All 3 Causes For A Washer Not Releasing Detergent

Washer in a laundry room with clothes

Is your washer not releasing detergent, and you’ve no idea why?

Believe it or not, the issue is very common! In fact, washers that fail to release detergent affect thousands of people daily.

I know how annoying it can be to be ready to do your laundry only to find that there seems to be no detergent falling into your clothes during a cycle.

But don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place for answers. Below, you’ll find a list including the 3 main causes behind a washer not releasing detergent and some simple ways to fix each one.

When your washer is not releasing detergent, it can be due to an issue with your water supply, dirty or obstructed valve filter screens, or an issue with the hot cycle.

Keep reading to get detergent flowing again!

Why Your Washer Is Not Releasing Detergent

The main cause behind a washer not releasing detergent is poor water flow. When there’s not enough water or enough pressure for your washer to complete a laundry cycle, it’s common to have the detergent fail to come out.

From what I’ve seen over the years, poor water flow can be due to 3 main reasons; here’s what I recommend you try to address them.

#1 Check the Water Supply

The first thing I recommend you do when your washer is not releasing detergent is to check your home’s water supply.

Washers are delicate appliances that need certain conditions to be met in order to work normally. One of those conditions is proper water flow in terms of both volume and pressure. I’ve found that several things can cause poor water flow coming from your home and into your washer, so you’ll have to be patient and do some testing.

Solution: Start by turning off the water valves behind the washer. Then:

  1. Unscrew the hoses from the back of the washer and place them in a bucket.
  2. Open the water valves at the wall again and carefully observe how strongly the water flows. Ideally, both hoses should have a similar flow.

My usual advice when one or both hoses seem to have water flow issues is to inspect them for clogs and clean their filters. Please read on to discover how you can go about the cleaning process.

#2 Inspect the Water Valve Screens

When you suspect that clogs or obstructions in your water hoses are the reason why your washer is not releasing detergent, the next step is to clean them and their filters.

The screens in your hoses ensure that no sediment and other debris make it into your washer during a cycle. However, over time, limescale and other obstructions can damage or block the screens, affecting the free flow of water into your appliance.

Cleaning washer's water inlet valve
Removing limescale and other obstructions from your washer’s filter can help it release detergent.

Solution: Before doing anything else, I recommend you check the hoses’ screens to determine whether they’re just blocked and not broken. Once you’ve looked at the screens closely, here’s what to do next:

  1. Remove the first plastic screen with needlenose pliers or a small pick – even if it gets a little damaged, it doesn’t need immediate replacement.
  2. Clean the screen if dirty.
  3. Check for a second metal mesh screen behind the plastic one. If present, remove, clean, and replace the screen.

#3 Test Water Flow for Hot and Cold Cycles

The last thing I recommend you check when your washer is not releasing detergent is the water flow in both hot and cold cycles.

Depending on the fabric material you’re washing and the results you’re looking to get, you’ll normally use different water temperatures and cycle lengths. When your washer has any issues with the water temperature during its cycles, many technical difficulties can arise.

Removing washer water valve
Replacing your washer’s water valve can go a long way in helping it release detergent.

Solution: To test both water temperatures in a cycle, please look at the following steps:

  1. Activate a rinse-only cycle, which only uses cold water, and check the water flow and detergent release.
  2. If everything looks normal, activate a hot cycle (like a clean washer cycle, sanitizer, or heavy-duty, extra hot setting) to test the hot water flow.

If you notice that detergent is only released with one of the 2 temperatures, my usual advice is to call a technician to take a closer look at the problem and fix it.

Estimated Costs and Complexity of the Repair

Now that you know why your washer is not releasing detergent during a cycle, let’s talk about the estimated costs of repairs to address the issue and whether you can attempt to DIY.

On a scale from 1-10, repairing a washer that’s not releasing detergent is relatively simple. James, our resident expert, has placed the difficulty at around 3-5. In my experience, watching a YouTube tutorial of a similar repair on a similar model is all you need to succeed.

Your typical washer water valve and filters will cost anywhere from $30-$80. If you hire a technician to handle the repair/replacement, the total cost typically ranges between $200-$300.

Note: Our resident expert also mentioned that, in 16 years of servicing washers, he’s never seen anything other than a bad water valve and flow that can explain detergent release failure.

Releasing Detergent Into Your Washer

That about covers it!

When your washer is not releasing detergent, laundry day can be put to a screeching halt in a matter of minutes.

Luckily, as I hope this piece has helped you better understand, addressing the most common causes behind a washer that’s not releasing detergent can be very easy. More often than not, something simple, like cleaning the water hose filters and ensuring that your home has the right water flow and pressure, will do the trick.

Thanks for reading. If this article was useful and answered your most burning questions, please check out our other resources and free guides below and consider subscribing to our newsletter.

I wish you all the best!


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