When does the soap dispenser open in a dishwasher?

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When does the soap dispenser open in a dishwasher?

So, exactly when does the soap dispenser open in a dishwasher?

Is it supposed to open right at the start, some way through the cycle, or right at the end? 

Well, here is the answer (and after the answer, we have more tips to help you troubleshoot the machine if the dispenser door doesn’t open at the right time).


When does the soap dispenser open in a dishwasher?

The short answer is: it depends on your dishwasher’s computer/timer.

You see, the soap dispenser door in your machine is programmed to open at a particular moment during the main wash (cleaning) stage and the opening is controlled by the built-in computer/timer.

To be clear, the first dishwasher cycle rinses the loaded dishes off. Now, the detergent dispenser is typically timed to open right after that rinse. 

In other words, there is no specific minute for all dishwashers and it all boils down to your specific machine’s programming/timing (it is all predetermined).

That said, here is how most dishwashers run (this should give you an idea about when it should open):

  1. Fill
  2. Run
  3. Drain
  4. Fill
  5. Run
  6. Soap door now pops open
  7. Run
  8. Drain
  9. Fill
  10. Run
  11. Drain
  12. Dry

To reiterate, the door will open automatically when it is time to add detergent at some point in the course of the main wash cycle.

And for the most part, it will be some while after the pre-wash cycle has run (which is quite short in most models)- and it’s just as the main long wash starts (a signal is sent to the door opening mechanism by the control board to open the cover and dispense soap).


Dishwasher soap dispenser doesnt open during wash cycle  -Useful tips

Stay away from old detergent

If you like buying boxes of detergent to save on cash, it can be counter-productive.

Here is why:  Older detergent doesn’t quite dissolve well and tends to clump the moment you expose it to air.

Subsequently, the dispenser door may start becoming stuck (to the detergent).

For that reason, use new detergent- and if you must buy in bulk, store the detergent properly (keep it a container that seals tightly). 


Ensure you load dishes without obstructing the door

If your dispenser door cannot open all the way during a wash cycle, it is very likely that it’s obstructed by bigger utensils you put on the front of the bottom rack.

This can cause the pod to get stuck in-there hence it won’t dissolve.

Re-arrange the dishes if this seems to be the issue.


Use Pods instead of Gel Packets

In general, your dishwasher should have fewer dispenser opening/soap releasing problems if you stop using gel packets (they never truly dissolve) and switch to using pods.

Keep in mind that powdered detergent works better (when properly stored) for those using hard water.


Put your pod at the right time

If you put a pod in when the dispenser is wet (even a little wet), the pod usually melts a bit and ends up sticking to the dispenser.

To prevent this, add a pod immediately after you unload clean dishes but before you start adding the dirty dishes.

Also, you can make it a habit to wipe down the entire tray and door thoroughly with a paper towel before putting a pod in (and starting your machine).


Try some vinegar

Now, if you can’t see what is blocking the door from opening and the door still won’t flip open, a common problem you can think of is the buildup of calcium/other minerals in the moving parts.

Now, a great way to get around the problem is throwing one or two cups of vinegar (Vinegar removes all hard water-related deposits) into your dishwasher (while empty) then running a rinse cycle.


  1. Start your empty dishwasher first.
  2. Let it drain (Most dishwashers typically run the drain just before washing to ensure there is no excess liquid in-there).
  3. Fill it.
  4. Now add the vinegar.
  5. Run a standard rinse cycle.

You can run an additional rinse cycle to clear any residual vinegar when it’s finished (before you put your dishes in).

Quick Note: In some cases, you can just run vinegar through your dishwasher on a hot/sanitize cycle. You can just place a container (right side up) with a cup of vinegar (white vinegar recommended) in its bottom rack (the dishwasher must be empty) then run the cycle.


As an alternative

You could choose to be more targeted so you wipe down each moving part (hinges, latch, etc.) of the detergent dispenser with vinegar.

You can perhaps start there and see if that helps.

If it doesn’t, go ahead and run the cycle mentioned above since you might be having bad lime deposits elsewhere on your dishwasher.


Always check for a failed component

If your soap dispenser door problems keep coming back, the reason could be a bad component.

For example, the wax motor (it helps open the latch) can be ruined causing unending soap dispenser door problems on your dishwasher.

There are other parts that can fail including the door spring, hinges pin, and the bi-metal release (this is on older models and it helps trigger the mechanical process that eventually releases the door latch).

These should be replaced once found faulty (there are YouTube videos that show how to test each part).

Bear in mind that sometimes you have to replace the entire dispenser to fix the issue permanently.  



So, again when does the soap dispenser open in a dishwasher?

The answer is: It will be when a signal is sent by the control board to the soap dispenser opening mechanism that it is time to add detergent to the wash.

And this is usually controlled by your machine’s programming (the computer system/timer will automatically prompt the opening).

Be sure to try out the fixes we have included in this guide if the soap dispenser in your dishwasher won’t open during the cycle (or opens too late/early).

We hope that this is helpful.


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1 thought on “When does the soap dispenser open in a dishwasher?”

  1. Here is how most dishwashers run (this should give you an idea about when it should open):

    1. Fill
    2. Run
    3. Drain
    4. Fill
    5. Run
    6. Soap door now pops open
    7. Run
    8. Drain
    9. Fill
    10. Run
    11. Drain
    12. Dry

    This was very helpful, but can I ask: for GE GSD2300N10, after about how many minutes does step #6 happen?

    I’ve been using 5 minutes the past couple weeks. It seems to work pretty well, while elsewhere I’ve read 23 minutes is more accurate.

    The owner’s manual, unfortunately, doesn’t list the cycle times.

    Appreciate all help.

    — Steve


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