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Carry-on Toiletry Bag Alternatives to a Ziploc

carry-on toiletry bag alternatives to a ziploc

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While we’re all for keeping things thrifty, using a plastic Ziploc bag as your carry-on toiletry bag can have some problems. They can easily rip and leak when your liquids leak, ruining the items in your suitcase.

They also aren’t as reusable as more durable types of bags.

We’ve created a list of carry-on toiletry bag alternatives that have all the features of a Ziploc without the downsides.

Liquids Rules on Airplanes

When packing liquids in your carry-on bag, you need to follow TSA requirements. That means you will need to pay extra attention to how many liquids you are bringing, what containers they are in, and how you pack them.

To do this follow the 3-1-1 rule.

All liquids, gels, and aerosols need to be in containers less than 3.4 ounces (or 100 milliliters) each and fit into 1 quart-sized bag. Each passenger is allowed 1 quart-size bag of liquids in their carry-on. 

You might be interested in learning more about the 3-1-1 rule when traveling with only a carry-on

We know this can get a little confusing, so we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions for you:

What bag can I put liquids in?

There are a few requirements for the bag that you are putting your liquids in. Namely, the bag must be: 

  • Transparent
  • Resealable
  • Quart-sized

The most standard option is a quart-sized Ziploc bag, but there are many choices on the market for reusable liquids bags. 

Can you use your own bag for liquids?

In most cases, you can use your own carry-on toiletry bag alternative for liquids, as long as it fulfills the above requirements. We’ve listed some great options below.

It’s important to note that while a reusable liquids bag has many perks, even TSA-friendly options may have issues going through airport security (especially in Europe). 

Can I use a Ziploc bag for liquids?

A Ziploc bag is transparent and resealable and as long as it is quart-sized or less, it can be used as your liquids bag. 

What do you have to put in the liquids bag?

According to TSA guidelines, any substance that is free-flowing or viscous is considered a liquid. This means liquids, aerosols, pastes, creams, and gels.

This includes makeup and food items like peanut butter but does not include medications with the original label, baby formula, or duty-free items purchased at the airport.

Liquids Bag Features

While it’s easy to pick a toiletry bag that’s cute or free with the purchase of makeup, frequent travelers should seek out certain features in their toiletry bag. 

You might have a nice leather dopp kit that you bring on road trips where you don’t need to put your liquids in a carry-on, but for quick trips, using a TSA-friendly toiletry bag that ticks all the boxes is essential.

carry on toiletry bag alternatives
The Pitotubes toiletry bag that came with the Pitotubes travel bottles.

Clear: You’ll speed through airport security if your toiletry bag is clear or see-through. Or even, one side with a clear panel and the other opaque.

The right size: Make sure the bag is 1 quart, the TSA-approved size for your toiletry bag. Technically you can have a smaller bag if you don’t have many liquids, but 1 quart is already pretty small.

Lightweight: If it’s going in your carry-on, you want to not only pare down in size but also weight. Extra bulk and material should be avoided.

Waterproof: Make sure your toiletry bag of choice is waterproof or at least resistant to leaks in case one of your bottles spills. It should also be easy to wipe out in case something does bust in transit. 

Of course, this is less of an issue if have some proper travel toiletry bottles. Brooke swears by her Nalgene travel bottles as they have never leaked on any of her adventures.

Extra features: Additional features you might like to have are the ability to hang up with a hook or carabiner. A mirror is another perk, as is a zippered mesh pocket.

Carry-on Toiletry Bag Alternatives We Recommend

When buying a reusable liquids bag, you can get something basic or something with a few extras. We’ve got options for both!

Basic Toiletry Bags

In terms of more basic carry-on toiletry bag alternatives, you can find some for fairly cheap that are only a step above the Ziploc bag, yet more sustainable. They should cost you no more than $20 USD and often come with toiletry bottles.

Lewis N Clark Toiletry Pouch $9.99

Lewis N Clark Toiletry Pouch

The Lewis N Clark Toiletry Pouch is water-resistant and even has a water-resistant zipper. The flat bottom ensures that it is able to stand up on its own.

Travelon 1 Quart Bag $14.90

Travelon 1 Quart Toiletry Bag

The Travelon 1 Quart Bag has a zipper closure and comes with three reusable plastic bottles, two jars, and one bottle with an atomizer.

Olanmark Travel Toiletry Bag $13.99 

Olanmark Travel Toiletry Bag

The Olanmark Travel Toiletry Bag has a handle making it easy to hang up in the bathroom. It also has an additional zipper pocket for storing small toiletry items like cotton wool pads and it comes in a range of colors. 

Stasher Quart Bag $19.99

Stasher Quart Bag

The Stasher Quart Bag is made from reusable silicone and has a leak-free patented Pinch-Loc™ seal. We love this option as Stasher bags can be used for so many other things – even cooking meals in your hotel room microwave.

Bags with Extras

We’ve written about a few toiletry bags here on Her Packing List and also asked some of our followers for their recommendations. I’ve included a few of these carry-on toiletry bag alternatives for your consideration below.

Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube $36

carry on toiletry bag alternatives

While the price is a bit high for a toiletry bag, Tom Bihn makes high-quality products for travel. The Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube comes in dozens of colors, has two high-quality zippers, and can have an add-on key strap or shoulder strap.

It’s not waterproof but is made of sustainable materials. It also has a hook to hang off your bathroom door or hostel dorm bunk. The cube clips into other bags by the company and can store more than just your toiletries. 

*Brooke has this and has been using the same cube for about 8 years now! It’s her ideal minimal toiletry bag for any length of trip.

