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The effect of soap or tablets that fail to dissolve correctly in your dishwasher


Undissolved detergent remains in the soap dispenser, the bottom of the dishwasher or is found in the sump.

Although in rare circumstances this can be caused by a couple of notable faults on your dishwasher such as the dishwasher not heating correctly or a fault with the main recirculation pump or motor as well as the maintenance below, it will generally be caused by one of the obvious symptoms below that you should check before calling in an engineer to repair your dishwasher.

Usually the result of:

  • Overdosing the detergent
  • Old or caked detergent
  • Using too cool or short wash program
  • Using dishwasher tablets in a small (4 place setting) dishwasher
  • Detergent in a wet dispenser cup
  • Spray arms blocked or jammed in your dishwasher
  • Poor quality detergent

Cause & Prevention


Basically the detergent for one of the reasons above has failed to dissolve completely as shown above. It is very common to find partially dissolved tablets and this is normally due to using washes in your dishwasher that are too short or cool for the tablets to dissolve correctly.

Most tablets (with the exception of Fairy Active Burst that we recommend) are unsuitable for short and/or cool washes as they need the program length and heat to dissolve correctly.

This makes most tablets unsuitable for use on "ECO" cycles. Overdosing powder detergent can also produce this problem. Tablets will normally contain too much detergent for small 4 place setting dishwashers. We would advise the use of powder for these machines although we have used Fairy Active Bursts successfully in small dishwashers.

Powder, placed into a wet dispenser, may cake and not flow into the dishwasher as intended. Please ensure that the spray arms are clear and rotate freely. A common problem is "dishwasher fresheners", an item too tall in the bottom basket or a fallen item blocking the dishwasher spray arm from rotating correctly once the door is closed or, an item in the dishwasher blocks the arm/s.


Perform another wash in your dishwasher with no detergent to dissolve the remaining detergent.

Alternatively clean using commercial dishwasher cleaners, such as this one available in our store on a fairly regular basis to ensure optimum performance from your dishwasher.


Use the correct detergent and correct dose.

When using dishwasher tablets, especially Finish products, make sure that you use at least a 50˚C cycle minimum.

Check spray arms are clear and operating, not blocked.

Make sure, if using powder, that it is free flowing (not "lumpy") and that the dispenser cup is dry. 



  How You Can Get Help With Dishwasher Problems

To offer support in helping people to determine the cause of dishwasher problems please use the dishwasher support forum.

It’s fast, free, easy and normally someone will pick up on the post that can assist you often with a few experts chipping in if needed. Just register if you don’t have an account, we don’t mail you, send you spam or any of that stuff.

Post up your question and give images if you possibly can and the guys in the forums will do the rest for you and try to identify the problem you have.

Cost you nothing, might save you some embarrassment or worse, a charge for a service visit that wasn’t needed.

  Photographs Of Damage

If you can post photographs of the damage or problem you are having this can be really helpful in allowing the dishwasher technicians to see what the problem is.

The guys have the knowledge to assist with most problems but the more information you give them, the better they can help you.

Thanks for the information. Having switched from hard tablets to Fairy Platinum tablets, I no longer have any problems with undissolved dishwasher detergent.This page has proved very useful. I have noticed that using Fairy Platinum (along with dishwasher salt and rinse aid, with correct dishwasher settings) has solved other problems mentioned on this site, such as the fading of patterns on china. Perhaps hard tablets never get fully washed away and their abrasiveness scratches and fades items being washed? This does not seem to happen when Fairy Platinum is used all the time.I would suggest creating a new page on this site about using dishwasher detergents, similar to your excellent page about using laundry detergents properly.
Dear sirWhen using short cycle can i add some hot water to the dispenser to help dissolving the tablet correctly ?
Hi...When using short circle Can i add some hot water to the dispenser to help dissolving the tablet correctly ?
I find that the "auto" programmes (which automatically adjust the duration and temperature of the programme) don't run for long enough to fully dissolve hard tablets. I find that a programme must be at least 2 hours, preferably longer, for hard tablets to fully dissolve and clean properly.It's possible that the "auto" programmes are only just dissolving the detergent, but not washing for long enough when it finally dissolves, resulting in poor cleaning, blue marks and so on. Then people blame the dishwasher!I can definitely say this is 100% correct, from years of real-world dishwasher use.
I found that just putting the dishwasher tablet on the floor ofThe dishwasher whenever I do a quick wash solved The problem of the detergent not dissolving properly.

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