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.

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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.

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56 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Dishwasher Soap Not Dissolving”

  1. Hello, I have GE Profile dishwasher that’s not dissolving detergent. Just had a kitchen touch faucet replaced with non-touch faucet. Could there be a connection? Detergent – both gel and tablets not dissolving at all. Tried several different cycles including sanitize.

    • Run a new cycle. Then open the door quickly in 2-3 minutes after the cycle is started. Does it spray water? If not, there is a problem with a circulation pump.

  2. Hi, we have a Whirlpool. When we open it the detergent (liquid) it just laying there, it hasn’t dissolved. I have checked to make sure water is getting to the dishwasher (opened it a few minutes into the cycle). Any suggestions?

    • Not enough water pressure to spray through the spray arm or wash pump not providing pressure at all. Solution: Open the door quickly after a couple of minutes. Do you see the water is spraying? If not, then something wrong with the wash pump

  3. Detergent not dissolving? Keep it fresh. When powered detergents sit in a open box for several months, it will loose its quality and not dissolve as well. Pour half the box in a zip lock to keep it fresh.

  4. Have a GE gldt690tbb dishwasher with soap left in the dispenser issues. Found the upper rack arm was not rotating. Upon inspection, the arm was hard to turn due to warpage ( its all plastic). I also found the seal missing where the upper rack spray pipe inserts into the back wall. (Upper spray manifold ring nut.). New arm and ring nut solved the problem. No idea where the seal went. It must have disintegrated. I’m making this comment after failing to find any mention of these possible issues on any website. Check your arm for rotation and verify if your model has a cone style seal for the upper rack spray like mine had.

    • It’s hard to figure out what could be the problem with your dishwasher when you can’t see inside it while it runs. Try this. Use a old cell phone with the video camera turned on and put the phone into a glass jar with lid on tight. Lay the jar in the dishwasher rack and turn DW on. Be sure the jar is Secure or it will blow around. When the lid in a dishwasher is closed, everything inside will be too dark to film. The camera light on the phone should come on automatic so no extra light is needed to film. Now you can put away all the bowls filled with water and find out if those spray arms are spinning or not. Watch how the dispenser lid opens and find out why detergent won’t come out!

  5. My dishwasher is always soapy, I have changed soap, I had Sears come out…they told me everything was fine.., still the same problem, always soapy ,,

    • use dishwasher cleaner couple times in a row and clean sump area and filter. Seems like you have some deposits left in the sump, causing “overdose” of soap

    • If someone accidentally put liquid dishwashing detergent where jet dry is supposed to go, it will leave the dishwasher soapy after the final rinse. Sears wouldn’t find this problem.

  6. I have a Samsung dishwasher and use Cascade gel detergent (not soap packs). Often, there is soap left in the dispenser and it also has run down the door below the soap dispenser, with the soap still there when the cycle is done. Sometimes, I see it left on my dishes and have a very strong soap smell when I first open it. When I open it for the first time after the cycle is done, I often hear the dispenser lid snap open and hit the door, like something was holding it from opening all the way. But no dishes are in the way – the only thing that might be in the way is the top tray of the dishwasher, which shouldn’t cause it or it would have been manufactured incorrectly. The soap issue isn’t always present, but often is. I also checked my waterheater and it’s set to the “A” setting, one click above the average recommended temperature.

    • Same issue and same suggestion about the water temp. It was also suggested to run the hot water faucet first before running. That came from the Orvilles store manager. What a waste of water! The help center is also useless! While in text mode with them, they had me try different steps. Didn’t help! Also have had freezer issues with our sadsung refrigerator.

      • I have ALWAYS been told to run the hot water in
        The sink
        Prior to starting dishwasher and this includes all makes and models of dishwashers I have ever owned. I also do not like wasting water or the power to heat it, but no other method has ever been recommended to me

        • Their right! This help your dishwasher and can shorten the wash cycle a little. This is called “hot start” and should be performed every time.

    • Your right about the way the dispenser lid opens. The lid is supposed to snap all the way back when you open the door after a completed cycle. The dishwashers top rack is supposed to hold the lid half open while the dishwasher runs. The detergent will fall out better when the lid is not all the way open. That’s why the rack is purposely in the way for the lid to not fully open. Sound strange? It’s true and hard to explain. It has to do with the water direction. Instead of the water force to pass right by the dispenser, the dispensers lid half opened will shoot the water inside the cup causing anything inside to fall out. Make sense?

  7. Have a GE dishwasher and the detergent dispenser lid latches and unlatches fine, but the lid itself pops open very slowly instead of springing open quickly and with force. Can I repair the lid’s spring or do I have to replace the whole dispenser?

  8. We have a whirlpool dishwasher and the door opens for the soap but it is not dissolving and when the cycle is up it’s just laying in the bottom of the dishwasher and nothing is clean, everything is wet.

