Interior Care

How to Clean a Car Headliner? – 6 Easy & Simple Ways

Written by Howell Crist / Fact checked by Sam Howard

how to clean a car headliner

What is a car headliner? While sitting in your car, look up to the ceiling and watch closely the elegant fabric that covers the electrical wirings, antennas, accessories, and metal. That’s your headliner!

It covers your head from the sun’s direct heat and enhances the quality resonance of your car’s sound system and cooling temperature. Now, let me tell you how to clean a car headliner!

The Best Way to Clean Headliner in Car

Your car headliner comes in different designs and headline fabrics, so cleaning it may give you second thoughts. Look at your car roof lining and gauge the level of cleaning it needs.

A headliner cleaning cost will be included in the car detailing. A complete interior detailing, including headline cleaning, also costs around $275-$325. So, if you want to maintain the headliner all by yourself, there are easy steps to do so.

Three Ways to Clean the Ceiling of a Car

  • Spot-treat the stains – This is a cleaning type that removes stains from headliners by particularly looking for the spots. This is the easiest way to get stains out of the headliner.
  • Cleaning the Surface – This is a method to clean the roof interior of a car. This includes washing and scrubbing the entire ceiling.
  • Deep Cleaning – Steaming, brushing, vacuuming, and polishing are involved in cleaning your car headliner from stubborn stains accumulated after a while.

DIY Headliner Cleaner to Clean Headliner Stains in the Car

1. White Vinegar and Dish Soap to Clean Water Stain


You need not buy expensive car headliner cleaner or go to a pricey cleaning service when you can find these ingredients and materials at home.

What You Need

  • Measuring Cup
  • White Vinegar
  • Dish Soap
  • Tablespoon
  • Spray Bottle
  • Soft-Bristled Brush
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Small Basin

What To Do

  • Step 1: In a small basin, mix the measured 1 cup of water, ¼ cup of white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of dish soap. Put the solution in the spray bottle.
  • Step 2: Spritz the solution on the soft-bristled brush and repeatedly swab spotted stains of water in a circular motion.
  • Step 3: Being gentle and not giving too much force is ideal so as not to damage the fabric.
  • Step 4: Using the microfiber towel, wipe away dampness to dry the cleaned areas.

2. DIY Solution to Clean Grease Off Car Interior Roof

Removing grease is tricky since it might smear into the other parts if not properly administered. If using this method, be extra careful to do the steps in cleaning headliner stains.

What You Need

  • Grease-Free Dish Soap or Ammonia or Hydrogen Peroxide (any one of the three)
  • Water
  • Cotton Cloths
  • Small Basin
  • Bottle Spray
  • Cotton Buds
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Car Vacuum

What To Do

  • Step 1: Brush or vacuum the surface fabric to remove any possible dust or debris accumulation in the area.
  • Step 2: Use either grease-free dish soap, ammonia, or hydrogen peroxide as your cleaning agent.
  • Step 3: If you choose dish soap, mix it with a small amount of water. If you choose a cup of hydrogen peroxide or ammonia, add the same amount of water into the bowl to dilute the solution.
  • Step 4: Dab a cotton bud into the solution and swab it on a non-visible surface to check for color fading. If discoloration is visible, discontinue use. If there is none, you can now remove stains from the headliner.
  • Step 5: Put the solution into a spray bottle and spritz on the greasy stain. Do not spray too much liquid to prevent damage.
  • Step 6: Scrub the greasy areas with a damp clean cloth. Then, wipe the area using a clean, dry cloth to absorb excess liquid.
  • Step 7: Continue until you see the dark greasy stains are gone.
  • Step 8: Dab a wet cloth to rinse the greasy area and then dry it with a clean cloth.
  • Step 9: You can now vacuum the surface to look like new.

3. Homemade solution for surface cleaning


Before you do surface cleaning, examine your roof lining and see if there are any damages. If there are, do not do surface cleaning until the damage or damages have been restored by car detailing professionals.

