November 19th, 2021

How to fix a dishwasher door that won't close or latch

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How to fix a dishwasher door that won't close or latch

Your dishwasher won't start unless the door is closed and latched, and for good reason. A properly latched door keeps water on the inside, not on your kitchen floor. It also simultaneously activates a sensor telling the machine it's safe to turn on.

If your dishwasher latch won't close, we can help. Asurion Experts are trained and have experience with repairs for every major appliance, including dishwashers. When appliances break, we fix them, from leaking dishwashers to dishwashers that won't fill with water. So before you break out your paper plates, here's how to troubleshoot a dishwasher door that won't close or latch.

Reasons why your dishwasher door isn't closing

Just because your dishwasher won't close doesn't mean you have a busted machine. Let's take a look at some common reasons your dishwasher door isn't closing properly and how you might be able to fix them.

One important note: Before attempting any repairs, always disconnect the power to your dishwasher to lower the risk of electrocution or injury.

Misaligned dishwasher

If your new dishwasher isn't installed properly—say it's tilted or on an incline—the door can bump into the surrounding cabinet, preventing it from fully closing. As a result, the machine won't turn on. This kind of issue is more common in machines with plastic tubs, not stainless steel ones.

To fix this issue, use a bubble level to confirm that the machine is level. If it isn't, you can rotate the feet counter-clockwise to lengthen them and clockwise to shorten them to help even out the machine.

If you have an older machine, make sure the screws holding it to the cabinet aren't loose; if they are, the door may not close. Use a screwdriver or wrench to adjust the screws, ensuring the door is in its proper place.

Dirty dishwasher door latch

Food, soap, and grime can get stuck in the metal latch, so inspect it for an obstruction and clean it with a wet cloth or sponge. Take a moment to clean the soap dispenser tray as well. When you're sure nothing is blocking the latch from closing, try closing the door again.

Protruding dishwasher racks

Sometimes, the dishwasher racks—or the dishes—prevent the door from closing. Dishes can be packed too high or too tight, and when they protrude, the door may not close. Examine the setup to see if any tall utensils, pan handles, or anything else is preventing the door from closing.

If the racks still won't line up, follow the instructions in your user manual (it's usually available online) to learn how to remove the top and bottom racks. When you've taken them out, make sure there's nothing blocking the support rails inside the machine before reinserting them.

Door latch malfunction

If the door latch wears out, malfunctions, or gets knocked out of alignment, it won't fit into its designated alcove—and won't trigger the machine to start. Depending on what brand and model of dishwasher you have, replacing the latch can be easy. If it's not, you may want to call an expert.

If you want to replace it yourself, look for the latch behind the inner door panel, close to where the door connects to the machine. You may have to take off the entire control panel to reach the latch, or you may only have to open an access panel; consult the user manual to find out . Next, unscrew the latch, remove its electrical connector, and screw a new latch in. Be sure to reconnect the electrical connector before putting the access or control panel back in place.

Misaligned strike plate

The part of your dishwasher that the latch inserts into is called the strike plate. It's found on the frame at the top of the dishwasher. While it rarely happens, the strike plate can loosen or become misaligned, which means the latch won't lock in place and the door won't close. If the strike plate is rusty, replace it. Otherwise, loosen the screws or bolts, adjust it back into place, then retighten the screws.

If your dishwasher has a plastic strike plate, it won't rust but it can break easily. If it does, you'll have to replace it.

Door hinge problems

Hinges allow the dishwasher door to open and close. If you notice the door squeaks or seems crooked, check the hinges for rust, breaks, or loose screws. On most dishwashers, you can access the hinges by removing the dishwasher frame or top and side panels. If the hinges are loose, tighten them so that the latch lines up and closes. If that doesn't work, they should be replaced.

Door spring issues

When a door spring is out of place, the dishwasher door may not close properly. The result? The latch may not click into the alcove, which means it can't activate the sensor to start the machine. Springs are located near the hinges, so while you're checking those, make sure each spring is in place on both sides and the coils are even. If you notice defects, rust, or gaps in the coils, replace them.

Faulty door gasket

Alongside the inner edge of the dishwasher door or tub is a strip of pliable rubber, called the door gasket, that ensures a watertight seal. When the door latches properly, the gasket keeps all the water inside. But the seal can get misshapen, especially in older machines, causing the door not to close and the latch not to activate.

You'll know the gasket is a problem if small amounts of water leak out during a cycle, and you'll know it's loose if the dishwasher door won't shut at all. Replacing the gasket isn't hard; remove the old gasket and press the new gasket into place. Some models may require you to remove the door, so consult your manual.

Still have questions about how to fix a broken dishwasher door? Reach out to an Asurion Appliance Repair Expert. We're here to help.

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