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Cleaning Smoke Damaged Headliners

Just like eating inside the car, smoking can become a habit for some car owners. Both activities have its consequences. While eating can leave lingering food, bad odors, and stains on the upholstery, smoking can also damage the interior surfaces of your car, especially the headliner. Smoke dark, black residue or yellow nicotine stains will eventually form in the upholstery and other vinyl surfaces such as the steering wheel. So, if you already have a smoke damaged headliner, here are some tips to remove smoke stains.

car cleaning tips

What You Need

  • A car fabric cleaner of your choice
  • White vinegar
  • Soft bristle, interior brush
  • Clean microfiber towel
  • Steam machine (if possible)


Before using any product on your headliner, try a small test area first, especially if the vehicle is five or ten years old. If you have an extraordinarily brittle or saggy headliner, the best way to go is to replace it. Plus, remember always to wear gloves.

Apply Fabric Cleaner

To begin, spray upholstery cleaner on the microfiber towel. Gently dab the affected area with light to medium pressure. If the stain is still there, then spray fabric cleaner onto the brush. Carefully agitate the headliner to create a small section of suds. Continue by blotting the suds with a dry microfiber towel to remove the lifted dirt.

headliner cleaningRemoving Stubborn Stains

Combine white vinegar three to one, with warm water. Dip the brush into the mix and scrub the stain making circular motions. If the stain still doesn’t come out, here is when a steam machine becomes handy. Wrap the head of the nozzle in a microfiber towel. With medium pressure blot the headliner to eliminate bacteria and to lift most stains.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning the Headliner

  • Stay away from abrasive products.
  • Avoid scrubbing hard, pushing hard, or twisting the towel.
  • Never over soak or overheat the headliner glue.

Stay tuned for more car cleaning tips.

For cleaning your cars liner and other interior areas hassle-free, trust Mike’s Auto Spa detailing experts. Come to our shop for the best car cleaning services in Colorado.