The Best Travel Soaps: A Guide for Clean(er) Adventures

Stacey Ebert

The best travel soaps are multi-use, concentrated, and TSA friendly. 

Travel soap – although it’s not something that often comes up in conversation when we’re travel-planning, we all use it. Whether we’re packing for a safari trip in Africa, train travel in Europe, a Peruvian journey into the rainforest, a Southeast Asian expedition, an Australian Outback tour, or beach vacation, we rarely leave home without it. Because the amount of liquid we can fly with is limited, so are our soap choices. Since we value packing light, we’re always looking for ways the items we pack can do double duty. Soap is no exception.

Whether your soap preferences are liquid, bar, multi-use, eco-friendly, scented, unscented, or something entirely different, finding a version that travels well is important. If you’re like me, you consider how and where things are made, the environmental footprint we’re leaving, and the treatment of our animal friends in testing. And then there are those of us with allergies and sensitivities, doing our best to keep our skin happy at home and on the go. There are a lot of options for travel soap, but some products are definitely better than others.

Below are our picks for the best travel soaps – from bar to liquid to, yes, even those that do double duty as a detergent – and containers to pack them in.

How to Choose the Best Soaps for Travel

I always knew there was a difference in scented and unscented soaps, but I had no idea there were so many different travel soap options. The range stretches from soaps that keep us clean or act as laundry detergent to shampoo, dish soap, and the multitaskers that do all of those things at once!

In today’s world, we check labels on the food we consume and the products we purchase. We’re thoughtful of the bigger picture, knowledgeable about the origin of things, and ethically conscious of carbon footprints. We intentionally allow our concern for humanity and the planet to affect our purchasing power. When choosing travel soap, look for:

  • Multi-use products
  • Organic, natural products
  • Products free of fragrances, dyes, parabens and preservatives
  • Essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances
  • Fair trade products
  • Biodegradable
  • Eco-friendly options
  • Anti-bacterial elements
  • Baby-mild/hypoallergenic
  • Concentrated soaps

When we travel, we’re careful in our choice of locations, tours, and even luggage. A travel backpack allows us to carry everything we need on our own two shoulders and under the seat in front of us. Why wouldn’t we choose travel soaps by the same criteria of portability and packability?

The Best Overall Travel Soap

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The best overall soap for travel is Dr. Bronner’s magic soap. It consistently gets rave reviews from experienced travelers, including the members of Team Tortuga.

This multi-purpose, vegetable-based Castile soap can act as shampoo, soap, deodorant, and shaving cream, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, insect repellent, and more. Some people even swear by it as toothpaste. It tastes kind of gross.

Multi-use, available in both bar and liquid, concentrated, biodegradable, available world-wide, scented and unscented, fair trade, 100% organic, and not tested on animals; that’s hard to beat.

You can’t go wrong with this magic potion in a bottle or a bar. Buy the big one and take it in a GoToob, or buy it perfectly packaged to fly in a travel-size.

Best eco-friendly travel soap

Concentrated & Biodegradable Travel Soaps

These eco-friendly options mean you use less and the soaps breakdown naturally, although they may still contaminate water supplies.

  • Campsuds: available in citronella, lavender and peppermint oil, this soap doubles as insect repellent.
  • Sea to Summit Trek and Travel Liquid Soap: concentrated, biodegradable, and paraben-free, this liquid soap works well for urban and outdoor adventures alike.
  • Lush concentrated soaps: this solid soap is vegan and unpackaged for eco-friendly measures, but also ultra-concentrated–so you get a lot of washes with just a little.
Best travel soap for kids

Hypoallergenic & Child Friendly Travel Soaps

If you’ve got allergies, sensitive skin, or are traveling with a child, you might need to use a GoToob to take a small amount of your favorite soap. Try these:

  • Dove Beauty Bar or liquid soap is hypoallergenic and widely available.
  • Neutrogena transparent facial bar is great for people with sensitive skin.
  • Babyganics is great for kids and babies.

