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Having a stool sample tested can be life saving in some cases. With an important medical test, you want to make sure you properly prepare the sample. When collecting a stool specimen at home the night before you deliver it to a medical office, there are some important rules to follow.

Place the sample into a container. The medical facility requesting the sample should have provided you with a container to collect the sample. If this is the case, limit the stool sample to the "fill" line indicated on the container. Be careful not to go over the line. If your doctor has not ordered the sample and you are collecting it on your own, you may want to request a container so it is properly stored.

Seal the container and identify the sample. Screw on the cap tightly. Write your name, date, and the time the sample was collected on the outside of the container.

Store the sample. If the sample is fresh, it must be refrigerated and taken to the doctor or lab within two hours. If a preservative is included with the container you have been given, store it at room temperature for up to 48 hours.


If your test container does not include a preservative, it is not recommended you store the stool specimen overnight. If the sample is not fresh, this may affect the test results.