Performing a COVID home test at home is a good way to check for symptoms, and you can do it yourself at any time. The best way to do this is by using a swab or a saliva sample from your nose, throat, or mouth.
Swabbing your nose to get a COVID-19 sample
The most common way to make a home COVID-19 test is by using a nasal swab, which is a long stick that looks like a Q-tip with a soft brush on the end. It doesn’t need to be inserted too far into your nostrils, just enough to collect a small amount of mucus for the test. A healthcare worker then rotates the swab in a circle around the inside of your nose at least three times to get a sample for the test.
Nasal swabs typically cost about $2 to $3 at most walk-up clinics and drive-thru testing sites, but you can find them at some stores. They are available in two forms, a shallow nasal swab and a nasopharyngeal swab.
This test uses PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology to detect the virus that causes COVID-19. It’s the most accurate and sensitive of the tests, so it’s usually the first option recommended by health care providers.
If you aren’t sure which swab to use, consult your health care provider, who can help you decide on the right one for your needs. In general, it’s best to use a swab that has been approved by the FDA for use as an at-home nasal swab.
To make a nose swab, you’ll need a kit that contains a soft swab, an insert, and a tube. The instructions in the kit will tell you how to use the swab and how to dispose of it once it’s no longer needed.
You can find a kit at many grocery or drug stores, or you can purchase it online at a retailer that sells medical supplies and equipment. Some kits also include a phone app to give you real-time test results.
The instructions in the kit may vary depending on the specific test. Always follow the instructions carefully to ensure you get the best possible results from your swab.
Getting your swab into your nose can be tricky. For safety, CDC recommends that you wear gloves when performing the test. You should also wash your hands before and after you swab your nose, and you should keep the swab in a clean container until you use it.
Some people are concerned that the swab may pick up bacteria or other contaminants in your nasal cavity that can interfere with the test. To avoid this, you should try to get a clear sample of the nasal tissue that you swab.
You should also remember to wash your hands after you swab, especially if you have been in contact with someone who has been infected with the COVID-19 virus. If you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider about whether you should use hand sanitizer before and after the test.