Two years ago, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, any Covid tests were hard to come by. While it’s proven to be challenging to find a testing site at peak travel times, there’s no denying that they’re definitely easier to get your hands on than they were in 2020. And back then, who would have thought you might be able to take a test at home by now, in addition to having various vaccine options?
© Daisy-Daisy – Getty Images
Where to put home covid tests to prevent false results, false positives, false negatives for a proper reading?
Something that may or may not have crossed your mind, however, is if you’re storing them properly. Turns out there is a right way to do this. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know to keep your home tests in prime condition as you save them for when you truly need them.
How does poor storage affect home Covid tests?
Temperature changes are the main culprit that can negatively affect the validity of Covid tests, and extreme temperature changes specifically can degrade the chemicals within the solution needed to run the test, explains Suneet Singh, M.D., an emergency medicine physician and medical director at CareHive Health in Austin, Texas.
“This, in turn, can affect the accuracy of the results because the validity of results are placed into question when improper storage and handling issues arise,” he says.
How to properly store home Covid tests
According to Dr. Singh, Covid tests should be stored at room temperature to avoid diminishing their overall accuracy. (sic) No fridge or freezer) “The overall acceptable range tends to be 35 to 86 degrees, but be sure to check the information provided by the manufacturer specific to the test you have,” he explains. “If your tests happen to go out of this range for up to a day, your tests may still work, but the validity of the test, especially if negative, will be in question.”
When storing your tests, you should avoid keeping them in any area that is prone to fluctuations in temperature, Dr. Singh says. For example, bathroom shelves might not be a good idea if the area steams up when someone is taking a shower. Similarly, an area that is exposed to direct sunlight would also not be your best bet, either. Opt for a cool, dark place like pantry or kitchen cupboard shelves, or in a bedroom or closet, over a bathroom or light-filled space.
So what should you do if you haven’t stored your tests properly?
According to Dr. Singh, you should go ahead and toss your tests in the trash if they’ve spent longer than a day outside of the acceptable temperature range described above.
“For tests that have been kept in a non-optimal location but it has been less than one day, it is recommended to return the test to a climate-controlled area that is at room temperature,” he says. “But again, the results of these tests may not be as accurate compared to tests that have always remained at a suitable temperature.”
You’ll likely also want to restock your stash to store them accordingly in the future. In any case, if you’re experiencing symptoms, stay home and maintain distance from others until you start to feel better. If you test negative with a potentially faulty test, hopefully you can obtain a new at-home one or visit a testing site, but do your best to protect others in the meantime.
Article by Emilia Benton for Men’s Health©