Top Reasons Your Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Won’t Open

By Terry Mehilos | Jul. 29, 2023 10:37 am PST

dishwasher soap

You’ve got a mystery on your hands: When you do the dishes, your dishwasher’s soap dispenser doesn’t open up — and you’ve wasted an entire wash cycle of hot water without having cleaned your dishes.

Well, it’s time to channel your inner Nancy Drew and solve the Case of the Dastardly Dishwasher.

Common Causes for Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Issues

If you find the dispenser door isn’t opening in your dishwasher, a good place to start is learning what could be behind the failure. Some problems are easily fixed, while others may require more investigation.

Dispenser is Obstructed

The most common reason for a detergent dispenser not opening is obstruction. Tall items like cookie sheets and cutting boards placed in the lower rack can block the dispenser, preventing the detergent from dispensing when you close the dishwasher door. The handles of pots and pans might also block the spray arm, so water from the spray arm can’t reach the dispenser. Try rearranging the dishes and run the load again.

Dispenser Door is Damaged

Damage to the dispenser door such as twisting or cracks could cause the door to not open. In most cases you should replace the dispenser assembly, as most dispenser doors are not offered separately.

Faulty Door Spring or Hinge Pin

Many dispenser doors are hinged on a pin with a quick-release spring. If the pin is bent or the spring is damaged, the door won’t open. As with a dispenser door, the pin and spring or dispenser assembly should be replaced if there is damage.

Failed Wax Motor

Some dishwashers use a wax motor to release the dispenser door catch. The wax motor is typically concealed under the door panel. If the wax motor fails, the door won’t open. A service technician can check the wax motor and replace it if it’s not working.

Dishwasher Timer is Defective

Some dishwasher models use a timer to control when the dispenser door opens during the dishwashing cycle. When the timer isn’t working, the door won’t open and dispense the detergent. Because the timer is usually located in the control panel, a repair tech should replace the timer if it’s defective.

Troubleshooting Your Dishwasher Dispenser Issues

Now that you know what might be preventing the dispenser door from opening, take a look at what you can check for, what you might be able to resolve yourself, and when to call in a technician.

Check the Dispenser Unit for Damage

Start by performing a visual inspection of the complete dispenser assembly. Soap and residue build-up around the dispenser and door can sometimes prevent the door from opening. Manually open and close the dispenser door to see if it sticks. If it does, give the dispenser and door a good cleaning by wiping away the residue. Obvious cracks and signs of heat damage and warping along the dispenser and dispenser door mean the dispenser assembly needs to be replaced.

Check the Dispenser Actuator

Dispensers use an actuator to open the dispenser door. If you’re comfortable checking the actuator with a multi-meter, this DIY troubleshooting video can walk you through it.

Check the Dispenser Door Spring

The dispenser door has a spring that helps the door open to dispense the soap. You can check the spring by opening the dispenser door and locating the spring. If the spring is warped and damaged, you should replace the spring.

Rely on Sears Home Services for Expert Dishwasher Repair

If you’re not able to solve the problem with the dispenser door, Sears Home Services is your trusted source for dishwasher repair. Schedule an appointment with a dishwasher expert to fix the issue. If you’re experiencing other dishwasher issues Sears Home Services can help. Our experts also offer tips to help your dishwasher run more effieciently.

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