While dishwashers vary widely in size, color, features and options, they all require dishwashing detergent in order to do their jobs. Dishwasher tablets are made of premeasured compressed dishwasher powder. They can be purchased at most grocery stores and home retail stores and are placed directly in the detergent dispenser, removing the need to measure out the detergent each time. If the dishwasher tablet is not dissolving during use, some troubleshooting might be necessary.
One of the first things to check if the dishwasher detergent is not dissolving is the water temperature that is entering the dishwasher. If the water temperature is too cold, it may not be able to dissolve the tablet effectively. Run the hot water in the kitchen sink and fill a glass container with the hot water. Use a candy thermometer to check the water temperature. If it is below 130 degrees Fahrenheit, increase the water temperature coming out of the water heater or contact a plumber for assistance.
Keep the dishwasher tablets in a cool, dry place, as exposure to heat or moisture may cause the tablets to start to clump or stick together. These alterations may prevent the tablet from dissolving correctly when placed in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent should be kept for less than eight months, as it becomes less effective and more likely to clump over time.
Don't overload your dishwasher, as items may block the detergent dispenser and keep it from opening. Check the top and bottom racks for items that may be hanging down or protruding from the rack, creating an obstruction. In addition, placing large items in the bottom rack that block the detergent dispenser may keep it from dispensing properly throughout the dishwasher.
Clean out the detergent dispenser, as residue, debris or moisture may cause the tablet to stick inside the dispenser. Simply wipe out the dispenser with a clean, damp sponge and then dry it thoroughly or use a mild household cleaner to remove any debris or residue. Dry the dispenser thoroughly before placing a new tablet inside. Some experts recommend placing the detergent tablet directly in the dishwasher tub and bypassing the dispenser completely.
There may be a problem with the dispenser itself. The latch may be broken or damaged, preventing the dispenser from opening during the wash cycle as expected. Clean the latch and check to make sure it moves easily. If it does not or the reason why it is not opening is not evident, contact a repair technician for assistance.
Meredith Jameson writes early childhood parenting and family health articles for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from San Francisco State University.