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You do not want to clay with water left on the car from a wash. Totally dry the car & use a quick detailer for a lubricant with the clay.
You can use a high lubricity car soap as lubricant as well. Wash your car under the shade and you can wash, clay and dry in one go.
 

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You can use a high lubricity car soap as lubricant as well. Wash your car under the shade and you can wash, clay and dry in one go.
You can do that with your car if you wish. I never would with mine or a customers car. Just asking for trouble IMO.

The only time i would even consider to use clay is to prep the paint before compounding, and it would have to be really rough. Compound will remove all those small surface contaminates anyways, and as long as you keep the pad clean you wont put any of those contaminates back into the paint.


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Plenty of detailers uses the high lubricant soap method. As long as the bucket you are using from is not contaminated, you will be fine. The goal is to provide lubricant to the surface and the paint surface will be fine with the right soap mixture.
 

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In my experience using a Nanoskin clay mitt (clay alternative) and CG Honeydew Snow Foam with some Ultima Waterless Wash+ mixed in, 'claying' with wash solution works just fine, I added the UWW+ for added lubricity, it takes away from the suds but that's not the goal here.

You can clay paint and not marr it, maybe not on a Subaru, but on my Mazda 6 and especially on harder clear coats like GM, VW, Audi, MB, BMW, you can clay no problem without marring the finish. It's encouraged because any bonded contaminates will affect the bonding of your LSP. If you're compounding, sure, there may be no need to clay, but it's still suggested, if for nothing other than working on and with as clean as a surface as possible. No offense to taking the time to properly dry and then use a dedicated QD as clay lubricant, QD's tend to have a higher concentration of polymers than dilutable concentrates do, but you can achieve just as good results using alternative methods.

As for when, if you have a sealant and you re apply that 3 times a year, clay the car each time you re apply that sealant. If you apply boutique waxes to a garage queen then you'll only need to clay that maybe once or twice a year. Even covered, garage kept cars will be subjected to bonded contaminants, believe it or not.

Water blades are a great way to drag contaminates that you might have missed washing, or that have fallen onto the paint in the time since you washed it, across your paint and scratch the hell out of it. Don't waste your money. Best bang for your buck for spot free drying is keeping your LSP in good shape and using an electric blower and chase what's left with either a plush or waffle weave microfiber towel. Plush is suggested because if there are any remaining contaminants, they get trapped in the microfiber. Which brings me to another point, always, ALWAYS pat dry the car when using a drying towel. Dragging the towel across paint? Subject to scratching/marring.

And to touch on the last thing that was already mentioned by other users, 2 bucket wash method, 3rd bucket for the wheels. Wheels, tires, fenderwells first so that any of the harsher chemicals or grime splash that could potentially get on the car, gets washed off with not only your wheel cleaning final rinse, but your initial rinse before washing. You don't want APC/Wheel Cleaner misting on your paint after you just washed it. Just, no. Anyways, tried to address as much as I could catch skimming over the thread, YMMV but I hope it helps.
 

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