How To Clean Your Car Headliner?

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September 7, 2023 by Marjorie R. Rogers, MA (English), Certified Consultant

To clean your car headliner, use a clean microfiber cloth and a mild cleaning solution. Gently scrub the stains and dirt on the headliner, making sure not to saturate it with too much liquid.

A clean car not only looks good but also provides a healthier environment for the passengers. While cleaning the exterior and interior of a car, the headliner often goes overlooked. But like any other surface, the headliner can accumulate dirt, dust, and even stains over time.

These stains can come from food, drinks, or even dirty hands. A dirty or stained headliner can make the car look unkempt and also affect the air quality inside the car. However, cleaning the headliner is not a difficult task and can be done with a few simple steps. In this article, we will discuss how to clean your car headliner effectively.

How To Clean Your Car Headliner?


Understanding What A Car Headliner Is

When you look up inside your car, you’ll see a layer of fabric that’s fixed to the ceiling. This is the car headliner. It serves both a functional and aesthetic purpose; it protects the interior from external noise and heat, and it also adds a touch of elegance to the car’s interior.

What Is A Car Headliner?

A car headliner is a fabric that’s fixed to the interior surface of the car’s roof. It’s primarily made of foam that’s sandwiched between two layers of fabric. Depending on the type of car, the material used for a headliner can differ.


A headliner is essential to a car’s look and comfort, so it’s essential to know how to clean and maintain it.

Importance Of Maintaining Your Car’S Headliner

Maintaining your car’s headliner is crucial to keep the car looking clean and new. The car’s interior is the most observed part of the car, so neglecting the headliner can ruin the car’s overall appearance. Additionally, the headliner can become dirty by the natural oils from skin and hair sticking to the fabric, leading to unpleasant odors, and weakening the adhesive holding the fabric to the roof of the car.

Proper maintenance can increase the life of both the headliner and the car.

Common Materials Used In Car Headliners

The three most common materials used in car headliners are foam, polyester, and nylon. Each of these materials has a unique texture, color, and weight. The foam is the innermost layer and provides insulation, while the outer fabric is either polyester or nylon.

Nylon is a strong and durable material, while polyester is cheaper and more lightweight. Many car manufacturers now use polyester headliners because they provide many benefits such as sturdiness, longevity, and affordability.

Signs That Your Car Headliner Needs Cleaning

When it comes to your car’s headliner, there are some signs to watch out for that indicate the need for a good cleaning. These include:

  • Stains or discoloration on the fabric
  • Unpleasant odor inside the car
  • Sagging or loose fabric
  • The fabric separating from the roof of the car

Regular cleaning and maintenance can stop these problems from occurring, keeping your car looking new for years.

Preparing For The Cleaning Process

Gathering Necessary Supplies

Before you start cleaning your car headliner, you will need to gather the necessary supplies. Here is what you will need:

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Microfiber towels
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cleaning solution (water and mild soap or upholstery cleaner)
  • Plastic spray bottle

Identifying The Type Of Stain On Your Headliner

It’s crucial to identify the type of stain on your car headliner before beginning the cleaning process. Here are some common stains and how to identify them:

  • Water stain: A water stain usually looks like a white ring on fabric.
  • Grease stain: Grease stains are usually brown or yellow in color and have a greasy texture.
  • Coffee or soda stain: Coffee or soda stains are brown in color and have a sticky texture.
  • Blood stain: Blood stains are usually reddish-brown in color.
  • Ink stain: Ink stains are usually black or blue and have a dark color.

Testing The Cleaning Solution

Before using any cleaning solution on your car headliner, it’s crucial to test it on a small, inconspicuous area. Follow these steps:

  • Mix a small amount of the cleaning solution in a plastic spray bottle.
  • Spray a small amount of the solution on a microfiber towel.
  • Test the solution on a small area of the headliner, rub it gently and let it dry.
  • If the headliner’s color has not faded or changed, you can use that solution for the cleaning process.

Preparing Your Car Interior For The Cleaning Process

Cleaning your car headliner can get messy, so it’s important to prepare your car interior before starting the cleaning process. Here’s what you should do:

  • Park your car in a cool and shaded area to avoid the cleaning solution from drying too quickly.
  • Open all the windows and doors to let the odor and moisture escape.
  • Remove all items from the car and vacuum the interior thoroughly.
  • Cover the seats and dashboard with plastic sheeting to protect them from the cleaning solution.

By following these steps, you can prepare yourself for a hassle-free and successful cleaning process that will leave your car feeling and smelling fresher than ever before.

Step-By-Step Guide To Cleaning Your Car Headliner

Cleaning the headliner of your car may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually much easier than you might think. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you effectively clean your car headliner.

