Fixing a dishwasher soap dispenser door latch should be a relatively easy repair to make. However, specific instructions for the installation of a new dispenser latch will vary depending on the make and model of the dishwasher and how badly damaged the latch assembly is.
However, the goal remains the same: remove the old door latch and replace it with a new one. In most cases, you will need to remove the inner door panel and then remove and replace the door latch assembly.
How old is your dishwasher?
Fixing a dishwasher soap dispenser can depend upon the type of dishwasher you have, specifically, whether it was manufactured before 2006.
Dishwashers made before 2006, or lower-quality dishwashers, have a soap dispenser that opens when a mechanical timer releases the lid. However, dishwashers made after 2006 nearly always feature a dish soap dispenser that has a motor to open the lid.
Depending on the make and model of the dishwasher, you may need to make sure the timer cams or the motor are positioned correctly.
Inspect the dispenser door latch to determine how your specific door latch will need to be removed and replaced. Will you need to remove the inner door panel? Can you just replace the lid with a new one? Is it one or two small parts that need to be replaced, or will you require a new dispenser?
Purchase the component(s) that need to be replaced. In most cases, you will want to purchase a dispenser door latch kit, which includes several small components that allow the latch to work.
To remove the inner door panel and replace the dispenser latch, you will need a number 15 Torx head screwdriver or drill bit, slip-joint pliers, and a flat-blade screwdriver.
It is also recommended to wear safety gloves when disassembling the dishwasher to protect against cuts from the sharp edges of the inner door panel.
Step One: Access the soap dispenser
Depending on the type of dishwasher and the specific issue with the latch, you will likely need to remove the inner door panel to access and fix the dispenser latch. However, with some models, you may be able to remove and replace the lid without removing the inner door panel.
- Disconnect the power to the dishwasher. Depending on how your dishwasher is set up, you may be able to unplug the dishwasher, or it may need to be turned off in the breaker box.
- Open the dishwasher door.
- With the Torx head screwdriver, remove the screws around the inside of the door panel.
- With the screws removed, lift off the inner door panel.
- Depending on the type of dishwasher, you may need to remove the dispenser’s protective cover. The cover is often secured with plastic pins that can easily be removed.
Step 2: Fix the Door Latch
You should now have removed the inner door panel and have access to the soap dispenser.
Depending on the type and model of the dishwasher, there may be one or two components of the door latch assembly to replace, or you may need to replace the entire assembly.
The flat-edge screwdriver can be used to adjust components and depress tabs.
- Remove the dispenser latch retainer assembly mounting screws.
- Remove the rinse-aid actuator by using pliers to release the tab.
- Remove the spring.
- Locate the pivot and note its orientation.
- Remove the pivot.
- Remove the old gasket.
- Remove the wax-motor actuator.
- Remove the slider.
- Remove the old dispenser latch.
- Install the new dispenser latch into the retainer bracket.
- Reinstall the slider.
- Reinstall the wax-motor actuator. Make sure the plunger connects with the slider.
- Reinstall the pivot on the slider peg, making sure its orientation is correct.
- Put the spring back.
- Reinstall the rinse-aid actuator.
- Put the new gasket onto the latch.
- Position the latch assembly on the inner door panel.
- Rethread the assembly mounting screws.
- Position the inner door panel and rethread its screws to secure it.
- Restore power to the dishwasher and test whether the latch has been fixed.
Dishwashers With a Timer
The timer is located on the control panel, meaning you can access it on the inside of the outer door panel.
Depending on the type of dishwasher, you should see two cams that come out from the timer panel to activate the soap dispenser lid.
- Rotate the timer dial on the control panel so that the cams retract as far as they will go.
- Reattach the soap dispenser cover (if it had one).
- Re-secure the inner door panel, aligning the top of the panel first.
- Rethread one screw to secure the inner door panel.
- Check that the new door latch works correctly by rotating the timer dial past the wash cycle. If it is working correctly, the soap dispenser door should open.
- If it is working correctly, rethread all of the inner door panel screws. If it did not work, adjust the components until it does.
Method 2: Replace the Lid
If your dishwasher allows for the replacement of the lid without having to remove the inner door panel, the new lid should come with a new latch, a new spring, and a small lid gasket.
- Disconnect the power to the dishwasher.
- Pull the old lid off the dispenser.
- Position the new lid on the dispenser so that the spring is inserted into its alignment hole.
- Snap the new lid into place.
Replace the Detergent Dispenser
If you need to replace the entire soap dispenser, follow the instructions below. Note that instructions can vary depending on the type and model of the dishwasher.
- Disconnect the power and water to the dishwasher.
- Remove the screws that secure the inner door panel.
- Disconnect the control panel wiring harness.
- Disconnect the dispenser wiring harness.
- Unthread the screws that secure the dispenser mounting bracket. The bracket should now hang on the wiring harness.
- Release the locking tabs that secure the dispenser and remove the dispenser.
- Install the new soap dispenser.
- Reinstall the mounting bracket.
- Reconnect the dispenser wiring harness.
- Reconnect the control board wiring harness.
- Position the inner door panel and rethread the screws that secure it.
- Restore power and water to the dishwasher, and test that the new dispenser is working correctly.