Travel Tips

5 min read

TSA-Approved Tips: Packing Toothpaste for Flight Ease

Ever squeezed into an airplane seat only to realize you forgot if toothpaste is TSA-approved? Buckle up as we unpack the mystery of flying fresh, without any sticky situations at security!

Tobi Miles
June 16, 2022

Now that the travel industry is beginning to open back up, many are eager to set flight once again. All the rules and regulations regarding what you can bring on a plane can make packing challenging to say the least. The TSA’s liquid rules for basic toiletry items are extensive, making it confusing to know if you can even bring toothpaste on a plane.

According to the TSA 3-1-1 liquid rule, liquids, gels, and aerosols are permitted in carry-on and checked bags. For carry-on bags, the liquid containers must be less than 3.4 oz/100 milliliters in a clear plastic bag. Toothpaste is considered a gel under the TSA liquid rule and, therefore, must follow the 3-1-1 guidelines.

There is a lot of information about what the TSA will allow and prohibit through security checkpoints. The list is longer than you think, but you just need to adhere to the guidelines for amounts. The restrictions will vary between carry-on bags and checked luggage, so make sure to get the details before you pack.

Will the TSA Confiscate Toothpaste?

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If you’re packing toothpaste in your carry-on, the TSA won’t confiscate it if it meets the criteria for liquids. Toothpaste is a gel under the 3-1-1 TSA liquid rules and must be under 3.4 oz/100 milliliters. However, any liquid, gel, creams, paste, or aerosol that sets off alarms will require additional screening.

For larger containers of toothpaste, or other items, it is best to pack them in a checked bag. Regardless of the amount inside the container, if the label states over 3.4 oz, it should go in checked bags.

The TSA will confiscate full-sized tubes of toothpaste at security checkpoints for not meeting requirements. If agents take your toothpaste, then you have no choice but to purchase another one.

Agents toss out liquid items like toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, and drinks after confiscation. The reason for this is that people can tamper with these types of things, making them a potential threat.

A Quick Look at the TSA’s Rules for Toothpaste

  • Toothpaste is considered a common travel item that complies with TSA 3-1-1 liquid rules. Other everyday travel items include shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, and lotion.
  • Toothpaste is a gel and falls under the 3-1-1 TSA restrictions for carry-on bags. The tube of toothpaste must be 3.4 oz or less and in a clear plastic 1-quart bag. Only one clear plastic bag for liquids is allowed per passenger.
  • Full-sized toothpaste, as well as other full-sized containers, are allowed in checked luggage. Full-sized liquids, gels, and aerosols are not permissible in carry-on bags.
  • Regardless of the amount of toothpaste in the tube, a full-sized container can’t go through security. This applies to all liquids, gels, and aerosols going through TSA security checkpoints.
  • TSA officers will determine any final decisions about what will or will not go through the checkpoint.

Why Can't I Bring Toothpaste On a Plane?

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Toothpaste is allowed on airplanes, in checked and carry-on bags. However, you cannot bring full-sized toothpaste tubes in your carry-on bag.

Full-sized tubes of toothpaste must go in checked luggage, and travel sizes of 3.4 ounces or less are okay for a carry-on. Toothpaste is a common travel item, along with shaving cream, conditioner, mouthwash, and lotion under the TSA 3-1-1 liquid rules.

If toothpaste is not allowed on the plane, it likely did not meet the 3-1-1 liquid rules guidelines. These guidelines are in place because of the potential for people to tamper with certain liquids, gels, and aerosol containers. Therefore, they are safety measures and taken very seriously.

Related Read: How Strict Is Frontier With Personal Item Size Limit?

Can Toothpaste Set Off A Security Alert?

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Toothpaste and similar items can set off an alert at the security checkpoint. If the toothpaste, or other toiletry items, set off alarms during the security check process, further inspection is necessary.

It is the TSA officer’s final decision on whether an item is permitted to pass the checkpoint. If they take your liquid items, they will throw them away, and you’ll need to purchase more.

As long as you follow the 3-1-1 guideline, then they should let your toothpaste and other items onto the plane. The only exceptions to the TSA liquid rule are made for medications and baby or child nourishments. These items require special instructions, which you can find on the TSA website.

Why Does Toothpaste Have to Be In a Plastic Bag?

Liquids, aerosols, and gels, including toothpaste, need to go in a plastic bag so agents can check them quickly. Having all these items together also keeps TSA agents from digging through your carry-on for inspection.

Overall, this makes the security check process run as quickly as possible and efficiently. (After all, who wants to stand in a long security line before vacation?) Plus, it’s good practice anyway because it keeps these items from leaking onto other contents in your bag.

