How to Clean a Cabin Cruiser Headliner

How to Clean a Cabin Cruiser Headliner

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Cabin cruisers are a class of boat that come with an inside area for sitting. There is usually a small bathroom inside as well. Similar to a car, the cabin cruiser's interior has a headliner, usually made of thin vinyl or cloth. Like a car, it is susceptible to getting dirty. Unlike a car, it is also susceptible to mold and mildew buildup. Due to the delicate nature of the headliner material, cleaning needs to be done carefully. It only takes a few steps to get a headliner clean as new.

Items you will need

  • Horsehair brush

  • Microfiber cloths (or cotton cloths)

  • Spray bottle

  • Water

  • Hand-held steam cleaner

  • Two buckets

  • Oxygen-based cleaner

Determine what kind of stain in on the headliner. For cloth headliners, if it is only an accumulation of dirt, brush away the dirt gently using a horsehair brush. For vinyl headliners, see Step 2.

Wipe with a damp cloth for deeper stains on either type of headliner. For a cloth headliner, use a microfiber cloth; use a cotton cloth for vinyl. Blot the stain, then gently wipe with the cloth. Don't oversaturate a cloth headliner as it could seep through to the adhesive layer between the headliner and roof, causing the headliner to loosen.

Use a steam cleaner to remove more stubborn stains, mold and mildew. For either type of headliner, fill a steam cleaner with water, and angle the nozzle in the area of the stain. Set the steamer on the lowest setting, and steam the stain area. For cloth headliners, blot the area until dry. Wipe down a vinyl headliner to remove excess moisture.

Use an oxygen-based cleaner to remove the stain and any remaining mold or mildew. If steam cleaning did not work, add 1 teaspoon of non-abrasive, oxygen-based cleanser to a quart of water. Have another container filled with water ready. For cloth, dip the tip of a microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution and another cloth in water, an alternately wipe the stain with each cloth. Be sure not to saturate the headliner. Use a dry microfiber cloth to absorb any excess liquid. For vinyl, dip a cotton cloth in the cleaning solution, and wipe the stain away, then wipe with a dry cloth.


  • Stains that cannot be cleaned using this process may need to be cleaned professionally. It is also possible that you may need to replace the headliner.
  • Do not use bleach on headliner material. It can alter the color of the headliner and could interact with the adhesive attaching the headliner to the roof.
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