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How To Fix A Dishwasher Not Dissolving Detergent Or Tablet

QUESTION: I just moved into a new apartment. The dishwasher is running normal but when it completes the wash cycle, my dishes are not clean and the detergent tablet is still there. The dishwasher is not dissolving the tablet. Maybe a little bit but about 80% of it is still there. I believe it gets hot water and runs normally. The apartment management said to use dishwasher cleaning tablets and not the powder soap. What can I do to try and get the tablet to dissolve? Any help you can provide would be great!

dishwasher not dissolving detergent

ANSWER: If your dishwasher hot water temperature is below 110F/115F, then it may not be hot enough to dissolve certain brands of detergent tablets. Be sure the water is HOT before you run the dishwasher. Run the hot water in the sink until it is very hot, then immediately run the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher on the longest, hottest cycle it has.

Also check that the spring opening action of the detergent dispenser door is working properly. If the detergent dispenser is too small a big detergent tablet may not be letting it open correctly. It may be jamming up the door. Try using a liquid or gel dish washing detergent if this is the case. There are many high quality liquid and gel dishwasher detergents on the market today. Liquid Cascade seems to be the best so give that a try. A powdered detergent will work too. Use a rinsing aid also as this will help remove spots even when the tablet may not be dissolving properly.

keep dishwasher detergent dispenser cleanKEEP THE DISHWASHER DETERGENT DISPENSER CLEAN

If you are in an apartment, then most likely you do not have a high quality dishwasher. Knowing this, the dishwasher needs all the assistance it can get with the hottest water possible. You also need to be sure your dishwasher is clean at the bottom (removable strainer filter) where the pump and bottom washer arm is located. Be sure that it is clean and has hot water and this will be the best method to dissolve tablets. If you must use tablets, you can break them in half in the sink first. Place them in the dispenser and the hot water should make it easier to dissolve since the tablet is not as large.

You also need to be sure there is enough water for the pump to actually pump the water. To check this, start the dishwasher. Once you hear it running, open the dishwasher and be sure there is hot water and enough of it. If there is not much water in the dishwasher it may not be getting much water to the pump. When you open the door while it is running, check the water level at the bottom of the washer. If there is not much water at the bottom, then it may not be getting enough water to clean dishes and dissolve the tablet. Clean the filter at the bottom of the dishwasher to help the pump get the water more efficiently.

dishwasher parts identificationDISHWASHER PARTS IDENTIFICATION

If all else fails, you may have an old worn out dishwasher. The pump may be bad. Possibly your water heater is set to low. Your water heater should be set right around 120F. This will ensure that your dishwasher is getting the correct water temperature to effectively clean dishes and dissolve the tablet. If in an apartment, let the management know you are having this issue and they SHOULD resolve it.

Do you know of another way to assist a dishwasher to dissolve a detergent tablet? Please leave a comment below.

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19 thoughts on “How To Fix A Dishwasher Not Dissolving Detergent Or Tablet”

  1. I have a brand new whirlpool dishwasher. We bought it in 2018 though because we are remodeling so it was just installed a couple weeks ago. I have tried the cascade pods that came with it and even bought cascade gel and neither dissolves. My plumber came and said it has been hooked up correctly yet the dishes aren’t even getting wet. There is water in the bottom but the dishes aren’t wet. This is very frustrating as it was just installed and won’t work. The store we bought it from and Whirlpool said there isn’t anything they can do. Whirlpool said it will be $130 just to send someone out… not including any repairs they might have to do. This is very frustrating.

  2. Dishwasher soap dispenser is open when cycle is done but the soap pod is on the
    Bottom of the dishwasher barely dissolved?

  3. DIY Repair Help Tips

    Put the detergent pod in the dishwasher normal wash or main wash detergent compartment.
    (It is not supposed to go in the bottom of the dishwasher, it will dissolve easily in the main wash compartment)
    Then close the lid.
    You do not have to puncture or open the pouch.
    The tablet will dissolve once the cycle starts.

  4. I have a Bosch as well, and have the same problem. It happened so often, I THOUGHT the tablet was supposed to wind up in the first shelf. I feel so dumb… it’s supposed to land at the bottom of the dishwasher?

  5. If there’s not enough water coming in, that can be because of a worn out water-inlet valve in the dishwasher. Pretty easy to replace: it’s just behind the “toe” panel.

  6. We own a kitchenaid dishwasher kdfe104dbl. Was not dissolving soap. Tried everything suggested. Then called repairman. He said it was the control board, which he said was damaged because the garbage disposal was on the same circuit. $350 repair. Still did not dissolve detergent. After much Googling discovered the switch for the detergent dispenser was faulty. It was dropping the tablet at the end of the cycle, or dribbling the liquid out at the end of the cycle. I put the tablet directly at the bottom center of the dishwasher and it dissolved and cleaned the load. For now adding detergent manually, in two weeks we will replace the dispenser, OEM Whirlpool Dispenser W10409521, although there is a newer part number we could have purchased… hoping this older part number was not replaced because it fails regularly.

