5 Reasons Why Dishwasher Soap Not Dissolving

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The dishwasher is one of the most useful appliances to have at home.

It does much of the cleaning after meals, especially after parties, with little manual assistance.

All you have to do is load the dishes, put in the detergent, turn on the tap, and start the motor running.

You’ll have clean dishes in a flash.

Some dishwashers even dry the dishes for you.

But after some time your dishwasher shows signs that it isn’t operating perfectly.

You observe soap residues here and there and you ask,

Why is the dishwasher soap not dissolving completely? What could be the problem?

How does the dishwasher get the job done?

To understand the problem, you need to know a little bit about how your dishwasher gets the job done.

The easy part is that your dishwasher gets the job done in the same way that you do — using soap and water, and a little scrubbing.

But the dishwasher does it like a robot.

You press buttons and flip switches telling the dishwasher how you want your dishes done; if it has a drier, if you want it to also dry the dishes after rinsing.

The scrubbing part of the dishwasher is done through high pressure water jets squirting from the tiny holes in the washer’s arms.

Imagine the water jets like when you stop water running out of the open end of a hose with your thumb.

The dishwasher arms rotate around the dish rack (above, between, or below) to make sure that all the dishes are ‘scrubbed’ with soapy water.

When the dishwasher is in operation, several things happen:

1) Water is let in and heated to temperatures of 120-160ºF.

Hot water not only removes food particles from the dishes easier, it helps to dissolve the detergent powder or tablet in the basin.

2) The tiny dispenser door opens and the soap powder or tablet is released.

This drops into the hot water in the basin and dissolves.

3) Soapy water is sucked down the drain holes at the bottom, then pumped up into the rotating arms and shot out like water jets.

4) After the wash cycle, the dishwasher drains all the soapy water.

Then the rinse cycles begin until the dishes are done and, in some cases, dried.

So, we come back to the question, Why is the dishwasher soap not dissolving completely?

What could be the problem?

Here are some possible causes:

1) Inlet valve malfunction

When your dishwasher not getting water, obviously dishwasher detergent will not dissolve at all and you will see soap in the bottom of your dishwasher when you open the door.

If you not sure if your dishwasher getting water, just open the dishwasher door SLOWLY in 2 minutes after you press START button, to make sure you have water at the bottom of your dishwasher.

If there is no water, then most likely inlet valve failed and need replacement.

2) Water not hot enough

One of the causes, why your dishwasher tablet is not dissolving, is that the water is not hot enough.

The normal water temperature for dishwasher tablets to dissolve is 120-160ºF.

If your dishwasher is not equipped with a thermostat or temperature monitors, then you need to check the temperature of the water manually using a thermometer.

This way you can tell if the water isn’t getting hot enough to dissolve the tablet.

3) Dispenser door blocked or jammed

Another cause why your dishwasher tablets are not dissolving fully is when the dispenser door does not completely open.

The dispenser door needs to open completely for the soap tablet to drop into the hot water.

If the dishwasher tablet is not releasing properly the dispenser door might be blocked.

This can happen if your dish rack is not stacked properly and an object (e.g. a tray or a cooking panhandle) is preventing the door from opening.

Always make sure to stack large, long or tall items far from the dispenser door to prevent from blocking it.

4) Circulation pump failure (one of the common problems)

Another cause why your dishwasher tablets are not dissolving in your Bosch, Maytag or any other dishwasher is because the circulation pump being seized or jammed by something.

When the circulation pump works ok, it spraying water in the dishwasher and when dispenser door will open, water will wash out all detergent from the dispenser.

If you will hear strange unusual noise coming from the dishwasher right after when it is filled with water, open the dishwasher door to see if any water splashing out.

If nothing, just a small amount of water, then definitely something wrong with the circulation pump.

5) Spray arm clogged

Take a look at the spray arm holes, they need to be clean and not being clogged with some food particles.

Otherwise, water will not be spraying out and dishwasher soap will not dissolve

Or it could also mean that you put too much soap for a very light load and the wash cycle was too short to dissolve all the powder or tablet.

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

6) Spray arm broken and not able to spin

It is good to know why the dishwasher soap is not dissolving completely in your dishwasher, before calling for professional help.

Knowing how your appliance works helps you troubleshoot some problems you may encounter in its regular use.

Reader Comments (70)

  1. My frigidaire dishwasher doesn’t clean, doesn’t dissolve the soap, I’ve replaced the inlet valve and still having issues. Nothing is blocking the soap door either. Frigidaire dishwashers are known to be terrible, but before I chuck it, what would you do to fix it?

  2. my kitchen aid dishwasher isnt cleaning but the water gets hot. at first the soap door was open but the pod was on top of a pan n front of it but low so didnt block it. the dishes were dry but steam came out when door was opened. i did what i usually do when it acts up and it fixes it but not this time. usually push the 3 buttons on the right of the top, sani-wash etc. 3 times fast n a row til the lights came on across the top panel then pressed start and closed door for it to run cycle to diagnose itself and fix and it has worked like a charm – til now. the last cycle ran a express cycle and the pod drawer opened but the pod was still inside and dry but dishes were wet but not clean. i saw water go n thru the sink and come back out but it might not b enough bc its not a lot. using cascade platinum pods.

  3. My detergent pod is intact ,not dissolved at all when cycle is done.Once before this happened my dishwasher leaked some water but I thought maybe the door didn’t close good so I ran another load and all went well,next 2 loads the pods are fully intact laying in the dishwasher. I don’t know if the things are related or not. Thank you

    • First of all clean your dishwasher, using a dishwasher cleaner tablet or liquid. If its didn’t help, take apart a sump and clean there. Secondly, make sure water is spraying inside the dishwasher with good pressure. If its not spraying enough: 1. problem with a circulation pump 2. A circulation water line is dirty or partially clogged.

  4. I have a Frigidaire gallery dishwasher that is not dissolving the pod or partial only. The dishes aren’t as clean as they should be with soap residue. There’s also water remaining at the bottom reservoir. I changed the drain pump but that didn’t help any.

    • Start the dishwasher and open the door in 2 minutes. Can you see the water is spraying inside with a pressure?

  5. I have a whirlpool dishwasher. I recently purchased this house and all the appliances were left. All are whirlpool and all seemed to be new. The first time I used it the soap did not dissolve. The door was open and part of the soap was in the tray and some in the bottom of the dishwasher. I tried the detergent rectangle with the red dot in the middle. I then tried cascade powder and the same thing happened. After that I tried liquid and still no change. Each time the detergent door was open. Any suggestions?

  6. I posted here back in May that my dishwasher was mucking about. The lights stopped showing what cycle I was on and it was stopping mid-cycle. I was about to get a new one and then I had to unplug it to use the socket for something else and it seems to have completely re-set itself. It has behaved perfectly ever since. Logical really because when my Freeview box goes wrong I have to unplug it and wait a few minutes, plug it in and it’s fine.

    So if you’re having the same problem, just try unplugging, waiting a few minutes and plug it back in. It’s worth a try.

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