How To Remove Water Stain From Car Headliner? (Explained)

Let alone cleaning it, when was the last time you even looked at your car’s headliner? Though often overlooked, car headliners play an essential role in our vehicles.

Not only do they make the interiors more beautiful, they protect the roof of your car. And a stained headliner can significantly lower the resale value of your car by making it look older than it actually is.

Because of these reasons, car owners should learn how to remove water stains from the car headliners and ensure this part of the car is cleaned as frequently as the rest.

how to remove water stain from car headliner

How Do Water Stains Form on the Car Headliner?

There are several ways on how water stains can form on your car headliner. The most common cause is a leak. With time, leaks are likely to develop on the ceiling, especially on the edges. And you may not realize it right away, these leaks can lead to water stains.

The other way on how water stains can form on the headliner is when you forget to roll up your windows on a rainy day.

Even though this seems like an odd thing to do, should you leave your car windows rolled down, rain can wreak havoc on the seats and headliner. Always confirm that your windows are closed.

Finally, water stains can develop on the car headliner through negligence. Letting your kids carry their water guns in the car is a mistake you should avoid completely.

Carrying passengers drenched in water is also a big no, especially if you have a cloth interior.

There are many ways on how you can remove water stains from the car headliner. We are going to list as most as we can so that you can have a variety of options to choose from.

Before we get started, you should know that car headliners are very sensitive, so be very gentle when scrubbing stains off and avoid harsh cleaners.

Cleaning Water Stains from a Car Headliner with All-Purpose Cleaner

This is the first and most effective method of getting rid of water stains on a car headliner. If you have seen some water spots on the headliner, make time as soon as possible to clean them off.

You will need the following; an all-purpose cleaner, some microfiber towels, and a soft detail brush. Regarding the all-purpose cleaner, use the one you find effective at removing stains.

Once you have gathered the necessary tools, begin by spraying the all-purpose cleaner to the water stains. Don’t be generous with the cleaner as the goal is not to over-saturate the car headliner.

You can dive straight into scrubbing with the brush, but we recommend letting the cleaner sit for a minute or two so that it can be absorbed deeper into the headliner material.

Brush the water stains gently until they begin fading off. When you can no longer see the water stains, take the microfiber cloth and wipe off the residue.

You need to be very careful with the residue because if there is some left behind, you could spread the dirt to other parts of the car headliner.

Clean the area thoroughly with a microfiber towel. This process also helps with the drying of the car headliner.

An all-purpose cleaner does an excellent job in removing water stains from a car headliner.

Some of the tips you need to follow when using this method are; use a soft brush and gentle cleaner, aggressive cleaning and car headliners do not go hand in hand, and always try to clean water stains as soon as you notice them.

How to Dry Water Stains on the Car Headliner?

Did you forget to close your sunroof and now you are staring at your car which is soaked with water? It’s normal for such things to happen. What matters most is that you learn from that experience.

If your water stain is fresh, then you can’t go straight into the above procedure of cleaning it with an all-purpose cleaner. You have to dry it fast.

If there is a lot of water in the area around the sunroof, you should dry it with a microfiber towel. Alternatively, you can use a hairdryer, this will accelerate the drying process.

Two things may happen, either the water may not stain your car headliner or it may leave stains. Be prepared for either option.

Should it not stain then you are safe. However, if there is a stain, dry it first. Or dampen it enough so that you can apply an all-purpose cleaner.

This is a scenario that should be avoided as much as possible because the car headliner is very sensitive to water. Excess water may weaken the adhesives that hold the headliner to the roof.

Dealing with a Leaking Roof or Sunroof

Before we proceed to other methods on how to clean water stains from the car headliner if the source of these stains is coming from a leak either on the roof or sunroof.

You need to fix that right away. Even if you clean water stains, if you have a leaking roof, you will always find new stains.

And in the long run, this can damage the car headliner. Look for the leak, buy a sealant, and then fix the leak before cleaning the stains.

Can I Use Vinegar to Clean Water Stains from the Car Headliner?

Vinegar has many applications because of its cleaning properties. And yes you can use it to clean water stains from the car headliner. By itself, vinegar may not be strong enough to clean water stains on a car headliner.

But, when mixed with dish soap and water, the solution can cut through the most stubborn stain.

To use vinegar in removing water stains from the car headliner, mix a quarter cup of vinegar, a cup of water, and a tablespoon of dish soap in a spray bottle.

Shake it well and then spray it on the water stain while scrubbing with a soft brush. Do not use a lot of pressure as this may damage the car headline.

What about a Foam Cleaner?

The only weakness of water stains on car headliners is that they are not really hard to remove. So, even a foam cleaner is an excellent product to use when dealing with water stains.

You will also need a soft bristle brush to lightly scrub the car headliner. For the foam cleaner to work, it would be a good idea if you could spray it on the stain and let it soak onto the car headliner.

When you do this, you won’t need a lot of effort in removing the stains with a brush.

How Can I Remove Bad Odors from the Car Headliner?

If at one point the car headliner did get wet and didn’t dry properly, it may have a foul odor. To remove bad odor, you will need a deodorizer.

Fortunately, you can easily make one at home with a tablespoon of baking soda, ¼ cup of vinegar, and a cup of water. Create a mixture of these ingredients and put it in a spray bottle.

With the help of a microfiber cloth, spray the solution onto the car headliner and dab it with the microfiber cloth.

In this case, you wouldn’t be working on stains, so spray the entire car headliner working on one section at a time. It’s also worth buying an air freshener for your car.

What are the Best Headliner Cleaners in the Market?

This will depend on your preferences and budgets. Similar to other detailing products, headliner cleaners vary from one brand to another.

When shopping for one, consider its effectiveness, ease of use, and price. Some of the popular brands that make good headliner cleaners include Chemical Guys and Meguiars.

Before using any headliner cleaner, perform a patch test to determine if it’s safe.

What are the Different Levels of Cleaning I Can Apply on My Car Headliners?

Earlier, we told you how delicate the headliner is. If you touch it, you will feel a soft foam. Beneath it, are multiple layers that comprise various materials.

The top layer is often made up of polyurethane and the bottom layer comprises fabric.

Other than enhancing beauty, headliners play an essential role in preventing the car from heating up on sunny days. It also minimizes sounds from outside.

Because of these benefits, it’s your duty as the car owner to ensure the headliner is in perfect condition.

Here are three types of cleaning that are suitable for your car headliner;

  • Spot cleaning

This works great for water stains and other types of light stains that can form on the headliner. If you often carry goods in your car, you may have to spot clean the headliner regularly.

Spot cleaning entails the use of an all-purpose cleaner, brush, and microfiber towel. When spot cleaning, you only clean the stains and not the entire headliner.

  • Surface cleaning

This type of cleaning comes in very handy when you are dealing with several stain marks on the headliner. Or the spot clean wasn’t effective.

Surface cleaning requires a stronger cleaning agent such as an upholstery cleaner.

It should be sprayed all over the headliner and allowed to soak in. the surface is then gently brushed and dried with a microfiber towel.

  • Deep cleaning

A deep cleanse of the headliner should be done only when it is necessary. For this, you will need a steam cleaner. Considering how sensitive the car headliner is, a deep cleanse should be best handled by a professional detailer.