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.
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.
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:
- 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?