Glucose Test Strips – How to Use Them, How They Work, A Guide

Posted July 17, 2020 by Clint Kelly - See Editorial Guidelines

Those with diabetes often use blood glucose test strips to measure their blood sugar levels. There are certain things about glucose test strips that an individual should know before using them, though.

So, in this article, we will discuss everything around blood glucose test strips, including how to use them and what problems can occur with them. Here is a quick explanation to get you started.

Blood Glucose Test Strips: Glucose strips are thin plastic strips that are disposable and play a major role in helping those with diabetes manage their condition. The strips must be inserted into the right corresponding glucometer to work. A small drop of blood is then placed on the strip to start the process of reading one’s blood sugar level. There are many different brands of test strips that vary in quality and accuracy.

Now that you have a basic understanding of blood glucose test strips let’s get into the details of them.

What Are Glucose Test Strips and How They Work?

Glucose Test Strips

Blood glucose test strips are thin plastic strips that have a circuit in them which measures one’s blood sugar level with the help of a glucometer. The circuit of the test strip is made of a very thin layer of gold that is formed into an elaborate pattern.

The end of the glucose test strip that the blood is placed on is made up of chemical elements. The chemical components help wick the blood into the strip and turn the glucose into electricity.

The signal produced by the electricity then travels from the test strip to the glucometer. The number that appears on the glucometer represents the strength of the electrical signal. And the higher the electrical signal, the higher the glucose in one’s blood.

As you can see, there is a large bit of technology contained in these tiny strips.

How to Properly Use Glucose Test Strips?

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using test strips to ensure accurate readings.

The first step in using glucose test strips correctly is ensuring you have the correct corresponding glucometer. Unfortunately, test strips are not universal with glucometers. You can verify that you are purchasing the right glucometer and test strips by consulting your doctor or pharmacist.

Next, you can follow these steps to ensure you are properly using glucose test strips:

  • Wash and dry your hands (you can also use alcohol to clean hands as well).
  • Prepare a test strip by turning on your glucometer and inserting the strip.
  • Choose which spot you will use for the fingerstick (you should always rotate the spots and fingers that are being pricked).
  • Prepare your lancing device properly and prick your finger to get a drop of blood. You may need to squeeze or “milk” your finger to get enough blood.
  • Place and hold the drop of blood to the correct end of the glucose test strip until enough blood has been absorbed by the strip to initiate the test. (Your glucometer will let you know when enough blood has been applied).
  • Read the result of the blood glucose test and take any necessary action.

Do Glucose Test Strips Work After Expiration?

It is recommended that you use your glucose test strips, and any other medications for that matter, prior to the expiration date. However, this does not mean that they will not work beyond the expiration date on the container.

If your blood glucose test strips have been stored properly, then they should be fine to use after expiration. Keep in mind, that using anything, including test strips, after the expiration, you run the risk of mismanaging your diabetes condition.

If you start receiving abnormal blood sugar readings, then it may be worth checking the expiration dates on the container.

How Accurate are Glucose Test Strips?

Glucose Test Strips

Blood glucose strips have to be approved by the FDA to ensure they meet the right standards. Therefore, they have to perform up to a certain standard and accuracy to be eligible for the market.

In general, glucose meters and their test strips should generate a result that is within 20% or 20mg/dL of laboratory results. A study done by the Diabetes Technology Society determined that the following glucometers and their corresponding glucose test strips are the most compliant based on consistent accuracy:

  • Bayer Contour Next – 100% compliant
  • Roche Accu-Chek Aviva Plus – 98% compliant
  • Arkray Walmart ReliOn Confirm – 97% compliant
  • Agamatrix CVS Advanced – 97% compliant
  • Abbott Freestyle Lite – 96% compliant
  • Roche Accu-Chek SmartView – 95% compliant

It is important to mention that any inaccuracy in blood glucose readings may not be the result of faulty test strips. Inaccuracy in glucose test strips can be a result of user error in some cases. For example, not washing your hands when you have residue from food on them can lead to abnormal readings.

Abnormal readings can be very dangerous. Getting a reading that is much higher than one’s actual blood sugar can lead to an overdose of insulin. Too much insulin may potentially lead to hypoglycemia, which is life-threatening if not treated right away.

Brands of Glucose Test Strips and Which Ones Right for You

With many brands of glucometers and glucose test strips on the market, it can be challenging to determine which one is right for you. Most commercial health insurance companies will cover certain brands of test strips. So, the one that is right for you may depend upon which brand your insurance covers.

You can purchase your glucose test strips over the counter at various pharmacies and online retailers, such as Amazon. However, you can save some money by getting a prescription and having your insurance cover a portion of the cost.

Storage Tips

Glucose Test Strips

Storing glucose test strips correctly is crucial, as not having them stored properly can result in inaccurate readings. It is always recommended to store the strips in the original container away from extreme heat, cold, and moisture.

Blood glucose strips typically come in a 50-count cylinder container and are disposable. You should avoid leaving your test strips in your car for long periods, as this can expose them to extreme temperatures.

Storing them in the bathroom may also not be a great idea. The bathroom may seem like a convenient place, but the bathroom can be a producer of hot temperatures and moisture.

Correctly storing your glucose test strips can make them last longer, even beyond the expiration date, and will ensure accurate blood sugar readings.


We hope that you have a better understanding of blood glucose test strips, including how to use them properly. For specific questions regarding your medical condition, always consult your doctor.

If you are paying more than $50 a month for your medication, then Prescription Hope might be able to save you money. We work with pharmaceutical manufacturers directly to provide you with the medicine you need at a discounted cost. Enroll with us now and start saving.