Get Tested in a Snap: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using the BinaxNow At-Home COVID-19 Kit

Kathleen Hou


If you have COVID-19 symptoms or think you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, it is important to take a COVID-19 test to determine if you have been infected.
Even if you are fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you get a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms or think you have been exposed to the virus.

Step 1: Disinfect the Testing Area and Wash Your Hands

  • Before you begin the test, disinfect the testing area and wash or sanitize your hands.
  • Make sure your hands are dry before starting the test.

Step 2: Read the Instructions for Your Test Kit

  • Test kits vary by brand, so be sure to check the instructions in your kit first.
  • Check the expiration date on the kit, and do not use a test kit if it is expired.

Step 3: Assemble the Kit

  • The Binax NOW kit comes with two test cards, two tubes of extraction reagent, and two nasal swabs.
  • Do not open the items until you are ready to use them, and use them on clean surfaces.
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Step 4: Start the Test

  • Open the test card and lay it flat on the table.
  • Apply six drops of the extraction reagent to the first hole.
  • Open the swab package at the stick end, making sure not to touch the top cotton part of the swab.
  • Using firm pressure, brush the swab against the inside of your nostril in a circular motion for 15 seconds or five times. Repeat this step with the other nostril.
  • Insert the swab into the bottom hole and firmly push up until the tip fills the top hole. Rotate the swab three times.
  • Keep the card flat on the table, and keep the swab in place. Remove the adhesive and close the left side of the card over to seal it. Keep the card facing up and do not touch or move the card.

Step 5: Wait for the Results

  • Set a timer for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, check your results. Results should not be read after 30 minutes.

Step 6: Interpret the Results

  • If the test is positive, two purple lines will appear on the card. Even a faint sample line is a positive result. If you test positive, follow CDC isolation and quarantine guidelines. Isolation may need to be extended if you are immunocompromised. Talk to your doctor for further guidance.
  • If you test negative, continue prevention measures like social distancing and wearing a mask to protect yourself and others. A negative test does not prevent getting COVID-19. Get tested again if you start experiencing symptoms.
  • A test is invalid if no lines are seen, any blue lines are visible or only a purple sample line appears.
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Regular testing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our families and community. Remember to follow the instructions for your specific test kit, wait for the appropriate amount of time for results and consult with a healthcare professional if you test positive.


What are the different types of COVID-19 tests?

There are several types of COVID-19 tests available, including antigen tests, PCR tests, and antibody tests. Antigen tests detect the presence of the virus itself, while PCR tests detect the genetic material of the virus. Antibody tests detect antibodies in the blood that are produced in response to a COVID-19 infection.

How accurate are COVID-19 tests?

The accuracy of COVID-19 tests can vary depending on the type of test and how it is administered. Antigen tests are generally less accurate than PCR tests, but they can provide results more quickly. PCR tests are considered the most accurate type of COVID-19 test but take longer to process. Antibody tests can be affected by the timing of the test and may not detect a current infection.

How often should I get tested for COVID-19?

The CDC recommends that people who are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, such as healthcare workers, get tested at least once a week. People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should also get tested. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should also get tested.

Can I get a false positive or false negative result from a COVID-19 test?

False positive and false negative results can occur with any test. False positive results happen when a test says you have COVID-19 but you don't, and false negative results happen when a test says you don't have COVID-19 but you do. False negative results are more common with antigen tests. If you have a positive test result, it is important to follow up with your healthcare provider for additional testing and guidance.

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Will my insurance cover the cost of a COVID-19 test?

Most insurance plans are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing. However, it's a good idea to check with your insurance provider to confirm what is covered under your plan.

How long does it take to get the results of a COVID-19 test?

The time it takes to get the results of a COVID-19 test can vary depending on the type of test and the lab processing the sample. Antigen tests can provide results in as little as 15 minutes, while PCR tests can take several days to process.

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