How To Use Dishwasher With Broken Soap Dispenser? (Best Way)

Is the soap dispenser in your dishwasher broken, and you don’t know how to wash the dishes?

Don’t worry. This is a common problem many households see: their dishwasher doesn’t hold up the soap or detergent. This can be fixed with a few simple methods.

Quick Info

First, you can add detergent manually to the dishwasher and run a quick wash cycle. Second, you can pause the dishwasher manually in the normal cleaning cycle. Third, you can use dishwasher pods that release soap during the wash cycle. Lastly, you can use gel detergent in your soap dispenser.

As a last resort, you can get a new soap dispenser at a good price, depending on the model of your dishwasher.

In this guide, I will elaborate on these methods and give you some tips along the way so that you can ensure that your dishwasher cleans properly even if the soap dispenser is damaged. Let’s get started. 

How Does a Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Work?

How Does a Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Work

A dishwasher soap dispenser typically operates using a mechanical or electronic mechanism.

When the dishwasher starts, the dispenser releases the detergent at the appropriate time during the wash cycle. 

Some models have a hinged door that opens automatically, allowing the detergent to flow into the dishwasher.

Others may have a release button or lever that needs to be manually activated. 

The soap dispenser ensures that the detergent is distributed evenly throughout the dishwasher, aiding in the cleaning process.

4 Ways To Use Dishwasher With Broken Soap Dispenser

Use Dishwasher With Broken Soap Dispenser

1. Add Detergent Manually and Run a Quick Wash Cycle

When you run a dishwasher, it normally goes through some steps: prewash, wash, rinse, and dry.

The soap dispenser is a big deal in the wash step because it releases the soap that cleans your dishes.

You can use the quick wash cycle if the dispenser is not running. It jumps right into the wash without waiting for the prewash. 

Here’s how to do it: Put your detergent inside before starting the quick wash. It does the same job as the soap dispenser by mixing the soap with water and using it on your dishes.

Adding soap manually is handy, but it comes with a few downsides. Quick washes tend to use more water and energy than the regular cycle. 

Plus, the higher temperatures may not work for fragile dishes like plastic. And in case your dishes have tough, stuck-on gunk, they might not come out properly cleaned.

2. Pause and Add Detergent Manually in Normal Cleaning Cycle

In a normal dishwasher cycle, there’s a prewash stage before the cleaning soap dispenser kicks in. Here’s what to do when your soap dispenser isn’t working: 

  • Pause the dishwasher after the prewash. 
  • Once paused, open the door, put in the cleaning soap manually, then hit resume. 

Some dishwashers have a prewash cycle on their own. You can use this separate cycle first to soak your dishes, after which you can run a normal cleaning cycle with the soap added manually.

It’s possible you’ll run into some issues here. Most dishwashers don’t alert you when the prewash is done, so you must guess when to pause.

Plus, some machines might not be able to let you open the door mid-cycle for security reasons.

So, while this approach works, it has its challenges. Just keep those in mind if you want to make the normal cycle work without the cleaning soap dispenser.

3. Fill the Dispenser with Gel Detergent

When your cleaning soap dispenser isn’t working properly, here’s a sneaky workaround: try using gel detergent as an alternative.

If your dispenser is partially broken, the gel might stay put until the wash cycle kicks in. Then, it will do its cleaning thing.

What is the problem with this method? Well, it’s a bit of trial and error. You may need to figure out how much gel to use and when to load it.

Experiment with different amounts and positions inside the dispenser to see what works well.

This method might take some time, but it should do the trick.

4. Experiment with Dishwasher Pods

Dishwasher pods are like little packages of soap wrapped in dissolvable plastic. They’re built to survive the prewash and release cleaning soap during the wash cycle, which is pretty neat even if your soap dispenser isn’t doing its job right.

Here’s a trick

Strategically place those pods where they can dodge the water during the prewash. Maybe nestle them among the dishes so they don’t dissolve too soon.

If they make it through the prewash, they should pop open during the main wash and do their cleaning process.

All you need to do is find a spot where these pods can survive the pre-wash and release the soap at the right time. Give it a shot and see if it works.

Replace the Soap Dispenser if Nothing Works

Replace the Soap Dispenser

Are you looking to fix the broken soap dispenser once and for all? The perfect solution is to swap it out for a brand-new one. Now, right here’s the lowdown.

Depending on your dishwasher model, a new soap dispenser will cost around $20 to $100.

Now, here’s the thing. If your dishwasher is old, finding an alternative dispenser might be like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s tough, specifically while the model’s out of manufacturing.

Once you have found it, installing it shouldn’t be much of an issue. The instructions will be provided to you on the packaging.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Yes, you can still use your dishwasher even if the soap dispenser is broken. One option is to pour the detergent directly into the empty detergent tray.

Another alternative is to put the detergent in a pitcher or container and place it on the dishwasher’s bottom rack. However, it’s important to note that these methods may not provide optimal cleaning results.

If your dishwasher soap dispenser is broken, there are a few steps you can take. First, check for any blockages or debris that may prevent the dispenser from functioning properly. If it’s stuck, try gently tapping it to see if it will open.

If your dishwasher doesn’t have a functioning soap dispenser, you can pour the detergent directly into the empty tray, ensuring you use the recommended amount.

Alternatively, you can place the detergent in a container or pitcher on the dishwasher’s bottom rack during the wash cycle. It’s important to distribute the detergent evenly to ensure proper cleaning.


All in all, it can sure be a hassle to deal with the broken soap dispenser in your dishwasher. But you can try these workarounds to use your dishwasher just like you used to before, with a few changes. 

If you don’t like these methods or find them too demanding, replacing the broken dispenser with a new one is always possible.

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