When you’re unsure whether you’re pregnant or not, it can be tempting to try homemade pregnancy tests you’ve found described online or heard about from well-meaning friends. These tests often use readily available household ingredients.

While there are many online resources about homemade pregnancy tests, very few of them look at whether these tests are scientifically accurate.

Let’s look at some common homemade pregnancy test types, how they supposedly work, and what the research says.

Pregnancy tests check blood or urine for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Your body makes hCG after implantation of an embryo in your uterus. Your doctor can order either a blood or urine test; urine tests are also available over the counter.

Homemade tests, though, claim to work due to chemical reactions between hCG and common household items. There are a number of homemade pregnancy test types.

Shampoo

How to use it, according to popular opinion:

Collect urine in a plastic container. In another container, mix a little shampoo with water to make a soapy mixture. Add your urine to the mixture, and keep an eye on it. If it froths and foams, it’s a positive result.

How it’s said to work:

The hCG hormone is said to react with shampoo, making it fizz. There is no chemical scientific basis for believing this is actually the case.

Sugar

How to use it, according to popular opinion:

Put 1 tablespoon of sugar in a plastic bowl and add 1 tablespoon of your urine. Take a look at how the sugar reacts. If it dissolves quickly, the result is negative, but if it forms clumps, the result is positive.

How it’s said to work:

The hCG in urine supposedly doesn’t allow the sugar to dissolve. Again, scientific evidence that this works is completely lacking.

Toothpaste

How to use it, according to popular opinion:

Squeeze 2 tablespoons of white toothpaste into a container and add your urine. If the toothpaste color turns blue, it’s a positive result.

How it’s said to work:

The ingredients in the toothpaste are said to change color when they come into contact with hCG. However, this test doesn’t account for the fact that toothpaste comes in various colors already. There’s no proof that this is accurate.

Bleach

How to use it, according to popular opinion:

Collect 1/2 cup of your urine in a small container and add 1/2 cup of bleach to it. Wait 3 to 5 minutes. If it foams and fizzes, it’s a positive result.

Use gloves when handling bleach and be sure to avoid the fumes. Don’t urinate directly over a cup of bleach, as the fumes can irritate your skin.

How it’s said to work:

It’s believed that the hCG hormone in urine reacts with the bleach and cause it to foam and fizz. As with the other tests, you’re probably better off using this household product for one of its intended purposes.

Soap

How to use it, according to popular opinion:

Add about 2 tablespoons of urine to a small piece of soap and mix it. If it froths or foams, the result is positive.

How it’s said to work:

As with shampoo, the hCG hormone is said to make soap fizz and bubble. And as with shampoo, there are no studies verifying this works.

Vinegar

How to use it, according to popular opinion:

Add 1 cup of white vinegar to 1/2 cup of urine. Wait 3 to 5 minutes. A change in color indicates a positive result.

How it’s said to work:

As with toothpaste, the hCG in urine supposedly reacts with the vinegar, causing a change in color. Once again, there is no evidence that this is true.

Baking soda

How to use it, according to popular opinion:

Collect urine in a plastic container, and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to it. If the mixture bubbles, it could be a positive result.

How it’s said to work:

As with bleach and soap, it’s said that any hCG in the urine will make baking soda fizz and bubble. No scientific evidence, yet again.

Pine-Sol

How to use it, according to popular opinion:

Pine-Sol, a pine-scented antibacterial household cleaner, is another popular ingredient in homemade pregnancy tests. Mix 1/2 cup urine with 1/2 cup of Pine-Sol and mix it well. Wait at least 3 minutes. If it changes color, the result is positive.

How it’s said to work:

Allegedly, the hCG reacts with the pine and changes the color. Science doesn’t agree.

The homemade pregnancy tests described above have no scientific basis. No research suggests that they’re accurate methods for detecting pregnancy. They’re based on anecdotal evidence only.

Furthermore, there’s also anecdotal evidence that urine from nonpregnant individuals can cause the positive reactions described.

Fortunately, there are more accurate pregnancy tests available.

Because of the lack of scientific research, we can’t determine the accuracy of the above homemade pregnancy tests. They are urban myths.

When it comes to a subject as emotive and potentially life-changing as pregnancy, it’s important to note that there are more accurate pregnancy tests out there. These include drugstore-bought urine tests and blood tests at your doctor’s office. Pregnancy tests are also available online.

In general, home pregnancy tests can be used the day after you miss your period. Some early detection pregnancy tests can be used earlier than that. According to Planned Parenthood, drugstore home pregnancy tests are about 99 percent accurate.

Pregnancy tests are more accurate when the first urine of the day is used. Your pregnancy test won’t be very accurate if it has expired, so it’s important to check the expiry date. It’s best to use multiple pregnancy tests for a more accurate result. If the results are conflicting, call your doctor.

By using scientifically sound pregnancy tests, you’ll be saving yourself the potential heartbreak and anxiety of a false result.

Whether you’re hoping to get pregnant or not, it’s important to take a note of the early symptoms of pregnancy. These include:

  • a missed period
  • nausea and vomiting
  • constant need to urinate
  • tender, sore breasts
  • fatigue
  • bloating

Since these symptoms can be caused by other health conditions, it’s important to take a pregnancy test before drawing any conclusions.

In addition to the standard symptoms, check out some of the more unusual signs you may be pregnant.

While it’s tempting to opt for a simple homemade pregnancy test instead of a store-bought variety, the truth is they aren’t scientifically proven to be accurate.

They may be fun to try before using a proven method, but don’t take results seriously and certainly don’t base your health decisions on them.

If you think you might be pregnant, call your doctor right away so that you can take a pregnancy test and begin prenatal care. If you are trying to get pregnant you should be taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid.

Detecting pregnancy early will help ensure you’re able to get the care you need.

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