Is Cleaning Car Headliner Safe? Don’t Clean Until You Read This!

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car headliner pen stains

This is my company vehicle; the arrows are showing pen stains. I am 100% sure that many of you have similar stains (maybe not with from pen, but something else for sure). Car headliner stains are very often, yet not many people are cleaning headliners. This is probably because it’s not easy to clean, and many people aren’t sure if cleaning a car headliner is even safe. 

The car headliner is safe to clean only with certain cleansers. Cleaning the car headliner with the wrong cleanser may lead to headliner detachment and too expensive repairs to your car ceiling.

Car headliner comes into contact with many things, such as dirty hands, hair, food, beverages, and many more. Mostly, when we wash our car, we don’t clean the headliner. However, we shouldn’t completely ignore it. 

Many problems can happen if you try to clean your headliner, so read this article first!

What Is a Headliner?

A car headliner is a fabric that covers the ceiling of your vehicle. It’s taped to your car’s roof. The car headliner gives us sound and heat insulation, as well as a nice car look. 

Headliners are usually made of plastic or some other materials that are similar to carpets. Some of them are a combination of those two. 

The type of headliner that is the most common is the one that’s similar to carpets. Well, this type of headliner is the reason why I’m writing you this article.

Is Cleaning The Headliner Safe?

Cleaning the car headliner is only safe if you use the right cleansers, and if you know exactly how to do it. Cleaning the car headliner the wrong way may lead to extensive damage. 

What Can You Damage?

Well, the most common damage that happens when washing the headliner incorrectly is the sagging headliner. Headliners are taped to our car ceiling with adhesive, and if you clean it with the wrong materials, it will peel off with time.

How Much Does It Cost To Repair a Car Headliner?

The cost of car headliner repair is pretty expensive and usually costs you anywhere between $150 – $350, depending on the type of car you have.

What Materials Should You Use For Cleaning?

There are only a few things that you need to clean a car headliner. So, here they are:

It’s important to use a safe fabric cleaner because some cleaners are too wet, and they will make your headliner peel off.

5 TIPS for Avoiding Car Headliner Damage When Cleaning

These tips may seem so simple, but still, many people are making mistakes and destroying their headliners.

1. Buy a High-Quality Headliner Cleaner

The best thing you can buy is fabric cleaner for car upholstery. It’s more like a dry foam that won’t make your headliner too wet while cleaning. I prefer using this Meguiar’s Carpet and Upholstery Foam Cleaner (check price now). It dries pretty quickly, and it’s fantastic at removing even tougher stains.

2. Use a Soft Brush

Using a hard brush may damage your headliner fibers. Even if the stain is very tough, you’ll be able to clean it with the right cleanser and a soft brush.

3. Don’t Put Too Much Foam

Upholstery cleaners have very strong chemicals to clean your fabric. Using too much of it may lead to glue damage and, again – to a sagging headliner.

Also, using too much foam will wet your headliner a lot, which is not good.

4. Give a Fabric Enough Time To Dry

This is one of the most important steps for cleaning a cloth car headliner. Give it enough time to dry out.

5. Watch Tutorials!

Yes, this may seem like a stupid tip, but watching a few YouTube videos or reading some articles will help you a lot. We all think that we know how to do anything, but it’s not always like that.

Check this video, it’s a pretty simple tutorial, and anyone can clean a headliner by following these tips.

Did you see how much fabric cleaner he is using? Just enough to clean a stain, not too much. Also, he uses a very soft brush attached to his drill. 


Well, now you know that cleaning a car headliner is safe, but only with some easy-to-follow tips. When you successfully wash it for the first time, you will see that it wasn’t so hard to do.

However, if you are still unsure or afraid that you are going to make any damage to your headliner, I suggest you go to some local washing service or car detailing service. They will do a great job for you. 

And if they make any mistakes, they will have to repair the damage made. Detailing the whole car interior may cost you $100-200, so I believe that if you need to clean only a car headliner, the price won’t go over $50 (my opinion).

Well, I hope that I have helped you and offered you some valuable information. Good luck with the 1st cleaning of your headliner, and keep it safe!

Recently, I’ve written a great article on how to properly remove cigarette smoke from the headliner, so make sure to check it out.

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