Washing Machine Detergent Drawer Not Emptying? (here’s why & what to do)

Have you ever reached to empty your washing machine, only to find the detergent drawer still full? Do you notice your garments not getting as clean or as fragrant as usual after being in the wash? 

When these things happen, it could be due to putting too much or using incompatible laundry products, a tilted machine, clogged dispenser jets, or just an appliance that requires more cleaning. 

Let’s go over each of the possible reasons and how you can fix it in this article. 

Reasons Why Your Detergent Drawer Isn’t Emptying

Here are the main reasons why your detergent drawer isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to do:

1. Overdoing The Detergent

Using too much detergent is a primary cause of residue buildup in the drawer. Not only does this prevent efficient cleaning, but it also leads to waste and extra expense. 

When the pipe that connects the drum and drawer gets clogged with the detergent build-up, the new detergent will get restricted in the process. 


It’s essential to follow the recommended detergent amounts for different load sizes to avoid this issue.

DID YOU KNOW? Mould and mildew can also build up along with the residue of your detergent. This is because they thrive in damp environments. 

2. Using The Wrong Detergent

The choice between liquid and powder detergents isn’t just a matter of preference. Each type behaves differently in the wash, with powder sometimes clumping in damp conditions.

Hence, if you want to lessen the possibility of laundry product buildup, using liquid detergent would be a better choice compared to powder variants. If you have a High-Efficiency (HE) washing machine, use detergents that are specially formulated for HE appliances. 

Selecting the right detergent for your machine and laundry type is critical for optimal cleaning.

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  • From America's #1 Trusted Detergent Brand* *Tide is Consumers' #1 Trusted laundry detergent brand in Readers Digest survey
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3. Unlevel Washing Machine

Is your washing machine crooked? Did you place it in an area with uneven flooring? 

If this is the case, an unlevel washing machine will have issues with dispersing not only the detergents but also fabric softeners. This is because when the appliance is tilted, water will not flow correctly through the detergent drawer. 

Integrated Washing Machine

Make sure to check and adjust your washing machine using a spirit level. 

SEE ALSO: Washing Machine Jumping? (here’s why)

4. Clogged Dispenser Jets

Dispenser jets play a crucial role in flushing detergent into the wash. 

If the jets are clogged, they can prevent water from effectively clearing the drawer, leaving detergent behind. 

Make sure to regularly clean the compartment to get rid of hardened laundry products. 

How To Clean The Detergent Drawer

By now, you probably understand that the best solution to fix why your washer isn’t dispensing detergent is to keep it clean. 

washing machine drawer and brush

Here’s how you can remove the detergent, fabric softener, and hard mineral deposits that are in the drawer. 

What you’ll need:

  • Washing machine manual
  • Warm water
  • Basin
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Clean cloth
  • White vinegar (optional)

Steps To Clean The Detergent Drawer

Most washing machines have a detergent drawer that can be easily removed. Look for a release button or mechanism that allows you to slide it out. If this is your first time cleaning, make sure to refer to your washing machine’s user manual.

  1. Empty any leftover detergent, fabric conditioner, or debris from the drawer. Rinse it under warm water to remove the bulk of the residue.
  2. Fill a basin with warm water and add a small amount of washing up liquid. Soak the drawer for about 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Using a brush, gently scrub the compartments and any nooks and crannies to remove detergent build-up and mould. Pay special attention to the fabric conditioner compartment, as it often harbours the most residue.
  4. While the drawer is soaking, use a damp cloth to wipe inside the cavity where the drawer sits. This area can accumulate detergent residue and mould. For tougher stains, dip your cloth in white vinegar before wiping. Ensure the area is dry before replacing the drawer.
  5. After scrubbing, rinse the drawer thoroughly under warm water to ensure all cleaning agents are removed.
  6. Before reinserting the drawer into the washing machine, dry it thoroughly with a clean cloth or leave it to air dry.
  7. Once the drawer and its cavity are dry, reinsert the drawer back into the machine.

