When traveling carry-on only, liquids can be a big frustration. Those pesky carry on liquid restrictions mean you have to find smaller versions of all your toiletries, and you might have to leave a few things behind. But what if you could find some great non-liquid carry on toiletries to make traveling carry-on only a little easier?
What toiletries can you take on a plane?
If you find yourself asking, what toiletries can I take on a plane, rest assured that you can take just about any toiletries you want in your carry on bag. But there are limits for liquid toiletries.
Carry on toiletries size
The carry on liquid rule allows containers that are up to 3.4 ounces (100 ml) and all containers must fit in a clear zip top bag no larger than one quart (one liter). Anything bigger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) is not allowed, even if it’s not full.
But you know what kind of toiletries you can take on a plane without having to worry about how many ounces are allowed on a plane? Solid toiletries!
There are many options for carry on friendly solid travel toiletries. They are non-liquid and won’t count against your airplane liquids limit, allowing you to take more toiletries on flights.
Do my carry on toiletries have to be travel sized for domestic flights?
Unfortunately yes, your carry on toiletries do have to be travel sized for domestic flights and for international flights. This means a 1 quart (1 liter) clear zip top bag, one per person, and each container in that bag must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller.
Security screeners don’t care where your destination is. Always follow the rules regarding liquids in your cabin baggage.
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My favorite solid toiletries for travel
In case you’re short on time, here are what I consider the best solid toiletries for travel. They’ll save you space in your quart sized liquids bag, and they work just as well – or sometimes better! – than their liquid counterparts.
- Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar: Wonderful solid shampoo that comes in lots of different variations for different hair types. I use this and the conditioner bar (next) at home as well as when I travel because I love them so much.
- Solid Conditioner Bar: I love this conditioner bar more than any liquid conditioner I’ve ever used.
- Hello toothpaste tabs: These are solid toothpaste tabs that come in an environmentally friendly tin and are made with natural peppermint.
- Neutrogena solid sunscreen: A great alternative to liquid sunscreen, and I’ve been using it for years.
- Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent Balm Stick: This solid bug repellent is a life saver, so much better than the horrible smell of the spray variety.
- Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets: A friend bought me these non-liquid laundry detergent sheets years ago, and I’ve been traveling with them ever since.
Keep reading for more details on my favorite carry on friendly solid travel toiletries, plus some frequently asked questions about traveling with toiletries.
Non-liquid / Bar soap for carry-on travel
This should be an easy one. Lots of us use liquid shower gel on a daily basis, but when you’re traveling, packing a solid bar of soap is an easy switch.
It might not be your favorite way of showering, but it will still get you clean and it won’t take up space in your liquids bag.
Does bar soap count as a liquid when flying?
A big advantage of traveling with bar soap is that a bar of soap does not count as liquid when flying.
I do recommend putting your bar of soap in a secure travel soap dish so it doesn’t leak, and you should probably pack it in a toiletry bag or Ziploc bag just in case. You don’t want your clothes getting wet and soapy while in transit.
Does bar soap need to be in a quart bag?
Since it’s solid, not liquid, bar soap does not need to be packed in one quart liquids bag. Pack it somewhere else in your luggage so you won’t lose any precious space in that tiny bag.
>>Can you take hair straighteners in hand luggage? Click the link to find out, plus info about taking curling irons and hair dryers in carry on.
Solid shampoo and conditioner for carry-on travel
Solid shampoo might be for the more hard-core travelers. I understand not wanting to give up your normal shampoo, especially for the ladies, but this is something to consider if you have a lot of other liquids you just can’t give up.
It’ll certainly help you fly carry-on only. I made the switch a few years ago, and now I only use solid shampoo – even when I’m at home!
I personally use Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar and Solid Conditioner Bar and I love them. The conditioner bar took two or three uses before it really started working well for me, but now I love it, so be patient with it.
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.
If you happen to live in Germany, I’ve also tried the Jolu Shampoo Bar, and I love this one too. Unfortunately I’ve only been able to find it on the Amazon Germany site.
Ethique shampoo and conditioner bars and Jolu shampoo bar have become my favorite carry on toiletries, and they’re ones I now use daily at home or on the road.
Lush shampoo bars are also good, but the ones for my hair type have chunks in them, like seaweed or lemon bits, and that annoyed me after awhile. Apparently not all varieties are like this though.
Their conditioner bar isn’t great either. Even as someone who doesn’t need much conditioner, I never felt like I was getting enough out of theirs.
That said, Lush makes good stuff and is one to consider when testing out solid toiletries, plus many of their products come without plastic packaging.
Here are a few other solid shampoos and conditioners to try:
- J.R. Liggett bar shampoo
- Real Beer & Honey Shampoo Bar from Tasmania Australia
- Honey Silk conditioner bar
No matter which ones you choose, make sure you test them out ahead of time so you know how they work with your hair.
