Do it Yourself: How to Clean Car Headliner

The headliner of your car is something that you don’t often prioritize when cleaning. That’s because it’s right on top of you which means you don’t normally see it. Compared to the flooring, the seats, and the dashboard, the headliner isn’t a big deal for most car owners.

Although the common notion here is that headliners don’t get dirty as much as the other parts, it’s wrong. There are many instances where your car’s headliner will be dirtied. With that said, knowing how to clean car headliner is essential for any car owner.

What’s the Importance of Your Car’s Headliner

As previously stated, the headliner isn’t the most famous of terms in the automobile industry. But like all components of your vehicle, it serves an important purpose. The very first purpose of your headliner is to create a cushion for your car’s roof.

So you might ask, what’s this cushion for? Well, primarily it is used to prevent you from getting toasted inside on a hot summer day. That’s right! Just imagine if your roofing doesn’t have a headliner. The sun will directly go through the roof of your car and heat it since it’s made of metal. If there’s no cushion, the heat from the roof will go directly inside without passing through any insulator.

The fabric on your car’s ceiling can also save your life. Recently, more and more companies are designing the headliners of their vehicles to cushion you from the impact. This is called as the Head Impact Countermeasure (HIC) system. You’ll never know when an accident might occur, and this fabric can be the difference between life and death.

HIC Station (Head Impact Station) from Koops, Inc on Vimeo.

Materials That You’ll Need

  • Deep cleaning machine – A reliable machine that gives you the best results when your headliner is too dirty.
  • Soft bristled brush – Effective tool to remove dirt that’s deep in the fabric.
  • Upholstery cleaner/Cleaning solution – These will be your primary cleaning agents.

Step by Step Procedure in Cleaning and Maintaining Car Headliner

Your car’s headliner is one of the first components that can wear pretty quickly. This is because of the headliner’s position and installation. The headliner is attached to the roof through an adhesive.

headliners position

Since it’s working against gravity, the headliner can sag off as time goes on. Worse, it can sag off or tear if there’s bad handling or lack of maintenance.

Speaking of maintenance, your headliner can and will accumulate dirt if you don’t clean it properly. This can cause damage and wear in the long run. Thus, here’s a step by step guide to maintaining your car’s headliner.

Step 1: Remove minor stains

microfiber cloth

The first step in cleaning your headliner would be to remove any small dirt accumulation or minor stains. These stains often come from unanticipated objects brushing on your car’s headliner.

To do this, you’ll need to get a hand of the best microfiber cloth that you can find. Although simple towels can work, a microfiber one will deliver the best results. Gently wipe the car ceiling with the cloth and check if there are any falling dirt.

After you’re done with this, apply a small amount of upholstery cleaner on the part where there are stains. Apply pressure and rub the surface without applying intense friction to it. Afterward, remove any excess cleaner by using the dry part of the cloth.

Step 2: Use a soft bristled brush

soft bristled brush

The keyword here is soft bristled brush. Using this brush allows you to remove dirt that’s inside the fabric without ruining the texture of the headliner. To do this, you’ll need to apply an upholstery cleaner throughout the entire surface of the headliner. This lets you brush the fabric more evenly and efficiently.

Once you’ve applied the upholstery cleaner, just let it sit and let the fabric absorb it. Gently use the bristled brush and run through the fabric with long strokes until you’ve covered the entire surface.

Step 3: Using a deep cleaning machine

cleaning carpet

Finally, if you want to take your cleaning method to greater heights, using a deep cleaning machine would get the job done. Deep cleaning machines work like vacuums, but instead, it applies a cleaning solution.

With that said, you’ll need to grab yourself a good brand of cleaning solution to mix it in with the water. After you’ve mixed and placed the solution in the machine, be sure to use an upholstery adaptor to use on your headliner.

Just simply apply the solution on the surface by coating it evenly and moving the machine at a steady rate. Let it dry afterward, and you’ll see big improvements on your headliner!

You can read more: Best Vacuums For Your Cars On The Market


With those three simple steps, maintaining your headliner and cleaning it should be a walk in the park. Just remember to handle it with care whenever you’re cleaning it.

So with that in mind, never belittle the importance of your car’s headliner. Even though you don’t use it, it still serves as your insulating blanket. Don’t let that precious fabric sag off on you, time to get cleaning!