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Can You Contaminate A Paternity Test?

Home DNA paternity tests are a common tool that you can use to determine the legitimacy of the father in question as to the real biological father of the offspring. However, the problem with using those home testing kits is that there is a slight chance that you can potentially screw something up and end up contaminating the paternity test.

The home DNA paternity test will be supplied to you by the company of your choosing. This testing kit should come equipped with everything that you need, including a detailed guide, to ensure that you have an accurate result from your samples. Once you are done collecting the samples, you are then tasked to send the swab sample back to the company as soon as possible. That whole process should be taken under strict guidelines to prevent any unnecessary contamination.

DNA is commonly collected using a cheek swab method. The process would involve you swabbing the inside of your mouth to collect the cheek samples embedded inside your saliva. This entire process of forcefully swabbing the inside of your cheek should only take around 30 seconds to a minute. In fact, cheek swabs are considered to be equally effective as DNA blood testing.

Although, you can still run the risk of contaminating the substance with various activities that could result in your sample being inconclusive. A single error in your sample DNA could potentially end up rejecting the DNA comparison or could even fail in total. Avoid these potentially contaminated activities.

Ingesting Or Placing Anything In Your Mouth Before Taking The Test

A home DNA paternity test would normally require the participants to conduct a cheek swab sample. This simple but effective method of acquiring DNA is something that everyone can do at home without any sort of issues. But is it as fool-proof as they claim?

The problem that could arise from taking a swab test is from people who smoke. Although the act of smoking does not technically cause your cheek swab samples to fail, you still need to refrain from taking a cigarette at least 1 to 2 hours before taking the swab test. Any form of smoking could potentially degrade the quality of your sample or even cause the test itself to be contaminated, rendering your sample as a failure.

In addition, you need to pay attention to ensure that you do not eat or drink anything within that 1 to 2 hour period before you start attempting the cheek swab. Any foreign substance, no matter how big or small, can drastically impact the results of your test.

Simply keep in mind to keep your mouth free from any outside substance at least an hour or 2 before the swabbing and you will be fine. A contaminated sample would result in you repeating the same process at a later date which could put a hamper on your plans.

Mishandling The Samples Could Lead To Cross-Contamination

It is not just your mouth that needs to be clean from any outside debris when handling DNA samples, you should also maintain a clean and sterilized hand when handling your sample.

The swab’s integrity can get severely contaminated when you accidentally got it in contact with anything that could carry bacteria such as the floor or your hands. It should be stated in the instructions of handling a paternity test to wear a pair of gloves for safety.

One other major thing that should be followed through at all times would be the placement of the samples. You will normally be tasked to mail your samples back to the company that you applied to. However, that process could potentially cause harm to your DNA sample as it can be exposed to all sorts of bacteria and debris. That is why you should ensure that your sample is mailed and sealed in an enclosed envelope and you should NEVER share the same envelope with your partner or child’s DNA sample.

Packaging Is Crucial For All Samples

Sending your DNA sample can be nerve-racking due to the fear of your sample getting lost or contaminated as a result of poor handling. We cannot control the quality of the mailing services of your area but you can control the quality of your DNA sample’s packaging.

One of the ways your sample’s packaging can get compromised is from the wetness of the cheek swab. You cannot avoid the amount of moisture on your package completely. It is common to have a bit of saliva on your envelope due to it being directly in contact with your mouth. However, it would be best for you to let your sample “dry out” a bit by letting naturally be less damp with the air. Remember that your goal when attempting a swab test is to get the cheek cells in your mouth, not the saliva forming near your gums.

Another common issue that could arise with packaging is the material that it is placed on. You may think that it would be best to just send the sample back on the same packaging it originally came on but that is a terrible idea. A DNA sample is an organic material, thus you can expect it to grow some molds and degrade fast when exposed under certain circumstances. The lack of air for the DNA to breathe will almost certainly cause your samples to be moldy and contaminated by the time it reaches the testing facility. As such, it would be best for you to place the DNA sample material on a quality paper envelope. Just remember to air dry the sample beforehand to prevent the wet saliva from breaking through the packaging.


Your DNA samples are always at risk of being contaminated due to the abundance of foreign materials present around the world. However, a careful read-through of the instructions could prevent you from any unnecessary mistakes that could arise. And remember that contaminated DNA would not result in a false result or change the structure of your DNA. If the sample is contaminated then all you would need to do is to send a replacement as soon as possible.

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