The Best Travel Laundry Detergents

Your body isn’t the only thing you need soap to clean while traveling. To wash your clothes on the go, these are the best travel detergents:

  • Laundry soap sheets (Travelon): Great for hand-washing clothes in your hotel sink, these sheets rehydrate into soap with a bit of water. Since they’re sheets, they’re TSA-compliant, and super compact.
  • Sea to Summit Pocket Laundry Wash: Simply add water to one of these sheets to use as a liquid soap on your laundry.
  • Well Earth Sheets: These laundry detergent sheets come in a compostable package, perfect for zero-waste travel.
  • The Laundress Wash and Stain Bar: The Laundress specializes in soaps for different kinds of clothing, so it’s no surprise that they have a super-portable bar of soap you can use to wash clothes. Since it’s not liquid, it’s TSA-compliant.
Best all in one travel soap

The Best All-in-One Travel Soap Options

All-in-one travel soaps will do it all: hair, body, and face. They even work as travel laundry detergent in a pinch. While our favorite all-in-one travel soap is Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap, these are also great options:

  • Jack Black All-Over Wash: This liquid soap works as a face and body wash, as well as a shampoo.
  • Sea to Summit’s Wilderness Wash: this super-concentrated, all-purpose soap works as a body wash, shampoo, and even for washing clothes and dishes. It’s also biodegradable and safe to use outdoors.

The Best Travel Soap Sheets

For an ultra compact soap option that’s not subject to TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, try a travel soap sheet. Soap sheets rehydrate when wet to create suds to clean yourself with.

  • Soap Leaves (Lifeventure): At roughly the size of a packet of floss, these little soap leaves pack about 50 washes in each container.
  • Buly 1803: These compact, orange scented soap sheets suds into a full wash’s worth of body and face soap with just a bit of water.
Best travel shampoo

Waterless Shampoos & Shampoo Bars

Perhaps you’ve encountered the aerosol “dry shampoo,” but have you seen the no-rinse shampoo that’s a liquid (carry on sized, of course, that requires no water whatsoever? Just apply, lather, and towel dry. Yep. Really.

  • No Rinse Shampoo: For when you don’t have any water, use this no-rinse, no-water shampoo to clean your hair on the go.
  • Lush Shampoo and Conditioner Bars: Bar isn’t only for bodies. Lush’s shampoo and conditioner bars are like bar soap, for your hair. Like bar soap, they’re great for travel since they aren’t subject to TSA’s 3-1-1 rule.
Travel soap container

Best Liquid and Bar Soap Travel Containers

The best travel soap containers will be TSA compliant (for liquid soap) and leak-proof. For bar soap, they’ll ideally also provide a way for soap to dry, rather than sitting in a puddly mess.

Matador FlatPack Soap Bar Case ($13)

This fabric bar soap container is great for travel because it’s ultralight, compact, and won’t get crushed in your bag like a cheap plastic one. It’s also at once leak-proof and breathable – so your soap will dry inside, but not leak all over the inside of your luggage.

GoToob ($7+)

These reusable, silicon travel containers are our go-to for any liquid, gel, or cream – whether it’s soap, shampoo, or sunblock. They’re easy to fill, and even easier to wash between trips. You’ll find a range of TSA-compliant sizes.

Can You Bring Soap in Your Carry On?

Yes, you can both liquid soap and bars of soap on a plane in your carry on. If you’re traveling with liquid soap, it must follow the 3-1-1 rule and be under 3.4 ounces (100 ml). You can bring bar soap of any size through airport security.

How to Pack a Bar of Soap

When traveling with a bar of soap, don’t just toss it in your toiletry bag. Invest in a reusable container like Matador’s FlatPack Soap Bar Case ($13) to keep it from getting all over your other items. Before you pack it, wipe it down with a towel to avoid any excess moisture in your case. When showering, rest it in a dry spot to help it last longer.

Packing Tips for Travel Soaps

  • Squeeze some of your larger liquid soap into TSA approved containers that are 3.4 ounces or smaller, like those by GoToob.
  • Pack concentrated soaps into contact lens cases.
  • Break down your favorite soap bars into smaller sizes to turn that bar soap into a travel-friendly size.
  • Adopt a multi-use soap, like Dr. Bronner’s, for all of your travel needs.
  • For those with sensitive skin, test a new soap at home prior to travel. Baby products are often a good choice for sensitive skin
  • Check products for allergens (for example coconut oil, argan oil, or other nut based).

TL;DR

The best travel soaps are multi-use, concentrated, and TSA friendly. 

  • Dr.Bronner’s is the best multi-purpose travel soap for body, laundry, and hair.
  • Consider switching to bar soaps to make room for in your liquids bag.
  • Use GoToob and Matador travel soap to pack your travel soaps.
  • When choosing a travel soap, look for a multi-use product that can double for hair and body, or even laundry.
  • Take your skin sensitivities into consideration and always test new soaps at home, before you travel.
 

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