Do shampoo bars count as liquid?
Nope! Shampoo bars do not count as liquid because they are solid, essentially a fancy bar of soap.
Is conditioner considered a liquid?
Typical conditioner does count as a liquid, and it will need to comply with TSA liquids rules. But give solid conditioner a try, because it’s a wonderful non-liquid alternative for travel.
And really, I love my solid conditioner bar more than any liquid conditioner I’ve ever used.
Does shampoo count as a liquid on a plane?
Standard shampoo comes in liquid form. It’s basically a gel, so it does count as a liquid on a plane.
This is why solid shampoo (and conditioner) is so great. Solid shampoo is in the form of a bar of soap – so it’s NOT liquid – but it’s formulated for your hair.
Non-liquid perfume for carry-on travel
Ladies, I know you like to smell nice whether you’re home or on the road. But packing your favorite perfume might not be practical.
Those bottles spill too easily, and if it’s a big bottle, it might be over the 100ml/3.4 ounce limit.
They won’t leak or spill because they’re solid, made from a base of coconut oil and beeswax so the texture is similar to lip balm. They come in a wide variety of scents to fit your preferences.
Update: Unfortunately the Aroamas are currently only able to ship to Australia and New Zealand. Check out these solid perfume suggestions instead if you live elsewhere. They’ll make a great addition to your hand luggage toiletries.
>>Read more about taking makeup on a plane.
Solid toothpaste? What? Yes, you read that right. These amazing solid travel toiletries will save you more space in that liquids bag.
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.
While they take a little getting used to, I love having one more non-liquid alternative when packing up my carry on toiletries.
If you use solid roll-on deodorant, you’re already using a non-liquid option that doesn’t need to go in your liquids bag.
But some of you might use a liquid roll-on deodorant or an aerosol deodorant. Those types will have to comply with the liquid toiletries limit, and since they’re typically pretty big containers, even if they’re 3.4 ounces or less, they really eat into your bag’s capacity.
I highly recommend switching to a solid deodorant for travel.
Ethique, the brand I love for solid shampoo and conditioner also makes an aluminum-free solid deodorant. I haven’t tried it yet, but I will be adding it to my next order for sure.
Another great option for aluminum-free solid deodorant is Freedom, and they have regular sizes and travel sizes. They also sell sprays, so make sure you’re looking at the solids.
Did you know sunscreen comes in solid form too? This is perfect for those beach vacations, or really any trip where you’ll be spending a lot of time outside.
I tried this solid sunscreen on a recent trip and thought it was a great option for reducing carry on liquids.
Does stick sunscreen count as a liquid?
I get it, TSA has us questioning almost everything these days: Is it liquid, is it not liquid? It’s frustrating.
But stick sunscreen does not count as a liquid. It’s a fantastic solid toiletry alternative to its more well known liquid version.
Non-liquid bug repellent
On a recent trip to Central America and again on our US Southwest road trip, I tried a different brand that is unfortunately out of stock. But it was great, and as long as I remembered to actually use it (I forgot a few times…oops!) it worked well to keep the mosquitoes away.
This is definitely one to add to your airplane toiletries packing list.
Laundry detergent strips
This might not apply to all of you, but if you’re traveling long enough to need to do laundry, consider picking up some non-liquid laundry detergent strips.
I don’t recommend them for an entire load of laundry (I once tried using 4 or 5 in one load and my clothes didn’t quite feel clean) but they work great for washing a few pairs of underwear in the sink when you’re in a pinch.
Can I bring laundry detergent on a plane?
You can take standard laundry detergent on a plane in liquid form if its container is 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller and it fits in your liquids bag.
Otherwise, you can bring some laundry detergent sheets as mentioned above. Since these are solid, not liquid, you won’t have to worry about a limit.
Can you hide liquids in your carry on?
After reading this post about solid toiletries for travel, I hope you don’t even need to ask this question. But no, you can’t hide liquids in your carry on bag.
Airport security has x-ray machines, not only to check for obviously dangerous items, but also to check for pesky liquids. They might occasionally miss a small bottle of something liquid, but for the most part, they’ll find it.
It’s really not worth trying to hide liquids in your bag. If TSA finds something in your bag that’s liquid and over the limit, they will confiscate it.
Try the non-liquid toiletries I’ve mentioned above, and you will most likely to be able to replace at least a few of your liquid items. This will reduce the amount you need to fit in your liquids bag.
The possibilities for solid travel toiletries are endless. Do a quick search for “solid” or “non-liquid” plus the product you’re interested in, and chances are there’s a solid option for you. Non-liquid carry-on toiletries are a great way to reduce the stress of the TSA liquid restrictions and reduce the chances of things spilling in your luggage.
Read more great posts about packing:
- How to Pack Light With Liquids
- How to Pick the Best Carry-On Luggage
- Carry-On Size Chart by Airline
- And check out the full packing section here