How to clean car headliner

Unlike most carpet and floor mats, headliners have a very short pile fabric which is very delicate. This means that the headliner cannot be soaked or scrubbed.

Clean Headliner

What you will need before attempting to clean the headliner in your car.

  • Fabric Cleaner of your choice
  • Clean microfibre towel
  • Soft bristle brush
  • White vinegar

You should take care when cleaning the headliner as adding too much pressure or scrubbing will cause the headliner to sag over time.

Once you have identified a stain that needs to be cleaned you should spray on just enough fabric cleaner to lift the dirt, too much will soak the headliner which will cause it to sag. You should instantly dab (Never twist or scrub) the area with your clean microfibre cloth. For more stubborn or greasy stains mix three parts white vinegar to one part fabric cleaner, use your soft bristle brush to apply the mixture. It may be worth noting that white vinegar can be used to remove the smell of cigarettes from the car headliner.

If you have access to a steam cleaner with handheld attachment you can wrap the output nozzle with your clean microfibre cloth and use that to work the headliner, if you do use a steam cleaner you should never have the pressure set to high, only use it to kill bacteria that may be in the headliner. Overheating the headliner with a steam cleaner will cause the glue that attaches the headliner to the cushion to come loose. Which again, will cause the headliner to sag.

When cleaning the headliner, it’s very important that you should try a small test area first, especially if the vehicle is over 5 years old. If the headliner is very brittle or has already started to sag, then cleaning will have little to no affect, you should consider replacing the headliner.