When cleaning the inside of a car, people often forget to clean the ceiling, which is called the headliner.

The headliner will get dirty and stained over time, which will make your car look older. It would also get rid of smells and smoke that can be annoying while driving.

The headliner should be cleaned every six months or once a year when you detail your car.

You can save money by doing it yourself instead of paying a professional detailer to do it. How to clean your car’s headliner would depend on how dirty it is.

For small stains, you might only need a fabric cleaner and a cloth. For tougher stains or stains with a strong smell, spray the entire surface of the headliner and rub it gently.

And a steam cleaner needs to be used to clean a headliner that is very dirty.

Even though there are different ways to clean the headliner of a car, all of them should be done carefully to avoid damage.

What You Will Need to Clean Ceiling/Headliner

For cleaning a headliner, you could use anything from a simple microfiber cloth to a big cleaning machine like a steam cleaner.

Read on to find out what you would need:

  1. Microfiber Cloth
  2. Soft-Bristled Brush
  3. Car Headliner Cleaner
  4. Spray Bottle
  5. Steam Cleaner
  6. Vacuum Cleaner
  7. Fans

How to Do It Step by Step

You can clean a headliner in three different ways. And the best way for you to clean your car’s headliner will depend on how dirty it is.

The first method is spot cleaning. This is what you should do if your headliner isn’t too dirty and only has a few small stains.

The surface clean is needed if the spot clean didn’t work or if your headliner got more stains and started to smell bad.

The third method, “deep cleaning,” should only be used if your headliner is very dirty and smells bad.

When your headliner is very dirty and smelly, you need to give it a deep clean. However, if you do it wrong, you could ruin the headliner.

Too much heat and moisture can cause the glue on the headliner to melt, which can cause it to sag and grow mould and mildew.

So it should be done carefully and only as a last resort.

Just follow a few easy steps to figure out the right way to make your headliner. Here’s where you can find them:

Spot Clean

Step 1: Use a microfiber cloth or soft-bristled brush to remove loose debris.

You can clean the headliner by wiping it gently with a microfiber cloth or brushing it with a soft-bristled brush to get rid of any loose dirt or dust that you can see.

Just be careful not to rub the dirt you can see into the fabric of the headliner. Dot or scrub gently until all loose dirt is gone.

Step 2: Wipe the Stain With a Microfiber Cloth Sprayed With Upholstery Cleaner

Turn your microfiber cloth over and lightly saturate a small part of it with upholstery cleaner.

Then, gently wipe the stain with the wet part of the cloth.

Since you’re only getting rid of a small stain, you only need to rub the car ceiling cleaner on the surface of the headliner.

You don’t need to let the cleaner soak in.

Step 3: Remove Excess Moisture, Let Dry Completely, and Check the Stain

After you’ve cleaned up the stain, use the clean, dry part of your microfiber cloth to blot the area to get rid of any extra water.

Then, wait until the wet spot is completely dry and check to see if the stain is gone.

Surface Clean

Step 1: Spray the Upholstery Cleaner Evenly on the Entire Headliner

A cleaner that comes in a spray can work best for this method. This kind of cleaner works by making foam, which breaks up the dirt that is stuck under the surface of the headliner.

Spray the upholstery cleaner from an aerosol can all over the headliner, but try not to soak it.

You need to pay extra attention to the very dirty corners, edges, and cracks near the lights, sunroof, and overhead console.

Step 2: Let the Cleaner Sit

Leave the cleaner on the headliner so it can work on the stains. The instructions for the product will tell you how long you have to do this.

This helps keep damage from happening when you spray and scrub too much.

The less likely it is that your headliner will get damaged, the more care you take when you work on it.

You can always start over if you aren’t happy with how the cleaning turned out.

Step 3: Gently Scrub the Entire Headliner With a Soft-Bristled Brush

Scrub the whole headliner gently with a soft-bristled brush.

Make sure to clean every part of the headliner so that it looks good all over.

If you don’t brush every part, it might be clear once the car is dry.

Step 4: Let the Headliner Completely Dry

If you need to, you can use a microfiber towel to wipe the headliner dry if it has gotten too wet.

Then let it dry in the air. It may take an hour or two to dry, depending on how wet it is.

Step 5: Repeat Steps One to Four if the Stains Still Remain

Tough stains may need to be cleaned again.

But if you still don’t have a clean headliner after the second cleaning, you would have to deep clean the headliner of your car.

Deep Clean

Step 1: Pour the Upholstery Cleaner and Water into the Steam Cleaner

You have to get the steam cleaner ready to use by pouring the car interior roof cleaner and water into it, as the steam cleaner’s instructions say.

You should also check to see if the steam cleaner needs a certain kind of cleaning solution.

Step 2: Attach the Appropriate Steam Cleaner Attachment

Then, you would put the right attachment on the steam cleaner for the job. It would be best if it was small and didn’t hurt.

Step 3: Let the Steam Cleaner Heat Up

Turn on the steam cleaner and wait until it gets hot. How long it takes for a steam cleaner to heat up depends on the model.

To find out how long it takes for your steam cleaner to heat up, you can look at the manual.

Step 4: Pretreat the Headliner With the Cleaner and Steam, Then Brush and Vacuum

Once the steam cleaner is hot, it’s time to clean the top of the car. First, you would use the cleaner to make steam to treat the headliner. Then you’d scrub the headliner with a soft-bristled brush and vacuum it.

When you steam clean, you should do each part separately and only hold the steamer on one part of the headliner for a short time, just long enough to get rid of smells and tough stains. You need to move quickly so that no part of the headliner gets too wet.

The longer you hold the steamer on one part, the deeper the steam will go and the more the glue in the headliner will melt. This is likely to cause the headliner to sag.

Step 5: Let the Headliner Completely Dry

After giving your headliner a good cleaning, you should let it dry completely so the glue doesn’t break and mould and mildew doesn’t grow.

You can do this by leaving your car’s windows and doors open and using a couple of fans to help the drying process.

Step 6: Run a Clean Hand Over the Headliner to Buff Out Tracks

When you clean and dry the headliner in a car, you may see some lines on it.

Run a clean hand over them to get rid of them, but only after the headliner has dried completely.

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