6 Easy Fixes for a Jammed Dishwasher Soap Dispenser

Dishwasher soap dispenser not opening

Is your dishwasher’s soap dispenser not opening?

I’ve been there too! It’s super frustrating to open the dishwasher door and find that your dishes are still dirty because the soap didn’t dispense.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to fix the issue.

To fix a jammed dishwasher soap dispenser, you’ll need to make sure there’s nothing blocking it, clean the dispenser, and inspect the spring and latch mechanism. If the issue persists, test the dispenser with a multimeter and check the control board or timer.

Read on to learn how to fix your dishwasher’s soap dispenser!

Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Won’t Open? Try This

Different reasons can explain why your dishwasher soap dispenser is jammed. But don’t worry! In this section, I’ll walk you through the six steps you must follow to fix it.

Keep in mind that solving the problem will require accessing certain internal components, such as the wax motor or control board. So, having the manufacturer’s manual handy is essential.

Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

#1 Check for Blockages

When dealing with a jammed dishwasher soap dispenser, I always start by rearranging the dishes.

You see, the soap dispenser is located in the dishwasher door and designed to open at a specific point during the wash cycle. However, if dishes or racks obstruct the dispenser, it won’t open and release the detergent.

When loading the dishes, make sure they’re not leaning too far forward and that there’s enough space around the soap dispenser. Try placing larger items, such as pans and pots, towards the back to prevent them from blocking the dispenser door.

dishwasher soap dispenser
If your dishwasher’s soap dispenser is jammed, consider rearranging the dishes.

While at it, please take a moment to secure any loose items and ensure the racks are aligned and properly installed. Otherwise, they can block the soap dispenser or prevent the dishwasher door from closing properly.

It’s also important to avoid overloading the dishwasher. Doing so not only blocks the soap dispenser but also affects the unit’s efficiency.

#2 Clean the Soap Dispenser

In my experience, another way to fix a jammed dishwasher soap dispenser is by cleaning it.

Over time, detergent residue and mineral deposits can build up in the soap dispenser and leave a sticky residue behind that can prevent the dispenser from opening.

Therefore, cleaning your dishwasher’s soap dispenser regularly is crucial. Here’s a simple way to get it done:

  1. Open the soap dispenser door and gently pour warm (not boiling) water.
  2. Let the water sit for a couple of minutes to help break down any detergent residue or mineral buildup.
  3. Use an old toothbrush to scrub away detergent residue. You can also use a cotton swab.
  4. For stubborn residue, pour white vinegar into the dispenser and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, rinse thoroughly.
  5. Dry the soap dispenser with a microfiber cloth or paper towel to prevent mold growth.

Keep in mind that powder detergent can easily absorb moisture and form clumps, which can cause your dishwasher’s soap dispenser to jam. To prevent this issue, store the detergent in a cool, dry place. Additionally, if the detergent has been sitting around for a while or has a strange odor, it’s best to get a new one.

Once you’ve cleaned the soap dispenser, run a quick wash cycle. If it’s still jammed, there’s probably an issue with the latch or spring mechanism. Read on to learn how to fix it.

#3 Inspect the Spring

If your dishwasher’s soap dispenser is still jammed, it’s time for us to inspect the spring.

The spring is a small, flexible piece of metal that lets the dispenser door pop open when it’s time to release the soap. Unfortunately, if the spring becomes damaged or weak, it won’t have enough force to open the dispenser door.

In such cases, you’ll need to replace the spring. Here’s how:

  1. Open the dishwasher door and access the soap dispenser.
  2. Locate the spring inside the soap dispenser housing.
  3. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to remove the dispenser door carefully.
  4. Pull out the detergent lid pin and remove the spring.
  5. Insert the lid pin about halfway and position the new spring.
  6. Reattach the lid to the dispenser.
  7. Use the screwdriver to position the spring into its mounting tab.
Find any replacement part:
If you prefer to watch, here’s a video that provides step-by-step instructions on how to replace the spring on a dishwasher soap dispenser.

Keep in mind that the process of replacing the spring on the soap dispenser will vary depending on your dishwasher’s door model. So, please refer to the manufacturer’s manual.

