Toothpaste is considered a liquid by the TSA (Transport Security Agency), even though it’s technically a paste. In fact, all pastes, gels, waxes, and lotions are also classified as liquids. And even today, these substances are still restricted by the 3-1-1 rule in hand luggage due to safety threats.
The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule states that each passenger can bring liquids in 3.4 oz containers or smaller, the containers must be packed in a 1-quart bag, and each passenger can have only 1 of these bags.
However, new airport 3D CT scanners are starting to be introduced in some US airports which can safely scan liquids in any quantity. So this restriction might become a thing of the past in the next few years. The problem right now is that at a federal level, liquids are still restricted in hand luggage, even in airports with the new scanners. But as soon as more airports roll out the new CT systems, the rules might change.
- Hand luggage: In carry-ons and personal items toothpaste is limited to 3.4 oz (100 ml) tubes or smaller. It also needs to be stored in a transparent, resealable, 1-quart bag together with your other liquids, pastes, and gels.
- Checked Luggage: Toothpaste is allowed in any quantity without restrictions.
Flying With Toothpaste Internationally
Generally, the rules for packing toothpaste in your luggage are virtually the same worldwide, except for New Zealand and Australia. Both countries have finished rolling out the new airport CT 3D scanners, so there are no quantity restrictions anymore for toothpaste and other liquids in hand luggage. This is only for domestic NZ and AU flights for now, and on international ones, you still have to follow the 3-1-1 rule.
Is Prescription Toothpaste Also Restricted In Carry-on Luggage?
You can bring prescription toothpaste through security even if it’s larger than 3.4 oz (100 ml) because liquid medicine is allowed in larger quantities, and prescription toothpaste is classified as a medicine.
When going through the security checkpoint, you don’t need to pack it inside a resealable bag together with your other toiletries. Instead, pack it separately, and inform the TSA officer that you are carrying prescription medicine.
Although TSA doesn’t usually require you to bring the prescription note, it’s a good idea to do it anyway, to prove that you really need to travel with prescription medication. If you have one available electronically, it’s also fine.
How To Pack Toothpaste For Travel
Traveling with regularly-sized toothpaste is fine, but it takes up unnecessary space and weight in your luggage. Since you use up around 0.25 grams of toothpaste per brushing, a 14-day vacation would require 7 grams (0.25 oz) of toothpaste. So a small travel-sized tube of 1 oz is more than enough to last you your whole trip.
If you don’t have one, the easiest thing to do is order a few travel-sized toothpaste tubes on Amazon.
However, if you have a half-empty travel-sized toothpaste tube lying around at home, you can pretty easily fill it up from your regular toothpaste tube. Just hold both ends together and squeeze the larger tube until the travel-sized tube is full.
When packing your toothpaste in a carry-on it should always be placed in your resealable bag of toiletries. A 1-liter Ziploc bag will usually be fine. Other than that, you’re free to pack your toothpaste however you want to. I’ve never had toothpaste spill in my luggage because the cap usually screws on very tightly. So if you’re packing it in your checked baggage, there’s really no need to place it inside a sealed bag.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Toothpaste Considered A Liquid By The TSA?
Toothpaste is counted as a liquid item by the TSA. In fact, all pastes, gels, clays, and lotions are also counted as liquids. The distinction is usually drawn for semi-solid items, like waxes, which some TSA agents count as liquids and others as solids.
One form of toothpaste that isn’t counted as a liquid is toothpaste tablets. They’re in solid form, so they aren’t restricted in hand luggage. For travel purposes, it actually makes a lot of sense to use toothpaste tablets because you can just pack however much you’ll need for the trip and save some space and weight in your luggage.
Can I Bring A 4 Oz (Or Full-size) Toothpaste On A Plane If It Isn’t Completely Full?
Unfortunately, you can’t bring full-size toothpaste tubes in your hand luggage, even if they are half-empty. 4 oz, 5 oz, and 6 oz tubes are all banned from hand luggage – only tubes smaller than 3.4 oz (100 ml) are allowed. That’s because there’s no way for the TSA security agent to accurately determine how much toothpaste is inside, so instead, they just look at the marked volume on the packaging. If your toothpaste tube is over 3.4 oz, it needs to go in your checked luggage.
Can I Bring Open Toothpaste On A Plane?
Open toothpaste tubes are allowed both in hand and checked luggage. The TSA doesn’t really care if your toiletries have been opened or not because the 3.4 oz (100 ml) limit for hand baggage is strict enough to not be able to cause any significant security threats.
If you’re traveling for a short time, bringing an opened travel-sized toothpaste is actually a smart thing to do, since you probably won’t need the full tube for the duration of your trip. This way you can save some space in your toiletries bag.
Where Can I Buy Travel-sized Toothpaste?
Travel-sized toothpaste in 0.85-3.4 oz tubes is available in pretty much any larger convenience store in the health and household section. You can also order them on Amazon with Prime next-day delivery.
What Are The Rules For Traveling With Other Dental Products (Floss, Toothbrush, Mouthwash, Etc.)?
Solid dental products, like toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste tablets are allowed in hand and checked luggage without any restrictions.
Mouthwash is considered a liquid, so it’s restricted to 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles or smaller in hand luggage, but larger bottles are allowed in checked baggage.
Dental hygiene is important, so if you forget to bring something, remember that these things are readily available in local convenience stores all around the world.
Summing Up: Traveling With Toothpaste
There aren’t really any major restrictions for packing toothpaste in your luggage, aside from the size limit of 3.4 oz (100 ml) tubes in your hand luggage.
I wouldn’t recommend traveling with a full-size toothpaste because you won’t use it all during your trip. Instead, get a travel-sized one that’s 1 oz in size, and you can even squeeze half of it back into your full-sized tube before setting off. This will offer more than enough toothpaste for most vacations, even for two people.
And lastly, toothpaste is one of those things that you can leave back home if you have limited space in your toiletry bag. You can just buy one when you land since they’re sold virtually everywhere. Just remember to bring other important things by double-checking our cruise packing list.
gail shinnebarger says
I was told that a veteran does not have to pay for luggage when traveling on a plane. Is this correct?