially naked and vulnerable to the elements. A good sealant provides a sacrificial barrier of protection, prolonging the life of your paint job and keeping your car looking new, plus it makes the surface even more slick for even easier maintenance!  Not sure what to use for protection on your paint? Check out our other article on Paint Protection and Preservation


Claying and sealing a vehicle is something any car owner can do at home, themselves in as little as an hour. The process is easy, safe, and provides incredible benefits, not to mention an immense sense of pride knowing you’ve invested in the care and preservation of your vehicle's exterior.

All these reasons and more are why we’ve collaborated with our friends over at Adam’s Polishes on a clay and seal kit that provides you with all the supplies essential to do this process at home or in your driveway. We’ve even created detailed video instructions (below) from our resident surface care expert, Dylan von Kleist, so you can follow along. Grab your kit now at the link below:

Clay & Seal kit link


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