Are you wondering, how much liquid can you bring on a plane? With so many security rules for flying, sometimes things can get confusing with all the different rules around how much liquid you can take in your carry on and checked baggage.
It all started a few years after 9/11 when someone tried to use liquid for evil. Long story short, now you’re limited on how many fluid ounces you can take on a plane.
In this article, we’ll explain the TSA liquids rules so you understand how much liquid is allowed on a plane and what the exceptions are that allow you to bring more than the limit. We’ll also explain what counts as a liquid since it’s not always so clear.
Note: This post is written referencing TSA rules for travel from airports in the USA. Some countries may have different rules, so if you’re flying from an airport in another country, please look up the rules for the authority in that country.
What counts as liquid on a plane?
You’d think it would be obvious what counts as liquid on a plane and what doesn’t. But this is something that can definitely get murky.
Some items that are considered liquid on a plane are things you might not even think about. Unfortunately TSA considers them liquid, so they must comply with the liquid allowance rules for flying.
Anything that is a gel, cream, or aerosol is also considered a liquid. Here are a few examples of things that count as liquid that you might not realize.
Since this is spreadable, it counts as a liquid. You are allowed to bring food on a plane, but if you’re bringing something like peanut butter, it must comply with the liquids rules.
Yes, mascara is considered a liquid when flying. Flying with makeup can be confusing since some items might not seem to be liquids but actually are.
Even though toothpaste is thicker than a typical liquid, it is considered a cream or gel. Read more about taking toothpaste on a plane, but the short version is that it also must comply with TSA liquids regulations.
This one can be tricky since deodorant comes in several different forms. Solid stick deodorant is fine and not considered a liquid.
How much liquid can you take on a plane?
Now that you have a better idea of what counts as a liquid on a plane, let’s look at how much liquid you can take on a plane in both carry on baggage and checked baggage.
What is the liquid allowance on a plane?
In case you’re not familiar, here’s a review of the TSA liquid allowance on a plane. These rules apply to liquid you pack in your carry on baggage.
All liquids containers must fit into one clear quart-sized (roughly liter-sized) zip top bag.
Each passenger is allowed to have only one liquids bag in their carry on luggage. This means one bag per person, not per bag.
In addition, the amount of liquid in each container is limited.
How many fluid ounces can you take on a plane?
All liquids in your carry on baggage must be in containers of 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller. A larger container that’s almost empty is still not allowed.
How many ml can you take on a plane?
If you’re more familiar with milliliters instead of fluid ounces, each container of liquid you bring in your hand luggage must be 100ml or smaller. Again, containers that are larger are not permitted, even if they contain less than 100ml of liquid.
Exceptions to the liquids allowance
Luckily there are several exceptions to the liquids rules for carry on luggage. These exceptions allow you to bring more than 3.4 ounces/100ml for certain items.
Breast milk, baby formula, and juice for babies
According to TSA, “Formula, breast milk, juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag.”
When you get to the security checkpoint, you will still need to take any breast milk, formula, or juice out of your carry on bag to be screened separately, just like you do with your liquids bag, laptop, etc.
You should also tell the TSA agent ahead of time that you have these items.
If you have medically necessary items that are liquid, you are allowed to bring more than the liquids allowance. This also means your liquid medication does not need to be in the 1 quart zip top bag.
The medical exception applies to prescription and non-prescription medical liquids, but be aware that what TSA considers medically necessary might not count in other countries. Always check with the country where you’re flying from to be sure.
Declare your liquid medication to the TSA agent as you reach the screening point, and take the liquid medicine out of your bag to be screened separately.
This is a new rule that started in 2020. Instead of the normal limit of 3.4 ounces, each passenger can now bring one container that contains up to 12 fluid ounces of hand sanitizer.
This larger bottle of hand sanitizer does not need to go into your liquids bag, but you will have to take it out of your carry on bag to be screened separately.
Wet wipes, baby wipes, makeup wipes, and disinfectant wipes are not considered a liquid. Yay!
This means you can bring them along with you on the plane without concerns about the liquids allowance. You can read more here: Can you take disinfectant wipes on a plane? Plus how to disinfect your airplane seat! (2022).
Empty water bottle
You aren’t allowed to bring a water bottle that has water in it (unless you’ve bought a small 3.4 ounce bottle) but you are allowed to take an empty bottle with you.
This means you can bring a reusable bottle – which is better for the environment – and then fill it up with water at the airport after you’ve cleared security. It will also save you money since you won’t have to buy those overpriced bottles in the airport.
