Find out about the COVID-19 mouth rinse and gargle test

In Yukon, COVID-19 testing in children and youth is done by:

  • swishing and gargling sterile salt water and spitting it into a tube; or
  • using a swab to collect a sample through their nose.

Who can take the mouth rinse and gargle test

The mouth rinse and gargle test can be done with: 

  • school-aged children and youth (generally ages 5 to 18 years old); and
  • children with mild or moderate illness.

A nasopharyngeal swab is used with:

  • children who are not included above; or
  • children who are unable to follow the mouth rinse and gargle instructions.

A nasopharyngeal swab is a small swab placed into the child’s nose to reach the nasopharynx. This is the upper part of throat behind the nose. During this test, a parent or another adult might need to help the child stay still.

When to take your child for a test

To determine whether a child needs COVID-19 testing, you can use:

You can complete the assessment on behalf of your child or someone you’re caring for.

Testing is recommended for anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones.

Symptoms for COVID-19 include:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Acute or intense fatigue
  • Generalized muscle aches (not related to physical exertion)
  • Significant loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Booking a test

If your child needs a COVID-19 test, you must make an appointment first.


Find information about COVID-19 testing in the Yukon.

The Whitehorse General Hospital does not offer the mouth rinse and gargle test.

Rural communities

Contact your local community health centre.

Getting ready for the test

Before your test, follow these steps:

  1. Watch the Mouth rinse and gargle COVID-19 test for children video.
  2. Practise at least 2 hours ahead of time.
    • Make a salt-water mix.
      • Mix ½ teaspoon (2.5 millilitres) of salt in 1 cup of warm water to dissolve.
      • Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
    • Ask your child to not swallow or talk when they practise.
    • Have your child practise swishing and gargling the water in their mouth.
    • Have your child spit out the salt-water mix.
    • You must wait at least 2 hours before practising and taking the test.

Do not do the following activities for at least 1 hour before the mouth rinse and gargle test. The test will need to be rebooked if any of these activities happen within 1 hour before the test. Doing any of these things can affect the results:

  • eating;
  • drinking (even water);
  • chewing gum;
  • brushing teeth; or
  • vaping or smoking.

3. Read all the instructions before starting the test.

  • Make sure you and your child are wearing face masks.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Make sure the right name is on the sample container.
  • Twist off the top of the pink vial of salty water. Remove your mask.
  • Squeeze all of the water into your mouth. Do not swallow the water or talk. Put your mask back on.
  • Swish the water around in your mouth for 5 seconds. Tip your head back and gargle for another 5 seconds. Repeat swishing and gargling 2 more times for a total of 30 seconds.
  • Remove your mask. Spit the water into the container. Put your mask back on.
  • Place the container on the surface as directed by the health-care provider. Your health-care provider will apply the cap and place it in a specimen bag.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.

4. When you arrive for your test:

  • make sure you and your child are wearing masks;
  • have your child’s date of birth ready and their Yukon health care card if they have one;
  • follow the instructions from the health-care provider at the site;
  • read the instructions in the Information on self-isolation document provided at the time of your test; and
  • follow all instructions provided including monitoring of symptoms.



If you have questions about the mouth rinse and gargle test and live in Whitehorse, contact the COVID Testing and Assessment Centre at 867-393-3083.

If you live in a rural Yukon community, contact your local health centre.