Cleaning Your Car’s Headliner

Dirty Car Headliner

With Spring cleaning right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about cleaning the interior of your car after the long Winter. One of the areas most people don’t even think to clean is their car’s headliner. Often times cars will go years without getting it cleaned, and that’s a shame given how easy it is to keep up. Whether you’ve got light stains or just a plain old dull headliner, follow these simple steps to brightening up your interior headliner.

All you’ll need to clean your car’s headliner is a microfiber towel, interior cleaning product, and possibly some detailing stix. Most interior cleaning products are made to tackle organic messes (food, dirt, etc.), so if your headliner has greasy or oily spots, using an interior degreaser is a better way to go. Knowing the source of the mess is the best way to clean the surface properly. A key thing to remember when cleaning your headliner is to be gentle. In most cars, because nobody is sitting or stepping on the headliner, it will be made of a softer and easily damaged upholstery. No matter, as long as you stay away from using brushes and vacuums on the sensitive surface you’ll be fine. Next comes the fun…

Spray your cleaner or degreaser on the microfiber towel, then gently dab and wipe the headliner clean. Don’t forget to get sun visors, around lights and sensors (be careful not to allow moisture to come in contact with sensors), and any kind of storage system your car may provide. After cleaning, be sure you’ve not over-saturated any particular area – if it looks like you have, just continue to dab the area with the dry side of your microfiber towel and you’ll be good to go!

A lot of people out there are visual learners and could use an example… I happened to find this great video walking you through this exact process. Take a look!

How to Clean a Car Headliner — powered by ehow
  • Harrisburg Hyundai

    Hi! My headliner is not so much dirty as smelly. I just bought a beautiful used car that belonged to a smoker and the headliner smells of smoke. Any suggestions of what product to use to safely eliminate the odor? Thanks!

    • Hi there,

      To neutralize odors, Neutra-Scent ( can be sprayed directly on the smelly fabric surface. As smoker’s car can be difficult to reverse, you may need to use an Ozone Treatment in addition to Neutra-Scent.
      If you have any other questions, feel free to email us at Thanks!
      -Dr. Beasley’s Team

  • Danielle Apking

    My boyfriend works with steel and grease. I just bou ght a new car that has all black everything.. except the headliner.. which is like a light gray. I can already see the grease smudges all over my visor and headliner. Is there anyway to protect it or any products that will cover it?

    • Danielle,

      To protect your headliner from grease stains, you can use Carpet & Upholstery Protection. You’ll want to make sure the headliner is clean before you protect it, which you can do with Opti-Surface Cleanser.

      When you are ready to protect the clean headliner, brush all the fibers of the fabric in one direction. Then spray the Carpet & Upholstery Protection. Let it sit and dry. After that, brush the fibers of the fabric in the opposite direction and spray again, letting it sit and dry.

      Carpet & Upholstery Protection creates a barrier that makes it harder for stains to set in. If something does come in contact with your headliner, you should be able to wipe it off without anything remaining.

      Here are the links to the products we mentioned:

      Please feel free to email us at if you need anything else, thanks so much for reaching out.

      -Dr. Beasley’s Team

      • Babs

        Hi, the prior owner of my “new” car apparently used a stiff bristled brush on the headliner in one spot to try and clean it and, as you can imagine, the fabric looks chewed up/terrible. Anything I can do? Would shaving the little fuzz balls off help or make things worse? Thanks!