Asked on Aug 23, 2016

Dishwasher Soap dispenser fails to open sometimes

John Wood
by John Wood

The Maytag branded dishwasher's soap dispenser sometimes doesn't open during the cycle leaving the powder unused. Any recommendations on how to fix it?

  14 answers
  • Borgka Borgka on Aug 23, 2016
    We have a Bosch with the same issue from time to time. Possible remedies are; cleaning the container with a little vinegar and an old toothbrush, then rinse well - in this case we found that less is actually more in that the extra tablespoon or so of the powder doesn't make that much difference in your dishes and it may reduce the problem. I have even tried mixing the soap powder with a small amount of either water or vinegar. Most manufacturers have instructions for cleaning the actual dishwasher. After we installed our water treatment system we now only use around half of the dishwasher detergent we used previously. The other little extra treatment the dishwasher needs is to ensure the filter at the bottom of the unit itself, as well as the Air Gap which is on the counter by the faucet. This needs to be unobstructed. I know these cleaning things sounds odd, it did to me as well that is until I added it to my Preventative Maintenance List. Last but not least, because of all of the additives in even dishwasher soap, I toss a couple of cups of vinegar in to a load of dishes every other week or so. Best of luck
  • Katherine Lucy Pospisil Katherine Lucy Pospisil on Aug 23, 2016
    Make sure the dishes in front of the dispenser are not too tall that it blocks it from opening. I used to put my plates on that side where the dispenser was an encountered this problem several times before I figured it out and now place low bowls there instead. problem solved. Also, clean out the edging of the dispenser of any gunk/calcification, etc., that may cause it to stick in place.
  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Aug 23, 2016
    I have the same problem with my Maytag, its about 7 years old and out of warranty. I just throw the detergent tablet in bottom and turn it on.
    • B. Enne B. Enne on Aug 23, 2016
      I was going to say the exact same thing. My Maytag dw is almost 20 years old, and I too just throw the dw pack in the bottom before pushing the rack back. I find it actually cleans the dishes better from there. I tried cleaning the dispenser, moving dishes around etc. to no avail. Don't sweat the small stuff. :)
  • Linda Johnson Linda Johnson on Aug 23, 2016
    We switched to liquid dishwasher detergent and we haven't had a problem since.
  • William William on Aug 23, 2016
    The detergent dispenser is designed to release detergent into the dishwasher tub during the wash cycles and will typically have two compartments, an unsealed compartment for prewash and a sealed compartment for the main wash cycle. Verify that the dispenser is not simply clogged with caked on detergent and give it a good cleaning if necessary. Also check to make sure that the cover for the dispenser will open easily and is not damaged or broken. Check the release mechanism for worn or defective parts and replace if necessary. The rinse aid dispenser is designed to release rinse aid into the tub during the rinse cycle. Verify that the dispenser is full and is not clogged with detergent and verify that the cap is adjusted properly. The dispensers may be operated by either a mechanical devise or by a bi-metal release or wax motor devise. ******************************************************************************************* I will identify the most common parts that can cause the dishwasher to not dispense detergent, but there are other parts that could be at fault. Many of the repairs are not for the DIY. If you are unable to fix your dishwasher with the information above you may need to call an appliance repair service. ******************************************************************************************* Door Spring & Hinge Pin ******************************************************************************************* If your dishwasher is not dispensing detergent, the spring and hinge pin on the dispenser door could be the problem. The dispenser door is spring loaded, and is held in the closed position by a catch. Check that the spring and pin are not bent or broken and replace if required. If the catch is not releasing the door, then you should inspect the timer, the bi-metal release or the wax motor. ******************************************************************************************* Wax Motor ******************************************************************************************* The wax motor is used in newer model dishwashers to release the detergent dispenser door catch. If the wax motor is not working properly, then the dispenser door will not open to release the detergent. The wax motor acts like a solenoid when activated by the dishwasher’s timer or control, and the piston operates the mechanism that will release the catch for the dispenser door. Verify that the wax motor is getting power at the proper time and if so then you will need to replace it. You can also check the wax motor for continuity with a multi-meter. ******************************************************************************************* Bi-Metal Release ******************************************************************************************* Some older model dishwashers use a bi-metal release to operate the detergent dispenser door catch. The bi-metal release uses electric current to create a mechanical action to release the door catch. Verify that the bi-metal release is getting power at the proper time and check for continuity with a multi-meter. ******************************************************************************************* Timer ******************************************************************************************* Some models of dishwashers will use the timer to mechanically operate the detergent dispenser. At the proper time in the cycle, the timer will activate a lever that releases the detergent door catch. Check that the linkage between the timer and the door catch is working properly, and if not replace it. Verify that the cam on the timer is working properly and replace the timer if defective.
  • Anne Anne on Aug 23, 2016
    The repairman told me this happens when we overfill the dispenser. ....just fill it below level, he told me, and it will work fine. far, that has worked for me!
  • Pam Lewandowski Pam Lewandowski on Aug 23, 2016
    I too just chunk the dishwasher tablet in the bottom of the machine. You may try, when door is fully open. Pour a little vinegar in the nooks and crannies, it might have some calcium buildup or such.
  • Polly Zieper Polly Zieper on Aug 23, 2016
    I have the same problem with the door to my dispenser, so I just don't close it at all.
  • Bren Did Bren Did on Aug 24, 2016
    We move a lot and often rent houses with not-so-great dishwashers. I have found a good cleaning to remove mineral buildup makes the latch operate better. Here's my easy method:
  • Gerri Haumschild Gerri Haumschild on Feb 01, 2017

    i bought some citric acid ( food grade) to put into my DW, trying to save $. Been using Lemon scented additive but it is costly although it works. Does anyone know how much citric acid crystals to add to DW? It is 11 years old.

  • Jimmy R Jimmy R on Feb 02, 2017

    s others have stated run a good cleaner thru machine , an i have found if the hot water is not run in the faucet first before starting the machine , the lil soap cup door willnot open ,, why i dont know but that happens every time ,,

  • Julie Julie on Dec 07, 2020

    I have had this issue too and found it was from using the pod type dishwasher tablets. I grabbed an old toothbrush and some Totally Awesome (purchased from the Dollar Tree and yes, it is TOTALLY AWESOME!) and scrubbed the area clean. I will not be buying the pod type cleaners anymore. I have found that in both my dishwasher and in my HE clothes washer, they do not always dissolve as intended and create more problems than worth. Go liquid. It’s much better for your appliances.

  • Ken Erickson Ken Erickson on Dec 07, 2020

    Ensure no plates or large objects are not blocking the door. That happened to us before.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 01, 2021

    Call repair man! In the meantime turn machine on and wait to hear the "CLICK" that tells you the soap dispenser has been activated , quickly open machine and throw in tablet. That's it till the next time!