How much liquid can you bring on a plane in checked luggage?
If you need to travel with more liquid than what the liquids allowance permits, you’ll need to pack it in checked baggage. But is there a limit to how much liquid can go in checked luggage?
In general, you can bring as much liquid as you want in your checked bag. But as always, there are exceptions.
If you are traveling with aerosols, such as hairspray or spray deodorant, in your checked bag, there is a limit to how much you can bring.
Here’s what TSA says:
“Toiletry-type aerosols in checked baggage must not exceed 70 oz. (68 fl. oz) total and each container must be 18 oz. (16 fl. oz.) or less.”
Now, that’s a LOT of hairspray! So I doubt this rule will be a problem for most of you, but it is something to be aware of.
What liquids are prohibited?
There are a few types of liquids that are prohibited altogether. Some of these aren’t allowed in carry on or checked luggage, or there are certain other restrictions you should know about for certain items.
Can you bring pepper spray on a plane?
Pepper spray, mace, and other types of self defense spray are not permitted in carry on baggage at all no matter what size the container is. Even though you’re probably bringing it for your own safety reasons, security views these sprays as potential weapons.
You are allowed to pack pepper spray or other self defense sprays in checked baggage, but there are restrictions.
You are only allowed one 4 ounce (118 ml) container of pepper spray or mace in checked luggage, and it must be equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.
Also, any self defense spray containing more than 2 percent by mass of tear gas (CS or CN) is prohibited from checked baggage. You should also check with your airline before flying with pepper spray because airlines could have stricter rules and not allow defense sprays at all.
Note: Pepper spray is considered a weapon in many countries. If you are flying outside of the USA, please research the rules of the country you’re visiting so you don’t wind up getting fined or worse.
Can you take bear spray on a plane?
Going camping? Unfortunately bear spray is not permitted at all in either carry on or checked baggage. But you can probably buy some once you arrive at your destination if it’s something you really feel like you need.
Can you bring flammable liquids on a plane?
Flammable liquids, like bleach, are not allowed on a plane in either carry on bags or checked bags. Leave these at home, and if it’s something you really need on your trip, buy it when you arrive.
How to bring more toiletries on a plane when you travel
If you’ve been wondering, how much shampoo can you bring on a plane, or in general, how much liquid can you bring on a plane, and you’re now concerned with the limitations, don’t fear! There are ways to reduce some of your carry on liquids so you can pack what you need.
Many toiletries and other commonly used liquids now come in solid form. These solid toiletries don’t have to be packed in your 1 quart zip top bag, they don’t have to be screened separately (though TSA can decide to take a closer look at just about anything), and they can go a lot way in helping you travel with only carry on bags.
The best toiletries for travel are often solid toiletries.
Please note that some posts contain links that earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Solid shampoo and conditioner
Years ago, I switched to solid shampoo and solid conditioner as a way to reduce the amount of liquid I had to pack in my carry on bag. Not only did this save me a lot of space, but I actually like them so much, I even use them at home now too.
Those links go to their versions for oily hair, but there are several different types of shampoo bars and conditioner bars for different types of hair.
I know, weird, right? But it’s true, there are now several different companies that make solid toothpaste tabs.
Basically, you put the tab in your mouth and chew it, which will start to make a foam. Then brush as normal with your wet toothbrush, and spit and rinse when you’re done.
Here are a few different brands to try:
- Superbee: These are environmentally friendly and come in a tin.
- Hello: These come in an environmentally friendly tin and are made with natural peppermint.
- Archtek: Another popular option, these say they come in a recyclable plastic bottle.
- Lush: This brand makes solid toothpaste and solid mouthwash tabs, also in recyclable plastic bottles.
This is another one I tried a few years ago that turned out really well. The solid sunscreen comes in a stick, kind of like deodorant, and you just roll it on.
I have this solid sunscreen if you want to try it out.
It works great, as long as you pay attention to making sure you get every bit of exposed skin. It’s the same as with the liquid version, but since it’s fairly clear when it goes on, it’s a little easier to miss a spot.
Hopefully this answers all your questions about how much liquid you can take on a plane, what counts as liquid on a plane, what the exceptions are to the TSA liquid allowance, and more. And I hope you’ve learned a few tricks for reducing your liquids to make flying easier!
You might also enjoy:
- What NOT to Pack in Your Carry-On Bag
- Can you take batteries on planes?
- Can you bring a razor on a plane? (2022)
- What to Pack for a Trip: Travel Packing Checklist for Carry-On Only