Washing Machine Leaking From Drawer? (here’s what to do)

If you have a puddle of water under your washing machine after it fills and that puddle is underneath the soap dispenser drawer, there’s a good chance that the leak is in that area. Washing machine leaks can be identified by the area in which the water puddles. Keep reading to find out more.

How Can You Determine Where The Leak Is Coming From?

It can be difficult to determine where a water leak is coming from when your washing machine is sitting on the kitchen floor. It’s not like you can get underneath to see where the water is flowing from. We recommend placing a sheet of newspaper under the machine before you operate the machine.

Then watch the entire wash cycle and take note of where the water soaks the newspaper.

  • Right Hand Leak
    If the newspaper is wet on the right hand side, the leak is likely to be either the pump, sump hose, drain hose, door seal or the drum.
  • Central Leak
    If the newspaper is wet only in the centre the water is likely to be coming from the drum or the door seal.
  • Left Hand Leak
    If the newspaper is only wet on the left hand side, and it begins as the machine fills with water, the leak is likely to be coming from the water valve, the fill hoses connected to the water valve, the soap dispenser box or the soap dispenser hose.

Now we’ve discovered that the leak is coming from the left hand side and it started as soon as the machine began to fill with water, and is only at the front of the machine, we can tell it’s either coming from the detergent drawer, the drum, door seal or the hose from the drawer to the drum.

If it was coming from the door seal it would be evident and it’s unlikely to be the drum unless the leak is continuous. Which leaves the detergent drawer or the detergent hose.

What Can Make The Detergent Drawer Leak?

If it is the detergent drawer which is leaking it could be caused by one of the following;

The Washing Machine Is Not Level

If your washing machine is not level, it could be leaning forwards which would make it easy for water to leak from the drawer.

Water Pressure Too Strong

In some cases, the water pressure can be so powerful that it pushes too much water too quickly into the detergent drawer. The drawer can’t cope with that much water in such a short space of time and the result is water spilling from the drawer where it shouldn’t.

A Detergent Buildup

In some cases, the detergent drawer gets scummed up with undissolved detergent or even fabric conditioner. This can form in the drawer, or more likely beneath the drawer. If it does buildup under the drawer, it raises the drawer which allows water to leak from the drawer area.

A Blocked Dispenser Hose

If the dispenser hose becomes blocked with undissolved detergent the water can’t drain from the detergent drawer and will start to gush over the drawer and onto your floor.

The Machine Overfills

If the washing machine starts its wash cycle but something goes wrong with the fill valve, the machine doesn’t stop filling. This could lead to the dispenser drawer becoming overfull and start to leak. If this is the case, you’ll see that the drum is full of water and this is likely to leak elsewhere too.

Motor Fault

In some very rare cases, the motor can get a power surge which will make it spin fast when it’s supposed to be turning slowly. This could lead to water gushing from the dispenser drawer.

Damaged Dispenser Hose

If the dispenser hose has become damaged and has a split and you’d like to repair it yourself, follow the advice in the following video.

What Is The Most Common Cause Of The Soap Dispenser Drawer Leaking?

In 99 cases out of 100, the thing which causes the soap dispenser drawer to leak is a buildup of detergent. On closer inspection we usually find it’s due to either a buildup of cheap, poor quality detergent, using too much detergent (overdosing) or low water pressure.

Low water pressure can cause the detergent to not dissolve completely. Which, over time, causes a buildup of detergent which causes a blockage and then water leaks from the soap drawer.

How Does The Soap Dispenser Drawer Work?

The design for the soap dispenser drawer on washing machines is simple but effective. It allows water from the inlet valve to flow over the detergent in the drawer which is then passed into the drum via the dispenser hose. 

As dispenser drawers have 3 compartments, most machines have a double solenoid inlet valve. This allows water to be directed to one compartment to flush the contents out on the first opening of the valve. Then when it opens a second time it flushes the other detergent compartment. On the third opening both valves open to flood the third compartment.

On many of the more efficient washing machines, there are 3 valves connected to 3 hoses which allows far more control on the flow of water through the compartment. The water then runs out of the back of the drawer and into the surrounding container which is often called the soap box.

At the bottom of the soap box is a large hole with a hose connected to it which runs eventually into the drum of the machine.

How To Clean The Soap Drawer

The soap drawer on all washing machines can be removed. There is usually a catch of some sort which holds the drawer in place. This is often located on the covered compartment of the dispenser drawer. It usually involves pushing gently on that covered part whilst gently pulling the drawer from its compartment.

Once the drawer is out, take the time to look into the compartment it has been removed from. This will often be scummed up with either detergent buildup or mould or even limescale. Try to gently remove all of this gunk by using white vinegar on a soft cloth and if necessary, you can use a toothbrush.

You might need to leave the white vinegar to soak for some time before the stubborn pieces can be removed. While you’re waiting, check the hole at the bottom of this compartment and see if there’s any water laying around that area.

If there is, it could be because the drain hose is blocked or partially blocked. If it is, the only way to get to it is to remove the top of the machine and start dismantling parts of the machine. If this is the case, you’d probably do better calling an engineer.

But before you do, try pouring hot water into the pipe and see if you can break up whatever is causing the blockage. There’s a slim chance that this might do the trick, but in many cases the detergent solidifies to such an extent that it becomes as hard as a rock.

The Soap Dispenser

Then you’ll need to clean the soap dispenser drawer itself. Wash as much of the detergent off from the drawer as you can under a fast running tap or shower. Then use a soft cloth or a toothbrush to gently remove the rest.

Don’t forget to remove the covered section so that you can give it a good clean too. Check the underside as well because if poor quality detergent is the problem, then it’s likely to have accumulated underneath the drawer too.

How To Prevent The Soap Drawer From Leaking

Now that you have resolved this problem by giving your soap dispenser drawer a thorough clean, let’s look at ways to prevent it leaking again. The best way to prevent your soap dispenser drawer from leaking is to;

  • Use better quality detergents
  • Use the correct amount of detergent (don’t overdose)
  • Clean the drawer every month
  • Remember to remove the cover from the conditioner dispenser and wash it thoroughly
  • Wash the bottom of the drawer
  • Ensure the inside of the machine where the dispenser drawer sits is clean

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my washing machine leaking at the drawer?

If your washing machine is leaking from the soap dispenser drawer, it is usually caused because of a buildup of detergent. The buildup either blocks the dispenser hose or it can raise the drawer up due to a buildup under the drawer. In some rare cases an increase in water pressure can be the cause.

Why is the water coming out of the powder drawer on my washing machine?

If water is coming out of your soap dispenser drawer on your washing machine it is usually caused by a buildup of detergent which is blocking the dispenser hose. Remove the dispenser drawer from your machine and clean all of the gunk from it. This will usually solve this problem.

Why is there water in my fabric softener dispenser?

Water in the fabric softener dispenser is normal. It is part of the syphoning process of the washing machine.

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