Sea to Summit TPU Clear Zip Pouch $29.95

Sea to Summit TPU Clear Zip Pouch

The Sea to Summit TPU Clear Zip Pouch is a durable, transparent pouch. It has a waterproof zipper with Hypalon grab tags and comes with three 3.3 fluid-ounce leak proof bottles and three 1.6 fluid-ounce leak proof bottles with write-on labels.

Rough Enough Toiletry Bag $26.99

Rough Enough Toiletry Bag

The Rough Enough Toiletry Bag is waterproof and easy to clean with double YKK zippers. It has a handle for easy carrying and hanging up in the bathroom and a nametag in case you misplace it at a hostel. It also has an inner mesh pocket for storing personal items. The included carabiner means you can throw it on the back of your backpack for easy access or if you’re short on space.

Travelon Wet/Dry 1 Quart Bag $23.95

carry on toiletry bag alternatives

Separate your liquid toiletries from your non-liquids with this two-part bag that has a hook to hang up for ease when getting ready. The patented two-section feature keeps the rest of your items from getting wet in case a bottle leaks.

The Travelon Wet/Dry 1 Quart Bag comes in black or purple and is TSA-approved when closed or opened thanks to a mesh panel. The kit includes 3 travel bottles and 2 jars for you to reuse as necessary.

What’s your favorite carry-on toiletry bag?

P.S. You might also like this post on plastic bag alternatives for travel.

ziploc alternatives
Add your voice & leave a comment!

Gear We Use

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Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


tom bihn 3d organizer toiletry bag
Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Michelle says

    I’ve found a ziplock to be best for me. For the most part, I don’t fly that often. When I do, I take all the liquids out of my toiletry bag, stow them in a ziplock, and replace into my toiletry bag once through security. The ziplock gets rolled up and stowed in the bottom of my toiletry bag until the next time I need it, so it doesn’t get too beat up.

    But a month ago I used it to store sugarcane to keep the ants from getting to it, and it got tossed out. So now I’m on the hunt for a free quart ziplock before I fly in mid december.

  2. Beth says

    My husband and I have the Arcteryx bag and love them!! His is black, mine is the blue. It holds everything I need. I recommend it! ?

  3. Christina says

    IKEA has some affordable options, though not sure about how leakproof they are as I have not personally used them, yet.

    Love this blog! I have like 20 tabs open because I want to read it all lol!

  4. Lauren says

    Has anyone had trouble with their “TSA approved” bag? I always found London airports to be quite strict when I lived there. You have to use a Ziploc bag or one of their freebie bags…and of course their bags are smaller than a quart. I’m flying back for a visit soon. I’m not worried on the way out…Pensacola is a beach town and generally not strict about anything!…but I think I’ll go ahead and pack my liquids in a Ziploc to be on the safe side.

  5. Fiona Ludbrook says

    I just bought a new Travelon clear plastic toiletries bag with a zipper, mainly because I was thoroughly sick of the sturdier type zip lock bags failing me. These had all been free, but eventually the ziplock zips closed or open permanently. Twice I’ve had to cut my bag, in order to “unlock my liquid bag as the ziplock was exactly that and the plastic is hard to cut through and sharp.
    I am about to use it on a forthcoming trip, along with some packing cubes.
    It is only a minor trip to my niece in another state, but,essentially, there is not much difference between an easy quick holiday flight and travelling for a year.
    I hate fighting with luggage.
    Also worth noting, is that Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana are amongst the first countries to ban “single use” plastic bags, even the ziplock Glad variety. Hopefully more countries will follow their lead.
    As a traveller with a keen environmental conscious, if I am going to use plastic at all, I want it to last and also not fail due to pretty disfunctonal zip mechanisms!

  6. Fiona Ludbrook says

    As for London airports, only one word; AVOID.
    It often takes a half day to make it through Heathrow arrivals with Gatwick not being far behind, if a little better.
    In contrast, arriving to England via Manchester or Birminham I have never been more than 20 minutes between landing, clearing customs and exiting the airport. Queues have been minimal and the experience as pleasant as international airports can get.
    I have learned to add a day or two and fly in to England, via Manchester or Birmingham and enjoy these fabulous cities and their bucolic surrounds than go through the stress and numbers at Heathrow, unless utterly essential.
    I then take either a superfast train to London or the fabulously cheap, National Express Bus service to arrive in London. A bad start to a country via long queues at the airport and officious staff, is never a good start to a happy adventure, anywhere in the world.
    I simply switch flights in Dubai or Abudabi to Birmingham or Manchester and have a pleasurable, stress free start to my time in England!

  7. Camila says

    Hi, I would like to know if the bag has to be totaly transparent, or it could have some pattern or stickers on it but still be transparent.

    • Brooke says

      I would go with something that is completely transparent. While you could get away with it on many screenings, it only takes one agent to say no that will cause that extra bit of drama you don’t need.

  8. Debbie says

    I have heard of problems with these types of bags in various European countries. I had looked at several bags on Amazon and they all had reviews expressing problems using them at various airports. The dimensions are not exactly the same as the airport ziplocks and most importantly, they are deeper than a ziplock.. These bags hold more than a ziplock which the airports don’t like.

  9. Carol says

    I love the Tom Bihn Clear 3D bag. I’ve never had an issue with security using it. In addition, the hook to hang it up in bathrooms with limited counter space is a winner. Each person in my family has one in a different, bright color so we don’t accidentally leave one behind. The quality is excellent. I’ve travelled with mine for years (business & personal travel) with no issues at all. As mentioned, Tom Bihn products are a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for!

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