The dishwasher is loaded and ready to go but the soap dispenser won’t close.  No matter how hard you push down or twist, it just won’t stay secured.  So what can you do?

Well, the good news is there’s a couple of easy things to try before looking for replacement parts or calling a technician or your warranty representative (home or manufacturer).  First though, you need to identify:

  • How’s your dishwasher controlled?
  • What type of detergent cup does your dishwasher have?
  • Is your dishwasher OFF?

From there, we’ll get into the different things you can try to resolve the issue of the dispenser not closing if we can’t solve it by going through the three already listed.  By the end, you’ll have several things you can try and, hopefully, a resolution that keeps the technician and parts away.

What Type of Controller Does Your Dishwasher Have?

This shouldn’t take you too long to figure out.  If you have an electronic control dishwasher, you’ll have a series of nice buttons to push on the top or front of your dishwasher’s door.  If you have a mechanical control dishwasher, you’ll have a rotating knob on the front of the dishwasher door that cycles clockwise from START through the chosen cycle and eventually to OFF.

Troubleshoot an Electronic Control Dishwasher Soap Dispenser

If you have a dishwasher with electronic controls, start troubleshooting by first ensuring the dishwasher has not already started a cycle.  If it has, it is not technically OFF and may not allow the soap cup to function properly.  If may even beep to let you know it’s not OFF and you should resume the cycle. Don’t. Instead, let’s assume it’s not OFF.

Electronic Control Dishwasher
Ensure that the dishwasher has not started the cycle.

For an electronic control dishwasher, to reset or cancel the cycle, you usually either have to push the START button for 3-seconds until it resets or push it twice for it to reset.  Models and procedures vary, so you should consult the owner’s manual for what your manufacturer recommends.

Once you’re sure it is OFF, try closing the soap dispenser.  If it closes, that was the issue.  If it still doesn’t close, we have other things to try later on in this post.

Troubleshoot a Mechanical Control Dishwasher Soap Dispenser

As with the electronic control dishwasher, if you have a mechanical control dishwasher, you should make sure the control knob is rotated completely to OFF.  If the knob is past OFF, go ahead and manually rotate it clockwise to OFF.

Like an electronic control dishwasher, if a mechanical control dishwasher isn’t in the OFF position, the soap cup may not function properly.

Mechanical Control Dishwasher
Make sure that the control knob is completely OFF.

Once you do this, try closing the soap dispenser.  If it closes, that was the issue, as stated in the case of an electronic control dishwasher.  If it doesn’t close, sit tight.  Time to move on to the next round of troubleshooting.

What Type of Soap Dispenser Does Your Dishwasher Have?

Here, you’ll have three to identify from.

  • Sliding Cover
  • Flip-Up Cover
  • Round Cover

Sliding Cover

Before putting in any detergent, ensure the sliding cover has a free range of motion.  It should literally slide down over the cup where it should click shut.  During normal operation, the door will spring open by sliding up and releasing the detergent.

Try to push it down and click into place.  No click?  Not good.

Flip-Up Cover

Before putting in any detergent, ensure the cover has free range of motion.  These types of covers function like a trap door, only in reverse.  When in normal operation, the cover remains closed until activated, where it springs open, releasing the detergent.

Try rotating the lid down and clicking into place.  No click?  Time to try something else.

Round Cover

For this cover, twist counterclockwise to open, ensuring free range of motion.  Turn clockwise to lock into place.  If it doesn’t click, it’s not functioning properly.

Common Problems to Check Before Calling a Technician

There is a laundry list of problems to check for before you need to call a technician (or the warranty people).  These will allow you to exhaust all the common issues without having to pay anything out of pocket.  And if you still haven’t solved the problem, you at least know it’s time to call for help and it’s probably not a simple fix.

Check for Soap Build-Up

This is a pretty common issue that happens when either the detergent doesn’t get used fully during a cycle or if the cover has only been opening partially due to a defect or obstacle (like a large baking sheet blocking it from opening or fully releasing).

In these cases, soap tends to build up on the latch, keeping the door from snapping in place or staying closed when it’s supposed to.  Soap build-up can also affect how efficiently the door opens.  Lastly, soap can also build up on the door’s gasket seal, preventing proper closure.

If you notice soap buildup around the door and its associated parts, give it a decent cleaning and see how the door functions once done.

Check for Waste Buildup

Like soap, other items can build up within your dishwasher and can affect the functionality of your soap dispenser door.  In this case, it could be food, grease, etc.  Basically, all the stuff the dishwasher is supposed to take care of.

hand putting in soap for the dishwasher
Clean your dishwasher to avoid any buildup.

Over time, dishwashers handle a lot of waste.  The older they get, the more maintenance and upkeep they require.  However, efficiency does tend to deteriorate the longer and harder they work.

As a result, it’s not uncommon to find calcium or soap-build up on everything from the dispenser door to the nozzles and jets.  Along with that comes food waste.  Look for anything that might “gunk up the works”, so to speak, and clean it up.

Inspect the Gasket Seal

When you’re inspecting the gasket seal for soap build-up, also check the material condition of the seal.  Look to see if it’s worn, cut, or crumbling.  If it’s an older dishwasher, it may just be a simple task of replacing the gasket for proper functioning.

If the gasket seal looks good but is dry, try lubricating it with a thin layer of petroleum jelly.  It may be as simple as that to get the door closed again.

Check the Door Latch

Checking the door latch is another thing that can easily identify a problem with closing your soap dispenser door.  Even if the latch looks okay and not totally broken, it may be chipped or cracked enough that it can’t hold the door securely, failing to keep it closed.

Check Your Rinse Dispenser Cover

Not all dishwashers come with a rinse dispenser cup, but if yours does, check the cover of it.  It, too, may have some kind of build-up or a problem with a gasket that’s keeping it from closing completely.  If that’s the case, it could affect the functionality of the soap dispenser door and the cycle functions of the dishwasher completely.

Check Your Detergent

This may seem silly, but if you’ve switched detergents recently and now are having a problem with the door, make sure the pods or tablets you may be using aren’t too big for the soap cup.  Also, make sure you’re not overfilling the cup if using liquid or powdered detergent.

None of Those Fixed the Problem with the Door Closing?

Well, if nothing so far has remedied the problem, it may be time to make that phone call to a technician.  There could be a problem with a mechanical part, a motor’s timing, or with the controller overall.

Conclusion

Hopefully, one or several of the troubleshooting recommendations noted here helps solve your dishwasher soap dispenser door dilemma.  If they don’t, at least you know you fought a good fight before having to make the call for more detailed help.