The short answer is yes, you can bring a 4 oz or smaller tube of toothpaste on a plane in your carry-on bag. This adheres to the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule that allows containers 3.4 ounces or less to be brought on board.
The TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule for Carry-Ons
The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for liquids, gels and aerosols allows:
- Containers 3.4 ounces or less
- Carried in a quart-sized bag
- 1 quart-sized bag per passenger
This rule was designed to limit the amount of liquids brought on planes, for security purposes. The limit of 3.4 oz is believed to be the right size to slow down possible plots involving liquid explosives, without overly inconveniencing passengers.
The 3.4 oz limit applies to any liquid, gel or aerosol items carried onboard. This includes:
- Beverages like water and juice
- Toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo, cosmetics
- Creams, oils and perfumes
- Sprays like hairspray and shaving cream
- Pastes including toothpaste
- Gels including hair gel
- Contacts solution
- Any other liquid or gel items
Each of these must adhere to the 3.4 oz rule. With toothpaste specifically, you can bring a tube or bottle of toothpaste 3.4 oz or less.
Toothpaste Counts as a Gel
Toothpaste is considered a gel by the TSA. So any toothpaste brought onboard needs to be 3.4 oz or less.
- Regular toothpaste tubes and pumps
- Travel-sized toothpaste tubes
- Toothpaste tablets
- Liquid toothpaste
- Gel toothpaste
- Whitening toothpaste
- Children’s toothpaste
As long as the container is 3.4 oz or under, any type and formulation of toothpaste is permitted.
What Counts as 3.4 Oz?
3.4 fluid ounces equals about 100 milliliters. For reference:
- A regular sized toothpaste tube is typically 4.7 oz or above
- Travel toothpaste tubes are available in 0.5 oz, 1 oz, 1.4 oz, and 2 oz sizes
- Toothpaste pumps may range from 1.5 oz to 3 oz
So regular large toothpaste tubes are too big, but most travel sizes and pumps meet the 3.4 oz guideline. The easiest way to know if your toothpaste complies is to check the size marked on the packaging.
TSA Screening Will Check Size
When you go through airport screening, the TSA will check the size of any liquid, gel and aerosol items in your carry-on. Here’s what to expect:
- Separate your 3.4 oz liquid items into a quart-sized plastic bag. This includes toothpaste.
- Take the plastic bag out of your carry-on when you go through screening.
- The TSA officer will often ask you to remove the 3.4 oz items from the bag so they can be X-rayed separately.
- If any containers look larger than 3.4 oz, they may get flagged for additional inspection.
- If an item is over 3.4 oz, you’ll need to place it in your checked bag unless you can dispose of a portion to get under the limit.
To make the process easier, know your toothpaste amount before arriving at the airport. Make sure it’s clearly under 3.4 oz. This will minimize the risk of delay.
Exceptions for Larger Toothpaste
While the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule is strict, there are a couple exceptions that allow you to occasionally bring larger toothpaste tubes on a plane:
- Medical necessity – If you can demonstrate a medical need for a particular toothpaste over 3.4 oz, it may be permitted after additional screening.
- Disability accommodation – Accommodations can be made for those with disabilities who need larger toiletries.
- TSA PreCheck – Those enrolled in TSA PreCheck do not need to follow the 3-1-1 rule.
Outside of these exceptions, the 3.4 oz toothpaste rule is universally applied on all flights.
International Toothpaste Rules
When flying internationally, be sure to check the liquid rules for your destination country. While many abide by the TSA’s 3-1-1 guideline, some countries use the ICAO standard of 2.7 oz or 100ml as their limit. Others may restrict certain items altogether. It’s always smart to research ahead.
Packing Tips for Toothpaste
Here are some tips for seamlessly packing toothpaste in your airline carry-on:
- Know your toothpaste’s size. Double check the ounces on the tube.
- Opt for travel-sized toothpaste under 1 oz.
- Put your toothpaste in your liquids bag before you get to security.
- Make sure your plastic bag adheres to the quart-sized rule.
- Place your plastic bag in an easy-to-reach spot if it needs to be screened separately.
- Always cap your toothpaste tightly to avoid messes.
- Consider toothpaste tablets for a TSA-friendly alternative.
Checking Your Toothpaste
If parting with your favorite toothpaste gives you separation anxiety, you can always check it instead. There are no size restrictions on toiletries in checked luggage. But do keep in mind:
- Toothpaste can burst open if not packed carefully in checked bags.
- Checking a bag adds hassle and costs money.
- You won’t have access to your toothpaste until you reach your destination.
- It can be lost, damaged or stolen with checked luggage.
So check at your own risk and pack your toothpaste wisely!
Purchasing Toothpaste After Security
Another option if you get nabbed with oversized toothpaste at security is to purchase toothpaste after clearing TSA screening. Look for toothpaste and sundries shops past airport security gates.
Some things to keep in mind when shopping airside:
- Selection is usually limited to travel sizes.
- Prices are inflated.
- Your preferred brand may not be available.
- It can be a time sink when trying to catch your flight.
But in a pinch, you can generally find basic toothpaste supplies after clearing security.
Can You Bring Toothpaste in Your Carry-On?
Yes, you can bring toothpaste in your carry-on as long as it follows the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule. Containers of toothpaste 3.4 oz or less are permitted. They need to be packed in a clear quart-sized plastic bag with your other liquids.
All toothpaste formulations including tubes, pumps, gels, pastes and tablets are allowed as long as they meet the size guidelines. Just make sure to pack your toothpaste at the top of your bag for easy access during screening.
