Drug Testing BLOG

How to Read a Drug Test Cup

Looking to purchase Urine Drug Testing Cups? Here are the most popular products

Popular Urine Drug test Cups

10 Panel DrugConfirm™ CLIA Urine Drug Test Cup-TestCountry

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10 Panel T-Cup CLIA Urine Drug Test Cup-TestCountry

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5 Panel iCup FDA Cleared Urine Drug Test Cup + ADU-TestCountry

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Learn How Urine Drug Test Cups Work Before You Buy

Drug test cups are popular for a reason. Urine drug testing is used for pre-employment screening, compliance assessment, and home substance abuse prevention. So you've opted for a 5-panel, 10-panel, or 12-panel drug test; now what?

Reading a Drug Test

Once you've selected the appropriate urine collection cup, you can move forward with testing and interpretation of results.

how to read a drug test

1. Locate Control and Test Regions

Each panel will have its own Control Region (C) marked at the top, and a Test Region (T) specific to the drug being tested.

If the Control line does not appear after 10 minutes of obtaining a sample, discard the test and administer a new one.

2. Obtain a Sample

Most people will opt for a multi-drug test kit like the 12 Panel DrugConfirm Advanced Flat Panel Urine Drug Test Cup with Adulterants to save time by detecting several substances at once. 

3. Wait 5 Minutes

Instant urine drug tests (i.e. cups and dip cards), as well as mouth swab drug tests, are designed to yield results just a few minutes after a specimen collection. Tip: Do not read drug test results more than 10 minutes after a sample is collected. 

4. Identify Colored Lines

Negative Drug Test Results

If a colored line appears next to both the Control Region and Test Region (as shown above), the result is NEGATIVE. The color intensity (faintness or darkness) of the line is not a factor when assessing results. A faint line DOES NOT mean the specimen contains small amounts of a specific drug metabolite.

Positive Drug Test Results

When no line appears in the Test Region (T) but a colored line is displayed in the Control Region (C), the drug test result is POSITIVE

A positive urine test result might be the start of action against an employee, parolee, student, etc. who abuses illicit substances.

Before a positive result can be ascertained, the Control Region (C) should be marked with a colored line to indicate the test is valid and non-defective.

NOTE: Instant immunoassays are only used for preliminary screening. Positive test results obtained through instant drug tests should be sent to a SAMHSA-Certified laboratory site for confirmation.

How to Read a Temperature Strip on a Drug Test

A urine test cup usually contains a temperature strip, which is built in to detect abnormalities in the specimen. Temperature strips for urine testing can also be applied separately by a Third Party Collector (TPA).

An acceptable urine temperature for drug test analysis falls between the range of 32–38 °C (90–100 °F). If the drug test temperature is out of range, it is possible the urine is adulterated by substances (i.e. water) indicating the drug test has been falsified. Again, a TPA will have the greatest understanding of drug test results.

How Can Sample Adulteration Be Prevented

Tight control on the collection process guards against adulteration. Other ways to prevent cheating:

  • Ask donors to place personal items in a secure box outside of the testing area.
  • Random drug testing may be the truest strategy to detect substance abuse. Avoid scheduled announcements if congruent with your workplace drug test policy.
  • Monitor collection site check-in times. A long bathroom delay might signal a donor's attempt to cheat the drug test.
  • Inspect restroom for potential adulterants, e.g soaps and cleaning powders.
  • Consider on-site collection if possible.

Importance of Urine’s Temperature

You may have noticed that the medical staff may be measuring the temperature of the urine samples submitted to them. Looking through a sample specimen is not enough to verify that the sample submitted is authentic. Therefore, the medical staff makes use of an adulterant test to determine if the samples have been tampered with.

However, no one can be certain if the sample was merely a “good-quality” fake urine or was obtained from another person. Measuring the temperature is an effective way to verify that the sample came from the person being tested.

When obtained fresh, human urine is typically at 94-96°F. However, the temperature may change as soon as it is exposed to either warm or cool environment. For drug testing, a urine temperature that is within the range of 90-100°F is usually acceptable.

Temperatures that go lower or higher than this range is likely tampered or contaminated. If this is the case, the sample will be rejected.

Thermometer Reading Instructions

A standard thermometer strip has color-based indicators to determine the temperature of the urine sample. Although this kind of product may come in different models and forms, most of them follow this standard set of instructions:

  • As soon as the urine sample is placed in the cup, wait for the green indicator depicting the temperature of the specimen.
  • If the color that you see is blue, add 1 degree Fahrenheit or 0.5 degree Celsius from where the indicator lights up. If you see a tan or brown color, subtract the same values from the temperature mark.

The best way to ensure that you’re using the product correctly is to read the instructions manual that comes together with the kit.

As a precautionary measure, keep the cup away from direct exposure to sunlight or temperatures beyond 55 degrees Celsius.

The normal temperature of human urine ranges from 94°F to 96°F (about 35°C). The temperature of a drug test sample should be read during the first 4 minutes after it was received, as the sample temperature may change depending on the ambient environment.