  7. I found that the tablet was not falling when the flap opened.
    This is because the compartment was wet when I put the tablet in, it then dries as the machine warms up and the tablet sticks.
    The answer is first make sure the compartment is dry then give it a quick squirt of WD40 and the tablet will slip out as soon as the flap opens.

  8. My lower spray arm had a coffe bean in it. Water has to hit the soap to dissolve it simple.

  9. I always used Cascade gel and I still got gunked up filters. Had to call repair man and he said he sees this with cascade gel and mainly when people use too much detergent. So try gel, but just try filling dispenser half way.

  10. Something I learned recently, the little chamber where the detergent packet goes has to be completely DRY before placing the tablet/pod in there. I’ve never had problems with finding leftover detergent in there, (but plenty of other issues I won’t go into here.)

    But it makes sense that if there’s even a small bit of water in contact with the pod, it might actually get stuck. Sometimes after loading my dishwasher that detergent chamber is full of water. If full, I usually just close the door for a sec and it drains out, then I wipe out any remaining dampness with a paper towel, put the pod in, close the door and start the machine. My KitchenAid has a Sani-Cycle that heats the water in the machine, but I think it also heats a regular load to 120° if it detects a lower water temp, like if we’ve used a bunch of hot water with laundry, showers, and the hot water heater can’t keep up.

    When In Doubt, Read The Instructions. It does seem funny that there would even BE instructions on Dishwasher detergent, but apparently it’s important to keep these things dry while they’re waiting to pop out into the load. There is a pre-rinse (maybe two) that takes place before the soap lid opens midway thru the cycle, so it would have time for problems to start if gotten wet too soon.

  11. DIY Project Help Tips

    Sarah Smithson,
    You may need to raise the temp on your dishwasher by means of the water heater in your home. Here is an article about Recommended Dishwasher water temperature. You can also try using just the Cascade gel detergent as this has no plastic around it and may dissolve much better. You may also have a blockage in the detergent assembly. If there is restricted water flow, it will not dissolve the tablet or detergent properly. Let us know what you find.

  12. Sarah Smithson

    We have a brand new GE Dishwasher and from the beginning, the soap dispenser either doesn’t open, or at the end of the cycle, there is still soap in it from the pods not dissolving all the way. I made sure the water heater was set at 120F and I always turn on the hot water in the sink right before I start it. I use the pods usually and the plastic from them is sometimes still in the dispenser after a cycle, and I have been trying out the Finish tablets, and they aren’t dissolving all the way either. I’m having to run an extra cycle everyday just to rinse out the dishwasher, and there’s always soap still on my dishes. Do you have any suggestions?

  13. DIY Project Help Tips

    Nancy Ogrinc,
    Test to see if the water is hot enough. Bump up the water heater if needed. Make sure the water entering the Bosch dishwasher is from 120F to 140F. If it is and the Finish Powerball Detergent does not dissolve… Use a liquid Cascade as it is already a gel liquid and works better when having dishwasher detergent “dissolve” issues.

  14. We have a new Bosch dishwasher with the top third tray. Not always, but frequently after the dishwasher is done, the tablet is in the front of the fist shelf undissolved. We use Finish with powerball which was recommended by salesclerk. I am getting tired of running 2 cycles for each load! Suggestions?

  15. I bought the Wal-Mart brand detergent packs because they were cheap and the dishwasher in our house is relatively new. It only dissolved when on the hottest cycle. Frustrating. My mother suggested piercing the packs with a knife a few times before putting it in the dispenser. Works like a charm!

  16. DIY Project Help Tips

    John Evans,
    Why not stop using hard tablets and use a GEL like Cascade Gel and then you will not need super hot water to dissolve the tablet. In the meantime, the heater/elements in your dishwasher may be bad or on the fritz. You can test it with a meter if needed.

  17. The dishwasher certainly heats up the water but its from a cold water supply. So I’m thinking that the water isn’t hot enough to dissolve the tablet? However this doesn’t happen all the time so can’t get a fix on the actual circumstances when the problem occurs.

  18. DIY Project Help Tips

    John Evans,
    Are you saying your dishwasher does not get HOT water? Only cold? Is the water warm or 100% cold? Could be water heater is set too low. Can you explain in more detail?

  19. Interested in your comments about a dishwasher tablet not dissolving. Our dishwasher has only cold fill so maybe its the water heater? What do you think?

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