6 Common Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Problems

A dishwasher soap dispenser.
  • 1-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-20
What You'll Need
Hot water
Small brush

The dishwasher soap dispenser releases detergent into the dishwasher so that it can clean the dishes. When there’s a problem with the dispenser, your dishes won’t come out of the cycle clean.

There are several problems that can affect a dishwasher soap dispenser. Once you know what they are, you can fix them when they happen to your home appliance.

1. Stuck Dispenser

One of the most common problems that can occur with a dishwasher soap dispenser is that it can become stuck. When this happens, you have no choice but to take off the door panel and investigate. Chances are that this will be caused by detergent that has accumulated and gotten stuck, preventing the spring from proper operation.

To remove excess detergent buildup, you’ll need to rinse the area with hot water, using a small brush to scrub away the residue. A mix of hot water and vinegar will also work well in this situation. This will dissolve the detergent, and you can clean it off the spring.

2. Broken Spring

When the spring that opens and closes the dishwasher soap holder door is broken, you’ll need to replace it. This isn’t an easy task, but it is necessary. Some people don’t bother to fix this problem because they think is minor. However, many don't realize that neglecting this problem can lead to dishes not being properly cleaned. The detergent might still enter the dishwasher but not during the proper part of the cycle; it will possibly be released too early.

3. Broken Dispenser Door

It’s unlikely, but the door of the dish soap dispenser can break. A small chunk can break off of the plastic, for instance. This will necessitate the replacement of the dispenser door. If you have an older dishwasher, finding the correct part could be a problem.

4. Worn Gasket

Repairman with clipboard examining open dishwasher

The rubber gasket on the soap container can become worn or cracked over time with frequent use. Inspect it carefully and remove any build-up of soap around it.

The simple solution for this is to rub Vaseline into the gasket to moisten it. After this, unless the gasket is cracked, the gasket should be fine. If it’s cracked, it will need to be replaced.

5. Soap Clogging

If there’s soap clogging the soap dispenser, it usually means that the door isn’t staying open for the spray to flush it out sufficiently during the wash cycle. There are two possible causes for this. The first could be a bad design, which is the case in some older or cheaply made models. The second and more likely cause is a clogged jet in the sprayer. If you've had your appliance for a while, this is more than likely the case as a problem like this arises seemingly out of nowhere.

While there's not much you can do about a poorly designed appliance, you can clean the jets on the sprayer. This will more than likely require removing the sprayer in order to clean it. Remember to unplug the dishwasher before you do any work on it. If the problem doesn't come back, you can probably chalk it up to having a tall item in the rack that prevented the door from opening properly.

6. Replacement

When the remedies above don’t work, you’ll need to replace the entire soap dispenser. This can be a big job for anyone who is inexperienced, but as long as you go about it carefully, there should be no problems.