How to do a blood test at home
Reviewed by Dr Gigi Taguri
If you’ve not taken a blood test at home before, you might be a little nervous. This is perfectly normal and one of the reasons why we've got all the advice you need to take a blood test at home.
When to take your test
Ideally you should take your sample first thing in the morning, before you eat. To help get your blood flowing you can have a shower and drink lots of water.
If you’re taking a testosterone test it's important to collect your sample around 9am before you’ve eaten.
Do I need to fast before my test?
Fasting means not eating or drinking anything except water for up to 8-12 hours. We recommend that you fast before collecting your sample.
This is because when food and drinks are broken down and absorbed into your blood, it can affect your results - for example, having a high-fat meal right before a lipid test could cause your triglyceride levels to look higher than they actually are.
Make sure to read the instructions included in your test, these will tell you if you need to fast.
What day should I take my test?
We recommend taking your test on a weekday. You should post your sample as soon as possible on the same day you took it.
It’s best to post your sample before the last postbox collection of the day.
What do I need to collect my sample?
Make sure you have everything you need to collect your sample.
What’s included in the blood test kits
Each test kit contains:
- Alcohol swab
- 3 sterile lancets
- 2 collection tubes
- Cleansing wipe
- 2 sterile plasters
- Return form with removable tube labels
- Protective plastic transport bags
- Prepaid envelope
What else you’ll need
- Bowl of warm water
- Clean tissue
- Clean towel
How to take your blood sample
First, read the instructions carefully. Set aside 30 minutes — this gives you enough time to prepare, set up and collect your sample.
- Prepare and set up - Follow any instructions in your kit, such as fasting. Drink at least 2 glasses of water 30 minutes before your test so that you’re well hydrated. Remember to wash your hands.
- Collect your sample - Clean your finger with an alcohol swab, then use the lancet to prick your finger. Wipe away the first drop of blood and then fill the tube by massaging your hand towards the finger prick. Mix the tube following the instructions for the tube colour included in your kit.
- Label your sample - Stick the barcode labels to your tube and seal it in the specimen transport bag. Fill in your return form, pack the form and your tubes into the box your kit arrived in.
- Post - Follow the instructions to make sure your envelope contains everything before sealing. Then post your sample in a priority postbox.
How to mentally prepare for your blood test
Blood can make us all feel a little squeamish, which is perfectly normal. If it’s not something you’ve done before you might be feeling a little nervous. But, if you’re worried about the pain, it’s really not as bad as you think.
Before you start, take some deep breaths, this will help you to relax. Breathe in through your nose while counting to 4. Breathe out through your mouth as you count to 8. Repeat as many times as you need to.
You could also play some calming music or your favourite songs to take your mind off what you’re doing.
Get someone to help you. There’s no shame in asking for help, especially if you’re feeling unsure about taking the blood test. A friend or family member can prick your finger while you massage it to help the blood flow or vice versa.
Tips to make collecting your sample easier
It’s normal to feel a little nervous about collecting your blood sample. You can always ask a friend or family member to help.
These tips can make filling your sample tubes as easy as possible:
- Before you prick your finger, soak your non-dominant hand in warm water to get the blood flowing
- Swing your arm in circles or clench and unclench your fist to help blood flow
- Rest your hand on a hard surface when you use the lancet
- Prick the side of your ring finger
- Massage your hand in a downwards motion towards the finger-prick and guide the blood into the tube
- Don’t squeeze too hard or too close to where you pricked your finger
If it takes more than 2 minutes to fill a tube:
- Warm your hand again
- Do some light exercises like jumping jacks
- Clean and prick a different finger with a new lancet
If you feel faint at any point, lie down and raise your legs if you can.
How often can I take a test?
You can take a blood test every three months, however this would depend on the results from a previous test. A clinician can advise when it is best to take another test, this could be every six months or once a year. Waiting for three months should mean you see the impact of any health or lifestyle changes you’ve made.