Here's Why You Should Throw Out Your At-Home COVID Tests After Seeing The Results

At this point, pretty much all of us have taken an at-home COVID test at one point or another. While we all know what could happen to your body if you get COVID-19 and have a bit of experience with taking a COVID test, some of us don't know what happens after we take the test. Surely what you do with the test once you're finished isn't what you're focused on; the important part of taking a COVID test is getting the results — right? Well, it turns out that what happens with your COVID test after you take it could affect your health (via Parents).


If you're taking a COVID test, at all, it's clear that, like most of us, you care about keeping your body healthy. We all know that taking at-home COVID tests when we've been exposed to the virus or when we're feeling symptoms can be crucial to staying healthy and preventing the spreading of illness to others (per FDA). That doesn't mean, though, that a negative test result means you're totally in the clear. How you dispose of the test itself can make a major difference.

The hidden danger in your COVID test

At-home COVID tests are helpful and safe to use, but it's vital that you use them the way you're supposed to, as Parents noted. Using the test incorrectly, on the other hand, could put you in direct contact with a dangerous chemical. Some tests were made with a toxic substance called sodium azide (via USA Today). It's unclear exactly how many of these tests have the harmful chemical, but 50 million people have the tests that may contain it. 


The chemical is found in the liquid that you mix your nasal swab into. The amount is so low that it really shouldn't cause serious harm, but using the test correctly will keep you from touching the liquid, at all, and eradicate any risk, as reported by USA Today. If even a small amount is ingested, however, sodium azide can cause myriad problems from low blood pressure to respiratory problems and could even cause death. Even if the substance simply touches your skin or eyes, you may experience pain and irritated skin.

How to stay safe

If you've ever taken a COVID test, you know how complicated and specific the instructions are. Still, following those complex instructions is the first step to making sure that your COVID testing experience is a safe one, according to Parents. Always read the instructions carefully, even if you've taken a test before, and make sure to do all the steps in the exact order listed (via FDA). This will prevent the liquid in question from coming in contact with your skin or with the nasal swab before you use it.


Using gloves when taking your test can give you an extra level of protection during the process. After you've finished taking the test, dispose of it immediately, and make sure that how you've thrown the test out won't allow for the possibility of anyone accidentally touching it, the FDA recommended. Also, ensure that at all times, no children can reach the test, and don't leave the other components of the test sitting on the table while you're waiting for your results. With a little extra care, you can ensure that you and your loved ones are entirely out of harm's way and also COVID negative.