How To Fix A Dishwasher Soap Dispenser That Won't Open

Dishwashers have made the mundane and continuous task of washing your dishes that much easier, quicker, and more efficient. Not only are they time-saving machines, but as the Columbia Daily Tribune points out, they're more environmentally and financially viable than hand washing. Individually cleaning all the dishes you would otherwise load in a dishwasher uses much more water than a single cycle. The temperature in your dishwasher is also higher than you can safely hand wash, which means your dishes are more thoroughly disinfected.

The one thing handwashing has in its corner is control and accuracy. Dishwashers may be convenient and quick, but as appliances, they can break or stop working at full capacity. While the dishwasher may be better for your wallet, that's assuming it gets the job done in one load. Few things are as infuriating as unloading a theoretically clean load of dishes, only to find the soap dispenser never opened, wasting your hot water and time. Don't write off your dishwasher just yet; there are a few fixes for this issue.

Blocked dispenser

If the soap dispenser in your dishwasher isn't working, that doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with it. Before calling a plumber or the manufacturer, ensure it isn't a user error. For example, Sears Home Services says the most common cause of this issue is a blocked dispenser. Before running your next cycle, ensure the dispenser isn't obstructed by any large items in the bottom rack, like baking sheets or cutting boards.

Appliance Genie warns that another potential blockage could come from a dirty dishwasher. Over time, if you don't clean your dishwasher, the detergent, food bits, grease, oils, and more, could build up around the dispenser door, blocking it shut. There are plenty of dishwasher cleaning products, but you can use household staples like vinegar and baking soda to get the job done. Home Depot recommends filling a cup full of white vinegar and placing it on the top rack, sprinkling a cup of baking soda along the bottom, and running a short, hot cycle. You could also manually clean the buildup with a towel or cloth.

Try these fixes, too

There may be something wrong with the door pieces if there isn't any obstruction, whether it be a physical blockage or buildup. Authorized Service notes that the latch can sometimes hide obstacles in its mechanism, like a small piece of food stuck within it. The door spring could also be the culprit. Test how the door opens, noting that the spring enables this functionality. The spring could be broken if it simply swings or falls open.

The problem could be with the entire dispenser itself if you have an older dishwasher. Older dispensers may not be able to withstand the heat inside the appliance consistently, so look for any signs of warping. The gasket or rubber ring that keeps the dispenser sealed could also need either be replaced or softened, which can be done with petroleum jelly. Finally, if you have a rinse aid cap, check to ensure it isn't broken or sticking out, as it could either keep the dispenser from closing all the way or block it from opening during the cycle. If none of the above seems to be the issue, it may be time to contact a plumber or the dishwasher's manufacturer, as it could be a motor problem.