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How to Stop Liquids Exploding on a Plane

A person packs TSA-approved toiletry items into a travel bag.

Ever packed your favorite shampoo or that luxurious face lotion for a trip, only to find it spilled all over your luggage when you land? It’s a painful experience and one, too many of us, have experienced. If you’ve been there, you’ll definitely want to avoid a repeat. If you haven’t experienced this yet (lucky you!), let’s help make sure it stays that way.

Thankfully, armed with a bit of knowledge and precaution, you can be on the safe side and avoid any toiletry spills from ever happening again. Honestly, a few minutes of prep is all it takes.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to keep liquids from exploding on a plane.

Do Liquids Explode on Planes?

A person puts a small bottle into a travel pouch.

When the half-empty bottle of your favorite coconut shampoo boards the plane, it’s carrying a sneaky stowaway: extra air. And this isn’t just any air; it’s air that’s trapped inside from when you last opened that bottle. As you fly higher, something happens to that trapped air. It expands and grows. Yet, the liquid inside remains the same volume.

This is where the drama unfolds. That expanding air is like an overexcited party guest; it pushes its way around, looking for an escape. And since there’s no easy exit (like a door), the next best thing is to push against the liquid. In this case, your shampoo. Before you know it, the expanding air is forcing the shampoo out of its container like an erupting volcano, and voilà! Your suitcase becomes the unfortunate site of the aftermath.

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How to Keep Liquids From Exploding on a Plane

A person holds a bag of toiletries over a packed suitcase.

Now that you understand a bit more about why it happens, here are three top tips on how to keep liquids from exploding on a plane (we recommend doing all three for a spill-proof recipe).

1. Squeeze Out That Sneaky Air

When packing for your next adventure, keep this neat trick in your mind. Before popping your bottles into your suitcase give them a gentle squeeze to evict any excess air, and then firmly secure the cap. This little maneuver not only significantly cuts down the air content, but it minimizes the chances of a messy explosion. Think of it as your front-line defense against unexpected spills.

2. The Trusty Saran Wrap Seal

Ah, the good old saran wrap hack—an age-old classic that’s as straightforward as it is brilliant. When you’re prepping your bottle for its journey, drape a layer of saran wrap snugly over the bottle’s opening, and then twist or screw that lid back into place. This additional shield ensures a super-tight seal, and even if that sneaky air decides to expand, the saran wrap stands guard, dramatically decreasing any potential leaks.

3. Every Bottle Deserves Its Own Room

For a spill-free traveling experience, consider packing each of your liquid bottles in its own dedicated zip-lock bag or nifty travel pouch. This method ensures that in the unfortunate event of a minor spill, the mess stays neatly confined within its baggy fortress, keeping your clothes and other precious cargo completely safe. Essentially, it’s like assigning each of your toiletries its very own VIP lounge!

Tip: If you’re feeling particularly cautious (or have had one too many shampoo explosions in the past), double-bagging is always another alternative.

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So, do liquids explode on planes? The short answer is yes, they do. Now, before you upgrade all your favorite lotions and potions to checked luggage, just remember that with a little bit of planning, you can easily prevent mid-air mishaps. The solution is simpler than you might think: squeeze out the air, place some saran wrap snugly under the lid, and nestle it into a sealed bag. Follow these three steps, and you’ll land with your toiletries intact and ready for your vacation. Here’s to more travel spill-free adventures and still arriving with your favorite products.

Courtney Marie L. Courtney Marie L.
Courtney Marie is a bookworm who loves spending time at the beach. She enjoys bargain hunting and, of course, writing. When she’s not working, she's on the lookout for the latest sweepstakes to feature on her website, snipon.com. You can connect with her on LinkedIn. Read Full Bio »
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