The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict regulations about what can and can not be brought with you on a plane. That includes aerosol toiletries and even certain hairstyling tools.
You can take aerosols on a plane as long as they comply with the TSA liquids rules. This means each container must be 3.4oz or less and all fit in a one quart-sized bag.
In this article, we answer the questions you may have about carrying aerosols on a plane and how to pack them.
Many toiletries and grooming products come in an aerosol form including deodorant, hairspray, shaving cream, mousse, and more. Aerosols can contain liquids, and all of these products must comply with the TSA’s liquids rule if you fly with them.
Therefore, all the liquids in your carry-on or hand luggage must be in 3.4-ounce (100 mL) or smaller containers. And no, an almost-empty larger container is still against regulations.
The convenience of dry shampoos and conditioners in aerosol form makes them popular travel items but note that even these products must follow the same rules. This can be confusing because the contents of the can don’t contain liquid. The reasoning is that almost all aerosols are flammable and must be carefully regulated because of the propellant gases used in the cans.
Additionally, these aerosols must follow the liquids rule of being placed into a quart or liter-sized zip-top bag, and each passenger can only have one liquids bag in their hand luggage.
Carrying aerosols in your hand luggage sounds tricky, but basically, it’s the size that matters most. Fortunately, many of these products come in handy travel sizes. But if you can’t find your favorite styling mousse in a travel size and simply can’t live without it, you’ll have to stow it in your checked baggage. And even then, rules apply.
Again, size matters. The 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.”Note that the rule says “toiletry-type aerosols.” So if for some strange reason, you find yourself needing a can of spray paint, cooking spray, or WD40 on your journey, you’ll have to pick it up at your destination.
Going to a buggy tropical location? You’ll definitely need some bug spray. The TSA will only allow aerosol insect repellents in checked bags and they must not be labeled as hazardous material (HAZMAT.) Still, it’s best to check with the airline you’re traveling on before bringing any type of insecticide. And they absolutely aren’t allowed in the cabin on any airline.
Some insect repellents are available in lotion form, but this is one item that may make more sense to buy at your destination.
Packing aerosols in your hand luggage or carry-on is fairly cut and dried. They must be in travel-sized containers and placed in a leak-proof liquids bag such as a large zip-top bag. But what about the larger aerosols in your carry-on?
If you use a lot of toiletries that come in aerosol cans, the total could easily exceed 68 fluid ounces. You’ll have to plan accordingly and either leave your favorites behind, settle for travel-sized toiletries, or purchase them at your destination.
Once you’ve selected the aerosols you want to take, it’s also a good idea to place them inside a leak-proof bag. Some travelers wrap a towel around them. Both methods will prevent messes should they can leak or explode. You could even go the extra mile and do both. Then you’ll have no worries about sticky hairspray or other liquids ruining your clothing.
Some travelers also advocate for taping the lids to aerosol cans. That way, if your bag gets jostled, the lid won’t fall off and the actuator won’t accidentally get pressed.
The question of how to take aerosols on a plane will be easier if you remember that all aerosol products are considered liquids by the TSA. Old pros are well-acquainted with the following 3-1-1 rule for liquids:
“Each passenger may carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or100 milliliters. Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, gels, and aerosols.”
The “3” stands for 3 ounces (actually 3.4 to be precise.) The first “1” refers to the 1-quart-sized bag they must be placed in for your hand luggage. The second “1” means one bag of liquids per passenger.
And remember, you also have other options for carrying your personal products of choice on a plane such as solid deodorants and sunscreens in a tube.
Whenever possible, use travel-size containers to stay within the total of 68 fluid ounces guideline. Another simple solution is to purchase your personal products at your destination, especially for extended stays.
However long your journey, stay safe, and happy travels.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.