A Clogged Rinse Dispenser in a Dishwasher

Dishwashers use water jets to rinse dishes. To assist in rinsing dishes and removing hard-water stains, many models of dishwashers use a rinse-aid product, which is put into the rinse dispenser. A clogged rinse dispenser can be caused by a number of reasons, which you can fix.

woman putting dishes in a dishwasher
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A dishwasher with the detergent and rinse dispenser on the door.

Rinse Dispenser

Generally, a rinse-aid products lasts one month for multiple uses in a dishwasher. The dispenser is filled by removing the cap, then filling it with rinse aid until the it's full. Replace the cap by turning it, but don't over-tighten it. Use a rinse aid recommended by the dishwasher's manufacturer for best results.

Reasons for Clog

A clog in the dispenser can result from a number of possible mishaps using the dishwasher or general hard-water buildup. If the cap isn't replaced on the dispenser, food and other debris can lodged in it. If the dishwasher isn't used frequently, the rinse aid in the dispenser may become old and dry. Hard-water buildup around the dispenser's cap can also clog it and cause it to not function properly.

Unclogging the Dispenser

Unload the dishwasher so it's empty. Open the dishwasher and unscrew the rinse dispenser cap. Put the cap aside. Fill a clean bowl with 2 or 3 cups of white vinegar. Place the bowl in the center of the dishwasher facing up. Turn the heat dry function off. Run the dishwasher through a regular wash and rinse cycle. Repeat the process until the hard-water stains and debris are removed from the dishwasher and dispenser. While the dishwasher is being cleaned, put the rinse dispenser cap in small bowl and fill it with white vinegar until it's submerged. White vinegar will remove debris and hard-water deposits, and clean the dishwasher and the dispenser cap.


To ensure the dishwasher continues to function properly, standard maintenance should be done routinely. Don't overfill the dishwasher detergent and rinse aid. The manufacturer of the products and the dishwasher will suggest the proper amount to use. Remove large food particles from dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. Ensure the water inlet temperature is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure dishes are sanitized and thoroughly cleaned. Lower temperatures may not clean the dishes effectively or leave debris in the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher monthly with a bowl filled with 2 cups of white vinegar to clean the inside of the dishwasher and avoid hard-water build up. Remove both the dishwasher detergent and rinse dispenser caps during the process to clean the dispensers along with the inside of the dishwasher.