We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How to Keep Your Toiletries from Leaking in Your Travel Bag

A toiletry bag next to a suitcase.

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?

A person holding a bag full of travel-sized toiletries.

They were carefully packed with the lids on tight when you left, and now their contents are all over the inside of your suitcase and you have to rinse them off in your clean hotel bathtub. 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.

Morfone Travel Bottles Set for Toiletries

Tightly sealed bottles are key to preventing leaking.

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

A roll of plastic wrap on a table.
Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com

To keep the interior of your toiletry 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. The best liquid travel containers will help keep all your toiletries safe from leaks.

18Pack Travel Bottles for Toiletries

This variety-pack of leak-proof toiletry bottles will keep your bags clean.

Remove Excess Air Before Flying

Suitcases in front of a window with an airplane outside.

If you want to learn how to keep shampoo from exploding on an airplane, the key is to remove excess air. When adding shampoo in a checked bag, 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. The best liquid travel containers have some flexibility to them so they are less likely to explode.

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.

Kitsch Refillable Flat Pouch Travel Bottles Set

Flat pouch containers are another great option.

Add Layers of Protection

Travel-sized toiletries in a clear bag.
Kris Black/Shutterstock.com

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 toiletry 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 delicates, favorite clothes, and other travel essentials 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.

Use Solid Toiletry Products

A person holding a solid bar of soap.
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

If you want to know how to keep shampoo in a checked bag safe from exploding, try avoiding liquids altogether. A bar of shampoo and conditioner can work wonders on your hair while keeping your travel bags clean and mess-free.

Use these soap bars just like you would a bar of soap. Get some water on your hands, lather it up, and then apply to your hair. Rinse it out thoroughly for a great cleanse.

Kitsch Rice Bar Shampoo and Conditioner Bar for Hair Growth

Keep your hair happy and healthy, and eliminate spills in your bag with bars of shampoo and conditioner.

Only Partially Fill Your Containers

Travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, and body-wash lying on a towel.
Valeriy Surujiu/Shutterstock.com

While you obviously want to bring enough toiletries for your trip, don’t feel like you need to fill your travel containers to the brim. When you over-fill your travel-sized toiletry bottles, you’re increasing the likelihood of a spill. Try filling them only partway so you can avoid unnecessary spills.

COOSKY Travel Hanging Toiletry Bag for Women

Keep all your toiletries organized and tidy in this folding toiletry bag.

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!

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on one thing: making your life outside of work even better. Want to know more?