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Undoubtedly, one of the most common items to bring along on your travels is toothpaste. While many hotels will supply you with toothpaste it is not always guaranteed and many times you might receive subpar quality toothpaste. And unless you are flying first class for business class, chances are you won’t be issued toothpaste on the plane.
In this article, I will answer the question of whether or not you can bring toothpaste on the plane and what TSA rules and size limits might apply. I will also give you a refresher on the liquids rule.
Can you bring toothpaste on a plane?
Yes, you are allowed to bring toothpaste through TSA airport security and onto the plane that you are boarding. However, there are some restrictions that you need to know about before attempting to do this. Keep reading below for more details on how to bring toothpaste on a plane.
TSA Toothpaste Rules & Size Limits
Tooth paste as a carry-on
If you are attempting to bring toothpaste as a carry on then you will need to get your toothpaste through a TSA security checkpoint.
TSA has a pretty broad definition of what is considered a liquid. Any types of creams, gels, lotions, etc., are all considered liquids. Basically anything that is usually poured, scooped, squeezed, slurped, or mashed will be considered a liquid for TSA purposes.
Since the policy is that toothpaste is considered a liquid, this means that you will need to comply with the TSA liquids rule. (Note: there are some solid tablets you can use to brush your teeth that wouldn’t be subject to the liquids rule, but I am just going to assume that most people are going to use normal toothpaste.)
If you are not aware, TSA has a rule that forbids you from bringing in more liquids than can fit in 3.4 ounce containers that fit into a quart size bag (typically a clear Ziploc bag). This is known as the “TSA 3-1-1 rule” and you will be required to remove the bag from your carry-on unless you have TSA Pre-Check (which I highly recommend).
Basically, you can fit all of the 3.4 ounce containers that can fit “comfortably” inside of a quart size bag. Comfortably just means that the seams are not bursting on your bag. So if you have toothpaste inside of a bag that cannot be zipped shut then that would not pass the standard.
The key thing to note here is that your containers can only be up to 3.4 ounces. The rule does not care about how much substance is inside the container. So, for example, if you had a four ounce package of toothpaste but it only had one ounce of toothpaste inside it that would still not comply with TSA.
A standard package of toothpaste (Colgate, Crest, etc.) will be around 4.8 ounces but some may be larger or smaller. This means that you cannot bring a standard package of toothpaste through TSA security and onto a plane because it likely will be too large.
Instead, you will need to purchase the smaller travel packs of toothpaste. You can find these packages in various grocery stores, drugstores, and also online. Many of these travel size packages are under 1 ounce so you should have plenty of clearance.
Also, you might consider buying an entire package of TSA-approved toiletries. In one package you can find things like toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, razors, combs, etc.. Many of these are gender specific.
If you are bringing your toothpaste through in your checked baggage, you don’t have to comply with the size requirements. For example, if you wanted to bring a large pack full of five ounce containers of toothpaste that would be totally fine.
Tip: If you were bringing toothpaste that has already been opened you might consider bagging that package up so that it does not spill or squirt out. There is nothing worse than trying to get toothpaste out of your garments….
Many travelers have written about how some toothpaste does not show up on standard x-ray machines. Because of this, some travelers choose to hide their large toothpaste packages inside their bag and get it through security.
Personally, I would not do this.
First, TSA is moving to a different type of x-ray scanner that I’m guessing will be able to detect toothpaste.
Second, I think it is just a bad idea to try to smuggle toothpaste when there are so many cheap and easy alternatives. If you get caught, it is only going to slow down your travels and also slowdown the travels for other people. Plus, you will be without toothpaste.
You can bring your toothbrushes including electric toothbrushes through security without any problems. Floss is allowed as well.
If you are attempting to bring mouthwash through the airport security be sure that it complies with the liquid 3.4 ounce rule. Just like toothpaste, there are a lot of stores that sell travel-sized mouthwash.
You might also be curious about other toiletry items….
For example, many people wonder whether or not they can bring disposable razors through security. The answer to this question is yes, you are allowed to bring disposable razors through. You can read more about other sharp objects like knives here.
Also, if you are wondering about medication there are specific rules and exceptions that apply. For example, you will not have to comply with the liquids rule when bringing in many medications. To find out more about bringing medications through TSA security and through planes click here.
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As you can see, the rules are pretty clear that you are allowed to bring toothpaste onto a plane through TSA. However, if you are bringing your toothpaste as a carry on then you will need to comply with the liquids 3-1-1 rule. This is very easy to do considering how easy it is to find toothpaste packages that are under 3.4 ounces. And finally, if you are bringing toothpaste through with your checked baggage you don’t have to worry about the size requirements.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.