Have you looked closely on your vehicle’s interior roof? You might notice that it covered in fabric, leather, vinyl, or any other materials for different purposes like suspending devices, insulation from the cold, or to muffle the vibrations and noise outside the car.
Its covering material is better known as a headliner. The exposed part of the headliner is glued to the foam while glued to the backing is the thin foam.
The backing of the interior roof is mainly composed of a molded fibrous board or fiberglass.
You’ll need to replace the whole headliner, in case it falls apart since the interior roof is a single piece. Over time, this becomes dirty and discolored. And since the porous surface is exposed, you’ll find it alarming that it absorbs smells and retains it for days or permanently. You’ve probably just ignored thinking the smell of smoke was absorbed and forgot it altogether.
The headliner material is more delicate than you think and, therefore, you need to be extra careful when cleaning it to avoid damage upon smell or stain removal attempt.
Let’s try three methods in cleaning the headliner:
The Minor Soiling
Here, you will need an upholstery-safe cleaner and a microfiber cloth. You can probably remember the instances when someone tossed an object inside your car and accidentally left a mark on the fabric of the headliner.
First, you need to wipe the spot using the microfiber cloth gently. Look for any loose soil stuck in the headliner and brush it off. You need to do this gently to avoid getting them deeper into the fabric. You’re lucky if the spot is not visible, otherwise, proceed in doing the second step.
You will need to apply a cleaner in the second step. Apply it on the spot with the use of a cloth. Spray a small amount of the upholstery cleaner and saturate a small corner lightly. Wipe the headliner using the edge of your towel. Repeat it with the visible grain, if there is one, applying gentle pressure, so the cleaner only works on the headliner to remove minor stains. It doesn’t need to reach deep into the foam layer. Remove the excess wetness by blotting it with the clean and dry section of the microfiber cloth. When it’s fully dried, you start checking if you successfully removed the spot. Otherwise, continue with the next method.
Surface cleaning is the second method used if the first didn’t work for you. You’ll need a bristled brush and the upholstery cleaner. Let’s deal with cleaning the whole headliner and go more in-depth this time.
First, spray the interior roof evenly using the cleaner. Pay attention to the crevices and edges. One good tip is to use an aerosol cleaner. Its foaming action helps in breaking up the dirt beneath the surface. While the pump-style liquid cleaner works, the foam still works best. Let the cleaner sit for a specified amount of time.
Then, lightly agitate the headliner’s surface using a super soft-bristled brush. Unless brushing is necessary, it is first recommended to use a soft microfiber towel. Make sure that you reach the surface of the headliner to clean evenly. When the cleaner dries, the unbrushed section will be evident.
Depending on how much cleaner you applied, let it dry completely for about an hour or two. You may need a second treatment if the tough stains are still there. Repeat the steps you did in the second method. If the stain persists, try the third method.
You will need hot tap water, a deep cleaning system, and a stain remover. This method should always be the last resort you’ll use in cleaning the car ceiling. The moisture combined with heat will wet the glue that holds the layers together including the backing. The last method could cause permanent damage and may result in the headliner to sag and fall or may interfere in while you’re driving after getting loose.
To start, fill the clean machine with the appropriate water and cleaning solution ratio. It’s best that you always use the specific brand that your machine has specified to use. Substituting them with other brands may leave residues behind the fabric, thus causing further stains in your headliner.
Preheat if needed and wait until the machine is ready to use. Place a small upholstery adapter on the hose. Turn the machine on. Start at the corner, placing the tip of the cleaning tool on the headliner. Spray on a steady rate on the surface of the headliner fabric. Estimate your movement to be around 3-4 inches per second to keep saturating too profoundly. Increase the speed if you notice the headliner is over-soaked.
Use the strokes of roughly 24 inches when moving across the interior roof letting the next stroke overlap by half an inch from the one before it — release trigger between strokes to keep the soapy water from spraying everywhere.
Using the same technique and pace, make sure you cleaned the whole headliner while maintaining the same direction with your strokes to look good when it dries.
Expect the drying process to take the whole day. You may even use the fans and circulate the air inside your car to allow a quicker drying process. Should you choose to roll down your windows, make sure that you parked your car in a safe and climate-controlled environment.
Touch the headliner with the palm of your hands to remove the dried lines from the deep cleaner. Cleaning your headliner will bring back the fresh smell and good shape inside your car. If you’ve followed all the instructions of the three methods, seek the help of a certified mobile mechanic. Let the professionals take the challenge.
Does your interior roof need cleaning?