After replacing the spring, close the dishwasher door and run a wash cycle to check if the issue has been solved.

#4 Check the Latch Mechanism

When fixing a jammed dishwasher soap dispenser, it’s also important to inspect the latch mechanism.

The latch is a plastic component responsible for keeping the dispenser door closed at the beginning of the wash cycle. When it’s time to release the detergent, the latch releases to open the door.

Unfortunately, if the latch is worn out or damaged, it will prevent the dispenser door from opening when it should.

Sometimes, debris and detergent residue can obstruct the latch and cause the issue. So, cleaning the latch with an old toothbrush or cloth is important. If necessary, use vinegar to break down soap scum.

If you notice any signs of damage, you’ll need to replace the latch mechanism with a new, compatible one.

#5 Test the Soap Dispenser

If your dishwasher soap dispenser is still not opening, I recommend testing the soap dispenser’s solenoid or motor with a multimeter.

Test the soap dispenser’s solenoid or wax motor with a multimeter.

The solenoid or wax motor is responsible for processing the signals sent by the control board to open the soap dispenser door at the correct moment during the wash cycle. Unfortunately, if the solenoid or motor malfunctions, the dispenser door won’t open, and your dishes will stay dirty.

Follow these simple instructions to test the soap dispenser’s solenoid or motor:

  1. Unplug your dishwasher from the power outlet or turn it off at the circuit breaker to prevent electrical hazards.
  2. Open the dishwasher door and unthread the necessary screws to remove the outer door panel.
  3. Access the back of the detergent dispenser and the solenoid or wax motor. Then, carefully disconnect the wires.
  4. Set your multimeter to the lowest setting for ohms of resistance. Touch one of the multimeter’s probes to one terminal of the solenoid (or wax motor) and the other probe to the remaining terminal.
  5. The multimeter display should typically indicate between 310 and 390 ohms of resistance. But please refer to the manufacturer’s manual for the recommended values.

If the multimeter doesn’t display the recommended values, then you’ll need to replace the dishwasher soap dispenser. Here’s how:

  1. Follow the first three steps mentioned above (unplug your dishwasher, remove the outer door panel, and disconnect the wires from the wax motor or solenoid).
  2. Remove the screws holding the dispenser’s bracket in place. Then, lift the bracket up.
  3. Release the locking tabs of the soap dispenser.
  4. Open the door and pull the soap dispenser out.
  5. Place the new soap dispenser in place.
  6. Install the soap dispenser’s bracket and reconnect the wires.
  7. Reassemble your dishwasher.
If you prefer to watch, here’s a detailed video that demonstrates how to replace your dishwasher’s soap dispenser.

If you’re uncomfortable testing or replacing the soap dispenser yourself, please call an appliance repair expert. They have the required tools and expertise to diagnose and fix the issue safely.

#6 Check the Control Board or Timer

If you’ve tried all of the fixes above, but your dishwasher’s soap dispenser is still not opening, there’s probably an issue with the control board or timer.

You can think of the control board (or timer, in older models) as the brain of the dishwasher. It is responsible for receiving inputs from the sensors and controlling various functions, such as the wash cycle, detergent dispensing, and water temperature.

If the control board or timer malfunctions, it won’t send power to the soap dispenser, preventing the door from opening.

It’s worth noting that replacing the control board or timer can be quite expensive, so please consult your warranty status. If your dishwasher is no longer under warranty or is over ten years old, replacing the entire appliance is probably more cost-effective.

However, if your dishwasher is still under warranty, you should contact the manufacturer and call a professional.

Wrapping Up: Fixing Your Dishwasher’s Soap Dispenser

That about covers it! Hopefully, now you know how to fix your dishwasher’s soap dispenser.

Remember that if the soap dispenser is jammed or won’t open properly, you’ll need to rearrange the dishes and ensure there’s nothing obstructing it. Don’t forget that it’s also important to clean the dispenser, inspect the spring and latch mechanism, and test the solenoid or wax motor with a multimeter.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. If you’ve found it helpful, please check out our other related posts below.

Good luck!

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more