COVID-19 PCR Saliva Specimen Collection Instructions
Consistent with O. Reg. 671/92 of the French Language Services Act, test ordering and instructions on this page is only available in English because it is scientific or technical in nature and is for use only by qualified health care providers and not by members of the public.
Saliva Collection Kit Instructions downloadable PDF availabe here:
- Kits with Funnel and Cap Containing Blue Liquid
- Kits with Funnel and Saline Rinse Packet
- Kits with Funnel and WITHOUT a Saline Rinse Packet
- Kits with Straw and Saline Rinse Packet
- Kits with Straw and WITHOUT a Saline Rinse Packet
- Do NOT eat, drink, chew gum, smoke, or vape for at least 30 minutes before collecting saliva.
- Wash your hands and make sure you have everything you need before you begin.
- A saliva test kit usually consists of an empty tube to store the saliva, a funnel or straw to draw the saliva into the tube, a label for the tube with your name and test information, a clear biohazard bag to place the tube for transport, and a COVID-19 test requisition form. Be sure to leave the small absorbent paper in the provided biohazard bag.
- Failure to provide this information may result testing disqualification or delay.
- Failure to provide this information may result in testing disqualification or delay.
- If using a funnel, the funnel should fit snugly into the tube opening.
- Some kits may also include an optional clear sterile saline mouth rinse (salt water). If so, squeeze all the clear saline solution in your mouth, then swish (5 seconds), gargle (5 seconds), swish (5 seconds), gargle (5 seconds), and finally swish (5 seconds) the saline solution in your mouth. DO NOT SWALLOW the saline solution. DO NOT USE other liquids for this step (e.g., blue liquid found in Spectrum kits).
- Some tubes may have a fill line to help visualize how much saliva to collect.
- Immediately seal the cap onto the tube, twisting tightly.
- Some caps may contain a blue liquid used to preserve the saliva (e.g., Spectrum kits). If so, twist the cap until you hear a click and the blue liquid mixes into the tube. Shake the tube for a few seconds to mix the saliva and blue liquid.
- Once the cap is back on the tube, do not reopen the tube or remove any liquid.
- If collected at home, the specimen should be kept at room temperature and dropped off within two hours of collection to a designated drop off site.
- If the specimen was collected on site by a health care professional, it should be stored and transported at 2-8°C. If transport to the laboratory will be delayed beyond 72 hours, specimen should be frozen at -70°C or below and shipped on dry ice.
Storage of unused kits:
Unused kits should be stored at 2-25°C until used. Improper storage will result in a loss of efficacy. Kits should only be stored up until their expiry date.
Some collection kits may have expiration dates extensions beyond the manufacturer label. The list of expiry extensions for COVID-19 testing products is available through the Ontario Health COVID-19 Health System Response Materials page.
Saliva may be less feasible to collect in some patient populations with reduced salivary production or inability to reliably salivate into the collection tube. All PHO laboratory locations accept saliva specimens for COVID-19 PCR testing. However, some non-PHO laboratories may not be able to accept this specimen type. Contact your local laboratory provider if you have questions regarding the availability of COVID-19 saliva testing. Testing of respiratory viruses (including influenza) other than SARS-CoV-2 is not available on saliva specimens at this time. Settings requiring testing of both SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses should consider other collection options.
To order kits or for more information: Submit your order via the PPE Supply Portal.