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How to Keep Your Toiletries from Leaking in Your Travel Bag

A toiletry bag next to a suitcase.
mdbildes/Shutterstock

There are few things as satisfying as a beautifully-packed bag before a trip. But all it takes is a spilled travel-size bottle to ruin what’s inside your perfectly organized luggage—sometimes forever.

To keep spilled toiletries from creating messes and damaging delicate items like electronics or clothing, you’ll need to do a little bit of extra planning. These additional steps will be worth it when your bag stays clean every time! Read this before your next adventure to protect your stuff and travel in style.

Why Do Toiletries Leak So Often?

They were carefully packed with the lids on tight when you left, and now their contents are all over the inside of your suitcase. How come toiletries seem to spill so easily during travel?

The obvious answer is that as your luggage gets jostled around in transit, it’s easy for lids to loosen or cracks to appear in a bottle. However, when you board a plane, the risk of spillage gets even worse.

Air pressure changes in the cabin of an aircraft make gases expand, including the air inside a toiletry bottle. The less full the bottle is, the more air’s inside. When that air expands, it can rupture the container, creating the sticky explosions that frequent flyers are so familiar with.

That’s why, even if your toiletries seem perfectly secure, you should take these precautions (especially if you’re traveling by plane).

Use Plastic Wrap to Prevent Leaks

To keep the interior of your bag free of toiletry gunk, start with simple plastic wrap—yup, the exact kind of plastic wrap you have sitting in a drawer in your kitchen.

Unscrew the cap of the bottle, put a layer of plastic wrap over the top, then screw the cap back on to keep the plastic in place. This will help prevent the leaks that happen when lids get loose or start to come off.

The plastic wrap is thin enough that it won’t prevent you from sealing the cap on tightly but strong enough that it’ll prevent stuff from oozing out all over your bag.

Remove Excess Air Before Flying

When flying, you can reduce the risks posed by air expansion by removing air from inside your toiletry bottles prior to boarding.

If you have soft collapsible travel bottles it is really easy to purge any extra air from them with a gentle squeeze.

You can also add more liquid to the containers so that there’s almost no room for air inside before you fly. The less air there is to expand the less risk there is the container will leak.

If you’re returning home and the bottles are mostly empty, it might be better to toss them instead of risking an explosion.

Add Layers of Protection

Keeping your toiletries inside a plastic bag is a good idea (and necessary if you’re going through airport security). But it’s also a good idea to add another layer of protection between them and your suitcase. You can never guarantee that nothing will leak, but you can make sure that if there is a leak, it won’t get everywhere.

YAMIU Packing Cubes

This set includes both regular packing cubes and two waterproof toiletry bags.

Use a plastic travel case, a waterproof packing cube, or even a second plastic bag to help contain potential leaks. You can also put every item in an individual plastic bag before putting them in a larger bag or travel case.

Finally, to protect your toiletry bottles from getting bumped and broken in transit, pack them between soft layers of clothing or in a padded compartment of your suitcase. Keep your delicate or favorite clothes farther from the toiletries. That way, if they do spill, they’ll only get on clothes that are easy to wash or that you don’t really care about. And never travel with glass containers—opt for durable plastic instead.


Follow these tips and you’re sure to land at your destination without shampoo all over your suitcase! And while you’re thinking about your next flight, take a moment to think about comfort and catching a nap with one of these comfy travel pillows!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »

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