Understanding The TSA’s Rules On Deodorant

When it comes to travel must-haves, deodorant is probably somewhere near the top of your toiletry list. Whether you’ll be traveling to a warm climate or plan on doing a lot of sight-seeing, having your favorite deodorant can help keep you feeling (and smelling) fresh. Many travelers even choose to pack deodorants and antiperspirants in their carry-ons to help combat body odor on longer flights.

Before you pack deodorant in your carry-on, however, there are some things you need to know. After all, the TSA has strict security measures in place that may prevent you from bringing your favorite deodorant past security.

What Is The TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule, Anyway?

For security reasons, airline passengers are limited with regards to how much liquid or gel can be carried onto a flight. These regulations are collectively known as the TSA’s “3-1-1 Rule“. Specifically, this rule means that each passenger is allowed to bring three ounces (3.4, to be exact) of liquids and gels inside a single one-quart bag. This bag needs to be able to zip closed, so you’ll need to pick and choose what you want to pack inside of it.

Why Are Deodorants So Confusing?

So, how does this apply to traveling with deodorant in your carry-on, anyway? This is where things can get confusing, as deodorant comes in many different forms. Some deodorants, such as stick deodorants, come in solids. But it can also come in the form of a gel, spray, or cream. The application of the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule to deodorant can vary depending on the type of deodorant with which you’re traveling.

Packing Deodorant In A Carry-On: What You Need To Know

If you’re planning packing any deodorant in your carry-on, there are some things you need to know to avoid issues at airport security. For starters, if you’re packing a solid stick deodorant, you don’t have to worry at all because these types of deodorant are not affected by the 3-1-1 rule. You can pack as much stick deodorant as you’d like in your carry-on without issue.

For other types of deodorants, such as gels and sprays, you’ll need to be a little more careful. These will be subject to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. Keep in mind that the TSA will be looking at the size/volume of the original packaging—so even if you only have a tiny bit of gel deodorant left, you won’t be able to bring it in your carry-on unless it’s in a package of less than 3.4 ounces (or 100 ml). The same applies to paste and cream deodorants.

The best way to avoid issues with bringing spray or gel deodorant in your carry-on is to simply pack travel-sized deodorants that are packaged with TSA rules in mind. And remember that you’ll need to place these containers in a resealable bag that’s no larger than one quart. You will probably be asked to remove this bag from your carry-on as you make your way through airport security, so it’s also a good idea to keep it packed in an easily accessible part of your luggage.

If all else fails and you can’t find a travel-sized package of your favorite gel or spray-on deodorant, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to travel sans deodorant (nobody would want that!). It simply means you’ll either need to make a temporary switch to stick deodorant for your carry-on or pack your gel, spray, or other liquid deodorants in a checked bag instead.

What About Other Toiletry Items?

With all this information about deodorant in mind, now is also a good time to consider how some other common toiletry items could result in headaches at airport security if you’re not careful. A lot of different types of makeup, for example, come in a liquid form that will be subject to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. This includes (but is not limited to) liquid foundation, lotions, liquid mascara, and liquid eyeliner. If you’ll be bringing makeup in your carry-on, be sure to go through your cosmetic bag before your trip and make sure none of your liquid makeup is in a container greater than 3.4 ounces.

Many hair products also come in gel, liquid, and spray forms and will thus be limited in the amount you can pack in a carry-on. Specifically, you may want to purchase travel-sized containers of such items as hair spray, hair gel, hair serums, and dry shampoo if you plan on packing these in your carry-on luggage.

Some other liquid personal care items to be careful about when packing your carry-on bag include mouthwash, toothpaste, sunscreen, and even gel-cap pills. The good news is that you can find TSA-approved travel-sized containers of nearly every toiletry item imaginable at your local grocery store or pharmacy, so you should never have to travel without the items you need.

The Bottom Line

Traveling with liquids in a carry-on can be confusing, but at the end of the day, the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule exists for the safety of all passengers and flight crew. There are plenty of options for packing deodorant, including packing it inside your checked baggage if you don’t want to worry about size/volume restrictions at all. If you insist on having deodorant in your carry-on (perhaps as a courtesy to other passengers on a long-haul flight!), either pack a stick deodorant or opt for a travel-size version of your favorite gel or spray. And speaking of courtesy to other passengers, you may want to avoid applying a spray deodorant on the plane.

If you do end up having deodorant confiscated by airport security for failure to meet the 3-1-1 rule, you may want to check shops at the airport for travel-sized versions. Many airports have convenience shops that stock TSA-approved toiletries for these exact scenarios. Of course, as with most items at airport stores, you can expect to pay a premium.

A little bit of planning while packing your carry-on bag can help you avoid issues at security, so be sure to keep this information in mind as you prepare for your next trip!