Help! My washing machine detergent dispenser isn’t working

Why aren’t my washing machine detergent and fabric softener dispenser working?

It’s relatively common to have problems with your washing machine detergent dispenser and these often rollover into problems with your fabric softener dispenser too. Fortunately the causes are generally simple and easy to fix. Let’s take a look:

Most washing machines have automatic laundry detergent dispensers, but few of us think to clean them regularly to prevent soap and scum build-up. And that is the most common problem: Soap and scum build-up. Similarly, a clogged fabric softener compartment is the most likely reason your washer isn’t dispensing softener properly.

So, how do you fix the problem?

You clean the dispenser, of course.

How do you clean the dispenser?

There are two ways to clean the laundry detergent dispenser.

The first could not be easier.

Simply put some white vinegar in the dispenser drawer and let your washing machine run through a complete cycle. You can use the quickest setting but you shouldn’t put any clothes in the machine while you’re running through the clean. The dislodged residue could stick to the laundry.

The second is also pretty easy.

All you have to do is remove the detergent drawer and give it a good clean.

Removing the drawer is simple.

All you have to do is open it fully, reach into the back and push the clip that releases the dispenser.

Wash the softener and laundry powder dispenser in warm soapy water, and make sure you get in the corners where stubborn residue tends to cling for dear life. You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush for this.

Don’t forget about the compartment itself. Residue can just as easily cling to the top and sides of the compartment so get your toothbrush ready and go in for a gentle scrub.

When you’re done, slide the drawer back in the compartment until you hear the click and your washer should be ready to go.

Ensure that you do hear the click because if the drawer isn’t in properly it won’t dispense washing powder or fabric softener.

Now all you have to do is remember to clean it regularly and make sure you use the correct products. Most instruction manuals include information on what kind of detergent to use; for example, HE (high-efficiency) liquid detergent.

Other problems include:

There are several other reasons your detergent dispenser is on the fritz, for example;

  1. You might be using too much detergent and the washing cycle can’t process the excess.
  2. Your washing machine might not be level, and this could affect the way in which the detergent and softener are pumped through the machine. You can adjust the legs until the machine is level and then the problem should be solved.
  3. The water pressure in your home might be too low, which affects the volume and speed at which water is pumped through the machine. Alternatively, water pressure could be low in just the tap that fills your washer. It might also be blocked to a greater or lesser degree. Use your toothbrush or even a clean mascara wand to clean inside the tap.

There is also quite a serious technical fault involving the water valve or valves. Some washers only have one water valve that feeds the detergent and softener compartments. Other washers have two valves which feed the detergent and softener compartments separately. However many valves your machine has, an open circuit or fault with the power supply could cause problems with your washing machine fabric softener dispenser.

It’s best to call a professional repair person to fix technical problems of this nature.

One final, very important, note: Unplug or switch off the power supply. Cleaning out the washing machine soap dispenser may not involve contact with any electrical components, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.