How To Unclog The Dispenser Jets

Unclogging the dispenser jets in your washing machine is one of the tasks you need to do for it to effectively dispense detergents and other laundry products. 

What you’ll need:

  • Washing machine manual
  • White vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Warm water
  • Cloth or sponge
  • Small pin or needle (optional)

Steps To Unclog The Dispenser Jets

  1. First, find where the dispenser jets are located in your washing machine. They are typically found in the detergent drawer area, above where the detergent and fabric conditioner are placed. If you’re unsure, refer to the user manual for your appliance.
  2. Pull out the detergent drawer from the washing machine. Most drawers will have a release mechanism to facilitate easy removal. This is often a press-down or push-in button or clip at the back or side of the drawer.
  3. Rinse the drawer under warm water to remove loose detergent and fabric softener residue. Prepare a solution of warm water and bicarbonate of soda or white vinegar. Soak the drawer in this solution for 20 to 30 minutes. After soaking, use the small brush to scrub away any remaining residue, especially in the jets and nozzles from where water dispenses.
  4. Use a damp cloth dipped in the vinegar or bicarbonate of soda solution to clean around the area where the detergent drawer sits, paying close attention to the dispenser jets. For any jets that appear clogged, use a small pin or needle to gently remove the blockage. Be careful not to damage the jets.
  5. Thoroughly rinse the detergent drawer with clean water. Wipe the area around the dispenser jets with a damp cloth to remove any cleaning solution, then dry with a clean cloth or sponge.
  6. Once everything is clean and dry, reinsert the detergent drawer into the washing machine. Run a short wash cycle without any laundry, using just a small amount of detergent, to ensure that the jets are unclogged and water flows freely through the dispenser.

Additional Laundry Tips You’ll Want To Know

Before we end the article, it wouldn’t be right to not give you a couple of tips to make your clothes clean and fresh while still keeping your washer in great shape:

  • In areas with hard water, occasionally run a cycle with a descaling agent suitable for washing machines to prevent limescale build-up in the jets and other parts of the machine.
  • White vinegar is a natural cleaner that can help prevent detergent buildup and odours. Schedule a monthly cleaning routine with white vinegar to keep your detergent drawer and washing machine in top condition.
  • If you think that the dispensing issue is rooted in a more serious problem with your washer, it may be best to seek professional help. Knowing when to call in a technician can save you from further issues down the line.

By following these simple steps and tips, you can keep your washing machine detergent drawer clean and ensure your clothes get the proper wash they deserve.

Do you have questions? Ask away!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my detergent drawer not draining?

The main reasons your detergent drawer is not draining include too much detergent causing buildup, using the wrong type of detergent, an unlevel washing machine, and clogged dispenser jets. Make sure to use the recommended amount of detergent, choose a liquid detergent if needed, ensure the machine is level, and clean the jets.

Why is my washing machine not emptying the conditioner compartment?

Residue buildup, clogged dispenser jets, and an unlevel washing machine can prevent the conditioner compartment from emptying properly. Clean the conditioner compartment thoroughly, unclog the jets, and adjust the level of the washing machine.

Why is my washing machine not dissolving detergent?

The detergent may not dissolve if you are using too much, the wrong type, or have clogged dispenser jets. Use the recommended amount of compatible detergent and make sure to clean the jets regularly. An unlevel machine can also prevent proper detergent dispersal.

How do you unblock a detergent drawer?

To unblock a detergent drawer, remove it and soak in warm water and washing up liquid. Use a soft brush to scrub away residue buildup. Rinse thoroughly. Unclog dispenser jets with a pin/needle or by soaking in a vinegar/bicarb solution.

Is it better to put liquid detergent in the washer’s drum or drawer?

It’s better to put liquid detergent in the detergent drawer rather than directly in the drum. The drawer allows controlled dispensing. Putting liquid detergent directly in the drum can lead to poor cleaning results.

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