Whirlpool Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Not Working? (Fix It Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

Of the many appliances in a home, the dishwasher plays one of the most pivotal roles. It makes cleanup after a meal easier than ever and allows for the washing of a huge load of dishes all at once. That means being able to entertain or cook up a masterful meal without having to worry about the prospect of a major cleanup.

Whirlpool makes some of the most trustworthy and recognizable appliances on the market. Their brand of dishwashers is among some of the most popular around. One of the most common issues facing those dishwashers is that the soap dispense stops working. The most common issue is that the dispenser is being blocked. If that isn’t the issue, you may be looking at a broken spring that keeps the compartment from opening.

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Something Blocking the Soap Dispenser

More often than not, there is one reason why your soap dispenser is not working properly. A blockage can happen at any time, and usually involves taller kitchen items. When placing taller items, things like cutting boards, on the bottom rack of the dishwasher, make sure that they do not block the door.

If you notice that the soap dispenser is not doing its job, stop the cycle and rearrange your dishes. There are some helpful guides out there that will show you how to properly arrange your dishwasher to prevent those blockages from occurring.

Soap or Debris Buildup

Perhaps you have tried rearranging your dishes a few times and the dispenser is still not working properly. The next most likely reason is that there is a build-up of soap scum, sediment, or food debris blocking it.

Make sure that you look for any detergent that has become stuck to the dispenser after a cycle. Clean out the dispenser before starting a load by wiping away any noticeable substances. This is a good habit to practice anyway because it will prevent those buildups from occurring.

More often than not, the dispenser or some other sort of blockage is the answer. But there is one more thing that could prevent the dispenser from opening that may require a little more skill.

Check the Spring

When the dispenser does not open at all, you could be looking at a broken spring. When the spring to the detergent door is broken, it may either open at unexpected times or not at all. The spring works by triggering the dispenser at the same time as the hot water jets, so that suds get created and blasted around the dishwasher.

Unfortunately, the spring can break from time to time. When that happens, you will have to replace it (or call a professional). The fix is pretty simple in that you get a new spring and install it in place of the old spring.

Broken Latch

Now that we have covered the issues with the door not opening, what happens when the detergent dispenser won’t stay closed? When the soap dispenser won’t remain closed, the most likely explanation is that the latch is broken.

The latch is made up of brittle plastic, so it is not uncommon for them to wear and break over time. The latch can either break down over time or simply because there is too much force applied to the door. You may also see that the latch is covered in old, dirty detergent as well, keeping it from properly seating.

Test the Catch

While it is fairly common for the latch to break or wear down, you can replace it with little to no worry. Just start by unplugging the dishwasher (safety first), opening the door, and then unscrewing the panel located on the inner door.

You can then place a catch onto the latch assembly. The catch will show you if those two switches get activated when the door is closed. If the switches activate, then you will want to test them out using your multimeter.

Dispenser Gasket

Don’t even know what the dispenser gasket is? You may have seen it before as it is the rubber ring that wraps all the way around the dispenser door. The role of the dispenser gasket is to ensure that the soap stays inside of the dispenser until the next wash cycle.

Over time, the dispenser gasket can become old and worn down. When the dispenser is worn, it may not function properly or at all. The bad news is that, should the dispenser gasket need replacing, you will have to replace the door entirely.

If the dispenser gasket is still in good and working condition, then there is a potential fix. Just put some Vaseline on the gasket, it should soften the rubber up so that it can close the dispenser door.

Soap Dispenser Leaking

When the dishwasher dispenser is leaking, you may see only a partial clean if the dishwasher cleans at all. More often than not, when you see leaking from the dispenser, you will see some drips of old, crusted dishwasher detergent on the inside of the unit’s door.

The reason for this is that the soap gets really thick that it becomes encrusted before the dishwasher is able to rinse it all away. The leaking then ultimately prevents the dispenser from latching properly during a normal cycle.

To prevent leaking, ensure that the soap dispenser is properly closed at all times. When you don’t properly secure the lid, you will no doubt see little flakes of crusted soap leaking out before you open the latch. Make sure that there is no wiggle room when you press down on the lid. That ensures that the unit is fully closed.

Loose Seal

Remember, we want the dishwasher soap dispenser to sit securely when it is closed. When you notice that there is wiggle room or space for the lid to close a bit further, then you can see with certainty that it is not well-sealed.

Press down firmly on the lid whenever you close it or even add in a little bit of a twist to lock the door in place. Also, make sure that you clear out any leftover soap residue from around the edge of the dispenser’s cup. That soap residue can prevent the door from sealing properly.

Dispenser Opens too Soon

Perhaps everything looks fine before you run the dishwasher cycle. You may come to find that at some point prior to releasing, the soap dispenser comes open too soon. When it opens too soon, there may not be the necessary soap to perform a full cleaning.

When the dispenser opens too soon, the most likely cause is that the control panel is either damaged or has melted. If the control panel becomes damaged, you can call a professional or you can opt to perform the fix yourself.

Fixing a Damaged or Melted Control Panel

If you discover that the control panel has either been damaged or melted, you always have the option of calling a professional or doing the fix yourself. Should you choose to perform the fix on your own, there are a few basic steps to follow.

For one, always unplug the dishwasher before doing any work on it. You are dealing with electrical currents and run the risk of a shock without the proper safety considerations. Then, unplug the harness so that you can separate the outer portion of the dishwasher.

With the outer part now separated, check the door switch to see if there is any malfunction blocking the panel. Disconnect the dishwasher’s wires, ensuring that they are properly connected as well.

Use a multimeter to test out your dishwasher, doing so at least 10 times. Listen for the clicking sound whenever you push the buttons. Take a look at the cam that presses the button down to see if it is broken.

Finally, spray down the wires with some WD-40 before connecting them again. Check out the board at the back of your control buttons and test everything out with a multimeter as well. Return all the panels and screws when you have finished.

Soap Won’t Dissolve

Perhaps the soap dispenser is doing its job but you notice that the dishwasher detergent is not quite dissolving the soap during the cycle. The most obvious sign here is that your dishwasher is not hitting the appropriate temperature.

Most dishwashers spray water that is at least 110-115F. The hotness of the water ensures that the soap dissolves over the course of the cycle.

Another reason that the soap is seemingly not dissolving is due to the spring opening action on the dispenser door. When the spring is not working properly, the larger detergent tablets may not leave the dispenser. That can result in leftover soap that has not broken down and instead becoming gooey leftovers within your dishwasher.

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Use a Rinse Aid

You may want to consider using a rinsing aid to get spots off if your detergent tablet isn’t dissolving properly. If you notice the same issue repeatedly, switch to a powdered or liquid detergent instead. Those are generally easier on the detergent dispenser as well, allowing them to last longer.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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