If you’re struggling with a dishwasher door that won’t open, you’re in the right place. A dysfunctional dishwasher door is a nuisance that can quickly turn into a nightmare as the dirty dishes pile up in the sink. So, what’s preventing your appliance from opening, and what can you do about it?
Broken hinges, dirty latches, safety locks, and improper installation can prevent a dishwasher door from opening. Make sure that the safety or child lock isn’t activated. If the issue persists, try sliding an Allen key along the top of the machine to lift the latch manually.
Don’t panic if your dishwasher door won’t open. Stuck doors are pretty common, and resolving the issue is straightforward in most cases. Let’s take a closer look at what might be the problem and what you can do to get your appliance to open.
Why Won’t My Dishwasher Open?
It’s not uncommon for appliances to wear out as they age, and parts that are used more frequently, like the door on a dishwasher, tend to wear out even faster. Stuck dishwasher doors and doors that won’t close are common issues for both new and old units.
Let’s go through some of the most common causes of a dishwasher door that won’t budge:
The Door Is Locked
Safety locks aren’t a universal feature, but some newer models have safety features that prevent the dishwasher from being opened randomly.
Some units require you to press and hold different combinations of buttons to remove the safety lock. Other dishwashers may have a simple switch that you have to hold for a few seconds.
Regardless, check to see if the lock is on before diving into other possible solutions. You can consult your owner’s manual if you’re uncertain if your model has a safety lock or the button combination required.
The Door Hinge Is Broken
Dishwasher doors typically have a set of hinges that allow them to open and close. Broken or worn-out hinges can cause the door to get stuck shut — or remain open. The door may appear misaligned or squeak when you open it as the hinges wear out.
You can inspect the hinges for rust, cracks, or loose screws. Most units allow you to access the hinges by taking off the dishwasher frame or exterior panels. Loose hinges can be resolved with some tightening, but you’ll have to replace broken parts if there are any.
To be clear, the way hinges fail is usually breaking in a way that prevents you from closing the door properly again. They rarely fuse or break in place so that the door can’t be opened, though if some damage has occurred (a big obvious dent in the machine, for instance), then the door may simply be jammed shut not because of in the hinges.
The Latch Is Dirty
A dirty or broken door latch can lock your dishwasher door in place. Food waste, soap, and debris can get caught in the metal latch, causing it to remain stuck in one position. You can inspect the latch for any debris and clean it with a wet towel or sponge.
If cleaning the latch doesn’t resolve the issue, it may be worn out, broken, or misaligned. Depending on the model, you may have to remove the control panel to access the latch. It’s best to consult your unit’s instruction manual to determine the best course of action.
The Door Was Installed Incorrectly
In some cases, door issues can occur from improper installations. Your new unit may have been installed unevenly or on an incline, causing the door to jam.
Installation issues are more common in units with plastic tubs, but it’s best to inspect your machine to ensure its level.
You can rotate or adjust the position of the dishwasher to make sure it’s installed correctly. Alternatively, you can tighten any loose screws securing the unit to the surrounding counter or cabinet. Loose screws may cause the door to open and close incorrectly.
How to Get Your Dishwasher Door Open
As you can see, there are several situations that might result in a dishwasher door getting stuck. Regardless of the cause, let’s take a look at what you can do to get your dishwasher door back open.
Check the Safety Lock
The first step is to inspect the safety or child’s lock if there is one. As we mentioned earlier, the lock may be activated in different ways on different models.
Here are a few of the most popular brands and their combinations:
- KitchenAid: Locate the “Control Lock and Hold” button. Press and hold the button for three seconds. Afterward, release the button to disable the safety lock.
- Maytag: The control lock button should have a flashing light with a lock icon. The light may flash if you try to open the door or press other buttons on the machine. Once you find the button, press and hold it for three seconds; afterward, release the button to disable the safety lock.
- Bosch: If you see a key symbol or “CL” on your dishwasher’s display panel, it means the child’s lock is active. To deactivate the lock, press and hold the start button for 3-5 seconds. You should hear a beep, and the symbol should disappear.
These are only a few of the most popular dishwasher brands. If you have a different brand or these instructions didn’t work, be sure to consult your owner’s manual. The owner’s manual will have more detailed instructions on how to disable any safety lock features.
Clean the Latch
Food waste, grease, soap grime, and other debris can easily get caught in the latch and prevent it from opening. Inspect the latch for any food waste or debris.
If you have a dirty latch, clean it with a wet towel or sponge. You can use warm soapy water to remove any residue to see if that resolves the issue.
If the issue persists, you may need to pry open the latch manually to access the interior of the appliance.
Pry Open a Stuck Latch
Sometimes, a broken latch system can prevent you from opening your dishwasher door entirely. You’ll need to use a bit of elbow grease to open your unit in these situations. Here’s how:
- Find a thin piece of metal that has a bend in it. Allen keys (on Amazon) work well, but you can make a similar tool by bending a wire clothes hanger.
- Insert the short end of your Allen key or similar tool into the slot between the door and the appliance. This area should be on the side of the door handle. You can also use pliers to hold onto the end of your tool to improve your grip.
- Move your tool to the side until it catches something. If you’re in the correct position, you should be touching the broken latch.
- Rotate your metal tool to about 90 degrees and pull it towards you. Doing this correctly will release the latch and cause the door to open.
It’s possible to force the dishwasher door open if you don’t have an Allen key or similar tool. That said, you may end up breaking other components, and it isn’t recommended.
Now that the dishwasher door is open, you can inspect the interior to diagnose the issue. You may have a broken latch assembly, issues with the door hinge, or other problems.
If you can’t figure out the cause on your own, it may be time to hire a professional.
When to Hire a Professional
So, the child lock isn’t activated, the latch is clean, and the door still won’t open? It might be time to call for help.
If you can’t accurately diagnose and resolve the problem, it’s best to hire a service technician. Some other situations where you should hire a service tech to include the following:
- You don’t have the time to diagnose and fix the stuck dishwasher door.
- You aren’t comfortable with repairs or replacing parts.
- You don’t have the necessary tools or equipment.
- You can’t figure out what’s causing the stuck door.
- You don’t have access to the owner’s manual and aren’t sure how to proceed.
- You have broken parts that require replacement, like the latch assembly, hinges, or strike plate.
- You have a misaligned unit that needs to be reinstalled.
These are a few of the situations where it’s best to call a professional. Be sure to get help if you don’t feel comfortable with repairs to avoid unnecessary damage to your unit.
Calling a few different repair people for estimates can help you find the best price and service in your area. Just be sure to provide as much information as you can so the repair process goes quickly and smoothly.