Travel Tips

5 min read

Maximize Your Carry-On: Navigating TSA Toiletry Rules

Ever crammed a giant shampoo into a tiny bag and thought, "There's gotta be a rule against this"? Spoiler: there is. Let's zip open the mystery of flying friendly with your toiletries!

Tobi Miles
August 31, 2022

If you’re planning on packing toiletries that are liquid in your carry-on, they must be placed in a plastic quart-size bag. Each passenger is allowed to bring one quart-size bag in their carry-on bag. So, how big can my toiletry bag be?

The quart-size bag needed for toiletries comes in two size dimensions. Most quart-sized bags appropriate for traveling are 7 by 8 inches or 6 by 9 inches. The bag must be clear and resealable. If you’re only bringing a few toiletries, you are allowed to use a clear plastic bag that is smaller than 1 quart.

Making sure you have the right size of toiletry bag is important when getting ready for the airport. If you’re unsure of which bags are appropriate for packing toiletries, you’ve come to the right page. Today, we’re going to discuss everything you should know about the quart-size bag for travel.

Can I Bring 2 Quart Size Bags On A Plane?

If you have 2 quart-size bags of toiletries, it’s recommended to pack one of them in your checked luggage. Passengers aren’t allowed to have two bags of liquids in their carry-on bags.

Always check the size dimensions of the bottles you’re packing. You can only containers that are 3.4 fluid ounces or less in the toiletry bag. If you’re using the full-size bottles, they will not be allowed on the plane in your carry-on.

You should put the amount of product you need for the days you’re traveling into smaller bottles. By doing that, you may be able to fit all of your essential toiletries into one bag.

Have you limited your toiletries, but still find yourself needing more than a single quart bag? Place your oversized items in your checked luggage. Passengers can bring up to 2 liters/ 70 fluid ounces of liquid in their checked bags.

If you arrive at the security gate with 2 or more quart-size bags with toiletries, you will not be allowed to take them all on the plane anyways. TSA will either confiscate the additional bags or make you pay to have them shipped to your home address.

How Many Quart Size Bags Can I Carry On?

Each passenger is allowed to bring one quart-sized bag with toiletries in their carry-on bag. There is a limit on how much liquid passengers can travel with on the plane.

One quart-size bag may not seem like a lot of room for toiletries. That is why you should only bring the amount of product you need for the time you’re away. Many passengers find they don’t use enough of each toiletry product during a one-week trip to fill a quart bag.

Travel-size containers and bottles will lighten up your load. You can also find many best-selling toiletry items available in travel sizes as well.

Related Read: What Does 100 ml Look Like?

Can I Bring A Gallon Ziploc Bag On The Plane?

Passengers aren't allowed to bring gallon bags on the plane. The maximum size of the bag that you can use for toiletries on the plane is a quart. One gallon can hold four quarts, which is much bigger than the size limit.

If you need a gallon-size bag for your toiletries, you can place them in your checked luggage. Your checked luggage is a better spot to pack things like makeup bags, gifts containing liquid, and full-size toiletries. This will save you time and hassle at the security gates.

What Items Are Allowed In My Clear Quart Size Bag?

Any item that is a fluid and in a travel-size bottle (or smaller) is allowed in your clear quart-size bag. According to TSA, any item that is a viscous or free-flowing substance is classified as a fluid.

It’s not just liquid items that should go in your clear quart bag. Any item that is a gel, lotion, paste, aerosol, or oil will need to go in the clear bag. There are several items that people don’t realize belong in the bag, like makeup, sauces, toothpaste, and more.

Using travel-size bottles is recommended, but you can even use smaller containers to bring more products in your bag. Check out the crafts supply section at a department store to find miniature jars and containers for storage.

There are several types of small containers that can be used to hold minimal product. This is great for items you won’t need a lot of while you’re away, like face cream, face wash, and foot cream.

Related Read: Can You Bring Cologne on a Plane?

What Items Are NOT Allowed In My Clear Quart Bag?

Several types of fluids that aren’t intended for personal hygiene or nourishment aren’t allowed in the clear quart bag. Any type of alcohol that is over 70% isn’t allowed in your carry-on bag.

Additionally, any product in an aerosol can that is not for body care won't be allowed in your carry-on. Other liquids that are denied are flammable liquid, pepper spray, mace, and bleach.

It should also be noted that any liquid in a container that is larger than 3.4 fluid oz isn’t allowed in the clear quart bag. If the container can hold more than 3.4 oz but is currently holding less than that, it will still be denied.

Passengers are allowed to place other body care items in their toiletry bag, even if they aren’t liquid. Always be prepared for TSA’s powder rule if you're bringing any powdered product on board. This rule limits passengers to travel with a maximum of 12 oz of a powder substance.

Related Read: Can You Bring Deodorant on a Plane?

What Is The TSA 3-1-1 Liquids Rule?

