How to take a blood sample

A blood sample is used to test for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Most people find it easier to take the test after watching our short video. It shows someone doing the test and gives you tips to help.

We've recently updated our kits to use less plastic. If you have got our previous kit, with a protective case and plastic return envelope, watch this video.

What do you need?

Included in your Fettle kit you’ll find:

  • 2 sterile wipes

  • 3 lancets - each lancet can be used once

  • Sample tube

  • 2 plasters

You'll also need some tissue.

Getting ready

Taking the sample is easier if you take some time to get ready before you start.

Warming up your body will help your blood flow. The best way to do this is to have a warm shower or bath before taking the sample.

You can also:

  • soak your hands in warm water

  • do some light exercise - like jumping jacks, yoga or walking up and down the stairs

  • hold a warm mug

Some people find that taking the sample is easier when they are well-hydrated. Try drinking a big glass of water about an hour before you start.

You can use gravity to help you as well. Find a low surface to rest your sample tube on before you start. Your blood flow from your fingertip will be better if you can keep your arm held straight over the tube.

So, if you’re standing to take your sample, then it’ll work best with the sample tube standing below your waist. If you’re sitting, try to put the tube somewhere lower than your elbow, so you can straighten your arm over the tube and collect the blood drops as they fall.

Taking the sample

  1. Take the yellow lid off the sample tube. Put the tube on a low, flat surface so it can stand up. Twist and pull the tip off a lancet then use a wipe to clean one of your middle 2 fingers.

  2. Lay your hand palm upwards on a flat surface. Press the lancet firmly into the side of your fingertip. If the finger-prick doesn’t work, try another lancet - it’s why we've given you some spares.

  3. Keep your arm straight and hold it over the tube. Massage down your finger so blood drops into the tube.

  4. Aim to fill the tube to the upper line marked 600. If you can’t get to 600 but are over 400, send it back anyway. If it’s hard to get enough blood, warm yourself up or start using a different finger.

  5. Use a sterile wipe to clean your finger, then apply a plaster. Press the yellow lid back onto the tube so it clicks. Wipe any blood off the outside of the tube. Turn the tube upside down 5 times.

Written by Helen Burkitt. Senior Sexual Health and Contraception Nurse
Last updated at: 02 February 2024
Published on: 12 August 2022