Method 1: Using Gentle Detergent And Water

When it comes to cleaning your car headliner, it’s best to use a gentle detergent and water. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Preparing the cleaning solution: Mix a few drops of gentle detergent in warm water. It’s important to make sure that the water is not too hot or too cold.
  • Applying the solution to the headliner: Dip a soft-bristled brush or a sponge into the cleaning solution. It’s important to avoid soaking the headliner with too much solution.
  • Cleaning the headliner: Using gentle circular motions, scrub the headliner. Avoid harsh scrubbing, as it can damage the material.
  • Drying the headliner: Wipe the headliner with a dry microfiber towel to absorb any excess moisture. Avoid using a hairdryer to dry the headliner, as it can damage the material.

Method 2: Using Fabric Cleaner

If you have tougher stains on your headliner, you can use a fabric cleaner along with the gentle detergent and water. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Preparing the cleaning solution: Mix the fabric cleaner and gentle detergent in warm water. It’s important to follow the instructions on the fabric cleaner bottle.
  • Applying the solution to the headliner: Dip a soft-bristled brush or a sponge into the cleaning solution. Make sure to avoid soaking the headliner with too much solution.
  • Cleaning the headliner: Using gentle circular motions, scrub the headliner with the brush or sponge. Avoid using too much pressure, as it can damage the material.
  • Drying the headliner: Wipe the headliner with a dry microfiber towel to absorb any excess moisture. Avoid using a hairdryer to dry the headliner, as it can damage the material.

By following these simple steps, you can easily and effectively clean your car headliner without damaging or ruining the material.

Tips For Maintaining Your Car Headliner

As a car owner, you understand that keeping your car looking good is essential. One of the areas that can start showing wear quickly is the headliner. It accumulates dust, grime or even stains due to spilling of drinks and falls of food crumbs.

Maintaining your car headliner can keep it looking great for years to come. Here are some tips for you:

Avoid Exposing Your Headliner To Sunlight

The car headliner is made of a foam or fabric material that can deteriorate when exposed to sunlight for extended periods. If the car is parked outdoors, use a windshield sunshade to help prevent exposure to sunlight. It will help to protect the headliner and prevent discoloration or fading due to sunlight exposure.

Avoid Contact With Rough And Sharp Objects

The headliner interior is not weather-resistant, and rough objects can cause damage. When carrying items inside your car, avoid placing them on the headliner. Sharp objects like keys, scissors, or tools can quickly damage the headliner, leaving behind scratches or holes.

Regular Vacuuming And Dusting

Regular cleaning is an essential task in maintaining your car headliner. Dust and dirt accumulate over time and can cause discoloration or staining. Vacuuming removes dust and helps to keep the car’s interior looking clean. Use a soft-bristled brush attachment to avoid damage to the headliner.

Dusting with a microfiber cloth is also a quick and effective option.

Deep Cleaning After Spills And Stains

Spills and stains can be problematic, especially in the headliner area and if not tackled quickly, can become permanent. Use a clean cloth and water first to try and remove the stain. If water doesn’t work, mix mild detergent with water and then gently wipe the stain.

Blot dry with a clean towel.

Maintaining your car headliner is relatively easy if you follow these tips. Regular cleaning and prevention methods can keep it looking great even after years of use.

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Clean Your Car Headliner?

How Do I Remove Stains From My Car Headliner?

Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then gently sponge away the stain. Avoid pressing too hard.

Can I Use Soap To Clean My Headliner?

Yes, but make sure to dilute the soap with water before applying it. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the headliner.

How Often Should I Clean My Car Headliner?

It depends on usage and personal preference. A general rule is to clean it every six months.

Can I Use A Steam Cleaner On My Headliner?

It is not recommended as steam may damage the headliner’s adhesive. Use a gentle cleaning solution and a soft sponge.

How Do I Dry My Headliner After Cleaning It?

Use a dry cloth or towel to blot away excess moisture. Leave the car doors and windows open to air-dry the headliner completely.



Keeping your car headliner clean ensures that your vehicle looks and smells good on the inside. Remember to avoid using harsh chemicals and excess water when cleaning, as they may damage the delicate material. Instead, use a gentle cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth to gently scrub away any stains or marks.

If the headliner is severely stained or damaged, it may be best to seek professional help to repair or replace it. By following these tips on how to clean your car headliner, you can maintain the quality and comfort of your car’s interior for years to come.

So, put on some music, grab your cleaning supplies, and give your car’s headliner the attention it deserves!

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About Author (Marjorie R. Rogers)

The inspiring mum of 6 who dedicates her time to supporting others. While battling with her own demons she continues to be the voice for others unable to speak out. Mental illness almost destroyed her, yet here she is fighting back and teaching you all the things she has learned along the way. Get Started To Read …