How Do You Clean The Car’s Ceiling?

Car's Ceiling

How frequently do you clean your car’s ceiling?

We might not pay it much attention because we don’t do it often. However, just like the rest of the car’s interior, the ceiling, or headliner, requires proper cleaning and care.

You need to treat the car ceiling with more care because it has a different type of upholstery than the seats and carpet. Regular dirt is easily removed with a soft bristle brush or by using the upholstery attachment on a vacuum.

White vinegar, a gentle brush, and a microfiber cloth can be used to spot-clean small stains without soaking the area completely. Apply a foaming upholstery cleaner to persistent stains, give it some time to work, then brush and vacuum up any leftover substance. 

Your car’s headliner will last a long time and add to the overall feeling of cleanliness in your car if you take good care of it. Continue reading to learn how a headliner is made, how to remove different types of stains step-by-step, and a last-ditch attempt to remove tough stains.

What Is The Car Ceiling?

The headliner, or ceiling, of a car is typically constructed in three sections. The component that you can see inside the car is made of fabric, occasionally vinyl, or occasionally leather. A thin layer of foam is adhered to the fabric with glue.

The final layer is fiberglass or sturdy cardboard that has been custom-molded to fit the interior of the car’s roof. The foam and fabric are adhered to the firm backing using glue. You should be careful when cleaning the headliner to avoid dissolving the adhesive because these components are glued together.

The headliner serves a number of functions in the car’s construction. Of course, it improves the interior design of the cabin. Next, it offers sound and vibration insulation to lessen road noise. Finally, it serves as a securing point for ceiling-mounted speakers and dome lights. 

It’s critical to take care of the ceiling to prevent expensive repairs because if the headliner gets damaged, it must be replaced entirely.

Importance Of Cleaning The Car Ceiling

We may not notice the ceiling becoming dirty because we don’t always look up at it. To enhance the appearance of your car, lessen allergens that can gather in the fabric, and lessen odors that the fabric and foam absorb, you should maintain the headliner as part of your regular car maintenance. Particularly effective at retaining odors from food, pets, and smoke is the foam in the headliner.

How To Clean The Ceiling Of A Car What You Need

To clean the headliner, you will need:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Car interior roof cleaner: On your headliner, you can use either an all-purpose cleaner or an upholstery cleaner. The best upholstery cleaner to purchase is an aerosol foaming one rather than a pump-style because it is more efficient.
  • Alternately, you could create your own cleaner: Simply combine 1 cup of warm water, 1⁄2 tablespoons of liquid soap, and 1/4 cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle. To combine the solution, give it a good shake. This cleaning solution can also be used as a mild yet powerful general fabric cleaner to spot-clean the interior of your car and clean upholstery.
  • For arduous stains or a thorough deep cleaning: deep cleaning equipment or a steam cleaner.
Car's Ceiling

How To Clean Car Ceiling: Spot Cleaning Minor Stains

Minor stains can be caused by soiling, stains from food or beverages, or water from opening your sunroof during a downpour. Your headliner can be cleaned by performing the following steps:

  • To ensure that the headliner dries as quickly as possible, open your car’s window and work where there is good airflow.
  • Always start by gently removing any loose particles without further rubbing them into the fabric. Use a soft bristle brush to remove any loose dirt that has adhered to the headliner or a microfiber cloth to gently wipe the dirty area clean. 
  • At this point, you’re done if the soiled area can no longer be seen. You’ll need to apply the cleaner, whether it’s a store-bought product or your home-made version, if it’s still visible. Spray a small amount of cleaner onto one corner of the microfiber cloth; let the remaining portion of the cloth air dry before using it.

* Important Note: Never directly spray the headliner because it will become too wet and possibly develop mildew.

  • Use the wet corner of your cloth to dab and gently wipe the stain from the headliner. You only want to work the cleaner into the headliner’s surface; you don’t want to wet the glue or the foam layer beneath it.
  • To remove extra moisture from the spot, use the clean, dry part of the microfiber cloth.
  • Before determining whether the stain has been entirely removed, allow the upholstery cleaner to completely dry.
  • Try a thorough surface cleaning if the stain is still visible; as a last resort, deep cleaning.

