If you’re planning to fly soon, you may be wondering: can I bring my 3.5 oz toiletry bottles through airport security? With constantly changing TSA rules, it’s understandable to have questions about what you can pack in your carry-on luggage.

The quick answer is: yes, you can bring 3.5 oz liquid containers through security as long as they fit TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule. But there are specific guidelines around sizing and storage that you need to follow to avoid having your bottles confiscated at the checkpoint.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain TSA’s liquids policy in detail, including:

What types of liquids are allowed

Exactly how much 3.5 oz looks like

How to properly pack your liquids

TSA exceptions for medical liquids

And tips for breezing through security with your liquids

What Is The 3-1-1 Rule?

The 3-1-1 rule is a regulation implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States that outlines the restrictions on carrying liquids, gels, and aerosols in carry-on luggage.

This rule is designed to ensure the safety and security of all passengers on board the aircraft. Understanding the 3-1-1 rule is essential for travelers to avoid any inconvenience or delays at airport security checkpoints.

3.5 oz or Less per Container

According to the 3-1-1 rule, passengers are allowed to bring liquids, gels, and aerosols in containers that are 3.5 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. These containers must be placed in a clear, quart-sized plastic bag.

This size limit includes common toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. It is important to note that each passenger is only allowed one quart-sized bag, so it is necessary to carefully select the items that you wish to bring on board.

1 Quart Sized Bag per Passenger

When packing your carry-on luggage, it is important to remember that you are only allowed one quart-sized bag per passenger. This bag should be easily accessible for screening purposes, as it needs to be placed separately in a bin for X-ray scanning.

It is recommended to use a resealable, transparent bag to ensure compliance with the TSA regulations. By following this guideline, you can prevent any potential issues during the security screening process.

1 Bag Allowed through Security

When going through the security checkpoint, passengers are required to remove the quart-sized bag containing their liquids, gels, and aerosols from their carry-on luggage and place it in a bin provided by the TSA. This allows the security officers to examine the contents of the bag separately.

By adhering to this rule, you can help expedite the screening process and minimize any delays.

For more detailed information on the 3-1-1 rule and the TSA regulations, you can visit the official TSA website at www.tsa.gov. It is always a good idea to double-check the latest rules and regulations before your trip to ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience.

What Counts as a Liquid?

When it comes to air travel, it’s important to understand what counts as a liquid to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience at airport security. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), liquids are defined as “items that are in a liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste form.”

This means that not only traditional liquids like water or shampoo are considered liquids, but also other substances with similar properties.

Examples of Liquids

Examples of liquids that are subject to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule (3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters per container, placed in a clear quart-sized bag) include:

  • Water and other beverages
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Lotions and creams
  • Perfumes and colognes
  • Aerosol products such as hairspray or deodorant

It’s important to note that these examples are not exhaustive, and there may be other items that fall under the category of liquids as well. If you’re unsure about a specific product, it’s always best to check with the TSA or refer to their official website for more information.

Exceptions: Essential Non-Liquids

While liquids are generally subject to the TSA’s restrictions, there are a few exceptions for essential non-liquids that are allowed in larger quantities:

  • Medication: Prescription and over-the-counter medications, including inhalers and liquid medications for medical conditions, are exempt from the 3-1-1 rule. However, it’s recommended to carry a doctor’s note or prescription for verification purposes.
  • Baby items: Formula, breast milk, and baby food are allowed in larger quantities. It’s advisable to inform the TSA officer and separate these items for screening.
  • Liquids purchased after security: Once you pass through security, you can purchase beverages or other liquids from airport shops and bring them on board. These items will be screened separately, so it’s best to keep them in a sealed bag to avoid spills.

Remember, the TSA’s liquid restrictions are in place for security reasons, and it’s important to comply with these regulations to ensure a safe and efficient travel experience. For more detailed information and updates on what counts as a liquid, you can visit the official TSA website at www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule.

