Black jelly-like substance in soap dispenser and on soap drawer

Black-mould-soap-dispenser-2 If your washing machine has a black jelly-like substance growing in the soap dispenser it is likely to be a fungal, bacterial growth called biofilm. It can be quite pervasive and very difficult to remove as well as unsightly.

Apart from looking nasty, it can block up the little holes in the top of many soap dispensers causing water flow to be restricted. Partially blocked up nozzles can also cause water to get deflected into the fabric conditioner compartment. This causes the fabric conditioner to flush out too soon. Finally, deflected water can spray over to the front of the dispenser and leak out of the bottom of the dispenser drawer.


What causes the black jelly-like substance in soap dispenser and on soap drawer?

The growth is accelerated by moist environments. Bacteria and fungi need both water, and a source of nutrients. They get this from detergent. If both are present on a surface the organisms will grow and multiply to produce a grey/black jelly-like (slime) growth or produce a pink/red staining around bathroom tiles.

How to prevent biofilm growth

Black-mould-soap-dispenser If you have a water valve not shutting off properly you can get a very small but constant drip of water into the soap dispenser. This can sometimes be observed by removing the soap drawer and seeing if you can see any dripping water.

Look out for a bulging globule of water some time after the washing machine has finished. If so, wipe the water away and see if it comes back, if it does you may need to have a new valve fitted although in some cases a badly blocked filter in the back of the valve can cause it not to shut off properly, or even water pressure that’s too low.


The best way to prevent this growth is to improve ventilation to allow these damp areas in kitchens and bathrooms to dry rapidly. With a washing machine I would leave the soap dispenser drawer open (at least partially) after using the machine drying it out manually first. If badly affected you may need to remove the drawer and wipe everything with kitchen towel or similar.

It’s a pain, but large growths can be troublesome and may require a complete new soap dispenser to be fitted – plus the growth will reoccur if nothing is done to stop it or at least control it.

Most soap dispenser drawers can easily be removed as there’s usually a clip to depress at the back which allows the drawer to come out.

It is also important to reduce the food sources for the bacteria and fungi to prevent growth. Food sources can include shampoo, soaps, propellants from hair spray and deodorants, and general kitchen food but with washing machines it’s clearly the detergent and fabric conditioner that the growth feeds on.


How to remove biofilm growth

Wiping with bleach or commercially available mildew removers should successfully remove the growth unless it’s really well established. Kitchen surfaces and bathroom tiles can be wiped with a household cleaner or mild bleach solution that will kill the bacteria and fungal spores.

Black slime associated with tap fittings can be removed by cleaning the inside of the tap or around the base of the tap with a small brush dipped in a mild solution of bleach.

I used to have this problem with my bathroom taps. Little flakes of black substance would occasionally hang from the inside of the nozzle and if I pushed a bit of tissue up the nozzle to clean it there would be a slimy black jelly inside the tap.


Give your taps a very good clean occasionally by working a little disinfectant around not only the outside, but also the inside of the tap nozzle with a toothbrush or a cotton bud.

Removing the black growth from washing machine dispenser and drawer

If your washing machine’s soap dispenser is infested with a black growth try to clean it out with the soap drawer removed.

Use on old toothbrush to clean the nozzles and top of the dispenser. Try using some of the products mentioned above. If it’s too bad to successfully remove it may need a new soap dispenser fitting

Further information – Slime and staining (external link)| Washing machine smells – causes of grease, slime and black mould inside washing machines

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28 thoughts on “Black jelly-like substance in soap dispenser and on soap drawer”

  1. I’ve just stripped out the drawer filler assembly on my Bosch Classixx 1200 6 year old washing machine, due to the common issue of the fabric conditioner not emptying. After seeing the inside of this it is clear that it is probably almost impossible to clean without disassembly, as cleaning from below with a toothbrush or similar will just push the sludge upwards and block the channel completely.

    Here is how I did this on mine. Only proceed if you are confident you know what you are doing around water, mechanical components and electricity!!! Mind your hands, a lot of the sheet metal parts are sharp.

    1) turn off machine and unplug from mains
    2) remove machine top (2 x torx at back, top slides backwards)
    3) remove 3x torx to front panel exposed by removing drawer, and 1x torx at the controls end of the front panel (you need a long T20 bit as a short bit in a hex holder won’t get into the tight & deep holes)
    4) unclip the front panel from the machine and put to one side
    5) remove 2x torx on the bar across the machine (if not you won’t be able to get the drawer filler assembly out)
    6) use pliers to slide the 2x hose clamps up the hoses between the drawer filler and the valves at the back of the machine. I found it easier to remove these at the valve than at the drawer filler. Detach the hoses from the valves (remember which is which!)
    7) there are 6 clips holding the top of the drawer filler to the bottom of the drawer chamber. Unclip them, and via careful manouvering it should be possible to get the whole top assembly out (there is a peg at the back of the assembly which needs to be moved out of the hole it is sat in to get it all out).

    Once you have it out, you can split it into two halves – the jet holes are all in a separate piece of plastic which is clipped in to the main body which has the water channels. I used a Menda spudger (google it) to pry the small plastic tabs so I could get the two parts separated without damaging anything. The amount of filth inside was disgusting – and indeed the conditioner channel was totally blocked with black sludge. Now was the time for lots of hot water, fairy liquid and a toothbrush to clear it all out.

    Once you have it clean, clip it all back together in the reverse order, and then test it works!

  2. Wow! And I thought I was the only one with this problem. This is great info everyone & as I have a Bosch Classixx too I am going to try & follow the instructions above & clean from the top down. Wish me luck!

  3. Hi, I have a 6 week old indesit washing machine full of green/black slime. My previous russell hobbs one broke down after 14 months by overheating and melting the doorseal then flooding. I also had a problem with mould on that one, i kept getting black “fluff” and horrible smelling clothes for me and my 2 yr old. He has eczema and asthma and ended up being hospitalized, long story short, when i bought new washing macine when on delicate cycle started flooding over my sink when draining. The indesit fitters, currys told me it cos the pipes under my sink are all wrong and water have to go through to many pipes before getting to drain pipe.

    These pipes i have had changed,so hose connects to u bend then outside. This was done 2 weeks after new washing macine fitted. Now i noticed my little boys skin sore and itchy and rashy all over 2 weeks ago black ” fluff ” on laundry again. And nasty smells from washing macine. I dont use any wasing detergernt as son reacts to it, and i do every wash on 90 c as my son has dustmite allergy also. Now inside the door seal is full of black sludge. Ive done 3 90c washes with indesits macine cleaning powder and 10 previous empty 90c washes with bicarb and the black sludge just keeps coming. I keep wiping away what i can get to. I can see down the gap under the drum there still lots there.now currys have offered a replacement macine as I’ve done everything recommended and it was them who fitted it.

    But im worried itvwill happen again as this will be 3rd newcwashing machine in 1half years. Could it be because i live on 1st floor flat, or something to do with my pipes, im so worried as its a neccesity to my little boys health to have a working clean mould free washing macine and hes been so ill since we moved here with our washing macinevproblems being the main cause. Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated

  4. I am so pleased to have found this forum! I had been doing a 30deg C wash with a liquid detergent for about a year & was not doing a maintenance wash at all. The black mould was in the dispenser draw & in the two folds of the door rubber – horrible. After doing two 90deg washes & thoroughly cleaning all areas I intend to continue using a powder containing bleach, washing at 40deg & doing a maintenance wash regularly. Many thanks for all the advice.

  5. Never had a black mould problem with the hot fill machines and. I don’t think cold fill is inefficient method of heating the water as the machine takes ages to heat up

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