By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, adam@proudmoney.com

Everyone knows you are limited in how much liquid and other toiletries you can bring in your carry-on baggage, and TSA airport security is going to make you separate that quart size bag from the rest of your luggage for screening. But exactly how big is a quart size bag? Are there strict rules about dimensions? Is a Ziploc bag the only type of bag you can use?

Here’s What TSA Says About Quart Size Bags

Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately: TSA does NOT spell out what a quart size bag actually means.

On the official TSA website, you’ll find the following message:

“You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.”

TSA also has a video about what you can carry on an airplane, and the video calls it a “quart size zip top bag.”

And then there is the illustration on the TSA page of what looks a lot like a Ziploc type bag:

So if you absolutely want to be safe, you could buy quart-size Ziploc bags and use one of those. It says “quart” right on the box so you’ll feel confident it’s the right one:

That said, there is no official standard on what a “quart size zip top” bag is. The Ziploc bag above measures 7 inches by 7 and 7/16 inches. But Target has a quart size bag that measure 7 inches by 8 inches. And Hefty makes a quart sized bag that measures 8 inches by 5 and 11/16 inches. So, the quart size bag dimension controversy rages on. (Not to be dramatic.)



Quart Size Bag vs Gallon Size Bag vs Sandwich Bag

We’ve already talked about what a quart size bag is. But just to compare it to its siblings: a quart size bag is bigger than a sandwich bag; it is not the same size. And, of course, a quart sized bag is going to be significantly smaller than a gallon size bag (a gallon is four quarts, after all).

Now here’s a dirty little secret: I use a gallon size bag every single time I travel and not once has TSA said a word about it. The truth is, they care more about the size of the items inside the bag, and what those items are exactly, than they care about the size of the bag. Still, I wouldn’t go beyond a gallon bag or you’re pushing it. Bottom line: whatever TSA official you get makes the rule as they see fit. If they question the size of your bag, be nice and play dumb, say you’re sorry won’t happen again, and don’t direct them to this article where I told you otherwise.

What About The Clear Toiletry Bags on Amazon With A Zipper?

Amazon has a bunch of clear bags with zippers made just for your toothpaste, makeup, deodorant, etc. Some even say they are TSA approved (even though they are not; TSA does not pre-approve or endorse any zip top bag). These bags will probably always get through airport security just fine. If you’re worried, here’s an idea: keep a Ziploc quart size bag in a pocket of your carry on and you can just move your toiletries to that if a grouchy TSA agent decides to make an example of you.