How Much is 3.5 oz Exactly?

When it comes to traveling, it is important to be aware of the restrictions and regulations regarding the items you can bring on a plane. One common question that travelers often ask is, “How much is 3.5 oz exactly?”

This is because most airlines have a limit on the size of liquids and gels that can be carried on board, and 3.5 oz is a commonly referenced measurement in these restrictions.

Visualizing the 3.5 oz Limit

Visualizing the exact amount of 3.5 oz can be helpful in understanding the restrictions. To put it into perspective, 3.5 oz is equivalent to approximately 104 ml or 1/2 cup. It is roughly the size of a small travel-sized bottle of shampoo or lotion.

Imagine filling a small container, about the size of a standard shot glass, with liquid – that would be close to 3.5 oz.

It’s important to note that the 3.5 oz limit applies to individual containers of liquids or gels. So, if you have multiple small containers that are each 3.5 oz or less, you can bring them on board as long as they fit within the designated quart-sized bag that is required for carrying liquids through security.

Tools for Measuring 3.5 oz

If you’re unsure whether your containers meet the 3.5 oz limit, there are a few tools you can use to measure the exact amount. One option is to invest in a travel-sized container set that includes bottles and jars that are specifically designed to hold 3.5 oz or less.

These sets often come with a clear quart-sized bag, making it easy to comply with the TSA regulations.

Another option is to use measuring spoons or cups to measure out the exact amount of liquid you intend to bring. This can be particularly useful if you have larger containers and need to transfer a smaller portion into a separate travel-sized bottle.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to check the specific guidelines and restrictions of the airline you are flying with, as rules may vary. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website is a great resource for up-to-date information on what you can and cannot bring on a plane.

You can find more information at www.tsa.gov.

How to Pack Liquids in Your Carry-On

When traveling by plane, it is important to know the rules and regulations regarding liquids in your carry-on baggage. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has specific guidelines in place to ensure the safety of all passengers.

Here is a detailed guide on how to pack liquids in your carry-on:

Choosing a TSA-Approved Quart Bag

The TSA requires that all liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on be placed in a clear, plastic quart-sized bag. This bag should be easily accessible and separate from the rest of your belongings.

It is important to choose a bag that meets the TSA’s requirements to avoid any issues at the security checkpoint.

When selecting a quart bag, look for one that is sturdy and resealable. This will help prevent any leaks or spills during your journey. You can find TSA-approved quart bags at most major retailers or online.

Arranging Bottles Inside the Bag

Once you have your quart bag, it’s time to start arranging your bottles of liquids inside. The TSA requires that all containers be 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less. This includes items such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and other toiletries.

To make the most of the limited space in your quart bag, consider the following tips:

  • Choose travel-sized bottles: Opt for travel-sized containers whenever possible to save space. Many brands offer smaller versions of their products specifically for travel.
  • Consolidate products: If you need to bring multiple liquids, try to find 2-in-1 products or travel-sized versions that can serve multiple purposes.
  • Pack strategically: Place your bottles upright in the quart bag to prevent spills. If you have any liquids that are prone to leaking, consider placing them in a separate plastic bag within the quart bag.

Separating Medications and Essential Non-Liquids

In addition to liquids, you may also need to pack medications or essential non-liquids in your carry-on. The TSA allows these items to be packed separately from the quart bag, but they still need to be easily accessible for inspection.

When packing medications, keep them in their original packaging and consider bringing a copy of the prescription or a doctor’s note, especially for liquid medications exceeding 3.4 ounces.

For essential non-liquids such as contact lens solution, saline solution, or baby formula, they are exempt from the 3.4-ounce rule. However, they still need to be declared at the security checkpoint and may be subject to additional screening.

It’s important to note that these guidelines may vary slightly depending on the airport and country you are traveling to. Always check the specific regulations of your departure and arrival airports to ensure compliance.