Acceptable temperature range is from 90°F to 100°F (32°C - 38°C). Any sample with a temperature outside this range should be deemed suspicious.

How To Use Urine Drug Test Cup with Thermometer Strip

What’s amazing about the urine drug test cup with thermometer strip is that it can read the sample’s temperature (in Fahrenheit or Celsius). A newly collected urine sample should be warm to the touch, and so the thermometer strip allows you to check whether the sample is obtained fresh or adulterated.

Here is a step-by-step procedure on how to collect the sample in a urine drug testing cup with thermometer strip:

  • Collect a urine sample of at least 30 mL
  • Check the temperature of the sample (see Thermometer Reading Instructions below)
  • Pour the specimen into a bottle that is sealed with tamper-evident tape
  • Send the specimen and completed Custody and Control Form (CCF) to the laboratory for testing
  • Ensure that the container is labeled properly

Urine Drug Testing

Drug tests to determine the presence of illicit drugs involve the use of bodily fluids for testing. Urine drug testing is the most commonly used type of drug test. The benefits of using urine drug test include the following:

  • It is the least expensive of the test methods
  • It is considered a non-intrusive method of testing
  • It can be used at home (for example by parents), although it requires lab verification for accurate results
  • It can detect use primarily within the past week (longer with regular use)
  • Urine samples are often temperature-tested to ensure sample integrity

Urine Drug Testing Products

Typically, the specimen collection for urine drug testing is performed on-site when so requested such as by the employer or school administrator. It may also be done at the laboratory where the laboratory technicians or medical staff read the results. However, there are some urine drug testing products available which allow home testing or instant reading of the results on-site.

Drug Test Cups

Drug test cups are used to test urine samples for different types of drugs that are commonly abused. They are favored for their simplicity and the fact that they offer instant results for the end user. Test strips or test cards basically come with these cups and are dipped over the sample for the reading of results.

There are different choices when it comes to drug test cups. Among them are those that come from different brands like:

DrugCheck NxStep

This brand launched its very own Onsite Urinalysis Test Cup that can be used easily in the detection of onsite drugs. It makes use of a testing device with its collection cup to detect the presence of various drug metabolites in a matter of minutes. It can test up to 15 drugs and adulterants from amphetamine, buprenorphine, cocaine, meth, opiates, phencyclidine and TCA to barbiturate, benzodiazepine, MDMA/Ecstasy, methadone, oxycodone, propoxyphene and marijuana/cannabis.

T-Cup Urine Test 

A multi-drug urine drug test cup, this one is ideal for testing a variety of drugs including amphetamine, barbiturates, buprenorphine, cocaine, methamphetamines, methadone and opiates among others. It provides easily readable, instant results.

Eco II Cup

This convenient, one-step drug testing cup specifically helps in detecting elevated levels of certain types of drugs and their presence in urine. It is FDA-approved and comes with a security strip that guards against possibilities of specimen adulteration. It comes with a wide-mouth cup opening that makes specimen collection easier and less messy.

E-Z Split Key Cup

This brand offers an integrated urine drug testing kit that can be used either by employers, pain centers, clinics and other health centers. Ideal for the needs of many professional organizations, this can be used for testing drugs of abuse like antidepressants, benzodiazepines, methadone, oxycodone and propoxyphene.

DrugConfirm Advanced Drug Test Cup

This is the brand that is best suited for home drug testing. DrugConfirm is a proven drug abuse prevention tool that is both convenient and confidential for the end user. Providing results in minutes, the kit comes with a specimen transport box and a specimen ID card. It can be used to test drugs like cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, methamphetamines, opiates and phencyclidine.

 iCup Drug Test

This drug test cup is manufactured by Alere Toxicology and offers a wide range of integrated test cups for multi-drug testing. The iCup urine test come in a variety of configurations and offer the ability to detect anywhere from 3 to 13 drugs of abuse in one test. These test cups also come with the option of detecting up to 6 adulterants in one test, helping to all but eliminate urine specimen tampering. 

Instant results populate in under 5 minutes and provide up to 99% accuracy while the flat sided results panel makes for ease of photocopying drug test results.

Advantages of Using Urine Cups

Drug test cups are often applied within:

Urine drug tests are convenient and affordable. Key features include:

  • Various sizes, with graduations in ounces (oz) and milliliter (mL)
  • Wide clean-catch brim with screw-on cap

Choosing a Urine Test Cup

Urine drug tests can detect many illicit substances, not limited to:

  • Prescription opiates
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine (COC)
  • Amphetamines (AMP)
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Synthetic drugs
  • Etc.

There are two basic types of urine drug testing:

Urine Screening Test

This type of test uses immunoassay to find the parent drug and/or metabolite. Most common drugs screened include cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, marijuana, PCP, methadone, and benzodiazepines.

Urine Confirmatory Test

This type of urine drug test undergoes gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) or high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) testing in a laboratory setting. This type of test is highly specific and is used in testing for the presence of a specific drug, especially when the initial screening test produces a positive result.

Urine Collection Cup Features

A large percentage of individuals may not be aware of the right kind of receptacle to use in collecting urine that is intended for drug testing or for a pregnancy test. For instance, no matter how clean a container may appear to be, the presence of bacteria may affect the results of the urine test.

