Hand Sanitizer In My Carry On – What Do I Need To Know?

Carrying hand sanitizer has become the new norm. So, how does it work when you’re traveling? Can you take hand gel in your carry on luggage and should airlines offer your free sanitizer onboard? Here’s the low-down.

737 silhouette
Can you take hand sanitizer on your next trip? Photo: Getty Images

Rules and regulations for hand sanitizer

When it comes to packing your liquids, there’s now one more thing you might reach for: hand sanitizer. But how much? While it’s easy enough to get hold of a 100ml bottle of hand gel, not all passengers will be restricted. Recent rule changes mean that travelers in certain countries might be allowed to by-pass the 3.4oz liquid rule.

The Transport Security Administration (TSA) now permits passengers to carry one oversized bottle of hand gel in their carry on luggage. Travelers can take up to 12oz (around 350ml) into the cabin. Anything above that amount can be carried in checked-in baggage.

In order to facilitate this change, the TSA advises that large volume hand sanitizers should be screened separately. Passengers should be aware that this process could add time to their journey.

Hand sanitizer in Kenyan airport
Many airports offer free hand sanitizer. Photo: Getty Images

What are the rules outside the United States?

However, outside the United States, rules regarding hand sanitizers in carry-on baggage have not really changed. This begs the question: is there really a need for the regulation to change?

It seems that there is an abundance of hand sanitizers around, including on your next plane trip. Airports regularly supply sanitizing stations alongside regularly cleaned bathrooms. What’s more, some airlines also offer free hand gel onboard.

Broadly, you’ll be covered for all your sanitizing needs, but if you can, should you invest in an oversized hand gel for your next trip? If your airline, air transport authority, or government does not allow you to take additional quantities of hand sanitizer, you should not panic. Even with increased handwashing, 100ml should suffice for your journey.

British Airways front end
What about the rules outside of the US? Photo: Getty Images

Should airlines offer free hand sanitizer?

You might notice a small bottle of hand sanitizer crop up in your amenity kit onboard your next flight. It’s a thoughtful touch that puts passengers’ minds at ease. It certainly goes a long way to welcoming people back to flying.

Getting the approval to distribute hand sanitizer on board can be a lengthy process. The Department of Transport (DoT) must grant permission for airlines to carry hand gel between 60-70% alcohol. The worry is that storing excess volumes of hand sanitizer could present a fire hazard.

United and American at LAX
US airlines must apply for permission to carry hand sanitizer. Photo: Getty Images

In order to mitigate this risk, US airlines covered by DoT regulation are duty-bound to a few regulations. They must store limited amounts distributed throughout the cabin in the interest of safety.

Either way, if airlines don’t offer free hand sanitizer, they should be heavily disinfecting the cabin to eliminate viruses and bacteria.

Would you want to carry a bottle that holds more than 100ml of hand sanitizer? Should airlines offer free hand gel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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