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How To Be Your Own CSI: Collecting Your Child’s DNA

Instructions from Special Agent Joseph Errera, a forensic expert at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Many of us think that it would never happen to us, but what if your child or loved one goes missing – do you have the necessary information to assist law enforcement or the FBI in identifying them.

Collecting DNA can be simple and free. Most, if not all, the materials needed may already be in your home.

Materials Needed:

  1. Two (2) heavy duty zip lock freezer bags
  2. Latex gloves
  3. Q-Tip type swabs/toothbrush
  4. Fingernail clipper
  5. Plain white paper


To collect DNA from inside the child’s mouth, follow the bellow carefully:

  1. Make sure the child doesn’t eat or drink anything for about ½ hour prior to taking sample
  2. Wear latex gloves
  3. Collect sample by rolling toothbrush or Q-Tip swab around inside the cheek for about 10 seconds.
  4. Place on paper to air dry (30-60 minutes).
  5. Place dried toothbrush or Q-tips in zip lock bag.
  6. Label bag with: the child’s name, date of collection and who took the sample.
  7. Store in freezer


  1. Cut 20 or so strands of hairs close to the scalp and wrap in paper. (You do not need the hair root)
  2. Clip fingernails and wrap in paper. Place in a second zip lock bag and label.

If stored properly, DNA samples will keep for many years.

Photo credit: kjpargeter at

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