What You Need

  • Measuring cup
  • White Vinegar
  • Water
  • Bottle Spray
  • 2 or more Microfiber Cloths
  • Vacuum with Upholstery Tool
  • Bowl
  • Clean Cloth

What To Do

  • Step 1: Mix 1 cup of water and ¼ cup of white vinegar into a bowl. Then, pour the mixture into a bottle spray for easy application.
  • Step 2: Vacuum the nooks and crannies of the car headliners using the upholstery head tool.
  • Step 3: Moistened a microfiber cloth before spraying the mixed solution onto it.
  • Step 4: Thoroughly wipe the headliner fabric from one section to another until visible dirt or dust is gone. Do not spray too much solution to prevent discoloration or damage.
  • Step 5: Dry the moistened surface with a clean cloth.

4. Purchased cleaning solutions for surface cleaning

What You Need

  • Cleaning Foam Cleaner/Upholstery Cleaner for Headliner Cleaning
  • Soft-Bristled Brush
  • Car Vacuum Cleaner with Upholstery Tool

What To Do

  • Step 1: Evenly spray foam upholstery cleaner or aerosol upholstery cleaner on your roof lining.
  • Step 2: Leave it there as indicated in the application instructions.
  • Step 3: Brush away stubborn grime and dirt with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Step 4: Then, turn on the car vacuum and suck up moisture by running over the upholstery head tool on the headliner. You can also pat the headliner surface with a clean microfiber cloth to dry.

5. Deep cleaning your car headliner


What You Need

  • Steam Cleaner with Upholstery Head Attachment
  • Upholstery Stain Remover Solution
  • Hot Water
  • Handheld Blow Fan (Optional)

What To Do

  • Step 1: Attach the upholstery head to the steam cleaner.
  • Step 2: Find the proper ratio of hot water and upholstery stain remover solution in the guide instructions.
  • Step 3: Steam clean car headliner by releasing steam timely and evenly onto the surface, making sure not to prolong steaming in particular places to avoid soaking.
  • Step 4: Cover the entire headliner surface for thorough cleaning.
  • Step 5: Rolling down windows can help in the drying process. Leave it to dry naturally for a day. Use handheld blow fans if you want it to dry faster than a day.

6. Freshening headliner scent

Cigarette smoking leaves an unpleasant smell inside your car. In our car, smoke smell becomes an irritant that can be harmful to the passengers’ health, especially to young children.

Let us not forget to give a fresh scent to your newly cleaned car headliner. Here’s how:

What You Need

  • Measuring Cup
  • Water
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Tablespoon
  • Essential Oil/Fabric Softener
  • Bowl
  • Bottle Spray
  • Soft Cloth
  • Vacuum with an attached upholstery head

What To Do

  • Step 1: Mix the measured 1 cup of water, ¼ cup of white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the bowl. Then, pour them into a bottle spray and shake a little.
  • Step 2: Add a few drops of essential oil or fabric softener to the solution and mix well.
  • Step 3: Spray the solution on a soft cloth and dab the headliner surface with it making sure to apply even coats of the solution.
  • Step 4: Cover the whole roof lining, not leaving any untouched area. Then, let it dry for an hour or two.
  • Step 5: Vacuum the headliner to cleanse the residue of the solution.


Your car headliner is not just looking clean but smells clean. Aside from the fact that your car says so much about you, it is one way of saving up on expensive car detailing cleaning maintenance.

Therefore headliners in trucks, cars, or any four-wheeled vehicles are not impossible to clean. All you need to do is put to heart these Reddit-worthy tips on how to clean a car headliner and do it like a pro!

5/5 - (2 votes)

Our chief editor is Sam Howard. The vast market of car care necessitates extensive research. He entered the market, experienced the service, and reported customer feedback in order to provide the best advice and content to car owners. We have faith in him to turn our website into a reliable resource for all car owners.

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