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Toothpaste Dots and Other Toothpaste Packing Hacks

Toothpaste dots.

We’re excited to introduce our new series, “Packing Hacks,” which turns the female traveler into MacGyver. We’ll take everyday objects and come up with new uses to make your travel experience easier. 

This week we’re starting with a liquid (well, paste) that can be pretty annoying to pack, particularly if it explodes in your bag: toothpaste!

Travel Size Toothpaste Refills

Ah, those pesky travel sized toothpastes. You buy one for $1 every time you go on a trip and end up tossing them afterwards, but you could easily refill them

Just press a full-sized tube up against the travel-sized tube and squeeze gently, as you would when refilling a shampoo bottle. After all, reusing bottles is better for the environment.

Make Your Own Travel Toothpaste Container

Make your own travel toothpaste tubes.

Another toothpaste hack is to find another container for your toothpaste that’s not as fragile and takes up less room. An eye dropper works great, particularly for weekend camping trips. 

Just squeeze enough out onto your toothbrush and you’re ready to start the day.

DIY Single Use Toothpaste Packs

DIY single use toothpaste packs.

A secondary storage option is making single use tubes of toothpaste and other liquids. 

Take a pair of needle nose pliers and pinch the end of a straw. Hold it over a flame to seal the plastic until you can’t see any holes. Cut the straw into one inch pieces. 

On the other end, squeeze one brushing’s worth of toothpaste or however much you prefer. Clamp the second end and seal with the flame as you did before. 

You can also punch holes in one side to put on a string. This packing hack ensures that you bring only as much as you will need for the trip.

Liquid Free Toothpaste Dots

Make your own dry toothpaste dots.

To avoid liquids altogether, we’ve tested out Lush’s Toothy Tabs solid toothpaste that you chew to brush. But you can make your own at home with items you already have. 

Get a piece of aluminum foil or baking paper and gently squeeze out small dots of toothpaste onto it. Sprinkle with baking soda to avoid sticking. 

When they’re solid, which may take three or so days without a dehydrator, pop them into a plastic bag and you’re ready to go! Be sure to avoid gel toothpastes, as they won’t solidify. I had to test it out a few times before I changed toothpastes.

Tooth powder

If you’re going on a long trip and want to stretch the liquid allowance for carry-on luggage, you might want to switch over to using tooth powder when traveling.

Tooth powder is the precursor to the toothpaste we know today. You can buy them online or make your own by mixing a combination of any of these common ingredients: baking soda, sea salt, activated charcoal, bentonite clay, sage, calcium powder, peppermint, or xylitol.

One of the basic recipes are as follows:

Mix together:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • ½ tablespoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mint (optional for flavor)

Mix and store in a sealed jar in a cool place.

To use tooth powder, dip your toothbrush into the powder, run it through the tap to get a bit of water, and brush as you normally would.

Oh no, I forgot my toothpaste!

Don’t fret, because there are alternatives you can use in this kind of situation.

  • Brush with just water. You won’t get the minty freshness after you brush, but at least you’re removing food particles and plaque from your teeth.
  • Brush with salt. If you have some sea salt with you, mix a small amount (about half a teaspoon) with some warm water. Dip your toothbrush into the salty water and brush your teeth. Salt is antibacterial, but be careful when brushing because it can be quite abrasive on your teeth.
  • Brush with mouthwash. If you’re conscious about your breath, dip your toothbrush into your mouthwash and use the liquid to brush your teeth. You won’t get the full cleanse as brushing with toothpaste, but at least you’ll get most of the dirt out and have a fresher breath.

Do you have any other toothpaste packing hacks to share?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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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.)

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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. Carol says

    For long trips and/or when you want to save pack weight, tooth powder instead of paste works well. It’s also TSA compliant. I used both Colgate and Pepsodent tooth powders for years, but they’re impossible to find these days.

  2. Yonna says

    I put my toothpaste in a thoroughly cleaned eye drops bottle. I put the toothpaste into the bottle, and poured a bit of mouthwash in with it (shake very well to mix it up), to thin it out a bit. Once it’s at a consistency that allows it to be squeezed out of the bottle, I am ready to go! The whole bottle lasted me a 2week trip to Europe, and didn’t take up much space in my 3-1-1 bag either.

  3. jennifer says

    Oh I love the dots! I am really excited to give it a try. The travel sized toothpastes are always just a bit too small for a full week trip. It drives me nuts.

  4. Christina H says

    I think this post is missing the point of Toothy Tabs. One of the main reasons for them is to cut down on waste. Once tabs are gone, the box is recyclable. However with these “tooth dots” above you have the non-recyclable tube plus the (if you’re using the baking soda container pictured, not the box) a recyclable (well, photodegradable) plastic container. Or you can reuse it. But the point is that by doing this you have created more waste. Freezing it on tinfoil (that will likely not be reused) and then transferred to a plastic bag. This is a far cry from Toothy Tabs.

  5. Christina H says

    I would like to note that I realize the point here is for traveling — but it doesn’t change these are nowhere near comparible to the Lush product.

  6. Tamara says

    So if I dried out like 10 days worth of these toothpaste dot things would I be better off doing that or just taking a tube of it? And would I be able to just take these in a little jar in my carry on in my 3-1-1 bag?

  7. Alex says

    The toothpaste dots are a great travel hack. I have been able to make using wax paper as well as parchment paper instead of aluminum foil. After preparing the dots initially, i place the sheet in my refrigerator to help with the drying process and protect from getting any dust from the air on them.

  8. Sonya Kaplan says

    Unfortunately Lush toothy tabs are now in plastic bottles, no longer cardboard containers :(. I have stopped buying them because of this. I love this hack. I can now make my own using parchment paper. Thanks so much. Love this website. So much useful info. I backpack with my girls. Best way to travel in our opinion.

  9. Joelle Montes says

    Will the toothpaste dots melt in the heat? I am trying to figure out the best method for giving them away to houseless persons in SoCal heat. SOS

    • Brooke says

      I don’t think they would melt, but it depends on what is left of the product once the liquid has been removed. Maybe make one and set it in the hot sun to see what happens?


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