Is There a Limit on How Many Toothpaste Tubes?
There is no limit on the number of toothpaste tubes you can bring, as long as each tube is travel-sized at 3.4 ounces or less. You’re limited by how many can reasonably fit in your quart-sized bag.
Realistically, you can fit around 5-10 individual 3.4 oz toothpaste tubes in a quart bag. Any more than that and you may have trouble efficiently screening them.
While the TSA doesn’t outright restrict how many containers, try to be reasonable. Stuffing too many tubes can slow down the security process.
Can You Bring Toothpaste in Your Checked Bag?
Yes, you’re welcome to pack toothpaste in your checked luggage with no restrictions. Full-sized toothpaste tubes and bottles are allowed.
Some benefits of checking your toothpaste:
- No need to pare down travel-sized products.
- Access to your favorite brand and formulas.
- No liquid rules to worry about.
Downsides of putting toothpaste in checked bags:
- Possibility of damage, leaks or theft.
- No access during flight.
- Cost and wait of checked luggage.
If you go the checked bag route, be sure to pack your toothpaste carefully surrounded by clothing and sealed in plastic. This reduces mess risks. Weigh the pros and cons for your situation.
Common Toothpaste Questions at TSA
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about bringing toothpaste through airport security:
Does toothpaste count as a liquid?
Yes, toothpaste is classified as a gel by TSA and subject to the 3.4 oz limit for carry-ons.
What if my toothpaste is 3.5 oz?
Toothpaste containers larger than 3.4 oz cannot be brought through the security checkpoint. You’ll need to place it in checked luggage, dispose of the excess, or purchase a travel-size replacement.
Can I swap containers to meet the limit?
No, the TSA prohibits transferring prohibited items like toothpaste into smaller containers. The original packaging must be 3.4 oz or under.
Can I bring toothpaste from other countries?
Foreign toothpaste must still meet the same 3.4 oz carry-on limit. However some countries restrict certain ingredients, so check your destination’s rules.
What if my toothpaste is homemade or DIY?
Homemade pastes fall under the same guidelines. Containers over 3.4 oz cannot pass through security.
Key Takeaways on Flying With Toothpaste
- You can bring toothpaste on a plane if it’s 3.4 oz or less.
- All toothpaste types and formulations are permitted in 3.4 oz sizes.
- Pack your toothpaste in a clear quart-sized bag with other liquids.
- The TSA may inspect your toothpaste at security checkpoints.
- Check your toothpaste or buy after security if it’s over 3.4 oz.
- No limits apply to toothpaste in checked luggage.
Those are the main things to know about bringing toothpaste in carry-on or checked bags for air travel. By sticking to the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule, you’ll sail through security and keep your teeth fresh on any flight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I bring toothpaste on a plane that is 3.5 oz?
No, toothpaste containers larger than 3.4 oz are not permitted through TSA security checkpoints. Any toothpaste brought onboard a plane must be 3.4 oz or smaller. If your toothpaste is 3.5 oz or more, you will need to place it in checked luggage, dispose of the excess to get under 3.4 oz, or purchase a smaller tube at the airport after clearing security. The 3.4 oz rule is strictly enforced.
What if my toothpaste doesn’t have an ounce amount listed?
If there is no ounce measurement printed on your toothpaste packaging, check the grams. The TSA limit equates to approximately 100 ml or 100 grams. As long as your toothpaste container states it is 100 ml or grams or less, it should be compliant with the 3-1-1 liquids rule. When in doubt, compare it to a known travel-sized toothpaste. And the TSA officers can always verify the size for you at the checkpoint.
Can I bring a full 4.7 oz toothpaste tube in my carry-on if it is half empty?
No, the 3.4 ounce limit applies to the total capacity of the container, not just the current fill level. So even if your 4.7 oz toothpaste tube is half used, with less than 3.4 oz of paste remaining, it still exceeds the permitted carry-on size. The container itself needs to be 3.4 oz or smaller to pass the TSA restriction.
What if I accidentally pack 6 oz toothpaste in my carry-on?
If you end up at the TSA checkpoint with toothpaste larger than 3.4 oz in your carry-on bag, be prepared to either: dispose of it, take it back to your car or check it if you have that option, go back outside security to gift it to a friend seeing you off, or voluntarily abandon it at the TSA station. Your options may be limited once at the travel document checking podium. That’s why it’s crucial to measure your toothpaste beforehand to avoid this scenario.
Can I bring toothpaste in mychecked bag on an international flight?
Yes, there are no restrictions on the size or amount of toothpaste containers allowed in checked luggage, even on international flights. You can pack full-size tubes and multiple tubes. The only toothpaste rules apply to what you carry on board the airplane. Checked baggage is not limited by the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid policy. Do make sure to properly contain your toothpaste to prevent messes in flight. And always check your destination country’s specific import regulations too. But otherwise, go wild with toothpaste in checked bags.
Toothpaste Carry-On Rules: The Bottom Line
To recap, the bottom line rules for flying with toothpaste in your carry-on are:
- Must be 3.4 oz or smaller
- Pack it in a clear quart-sized bag with other liquids
- All toothpaste types (gel, paste, liquid, tablets) must meet size limits
- No restrictions on quantity as long as under 3.4 oz each
- Container size is what matters, not current fill level
- Check or dispose of oversized toothpaste at security
Following these TSA guidelines will ensure you get your favorite toothpaste onboard safety and hassle-free. With some preparation, you can keep your teeth sparkling even at 30,000 feet!