Can You Take Toothpaste In Your Hand Luggage? Why Can't You?

When passing through a security checkpoint at an airport, liquids can be a serious hassle. Things like baby milk and baby food can have you pulled out of a line for additional screening, so if you want to avoid an impromptu appointment with a security officer what can you do?

Can I take toothpaste in my hand luggage? Yes! Although toothpaste will be subject to the 3-1-1 rule for liquids in carry on bags. This is same rule that applies to all liquids, even if paste doesn't exactly scream liquid. Liquid medication, breast milk, and other liquid containers like spray deodorant also follow this guidance.

Can You Take Toothpaste In Your Hand Luggage?

The 3-1-1 rule can be fairly simple, if a pain to adhere to. While not packing sharp objects like disposable razors or other inappropriate content can be common sense, knowing how to pack harmless fluids can take up a lot of your time in preparation for the airport. 

Individual containers are necessary for your liquids, including hair gels, lip gloss, and even a toothpaste tube. Original containers may not be compliant with airline rules, and prone to a security check. Travel size containers are thankfully widely accessible for purchase.

What is the 3-1-1 Rule?

Most of the rules for American airlines were established by TSA security personnel, or the Transportation Security Administration. These regulations may differ abroad and at foreign airports, but in general, the 3-1-1 guideline is a good one to go by when dealing with liquids.

If you are breaking the regulation, security personnel will assist you, but if you are unable to do so, you could have to leave certain stuff behind. Follow these guidelines to make the tasks of security employees at the airport a little bit simpler. They are enforced by airport security personnel for the protection of every traveller:

  • 3) A 3 oz or 100 ml of liquid per item is permitted. If necessary, you may bring additional bottles and containers of a beverage in your carry-on luggage.
  • 1) You should put the 3 oz containers in 1 plastic bag, which is a quart in container size. As many 3 oz containers as your quart-sized plastic bag can accommodate must fit comfortably. This indicates that items in a visitor's carry-on luggage are unlikely to open undisturbed.
  • 1) Each traveller receives 1 quart-sized bag. You will not be permitted to bring a second bag to make more place for your tooth paste if it takes up too much space.

As a security measure against terrorism, the TSA started limiting the quantity of liquid you are allowed to bring with you. In one instance, terrorists hid toxins in liquids that appeared to be safe. On the majority of commercial flights, beverage carts are provided if you truly require fizzy beverages.

To stop toxic substances, the liquid rules also apply to powder like substances. Talcum powder, or even Nesquik powder can get you pulled over at an airport if you're not careful, and don't declare the products to security staff. 

X-ray machines employed by most airports will scan powders as liquids, due to the way in which the x-ray scanner recognises the powder. Liquid restrictions may not always apply to powders, especially if they are already travel sized. 

Size Limits on Toothpaste

Liquids in containers exceeding 100ml are not permitted through security control. These security rules are in place to prevent terrorists from smuggling hazardous chemicals through toiletries and other liquid products. 

The container is actually the limit, not the liquid content. If you brought a four ounce of toothpaste but the tube was less than half full, the toothpaste still would not adhere to the TSA and cabin luggage rules. 

Size Limits on Toothpaste

Luggage restrictions can vary depending on the flight. Domestic flights and international flights all have different standards with duty free alcohol, passport checks, and various other security measures. However, liquid limits are a universal security standard. 

your baggage allowance also forbids certain liquids entirely. This includes pepper spray, to prevent it from being used as a weapon on board the flight, and lighter fluid which is a very obvious fire hazard that shouldn't need explaining. 

Fire hazards like a pack of safety matches are also not permitted on a flight. However, while you can't take a book of safety matches, some lenience is shown to some liquid forms. This includes vital medical equipment and liquid medication in your carry on baggage. 

This extends to gel form medication and creams. However the gel form is not extended to make up products such as nail polish. Even if nail scissors and nail clippers are small enough to be TSA compliant for carry on baggage. 

How to Pack Toothpaste

Other than liquid medicines, packing toothpaste may end up happening in your checked bags rather than cabin luggage. This depends on the destination country, as not brushing your teeth on a long haul flight can leave you feeling a little disgusting. 

Subject to the destination country or city, you can pack toothpaste securely in checked baggage. Being so small and light, it is unlikely that a tube of toothpaste will break any weight restrictions, and incur additional baggage fees. 

If you are worried about the maximum weight, or have to fill your cabin luggage liquid allowance with a water bottle and essential medicines, then you can try toothpaste tablets. These are solid and don't count as liquids. 

In much the same vein, solid deodorants don't count as fluids and dont follow liquids rules. Liquids rules will however apply to ice packs, flammable liquids which are generally forbidden, and many common travel items that will need to fit into 100ml containers. 

Toothpaste Tablets

If you want to fit toothpaste among your carry on items, tablets can be a great way to circumvent liquids rules. Simply chewing these tablets breaks them down into the familiar toothpaste texture and taste, perfect for long distance travel. 

This gives you more space for duty free items, but is also a solid environmentally friendly alternative to tubes of toothpaste. Plastic free entirely, toothpaste tablets are in some ways superior to regular toothpaste. 

A regular package of toothpaste can also take up more room with the box, and toothpaste packages are suggested to remain with the tube itself for security check in. Security guards may ask you what the tablets are, but telling the security guards that they are toothpaste tablets is typically enough. 

If you really prefer regular toothpaste to toothpaste tablets, then you will have to find appropriate containers for carry on or checked luggage. You might think you can take 2 normal sized toothpaste tubes without an issue, but hand luggage is always problematic with liquids. 

Packing Toothbrushes

Packing toothbrushes, thankfully, is much easier. Flight attendants and flight personnel can't stop you taking a toothbrush with your carry on items. With the strange taste of airline food (a result of cabin pressure), you may be eager to get certain tastes out your mouth. 

Packing Toothbrushes

Soggy airline food cooked in resealable plastic isn't appetizing at the best of times, but being able to brush your teeth in a plane toilet can relieve you greatly. Although taking toothpaste packages into the cabin can be a pain, especially with a particularly bulky package of toothpaste. 

Carry on or checked luggage both have their pros and cons, but ultimately its up to you to decide which you slot your package of toothpaste into. We suggest toothpaste tablets for long haul, international flying while shorter and domestic flights can generally be gotten through with a tooth brushing. 

About this Guide

Written By Alex
Last Updated On October 20, 2022
Reading Time 
7 minutes
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