For more information on TSA regulations and packing guidelines, you can visit the official TSA website at https://www.tsa.gov.

TSA Exceptions for Liquids

When it comes to traveling with liquids, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict regulations in place to ensure the safety of all passengers. However, there are some exceptions to the 3.4-ounce rule for liquids that travelers should be aware of.

These exceptions include medical liquids and certain allowances for baby formula and breast milk.

Medical Liquids Rule

If you have a medical condition that requires you to carry liquids in excess of the 3.4-ounce limit, the TSA has provisions in place to accommodate your needs. You are allowed to bring larger quantities of medically necessary liquids, such as prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and even liquid nutrition.

However, you must inform the TSA officer at the security checkpoint about the medical condition and present any necessary documentation or proof of the condition.

It is important to note that the liquids will still need to go through additional screening, so it is advisable to pack them separately in a clear, zip-top bag and inform the TSA officer before the screening process begins.

This will help expedite the process and ensure that your medical liquids are handled properly.

Baby Formula and Breast Milk Allowance

Traveling with an infant or young child often requires carrying baby formula or breast milk, which may exceed the 3.4-ounce limit. The TSA understands this and allows for certain allowances to accommodate parents and caregivers.

According to the TSA guidelines, you are allowed to bring a reasonable amount of baby formula, breast milk, or juice for your child in your carry-on bag. These liquids are exempt from the usual 3.4-ounce limit and are not required to be placed in a zip-top bag.

However, you will need to inform the TSA officer at the security checkpoint and be prepared for additional screening.

To make the screening process smoother, it is recommended to pack these liquids separately from your other belongings and declare them to the TSA officer. You may be asked to open the containers for further inspection, but the TSA officer will handle these liquids with care and professionalism.

For more detailed information about TSA exceptions for liquids, you can visit the official TSA website at www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule.

Tips for Speeding Through Security with Liquids

Have Bags Ready Before Reaching the Line

One of the best ways to speed through security with liquids is to have your bags ready before you even reach the security line. This means making sure that all of your liquids are properly packed in a clear, quart-sized bag and easily accessible.

By having everything organized and ready to go, you can quickly move through the line without causing any delays for yourself or other passengers.

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less. These containers must be placed in a single quart-sized, clear plastic bag.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your liquids meet the necessary requirements and will not be confiscated at the security checkpoint.

Follow the Officer’s Instructions Closely

When going through security, it’s important to listen carefully to the instructions given by the security officer. They are there to ensure the safety of all passengers, and it’s crucial to follow their directions closely.

This includes placing your quart-sized bag of liquids in a separate bin for screening, removing any jackets or outerwear, and placing all electronic devices in a separate bin.

Additionally, if the security officer asks to inspect any of your liquids further, cooperate and comply with their request. This may involve opening the containers or having them swabbed for explosive residue.

By cooperating with the officers, you can help the screening process go more smoothly and avoid any unnecessary delays.

Know What to Expect if Selected for Additional Screening

In some cases, you may be selected for additional screening when going through security with liquids. This can happen randomly or if the security officers have any concerns about the contents of your liquids. If selected, remain calm and cooperate with the officers.

During additional screening, your liquids may be subject to further inspection, such as being opened or tested for explosive materials. Remember that the officers are simply doing their job to ensure the safety of all passengers.

By remaining patient and cooperative, you can help speed up the process and minimize any delays.

By following these tips, you can speed through security with liquids and ensure a smoother travel experience. Remember to always check the latest guidelines and regulations from the TSA or your airline before traveling to stay up to date with any changes.


We hope this guide gives you more confidence for traveling with your necessary liquids. Understanding TSA’s 3-1-1 rule can make the airport screening process smoother as you know exactly what to pack and expect.

The key takeaways are: stick to 3.5 oz or smaller bottles, group them together in a single quart-sized bag, and remove that bag when putting your carry-on through the x-ray machine. Following these guidelines will set you up for success.

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