How to remove water stains from headliner

The ceiling of your vehicle or the headliner is often overlooked when cleaning the interior, but it can be marred by marks or stains. When your headliner ends up with water stains, there are methods that you can use to effectively remove them. Read further to learn how to remove water stains from headliner effectively.

Methods on how to remove water stains from headliner 

Let us now take a look at the techniques on how to remove water stains from headliner.


  • Utilize an upholstery cleaner that is safe for interior use. Moisten a small detailing brush with the solution. Make sure that you will keep the vehicle doors open and wear gloves. You also have the option to prepare a homemade solution by mixing ¼ cup white vinegar, ½ tablespoon liquid soap and a cup of warm water in a spray bottle. 
  • Move the brush in small circular motions to form bubbles at the stained area. Apply light pressure so that the lather will penetrate the stain. 
  • Blot the site with a dry microfiber towel to absorb the solution. Check if the stain has vanished. If a trace lingers, repeat the process again. 

Dealing with tough stains

  • Spray an upholstery cleaner on the bristles of a stiff brush. Work the brush into the stain in small circles. Wipe away the cleaner using a microfiber cloth. 
  • You can utilize a steam cleaner. A steam cleaner utilizes pressure vapors to loosen dirt and penetrate stains. 
  • Utilize the narrow nozzle or brush tool. Hold it 2 inches away from the site and deliver a gust of steam. Spray on the stain so that the heat and water will lift the stain away from the headliner. 
  • Pat the site with a microfiber cloth. If the stain lingers, spray another burst of steam. 
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How to deep clean your headliner

  • An all-purpose cleaner or upholstery cleaner can be used to deep clean your headliner. Make sure that you will work in a well-ventilated area. Moisten the bristles of a large detailing brush. 
  • Work in long back and forth strokes so that the solution starts to bubble. Make sure that you will use gentle pressure. Add more solution to the brush if lather is not produced. 
  • Utilize a wet vacuum or spot cleaner to remove the cleaning solution. You can attach a brush tool on the nozzle. Start at the front of the vehicle and move towards the back.
  • The vacuum or spot cleaner should soak up most of the moisture in the headliner but allow it to air dry for 24 hours. 
  • Once fully dry, check for any lingering stains or discoloration on the headliner. 

Does fabric cleaner remove water stains from headliner?

A fabric cleaner can be used to get rid of water stains on your headliner. Simply follow these steps.

  • Apply the fabric cleaner on the site using a cloth and lightly saturate the site.
  • Wipe on the stained area using gentle pressure. 
  • Blot the site with a clean cloth to remove the excess moisture.
  • Wait for the area to fully dry and check if the stain is removed. 

Can you use FOLEX on headliner?

FOLEX is a water-based, non-ionic surfactant spot cleaner. It utilizes water to get rid of stains for a safe cleaning process minus the residue unlike soap, oil-based cleaners, or solvents that can be toxic, smelly, or flammable.

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You can use FOLEX to clean your headliner since it does not leave behind any sticky residue or damage the surface. The product does not have a positive or negative charge and will not attract or repel dirt or dust.

  • Simply apply FOLEX on the stained area and gently work it into the surface.
  • Blot the site with a white cloth or paper towel to eliminate and stain.
  • Allow the site to dry. 

Can you spot clean your headliner?

For minor stains on your headliner, you can spot clean. You simply need a cloth, soft brush, and an upholstery cleaner. Just remember to avoid saturating the headliner which can slacken the glue that holds it all together. You also need a specific cleaning agent depending on the type of stain. 

Lacquer thinner and alcohol works well on oil-based stains such as crayon, ink, grease, and makeup. The general upholstery cleaners are suitable for water-based stains such as coffee and soda. You can even prepare a general cleaner using white vinegar, warm water, and liquid soap.

  • Use a dry cloth or soft brush to scrub away any loose dirt or debris without driving them deeper. 
  • Apply the upholstery cleaner to the cloth. 
  • Dab on the stain to moisten it without saturating it. This should start to dissolve the stain so that you can remove it using a dry section of the cloth, carefully rubbing on the stained area. 

Final thoughts

Once you discover water stains on your headliner, it might be time to clean your interior. Whether it is a miniature stain or one that covers a wide area, you can effectively remove them with the help of the techniques discussed on how to remove water stains from headliner. 

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