Best car headliner cleaners to rid your car of stains and odors
When detailing your car, you likely leave the headliner (the interior ceiling) untouched. However, not cleaning it regularly can cause it to become dirty and smelly. Luckily, the best car headliner cleaners will make cleaning it a breeze. But, you have to be careful when cleaning the headliner of your car – otherwise, you could damage it and cause it to sag.
Is Cleaning Car Headliner Safe?
Absolutely – if you do it the proper way. To start with, you should try to deal with the stains as soon as possible. Because headliners are delicate, you should only use the least aggressive cleaning methods. Also, you should use the right kind of cleaners for your headliner’s fabric. Most car ceilings are made from suede, vinyl, leather, or plastics. These fabrics need to be treated gently and not splashed or rubbed with hot water and soap – this might cause the headliner to sag or yellow. Finally, use your cleaning solution sparingly, and remember to air dry your car’s headliner after washing so as not to cause it to mold or mildew.
Here are our best car headliner cleaning products
- Tuff Stuff 350 Multi-Purpose Foam Cleaner
- Chemical Guys Citrus Foam Cleaner
- Bissell SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot Cleaner
- CarGuys All-Purpose Cleaner
How to clean car headliner fabric
You can clean your headliner in different ways, depending on how dirty it is. If you just have minor stains, try spot cleaning first. If you’re looking to clean dirtier car ceilings, it’s best to go all out. Here are the steps that you follow for each method, as well as our product recommendations.
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How to spot clean car roof lining
Use this method to fix an occasional smudge of dirt on your car’s headliner. What you need:
- Microfibre towel
- Multi-purpose cleaner for car (spray)
First, use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe off the surface dirt. Then damp the towel and spray a small amount of the car upholstery cleaner onto the towel or the stained fabric. You want the cleaner to seep into the dirty fabric. Then gently dab at the stain. Repeat this step until the stain is gone, then let the headliner air dry.
Surface Cleaning your car headliner
If you have never cleaned the headliner in your car, or if you need to clean a larger area, then this method will work great. Plus, this process will rid your car of smoke and dust build-up. What you need:
The best way to surface clean your headliner is by working on 18-inch by 18-inch square sections. Use a foaming cleaner for best results. First, wipe off any loose surface dirt on the car ceiling, then spray the upholstery foaming cleaner on your section. Let it sit for a moment (follow user instructions). Then, grab your soft-bristled brush and gently scrub the fabric. Then dab at the section using your microfibre towel to dry it off, before moving on to the next section. Repeat the steps until you’re satisfied with how clean your headliner fabric is.
How to deep clean your car ceiling
If you’ve tried cleaning your car’s ceiling with other methods, only to find that it just isn’t clean enough, try to deep clean it. To do this, you need heat and moisture –both of which can damage the glue holding the layers together. You want to be extra careful, or else your headliner may sag or even break permanently – then you’ll have to glue it back. What you need:
- Steam cleaner (with an upholstery attachment)
- Upholstery stain remover solution
- Hot water
Fill your cleaning device with the appropriate mixture of water and stain remover. Note: Check your device’s instruction manual to get the correct ratio of hot water to stain remover. Spray the fabric headliner with the cleaner as you move along it. Keep moving forward at a steady 3-4 inches per second so the headliner doesn’t absorb too much of the cleaning solution. Once you have covered the whole ceiling, let the headliner air dry. When completely dry, you might notice a few dried lines left from the deep cleaner. Simply run your hands along the fabric’s grain to smooth these out.
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Removing bad odors from a car headliner
The inside of your car is a small, closed space. That means that odors from foods, smoke, or pets will be absorbed into every surface of the interior of a car, including seats, upholstery, carpeting, floor mats, and the headliner. Luckily, the methods for cleaning a vehicle’s headline outlined above will rid your car of these odors.
How to remove water stains from your car’s headliner
If you want to remove unsightly water stains on your headliner, wait until it’s completely dry before attempting any stain removal. Frist, damp your microfibre towel in distilled water and dab at the stain. If this doesn’t work, you should spot clean by following the steps outlined above.
How to remove smoke smell from car headliner
Stubborn odors like cigarette smells may require a different approach. One DIY method involves spraying a mixture of water, household vinegar, and baking soda onto your microfiber towel and dabbing at the car ceiling. Once dry, vacuum off the remnant baking soda.
However, if you’re cleaning smoke damaged headliner that is stained and yellowed, use a spray cleaner like Folex stain remover or Optimum fabric cleaner and protectant. Be careful to use as directed.
Cleaning the fabric on the roof of your car should involves a bit of work, but it will leave your interior looking good and smelling fresh. However, some stains may not respond to these best car headliner cleaners and will need professional car detailing. Either way, trying these methods first might save you a buck or two.