How To Clean Car Ceiling: Deep Cleaning

As was already mentioned, the headliner on your vehicle is more delicate than the rest of the upholstery. Deep cleaning should therefore be the last option when it comes to cleaning the headliner of your car. 

This is so because steaming is necessary for deep cleaning, and the steaming process’s heat and moisture wet the glue that holds the three layers together. This could result in long-lasting damage or even cause the headliner fabric to separate from the foam and sag or droop downward, which is absolutely unsightly.

You will require a steamer or deep cleaning system, hot water, and a cleaning solution for a deep steam cleaning. While steam cleaning your headliner, keep in mind that you should do so in a well-ventilated area. 

Important Note: Use the brand and variety of cleaning agent recommended by your steam cleaner consistently for maximum safety. If you use a different cleaning agent, the machine might make too many suds or leave residue in the fabric, which could make your headliner even more stained.

  • Start the steam cleaner. Wait until it is prepared if it needs to warm up.
  • Onto the hose, attach the skinny upholstery cleaning adapter. After that, apply the headliner with the upholstery cleaning tool’s tip. 
  • Start at a corner of the headliner, pull the trigger to spray cleaner onto the fabric surface, then work your way steadily along the headliner. In order to prevent oversaturating the headliner and harming the glue and foam underneath, move at a speed of 3–4 inches per second. Adjust your rate if the headliner appears overly sopped. 
  • For a uniform, even surface after the cleaner has dried, move across the headliner using long strokes in the same directions. To prevent soapy water from spraying all over the interior of your car, remember to let go of the trigger between strokes. The subsequent stroke should also be placed a half-inch behind the one before it.

* Important Note: For the sake of presentation, be sure to keep up the same cadence and technique as described above.

  • If you park your car in a secure location, of course, leave it in a well-ventilated area and roll down your window. The headliner may fully dry in a day or less if you use fans to circulate the air inside your car.
  • You still have work to do. When steam cleaning your headliner, there is one crucial step you must not omit: after it has completely dried, run your palm over the entire surface against the fabric’s grain. This will give your headliner a smooth, like-new appearance and remove the dried lines that the deep cleaner left behind.

How To Clean The Ceiling Of A Car Thorough Surface Cleaning

Observe the steps below for tougher, larger stains:

  • Spray a cleaner evenly across the headliner’s entire surface. Particular attention should be paid to the edges and cracks near lights. 

Pro Tip: It is more efficient to use an aerosol upholstery cleaner than a pump-style liquid cleaner because the foaming action helps break up dirt that has been trapped just below the surface.

  • For the predetermined amount of time listed on the container, allow the cleaner to sit on the upholstery.
  • The headliner’s entire surface should then be lightly agitated using a tiny, soft-bristled brush. To ensure a uniform appearance after the cleaner has dried, don’t forget to brush every area of the headliner’s surface.
  • Depending on how much cleaning solution you used, the headliner should completely dry in an hour or two.
  • You might need to clean your headliner again if the staining is more severe. You would need to conduct a deep cleaning if the stains are still apparent.

How Can Bad Smells Be Removed From Your Car Headliner?

You can keep your beloved car looking and smelling new by learning how to clean car ceilings as well as how to get rid of bad odors.

The headliner may pick up some unpleasant smells that won’t go away due to the fabric covering it, such as cigarette odor that has built up over time. You only need a straightforward homemade deodorizer made from items you already have in your kitchen to restore the freshness of the headliner in your car.

To make a homemade deodorizer, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • If you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, add 3 to 5 drops of an essential oil. This can be used as a spray with essential oils to freshen the air in your home or car as part of routine maintenance. 

In a spray bottle, combine the solution and give it a good shake. Avoid over-soaking the microfiber cloth in the deodorizer or spraying it directly onto the fabric surface. Spray the deodorizer onto the cloth, then gently dab the solution onto the headliner. 

One small section at a time, work. Once the deodorizer has dried, vacuum any remaining baking soda from the headliner’s surface using a vacuum with an upholstery attachment. 


You can keep your car clean and odor-free by learning the various techniques for cleaning the headliner. Additionally, you would save money because you wouldn’t need to have your car detailed. Simply follow the instructions provided for the cleaning method you require.

How did you find this tutorial? In the comments, express what you think. If you found this article useful, consider sharing it with others so they can learn more about cars.

Lorraine Winnie

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