    • Seems like you have failed wash pump.. Try to start cycle, it should fill with water and after 30sec as it filled with water, open the door. If you don’t see water is splashing, you have failed wash pump

      • Hi hope you don’t mind me asking but my dishwasher is having the same issues, did you have to replace the pump ? I’m debating the cost of that if so against a new dishwasher ? Thanks

        • what did u find best to do ellen replace pump or get a new one .
          in have similar iussue with the whirlpool one i have where the dishwasher tab aint dissolving . so il do a process of elimination and if its parts i may have to get a new one depending on cost and ease of repair
          not sure these app are made to last like the old appliances
          but this is the first dishwasher i owned it …it aint done too badly as i bought it second hand and had it for 4 years . shame ton add to the waste on planet so if it can be fixed id be very happy.
          if i need to dispose of it maybe the scrap man will take it and break it down

        • If the dishwasher is running and sounds normal but the detergent isn’t falling out, it won’t be the motor at fault. Water level could be low. Check for clogged holes in the wash arm. Some holes target the dispenser directly especially the ones on the very end.

      • Many times on older dishwashers the water leading into the valve will caked up with calcium and lime. When This happens, the water flow is restricted. When water level is low inside the dishwasher, it will not wash or dissolve detergent. Newer Dishwashers will accommodate this problem or when water pressure is low.

    • Our Whirlpool washer is doing the exact same thing…. we just replace the whole dispenser which includes the wax motor which we thought was the problem….. it was not.. Did you ever figure out what was wrong with yours??

    • There can be a number of reasons for this. A malfunction of your dishwasher is likely. Insufficient water supply or clogged holes in the wash arm. Clean the removable filter as well.

    • Mine is doing the same thing! It’s only about 4 years old. I read this whole thread and it doesn’t seam like anyone has found the solution. What did you all end up doing?

    • No, because soap only released when its needed. You don’t need to dissolve soap during the presoak cycle at the very beginning.

    • It is possible to get clean dishes just by putting the tablet in the bottom of the dishwasher but you won’t get the best wash results from the tablet this way. Use the dispenser.

    • So the lid springs open but detergent doesn’t always fall out. Most common reason is dispenser door is blocked by an item in the dishwasher. Another reason is hole(s) in spray arm is clogged. Some holes will spray water directly at the dispenser lid to wash out the soap.

  9. My soap dispenser door is springing open but now and then recently the detergent cube does not eject from the dispenser, it is still there when the wash is finished

    • Hi there, you need to check dispenser door solenoid to make sure its not burnt out. This is most common issue when dispenser door NOT OPENING AT ALL. If sometimes it works ok and sometimes not, then something interferes with the door (plate, fork, etc)

      • I have a samsung dishwasher that recently stop dissolving tablets. After a wash the tablet remains stuck in the dispenser intacted but the spring door opens just fine. Using liquid detergent doesnt seem to dissolve either. It just runs down the door.

        • Don’t know honestly what it could be. Maybe just wash dispenser to make sure tablets will not stick? Also, try to put tablet in a dispenser and not close dispenser door, then close the dishwasher door. Then open the dishwasher door again. Tablet fall down from dispenser? if not, then something keeps the tablet in there

          • More than likely a tablet will not fall out without water. Water pressure and the wash arm is what forces the tablet or pod out of dispenser.

    • When using pods or ActionPacs, be sure the dispenser cup is dry before adding. Leave the dishwasher lid slightly open when not in use.

  10. Hi
    My whirlpool dishwasher isn’t dropping the detergent cube out into the tub. When I remember to throw it in the tub manually it works fine. Are all detergent doors supposed to be spring loaded? It doesn’t appear mine is or was and I never took notice until the detergent pod stopped falling out. Thank you for any insight.

    • Hi Chris, you need to check wax motor for continuity, to make sure its not burnt out. That motor opens a soap dispenser door.

    • Yes, they are supposed to be spring loaded. You can check the dispenser to see if it’s working by closing the door and pushing the release button on the dispenser. The door should spring open immediately.

    • Hi Harvey, you can increase temp on your water heater tank, not on the dishwasher. Please consult plumber

      • Hello,

        But the dishwasher is connected to the cold water, not to a heater tank or to the hot water from the apartment heating plant.

        Should it be connected to a heater tank?

        • All dishwashers in North America connected ONLY to the hot water line. Even in the apartment buildings. If you in Europe, maybe its different. You need to read manual for your machine to know that

    • You can increase the water temperature on the dishwasher by upgrading the cycle. For example, if your using a light wash cycle and decide to upgrade to normal, the cycle will be longer and water temperature will be higher. Your manual for the dishwasher will explain in details.


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