How to Decontaminate Your Paint

How to Decontaminate Your Paint

There are many out there who have seen that their car’s paint looks dulled or faded and decided to give it a nice wash and layer of wax. However, their paint still doesn’t have that “show-car shine” that they always see on other people’s cars. If you find yourself in a similar situation, the problem may not be with your washing or waxing technique. The issue is most likely that your paint is ridden with millions of microscopic contaminates caused by a plethora of environmental and artificial sources. It is difficult to see these contaminants as they are not nearly as apparent as dirt or dust is, but they can certainly be felt. If you ever run your hand across your car’s paint and it feels almost like sandpaper, that is the result of contaminants.

The causes of these contaminants are plenty, so trying to simply remove the causes from the equation is a fruitless effort toward an impossible goal. The only way to ensure that these luster-stealing contaminants do not rob you of the opportunity to achieve that “show-car shine” is to routinely remove them from your paint’s surface. However, these contaminants are not as easily defeated as the dirt or dust that collects itself on your car’s surfaces. These contaminants are much more resilient that require a much more aggressive approach to remove. So, how do you rid your paint of these pesky shine thieves? We have put together this perfect, all-inclusive guide to help you do just that!


Chemical Decontamination:


Due to the microscopic nature of these contaminants, you are not always able to eliminate them entirely using strictly mechanical means. Often times, it will require a two-step process to be able to adequately remove them from your paint. The first step, chemical decontamination, will use a product that contains special chemicals that react with these contaminants to break them down and make them easy to wash off your paint. This step will be able to remove the smaller piece of contamination the mechanical process can’t quite reach. Because chemical decontamination is much safer on your car’s paint, you want to remove the majority of the contamination chemically first.


Pre-chemical decontamination considerations:


1. As with any other process that involves using products on your paint, you want to make sure that your paint is not too hot. If your paint is too hot, it will cause the product to dry onto the paint much more quickly, which can lead to unsightly residue. Always make sure that your paint is cool to the touch and in a shaded area before chemically decontaminating your car.

2. If your car is in particularly bad shape, you may need to wash the larger, looser contaminants, dirt, and dust off the surface before decontaminating it.


Items you will need:


1. SONAX Fallout Cleaner (SON-513200) – This product contains ingredients and chemicals that will react with the brake dust, industrial fallout, rail dust, and other metallic contaminants that are sitting on your paint’s surface and loosen them up so they can be easily washed off the surface. This product will turn red as it goes to work, allowing you to see just how much contamination was on your paint and how much is now being removed.

2. Plenty of water to rinse the surface off afterwards.


Chemical decontamination process:


The process for chemically decontaminating your paint is actually extremely simple. The majority of the work is done by the product itself, so there is no scrubbing or agitation required. Just spray an ample amount of SONAX Fallout Remover directly onto your paint surface. You’ll want to give the product about 3-4 minutes to loosen the contaminants from your paint. Then simply thoroughly rinse the product off of your paint with fresh water. It is recommended that you do about half of your car at a time. This will ensure that the fallout remover is not given the chance to dry on your paint before you have the opportunity to rinse it off. Depending on the severity of contamination on your car’s paint, you may want to repeat this step a few times.



1. Spray Fallout Remover on the surface.

2. Wait 3-4 minutes.

3. Rinse Fallout Remover off.


Mechanical Decontamination:


While the chemical decontamination process will remove a large amount of the contaminants on your paint, there are some types of contaminants it cannot remove. Not only can it not remove all types, but it is also unable to remove contaminants that are too large to be broken down and loosened from the paint. To remove these remaining contaminants, you will need to do a mechanical decontamination process.


Pre-mechanical decontamination considerations:


As with any other process that involves using products on your paint, you want to make sure that your paint is not too hot. If your paint is too hot, it will cause the product to dry onto the paint much more quickly, which can lead to unsightly residue. Always make sure that your paint is cool to the touch and in a shaded area before mechanically decontaminating your car. Items you will need:

1. SONAX Clay Disc (SON-450605) – This incredibly simple to use artificial clay product functions the same as a standard clay bar would. As it moves across the surface of your paint, this artificial clay pad will catch all the remaining “shards” of contamination that are protruding from your paint and pull them out. This pad, with its hook-and-loop backing, can be used either with the hook-and-loop handle it comes with or it can be used with your preferred polisher!

2. SONAX Glass Cleaner (SON-338241) – This product, which usually functions as an effective glass cleaner, contains enough lubricants in it to also function as a clay lubricant for the purpose of mechanical decontamination.

3. SONAX Ultrafine Microfiber Cloths (SON-450700) – These incredibly soft microfiber towels will allow you to wipe the remaining clay lubricant off the paint’s surface after the claying process is finished.


Mechanical decontamination process:


One of the most important things to keep in mind while you mechanically decontaminate your paint is to ensure there is enough lubrication on the surface. Clay and artificial clay alternatives are fairly aggressive by nature and will mar your paint’s surface if there is not adequate lubrication present. It is always safe to apply your SONAX Clear Glass both to the SONAX Clay Disc AND the paint surface to ensure that the risk of marring is minimized as much as possible.

While mechanically decontaminating your paint, you will want to work panel by panel in 2’ x 2’ sections. This is to ensure that lubricant does not dry on the surface before you’ve had the chance to wipe it off.

If you have not used your SONAX Clay Disc before, you will want to “break it in” before using it on your paint. To do so, simply apply plenty of SONAX Clear Glass to the windshield of your car and use your clay disc on that surface first. Because glass it much harder and more resilient than your paint, it will break the disc in without risk of harming the surface it is being used on.

Now it is time to move onto the paint. Spray an ample amount of SONAX Clear Glass both onto the pad and onto the painted surface. Usually, about 6-8 pumps of product is enough to adequately lubricate one 2’ x 2’ section.


Gently guide your clay disc back and forth across the section you are working on. When you first start on a section, you will notice that the disc is grabbing the paint a bit. This is because it is catching on the microscopic shards of contamination and pulling them out. The grabbing will lessen as you continue to clay that section of paint. Once the disc is gliding smoothly across the paint, that is a good indicator that that section is sufficiently decontaminated.

Using your SONAX Ultrafine Microfiber Cloths, gently wipe off the remaining lubricant. If any of the lubricant has dried and left residue, you can simply spray some more SONAX Clear Glass onto the surface and gently buff it off to remove the residue.

You will then want to glide your hand across the surface of the paint to feel the results. If the surface feels extremely smooth, almost like glass, then you will know that it is sufficiently decontaminated. However, if you still feel a roughness to it, that means there is still some contamination on your paint. If this is the case, it is best to re-clay that section to ensure all contamination is removed before moving on.

Repeat this process for the rest of your paint surface, continuing to work in 2’ x 2’ sections, until the entirety of your paint has been decontaminated.

This process can also be used to decontaminate any glass or chrome surfaces on your vehicle as well.


After decontamination:


Now that your paint is free of contaminants, it is advised that you follow it up by washing your car again to ensure that all of the loosened contaminants are removed from the surface. It is then a good idea to apply your choice of protection to the painted surface to reduce the risk of contamination in the future. We recommend the SONAX CC36 Ceramic Coating (SON-236941) as it will provide, not only an incredibly high level of protection, but also provide that protection for a very long time!