DNA testing can be done with alternative DNA samples

Alternative Samples For DNA Testing

Discreet Options For DNA Testing

You may want to do a DNA test without the other person knowing. Journey Genetic Testing’s alternative DNA samples testing process allows you to put your mind at ease in these situations. Discreet DNA testing involves collecting non-buccal swab DNA samples from the people in question. Then they are sent to our lab for comparison.

There are some items are better than others for finding DNA on them to test. Much of our DNA testing is done using alternative DNA samples. We test things like hair, fingernail clippings, ear wax swabs, a toothbrush, cigarette butts, and chewing gum. We will need to take additional steps must be taken during this process.  The lab needs to do a viability test before regular testing can be done on these types of items. This will tell us if there is enough DNA on the item to do the regular testing. Because of the need for this test first, there is an additional testing fee of $100 for non-standard samples.

When Should I Use Alternative DNA Samples For A DNA Testing?

  • The possible father is unavailable for a paternity test, and you have something that you believe has his DNA on it.
  • You want to do a sibling DNA test, an avuncular DNA test, or a grandparent DNA test, and want to keep the testing secret.
  • There is a DNA sample from a deceased, or missing, person that you want to test.
  • Finally, the child you want to test may be older, and you don’t want them to know that their paternity is in question.

Can The Lab Get DNA From Anything I Send?

We can’t guarantee that DNA will be found on every item sent to us. However, we do guarantee that if what you send does have enough DNA to test, we can do the DNA test. Then we can then use the results to determine paternity, maternity, sibling, grandparent, and avuncular relationships.

The average success rate of different DNA samples is listed below:

DNA SampleCommentsSuccess Rate
Buccal/cotton swabSwab the cheek inside the mouth and let it dry.99.99%
Whole bloodMedical blood tube drawn in medical grade tube99.99%
Blood stainsBand-aids, tampons, bloody tissues90%
SemenSwab from condom, undergarments, clothing, etc.90%
Used tissueNasal mucus. Put the tissue in a paper envelope.80%
HairAt least 5–7 strands of hair with the roots attached.80%
ToothbrushPlace the toothbrush in a paper envelope.80%
Dental flossDo not touch with your fingers. Place this into a paper envelope.75%
Nail clippingsNail clippings should store in a paper envelope.75%
Ear waxWax on a cotton swab. Put the swab in a paper envelope.65%
Chewing gumSugar-free is preferable, stored in foil gum wrapper.50%
Cigarette buttsPut 3 to 5 butts that you do not touch with fingers into a paper envelope.50%

Often Asked Questions About Non-Standard (Alternative) DNA Samples

Yes. Anything other than a mouth swab is considered a non-standard, or alternative DNA sample. With discreet DNA testing, you may choose to secretly test someone by using and sending us samples such as hair, fingernail clippings, ear wax swabs, toothbrush, cigarette butts, chewing gum, and more. We don’t guarantee that DNA will be found on the sample that you provide to us, but if it does contain DNA, we can compare it to yours or your loved one to determine paternity, maternity, sibling, grandparent, or avuncular relationships.

As long as the lab technicians are able to obtain a DNA profile from the sample, the results as just as accurate as a mouth swab. Using a higher number of genetic markers to test each person allows us to issue testing results that are 100% accurate based on the profiles generated.

We often get requests for DNA testing with hair. This is because hair samples are so easy to come by, and can be easily and discretely collected. But it is not so simple and straightforward.

Any hair that have fallen out of the body will not be suitable. This is because we need each strand of hair you send to have the root (the "bulb" at the end) attached. If the strands of hair do not have the root, we cannot extract DNA. We need a minimum of 6 strands of hair. If you do happen to have some hair samples, take a close look to see whether you can identify a little white ball at the end of each hair - this is the hair follicle.

If you send a brush with hair still in it, we will not be able to test it. We need to have the individual strands placed in a paper envelope.

Please make certain when you put the hair in the envelope that you do not touch the end of the hair with your fingers. If you can use a glove when touching the hair, that is perfered.

Using a non-standard sample does not guarantee that a DNA Profile will be obtained. This is because we have no way to determine the quality of the sample prior to receiving it.

However, it is not just the type of sample that is important but also other variables such as :

  • Poor storage conditions (e.g. damp environment, extreme heat or cold, etc).
  • Poor sample handling (possible contamination with other DNA or dirt).
  • Not enough DNA present (e.g. heavily used toothbrush vs used once only).

In all cases, the laboratory technicians are trained to make every effort, and multiple attempts, at obtaining a usable genetic profile with every DNA sample that is tested.

In most cases, no. Alternative samples are generally provided for discreet testing and therefore cannot usually be used in court.

In some cases, non-standard samples can be used for testing for legal DNA testing. A DNA legal test requires written consent from all parties (or legal guardians), photo identification, and a third party who performs the DNA collection.

If a legal DNA test is being done, and the sample comes from a Medical Examiner, who completes a chain of custody with the specimen to be testing, then items like a tissue sample, blood samples, finger nails or toe nails, for hair samples can be used.

Our experiences Genetic Consultants can help you decide if this option for testing is right for you. Call us at 1-855-362-5224.

Testing of alternative samples may take up to an additional 5 days, depending on the DNA sample. This is to ensure that a strong enough genetic profile can be obtained. Once a DNA sample is found to be viable, the testing ordered will be completed. Our goal is always to help you get the answers you need in the shortest period of time.

Yes, you are protected by our strict privacy policy. No one may access your DNA test information without your written consent.