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How to Clean Stains in a Car on the Roof

by Sally Syak

The headliner, or roof of a car, is often overlooked during the cleaning and detailing process. You may be surprised when your look up at the headliner and notice stains and marks that do not belong there. If your head brushes the headliner while seated or while getting in and out of your vehicle, there is likely dark areas on your headliner from the oil being transferred from your hair. Beverages and makeup also are common sources of headliner stains.

Inspect your headliner. Verify that it is in good overall condition. Visually confirm that the overlying fabric is well attached to the supportive cardboard frame. If the headliner does not appear to be in good condition, do not proceed with the cleaning; doing so can cause further damage to the headliner.

Brush away any loose debris with your clean hand. Do not use firm pressure while touching the headliner as this may leave marks in the underlying foam.

Spray upholstery cleaner on a towel. Rub the cleaner gently over any stains. Use a side to side motion and apply minimal pressure. Do not move the towel in a circular motion, as this may damage the fabric or underlying structure. Using a clean and dry towel, gently wipe over the freshly cleaned area to remove any residual of dirt or cleanser.

Apply degreaser to a towel and clean any hard to remove areas following the same procedures outlined in Step 3. Again, use caution not to apply pressure to the headliner. Wipe away any remaining degreaser with a clean, dry towel. Maintain the clean appearance of your headliner by including this process in your regular car detailing process.


  • Do not spray cleaner or degreaser directly onto your headliner as this can damage the fabric covering and cause the glue that holds the fabric to the cardboard frame to fail.

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About the Author

Based near Kansas City, Mo., Sally Syak began freelance writing in 2010. Her articles appear on various websites, primarily focusing on home improvement, hobbies and business marketing. Syak is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in occupational therapy at Pennsyvania Valley Community College.

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  • tableau de bord image by matteo NATALE from