When it comes to traveling by plane, you have to be incredibly mindful of what you take with you. For those traveling in and around the US, the TSA will limit how much liquid per container you can take with you. So, before you hop aboard a plane, make sure you have a travel-friendly bottle or bar of soap handy.
Soap bottles for travelers will hold up to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of soap, while travel-friendly soap bars will typically weigh 0.5 ounces (14 grams).
Today, I’ll talk about the reason we’re not allowed to bring containers larger containers of fluids on a plane and how much soap you will use per wash, as well as discuss the differences between soap bars and liquid body wash.
How Come Liquids Are Limited to 3.4-ounce Containers?
One of the most frustrating things about traveling by plane, at least if you’re in the US, is that your shampoos, liquid soaps, mouthwash, and other fluids must be stored in 3.4-ounce containers. That means the gallon of juice you bought at the airport mall has to be chugged before you board or poured into multiple 3.4-ounce bottles.
But why is that?
Well, without getting too deep into it, some people who smuggled liquid explosives onto a plane in 2006 ruined the party for everyone. Since then, everyone has been inconvenienced by this seemingly random policy.
Perhaps you’re wondering, “Why 3.4 ounces? Why not, say, 4.4 ounces?”
Apparently, 3.4 ounces of liquid explosives isn’t enough to cause major damage to a plane. So, in a way, we can be thankful that we get to take something from home, at least.
The somewhat good news is that the TSA has set a 3-1-1 policy. In a nutshell, we can take 3.4 ounces of fluid per container, and we can bring as many containers as we want, provided they all fit inside a 1-quart-sized resealable bag. Such a bag will comfortably fit 9 bags—any more and the TSA might confiscate the extra bottles.
How Much Soap Do I Need When Traveling?
It depends on how long you’re going to be away from home. The longer you’re gone, the more soap you’ll need, and the more 3.4-ounce bottles you’ll have to prepare when flying. So, the real question is, how much soap do you use per shower?
Some have suggested that “less is more” is the way to go. Basically, you should only use enough soap to create a visible lather of soap all over your body. If there are too many bubbles, you’ve used too much.
According to the Dollar Shave Club, 16 ounces of body wash should be enough for between 45 and 55 washes. That means you should use between 0.29 and 0.35 ounces of body wash per shower, which means a 3.4-ounce bottle should last for at least 9 showers.
Can I Bring Soap Bars on a Plane?
Yes, you can, and it’s not restricted by the 3-1-1 policy I mentioned earlier. Since soap bars are solid, you don’t have to worry about being pulled out of the queue and getting interrogated by hostile TSA agents. You’re more than welcome to bring as many bars of soap as you want for your travels.
How long will a bar of soap last, you ask?
On average, you can get 4 weeks of use from a single bar of soap. You might even be able to squeeze (so to speak) a few extra weeks of showers with the same bar of soap if you let it dry between washes.
The typical bar of soap will weigh up to 4.5 ounces. Each shower or bath will use up to 0.17 ounces. So, if you take a shower once per day and don’t overuse the bar of soap, you can get at least 26 days from a single bar. Realistically speaking, you’ll only get 20 days before melding the old bar of soap with a fresh one.
Liquid Body Wash vs. Soap Bar
Choosing one over the other is a matter of personal preference. You might feel more content with your shower if you get the full sudsy experience with liquid body wash.
But there are two obvious reasons why soap bars are superior to body wash. The first is that it’s the eco-friendlier option. Most soap bars are packed in cardboard and paper wrap. The laminated wrap cannot be recycled, but at least the cardboard can. Body washes are stored in plastic bottles, but you can reuse them to reduce your carbon footprint.
The second reason why soap bars are better than body wash is that you get more bang for your buck. Although a 22-ounce bottle of Dove Body Wash should last for 62 showers, which is more washes per bottle than a 4.5-ounce bar of soap, the soap bar can cost 3 or 4 times less than body wash.
If you’re more of a body wash type of person, you’ll enjoy the moisturizing benefits of the added nutrients in every bottle—something that many soap bars don’t come with.
However, when it comes to traveling, there’s no denying that solid bars of soap are the more convenient option. All you need is a loofah, and you can enjoy a satisfying amount of suds every time you take a shower.
How to Safely Travel with Body Wash on a Plane
The best thing you can do is separate your body wash into multiple 3-ounce reusable plastic bottles. Remember: you can only bring 9 of them on the plane, so you should make every bottle count. Also, make sure that the bottles have a tight lid since you don’t want to open the resealable bag and get soap all over your fingers.
That brings me to my second point: get a reliable resealable bag. If the bottles break, the 1-quart resealable bag is the second and final line of defense.
Last but certainly not least: store your toiletries in a separate compartment in your suitcase. If you have to keep it with your clothes, consider double- or triple-sealing the bags—just in case.