An ideal urine collection cup should have the following specifications:

  • It should be sterilized
  • It should hold at least 90 mL of urine
  • There should be a tamper tab to determine if the sample has been contaminated or adulterated
  • The container should be ideal for harsh transport conditions (i.e. does not easily break)
  • The container must be made of a clear, high-quality polypropylene plastic to keep the sample in great condition even under pressure
  • The cap of the urine collection cup should prevent threading and leaking
  • Containers should be graduated from the inside. This should be in both ounces and milliliters

Urine drug tests may come in different forms, such as urine drug cassettes and urine drug test dip cards. However, to ensure that you can collect the desirable amount of urine sample, the Sterile Urine Collection Cup with Temperature Strip may just be the best diagnostic aid that you need.

This urine collection cup is designed to provide a convenient way of collecting urine samples. This includes a secure screw that prevents specimen leakage and possible contamination. Apart from having a wide-mouthed sterile cup, each sterile cup has a temperature strip to protect from urine contamination. The sterile cup has a maximum capacity of 90 mL, the amount enough to be used for testing.

How Urine Drug Testing Is Performed

A 30 mL midstream urine sample is needed to conduct a standard urine drug test like the 10 Panel T-Cup CLIA Waived Urine Drug Test Cup. The specimen is collected in the privacy of a restroom.

The collector then pours the sample into a specimen container, which is sealed to prevent the sample from being tampered. 

Test results appear on the indicated panels within 5 or 10 minutes. Preliminary positive tests should be sent to an accredited laboratory for further analysis. A GC/MS confirmatory test will be executed to be certain of the kind of drug present in the sample.

Urine Drug Testing Detection Times

The amount of time that a drug stays in the body differs from person to person. Some collection cups are also more sensitive than others, providing early or extended detection windows. Usually, administering a immediately after drug use will yield a positive result.
New Column New Column New Column New Column


Detection Period


Detection Period


2-5 days

Barbituates (Short-Acting)

2 days

Barbituates (Long-Acting)

3-4 weeks


7-10 days

Cannabinoids (THC, Marijuana)

5-60 days


4-6 days


1-4 days


5-7 days

Euphorics (Ecstasy, Shrooms)

5-7 days

Ketamine (Special K)

5-7 days

LSD (Lysergic Acid)

7-10 days


5-7 days

Steroids (anabolic oral)

14-28 days


5-7 days

Steroids (anabolic parenterally)

1-3 months

Phencyclidine (PCP)

2-4 days


10-20 days


6 hours to 2 days

Urine drug testing is very effective in detecting recent use, typically in the past 1-3 days. It is suitable for all testing reasons and can be used for a wide range of illegal substances and prescription drugs.

However, it is important that for individuals scheduled to undergo a urine drug test to disclose their full medical history, including medications are taken (such as herbal supplements and over-the-counter medications) since some of these substances may contain similar drugs.

It is highly likely that an individual taking prescribed opiates may show a positive urine drug test result. However, this can be sorted out by using a confirmatory test. Similarly, some diet pills contain amphetamines and methamphetamines, which may also a positive result.

Urine Adulterants

One of the major challenges in urine drug testing is the illegal practice of manipulating the specimens to produce a false negative result. Drug users consider masking their urine samples to avoid being caught.

Some of the common substances that people use to tamper with urine specimen include hypochlorite bleach, table salt, toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent, glutaraldehyde, potassium nitrate, and pyridinium chlorochromate. Adding these chemicals may invalidate a drug test result. Therefore, being able to determine the temperature of the urine sample can deter possible hacking of urine samples.

On top of this, drug testing laboratories can already detect the presence of adulterants and contaminants in the urine sample.

  • Creatine: It is a natural byproduct of the body’s muscle tissues and should be present in a normal system. A urine sample with low levels of creatine may indicate that the sample was the result of water flushing or “detox” approach.
  • Glutaraldehyde: It is a known adulterant that causes false negative results by tampering with the naturally occurring enzymes in urine. Since glutaraldehyde is not naturally present in human urine, the detection of glutaraldehyde is a likely result of tampering with a urine sample.
  • Nitrite: The presence of this compound is a clear indication of sample manipulation since nitrite should not be present in human urine at all.
  • Specific gravity. This parameter describes the normal levels of dilution present in the sample. If the sample does not fall within the normal ranges of dilution – generally 1.003 to 1.030 – then it might be possible that the sample was artificially diluted by an adulterant.
  • PCC/Oxidants. Presence of this compound come in the form of traces of bleach or peroxide in samples. Since normal urine should not contain any traces of oxidants, finding these traces typically points to an adulterated sample.
  • pH: The normal pH of human urine is between 4.0 and 9.0. Any reading that is outside of this range is an indication that the sample may have been manipulated.

It is for these reasons that temperature strips have become very helpful in determining if the urine sample is contaminated or tampered.

Final Word

To ensure that drug test results are always accurate, make sure to only use sterile urine collection cups to avoid having false negative or false positive results.