TSA has a 3-1-1 liquid rule to help passengers understand their rules regarding carrying liquids on a plane. Each number in the 3-1-1 sequence is used to help people remember what’s okay to pack.

  • 3 is for the size of the bottles that fluids can be placed in. Each bottle must be 3.4 ounces or less.
  • The first 1 is for the bag that the items need to be placed in. All containers holding liquid must be inside one quart-sized clear bag.
  • The second 1 is for the number of quart bags each passenger is allowed to have in their carry-on bag. There is a limit of one plastic toiletry bag per traveler.

When a passenger packs too many toiletries or bottles that are too big, it can hold them up at the security gate. The traveler is also at risk of losing money, either by confiscation of their items or having to pay for postage to send the items home.

The 3-1-1 liquid rule makes it easier for passengers to remember what they can pack to avoid this situation.

Related Read: Can You Bring A Razor On A Plane?

Do TSA Toiletry Bags Have To Be Clear?

TSA doesn’t claim that toiletry bags have to be clear. However, it is strongly recommended to pack your items in a clear bag to avoid inspection. This is will help you get passed the gates quicker without any problems.

Tinted bags that are transparent are also okay for use as toiletry bags. When the TSA agents can see what’s inside, they don’t have to take a look for themselves.

If you travel frequently, we recommend buying a clear travel bag for toiletries. Brands like Truffle and Bumkins have TSA-approved toiletry bags. When you buy from a brand that’s TSA-approved, you won’t have problems at the security check.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make sure your toiletries pass the check. Take a look in your pantry to see what size of reusable bags you have. As long as they hold under a quart, they will be acceptable.

How Do I Pack Toiletries For A Flight?

Strategically packing your toiletry bag can allow you more room for the items you need. The first thing you need to do is put all of the items you will be using into containers that are 3.4 oz or smaller.

Once you have your bottles ready, we suggest trying out a few different ways to place them in the bag. This will allow you to see what works best for the bottles and the bag you’re using.

If you have a lot of toiletries, it’s recommended to only pack the liquid items in your bag. This will allow you to have excess space in case you have forgotten an item.

What Are The Dimensions Of A Quart-Sized Bag According To TSA?

TSA defines the dimensions of a quart-sized bag as 6 by 9 inches. According to Ask TSA, any bag that is approximately the size of a quart bag will get passed. Other dimensions that are still able to hold a quart will pass the security check.

This rule does allow passengers some leniency on the bags they use. There are clear and tinted bags of many sizes and dimensions. As long as they hold under one quart, travelers may use them for toiletries.

If you’re not 100% sure whether your toiletry bag will pass the check, you can always use a Ziploc or similar style bag from your pantry. Always measure it first to make sure it doesn’t exceed the 6 by 9 inches measurement.

What Toiletries Need To Be In A Clear Plastic Bag?

Any toiletry that’s considered a fluid by TSA’s rules needs to be placed in a clear plastic bag. Let’s take a look at what these include so you’re not left with any confusion.

Liquid Soaps

Place any liquid soaps or cleansers you're traveling with in your quart bag. This includes body wash and face cleanser. To make your packing lighter, we suggest looking for sample sizes of these products from your favorite brands.

Dental Products

Did you know that your toothpaste is fluid? For this reason, you should only pack travel-size toothpaste. The TSA classifies all paste products as liquids.

Mouthwash is another dental care item that you will be able to find in travel-size bottles.

Aerosol

Any body care product in an aerosol can needs to be placed in a clear bag. Items like shaving cream, hair spray, body mist, and hair mousse are all in this category. While a stick of deodorant doesn’t have to go in the bag, spray deodorant will need to be travel-size.

Gels & Lotions

Hair gels and body moisturizers are considered fluids. This also includes body butter because it’s thick like a paste. If you travel with sunscreen, gel deodorant, or any type of moisturizer, it needs to go in a clear plastic bag.

Cosmetics

Several of the items in your makeup bag are fluids. This includes items like mascara, lip gloss, concealer, and foundations. Even products like primer and setting spray are liquid. Cream-based highlighters and bronzers are also classified as liquids.

How Strict Is TSA With Quart Size Bags?

TSA isn’t overly strict with the sizes of quart bags. As long as they can see what items are placed inside, they typically will let people through without any issues. This is good news for people worried that their bag might be too big.

The main concern of the TSA agents is to screen what’s inside the bag itself. The agents won't penalize you if your toiletry bag is an inch or two too big. However, if you were to bring a gallon bag, it might be a different story.

What If I Don’t Have A Quart Size Bag For Travel?

If you don’t have a quart-size bag for travel, you will need to place your toiletries in your checked luggage. Toiletries only need to be in a plastic bag in your carry-on to take out at the security check.

Before ruling anything out, we suggest taking a look at what clear bags are in your kitchen. Even a simple sandwich bag will pass the test.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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