How To Do A DNA Test At Home: How They Work, Instant Results, & More

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Old woman DNA Genetic Testing, using Saliva Sample (Caption: How To Do A DNA Test At Home)

DNA testing has become all the rage – from tracing famous ancestors to paternity tests to tracking down criminals. And the tests are so easy they can be done in the comfort of your own home. But how exactly do these DNA tests work? And are they all the same?

How Does At-Home DNA Testing Work?

Order Your Kit graphic Step 1: Order Your Kit

Order your kit online from anywhere in the world (we review over half a dozen providers in our DNA test review). It takes about a week to receive the kit. The package should arrive sealed, so you are certain it has not been tampered with.

Set Up Online Profile graphic Step 2: Set Up Your Online Profile

You’ll need to activate your kit online using a unique code provided to you. This connects your name and contact details to your sample so you can track progress as it’s tested and later view results. You’ll most likely sign a consent form and agree to the company’s legal terms and conditions before getting started.

Provide DNA Sample graphicStep 3: Provide A DNA Sample

Now for the fun part — providing your DNA sample! Most tests offer cheek swab tests. Others, like AncestryDNA and 23andMe, require you to spit in a vial.

Either way, they recommend not eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum or teeth brushing at least one hour before to ensure a good sample. Also, wash your hands before opening the test tubes to ensure a clean sample.

Seal & Ship graphic Step 4: Seal & Ship Your Sample

Once your samples are complete and ready to go, seal the samples in the specimen bag, place them in the provided mailing envelope and drop it in your mailbox for delivery. Don’t forget to make sure your unique ID is on each sample, so the labs have a way to track it back to your profile.

Step 5: Wait For AnalysisWait For Analysis graphic

In an age where we can get most things instantly, you might be anxious to get results right away. But, how long does a DNA test take to come back? Given the complexity of the process of analyzing your DNA and comparing your results to other samples, expect to wait anywhere from 4-10 weeks depending on the company.

Step 6: View & Share Your Results

View & Share Your Results graphic

To access your results, sign in to the online portal using the login you created when you activated your kit (results will not be mailed to you for privacy reasons). Once logged in, you can view and analyze your DNA in more detail using the provided percentages, maps and more depending on which kit you chose.

Can A DNA Test Be Wrong?

You’ve mailed in your DNA sample and are anxiously awaiting the results. But have you stopped to ask yourself if you can even count on them to be accurate?

Whether you are looking into paternity, ancestry, or trying to solve a crime, DNA tests are everywhere these days. But, can a DNA test be wrong? Can we place our confidence and future in the accuracy of today’s DNA tests?

These are important questions and we invite you to read what our experts have to say on the validity of DNA test results.

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Disclaimer: the information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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