The Evolution and Advantages of Flocked Swabs

Understanding Flocked Swabs

Puritan Medical Products, a pioneer in medical technology, introduced flocked swabs, a revolutionary innovation in specimen collection devices. Unlike conventional swabs, flocked swabs have an applicator tip spray-coated with short nylon fibers arranged at right angles. This design eliminates the sample-trapping issues associated with traditional cotton, polyester, and rayon swabs. The innovative composition of flocked swabs, featuring a coreless thin layer of absorbent fibers, facilitates enhanced sample uptake and release.

The Invention of Flocked Swabs

The inception of flocked swabs traces back to the early 2000s, courtesy of the late Daniele Triva. With its unique tip design, the new ‘flocked swab,’ was set to revolutionize the industry. The innovative design features a thin layer of nylon fibers spray-coated onto a solid plastic shaft, enhancing swab performance by enabling faster sample uptake and elution. 

Flocked Swabs vs. Traditional Swabs

 The defining characteristic of flocked swabs is the perpendicular nylon fibers coating the swab tip. This layer absorbs samples quickly and releases more than 90% of the collected specimen. Conversely, traditional spun swabs tend to entrap the model within their ‘mattress’ structure, diminishing testing sensitivity. The superior performance of flocked swabs has led to their widespread adoption across laboratories and medical institutions worldwide.

The Concept of Swab Breakpoint

Certain flocked swabs feature a molded swab ‘breakpoint,’ a perforation in the swab’s shaft that allows easy detachment of the swab into a transport tube. The breakpoints come in varying lengths to suit different tube lengths. Some transport tubes also feature a ‘capture cap,’ enabling easy swab removal by laboratory personnel or automated systems.

Flocked Swabs in Disease Testing

Flocked swabs, in conjunction with transport media like UTM®: Universal Transport Medium™, are extensively used for collecting, transporting, and preserving respiratory viruses like influenza and COVID-19 specimens. 

Flocked Swabs in Research Studies

Research studies have compared the performance of flocked swabs to traditional swabs for the culture of beta-hemolytic streptococci in children with pharyngitis. Although the sensitivity was higher for flocked swabs, the difference did not reach statistical significance, indicating that flocked swabs can be used instead of traditional swabs to diagnose streptococcal pharyngitis.


Flocked swabs have revolutionized specimen collection with their superior design and performance. With their numerous advantages over traditional swabs, including optimum sampling, enhanced diagnostic sensitivity, rapid elution, proprietary multi-length flock fibers, and convenient handling and transport, flocked swabs offer a more reliable and efficient method for specimen collection in various applications. As research and development continue to refine their design and capabilities, flocked swabs are poised to become the standard in specimen collection devices. - Blog