Saliva swabs

Saliva Swabs Made from High-Purity Porous Media Increase COVID-19 Test Accuracy

Articles | Life Sciences | Porous Fiber | Wick |

April 20, 2020

By Natalie Schlage, Strategic Marketing Manager – Diagnostics

In the past few years, there has been a significant growth in diagnostics test manufacturers trying to find less-invasive sample collection options.  Saliva falls into this category because of the ease by which it can be collected and because of its broad utility as a diagnostic medium (Slowey, 2015).  Many clinical labs prefer to take saliva samples since they are not only easy to collect but also inexpensive, which is leading many diagnostics test manufacturers to develop more saliva-based tests – especially for tests targeting viral infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

With the increase in saliva-based tests, the material used to collect saliva becomes more critical.  While some tests use cotton as the swab material, there are many issues with this material that make it a poor choice for sensitive tests such as those for infectious diseases like COVID-19. As cotton is a plant-based material, it contains its own DNA. The new tests developed to detect COVID-19 and other infectious diseases use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as their diagnostic method of choice. This reaction makes copies of specific DNA/RNA fragments to multiply them and to detect them.  As the correct and specific DNA/RNA section is critical, the material of the swabs plays an important role for receiving correct results. In fact, the guidelines for the testing of COVID-19 recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that “swab specimens should be collected only on swabs with a synthetic tip.”

Porex has been manufacturing saliva collection media (such as saliva swabs) using porous media for over 20 years, and it is used by leading diagnostic test manufacturers globally.  POREX® saliva collection media is made from high-purity porous polymers using plastics such as polypropylene and polyethylene to eliminate any assay interferences – and they are all backed by the CERTIFIED PURE POREX® program of independent third-party laboratory testing.  We manufacture the porous collection media with the ideal capillary structure for a controlled absorption speed that ensures the most accurate results.  The saliva swabs stay soft when wetted to increase patient comfort during testing, which also makes them effective at removing mucus and reducing oral fluid viscosity.  In other words, the porous media provides the optimal conditions for both accuracy and patient comfort.  

Porex’s saliva swabs made from porous plastics can be customized to meet a variety of test specifications, including specific dimensions for better fit, direction of liquid flow, and recovery rates.  In addition, we offer extraction buffer options and material pre-treatments that can increase recovery rates significantly. 

I’m proud to say that our POREX saliva collection media make the world safer, healthier, and more productive by setting a new standard of purity and comfort for collecting COVID-19 patient samples.  Our saliva swabs made from porous media help to ensure more reliable and accurate test results for thousands of people relying on these tests around the world.


Slowey, P. D. (2015). Saliva Collection Devices and Diagnostic Platforms . In C. Streckfus, Advances in Salivary Diagnostics (pp. 33 – 61). Houston, TX USA: Springer & Co.