Passengers are allowed a single 1-quart clear plastic bag per person. Remember, the final decision of what is acceptable is up to the security agent. But, if you follow the rules, you should have no problem when you bring toothpaste on a plane.

Credit: Shutterstock

What Is the 3-1-1 Rule?

The TSA 3-1-1 rule is to help passengers remember how much liquids and how to store them for carry-ons. Passengers are allowed up to three liquids 3.4 oz or less in a 1-quart size bag and one bag per passenger.

This rule applies to all liquids, from shampoo to nail polish remover. However, there are exceptions for medications and baby or child nourishments.

It is not acceptable if you have a large container with leftover liquids that appear under the 3.4 oz. What matters is what’s written on the label, not the amount of contents inside.

Therefore, it’s best to put these containers in checked bags. The TSA 3-1-1 rule only applies to liquids packed in a carry-on, not checked bags.

Related Read: How Strict Is JetBlue with Personal Item Size?

Can I Carry Travel Size Toothpaste In My Purse?

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You can bring travel-sized toothpaste in your purse as long it falls under the TSA guidelines for carry-on bags. The tube of toothpaste must be 3.4 oz/100 milliliters or less to comply with TSA liquid rule guidelines. Any liquids or gels packed in your purse must follow the TSA liquid rule guidelines as well.

Any bag or piece of luggage you bring onto the plane with you is a carry-on. Most airlines allow one piece of carry-on luggage and a personal item, such as a purse. Other personal items include diaper bags, computer bags, and small backpacks.

Related Read: What Does 100 ml Look Like?

Can I Pack Toothpaste In My Checked Luggage?

Yes, you can pack toothpaste in checked luggage, as well as other full containers that can’t pass through security. Even if there appears to be less than 3.4 oz inside the container.

You must pack it in checked bags if the container’s larger than 3.4 ounces. Only containers 3.4 oz or less in clear plastic bags can pass through security checkpoints.

For checked baggage, medicinal and toiletry items cannot exceed 2 kg (70 oz) 2 L (68 fl. oz). Most items are allowed in checked luggage, such as canned food, boxed food, fresh fruit, cheese, and meat products. You can also pack alcoholic beverages in checked bags, but the alcohol content can’t exceed 70% (140 proof).

Regardless of what you pack in your checked bag, the overall weight must not exceed 40 pounds. Anything over 40 pounds will be subject to charges per bag per direction. For example, bags weighing 41-50 can cost up to an additional $50.

Can I Bring Toothpaste on International Flights?

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The same guidelines for checked and carry-on bags apply when packing for your international trip. You can take full-sized toothpaste on international flights in checked luggage. A tube of toothpaste must be 3.4 oz or less if packed in a carry-on.

You can also bring common travel items such as shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, and lotion under the 3.4 oz rule. Remember, it is ultimately the TSA officer's final decision about what you can bring onto the plane. If the TSA takes your toothpaste or other travel items, they will toss them, so plan to repurchase.

Related Read: How to Choose an 18x 14x8 Bag

Still Not Sure If You Can Bring Toothpaste on a Plane? Ask the TSA

For more information or additional questions about what you can bring with you on your flight, contact the TSA. The TSA customer service offers various convenient methods to answer your questions, whether through chat, calling, or email. Before contacting TSA customer service, read through the FAQ section and see if your inquiry already has an answer.

The TSA customer service page offers three ways to contact customer service. There is the live assistance which works through Facebook Messenger, Apple Messages, and Twitter every day from 8 AM to 6 PM EST. Calling TSA customer service offers automated answers; representatives are available 8 AM-11 PM EST on weekdays and 9 AM-8 PM on weekends.

For comments, complaints, a TSA PreCheck concern, or TSA Cares Assistance information; then email is the best option. Email is helpful if your inquiry doesn’t need immediate attention; if it does, live assistance and calls are best.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you have more information on bringing toothpaste, and other common travel items, onto a plane.

Remember, according to the TSA 3-1-1 liquid rule, liquids, gels, and aerosols are permitted in carry-on and checked bags. For carry-on bags, the liquid containers must be less than 3.4 oz/100 milliliters in a clear plastic bag. Toothpaste is considered a gel under the TSA liquid rule and, therefore, must follow the 3-1-1 guidelines.

If you need to bring a full-sized liquid item, you must pack it into your checked luggage. TSA agents won’t allow containers over 3.4 oz in carry-on bags. So these items won’t make it through the security checkpoint.

For more information or concerns, you can contact TSA customer service through phone, email, or live assistance. Be aware of the customer service operating hours. However, FAQs are always available and may have the answers you need.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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