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Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Opens but Soap Remains Inside: Reasons + Fixes!

Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Opens but Soap Remains Inside: Reasons + Fixes!

Have you ever had your family or friends over for dinner only to discover that your dishwasher soap dispenser isn’t working? It can be a big disappointment.

Yet, there’s no need to panic. We’ve all been there, and let me tell you, the solution to this problem is pretty straightforward.

In this post, I’ll talk about why your dishwasher soap dispenser opens, but soap remains inside. I’ll also share some of the best ways to fix your soap dispenser!

Let’s get started.

Why Is the Dishwasher Soap Still in the Dispenser?

Sometimes, you open up the dishwasher only to find there’s still soap in the dishwasher after the rinse cycle. Another common problem is when the dishwasher soap doesn’t dissolve.

Here are a few reasons why your dishwasher is acting strange.

Take a look.

Spray Arm Malfunction

When you start your dishwasher, there are spray arms that release water. Some of this water goes on the dishes, and some end up in the soap dispenser.

When spray arms aren’t working as they should, they might not reach the dispenser. This leads to the soap dispenser opening, but no soap comes out.

There’s also a chance that the spray arms are spraying water, but the water pressure is too low. That can also prevent the soap from dispensing into the dishwasher.

Dishes Blocking The Spray Arm

The way you place dishes inside the dishwasher might also cause the soap dispenser not to release any soap.

This happens when you place any dishes or utensils in front of the spray arm. This blocks the water supply and prevents it from reaching the dispenser. In return, it can’t release any soap.

Issues with The Temperature Sensor in Dishwasher

The final problem might be because of the temperature sensor in your dishwasher.

Temperature sensors are responsible for heating the water inside the dishwasher. If they’re not working, they won’t be able to heat the water.

If the water is too cold, it’ll prevent the soap from dissolving. Hence, the dispenser will become clogged.

How To Fix the Dishwasher Soap Dispenser

Now that we know why the dishwasher is acting up, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start fixing.

Here are the best fixes.

Spray Arm Malfunction

dishwasher spray arm troubleshooting

Three things may cause your spray arm to malfunction:

Clogged Openings

All spray arms have multiple small holes where the water splashes out. Occasionally, pieces of food get stuck in these holes, reducing the water pressure.

Remove the rack covering the spray arm, then pull out the arm to fix this problem.

Use a thin pick to poke out any pieces of food stuck in the holes. Finally, rinse it out before placing it back into the dishwasher.

A Broken Spray Arm

For a broken spray arm, you’ll need to replace it with a new one. Just make sure to buy the same make and model to avoid further problems.

Object Jammed in the Lower Assembly

When an object is jammed in the lower assembly under the spray arm, it makes it difficult for the arm to rotate.

To check if your spray arm is jammed or not, try to spin it manually.

If the arm is stuck or has trouble moving, you have to remove whatever is stuck inside.

If the rotation is smooth, then the issue lies elsewhere.

Dishes Blocking the Spray Arm

overloaded dishwasher example

There’s a mountain of dishes, and it’s such a drag having to wash them in cycles. Still, it’s better to add a few dishes each time to get a thorough wash.

If you add too many at a time, they can block the spray arms. This will block off the soap dispenser, and your dishes won’t get cleaned properly.

Temperature Sensor Issues

Inside any dishwasher is a heating device that controls water temperature. Unfortunately, sometimes the wires controlling this device get damaged.

When this happens, the sensor malfunctions and the water isn’t. So, the soap ends up not dissolving as it should.

Because the temperature sensor involves a lot of wiring work, you should get a professional to fix it.

Other Factors to Consider

Removing the spray arm is different depending on which dishwasher brand you own.

Kenmore Dishwasher

To remove a Kenmore dishwasher’s spray arm, remove the racks inside.

The lower spray arm has a small circular cap in the middle. This piece has a tiny handle for you to hold. Hold it and start spinning the spray arm counterclockwise until it loosens up.

Pull up the spray arm, and it should come off. To check if it’s jammed, unscrew the waterline at the back of the dishwasher and remove it.

Under the spray arm, you’ll find three screws. Remove them, and you’ll find a small area with water inside.

Cleaning this out and removing any large stuck pieces should help solve your jamming problem.

GE Dishwasher

For a GE dishwasher, you’ll be able to find a small lever behind the spray arm.

Use a screwdriver to pull this lever by placing the screwdriver between the lever and the spray arm. Click here for GE spray arms!


Frigidaire is the easiest of them all. Simply pull up the arm, and it’ll just slide out. You can find spray arms here!

Ever wondered if dishwashers take more water than hand washing?

Check out this handy video about dishwashers vs. hand washing:


Now that we’ve almost reached the end of the article, you might be asking yourself:

Can I Still Use My Dishwasher Even If Soap Dispenser Is Broken

Yes, you can! Though it won’t be as effective, it’s still better than nothing!

Using pods is recommended when using this method of cleaning. You can place a soap pod inside the dishwasher with your dishes and let it do its work.

Check out pods here!

dishwasher soap pods in dispenser

Do Dishwashers Have a Long Life Expectancy?

Yes, most dishwashers can work for up to 9 years. If it stays in good condition, it can even work for 12 or 16 years!


We all find washing dishes annoying. That’s why dishwashers are a lifesaver. Though when something goes wrong, it can be a hassle.

As soon as you notice that your dishwasher soap dispenser opens, but soap remains inside, you should check it out as quickly as possible.

Your dishes might not get clean and unwanted residue can stick around without ample soap to wash it away – this can lead to lingering smells and even attract pests like ants into your dishwasher!

You never know, you just might be able to fix it all on your own!

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