Plant-Based Insect Repellent: Citronella Essential Oil and 3 Ways to Use It

Summer is here and along with all of the fun of being outdoors comes those pesky mosquitoes! While there are effective chemical products available, such as those containing DEET, certain essential oils can provide some natural protection. The most well known essential oil used to combat mosquitoes is Citronella. Citronella Essential oil is obtained from the leaves and stems of different species of Cymbopogon (lemongrass). The United States Environmental Protection Agency considers oil of citronella as a plant-based insect repellent and has been registered for this use in the United States since 1948. 

The first natural way to use Citronella to repel mosquitoes is: 

  1. Light a Citronella Candle. The majority of insect repellents function by reducing overall attraction of the blood-seeking female mosquito to the human host. Mosquitoes use the scent of your skin and the odor of carbon dioxide to detect a host. So when you light candle scents that repel mosquitoes, it will mask the odor your body emits. This makes detection difficult for mosquitoes. One study showed that subjects positioned near citronella candles and incense experienced significantly fewer bites than those at untreated (no citronella candle or incense) locations. Light some citronella candles on your porch, outdoor dining table, or anywhere you want to enjoy the outdoors. It's important to place the lit candles on stable surfaces, away from flammable objects and out of children’s reach and never leave a burning candle unattended. 

The second way to use citronella essential oil is:

  1. Applied to your skin. Essential oils always need to be diluted before applying them to your skin. There are many consumer products available that contain citronella and other essential oils known to repel mosquitoes. These usually need to be reapplied more often than DEET products. Always follow the directions for the product you are using. If you are a DIY kind of person, you can make your own natural mosquito repellent. It’s important to use a reputable essential oil company and make sure it’s 100 % pure organic and therapeutic- grade. Read this article by Dr. Axe for more information

The third way to use Citronella essential oil to repel mosquitoes is: 

  1. Plant lemongrass in your garden. Specifically the Cymbopogon winterianus species, also known as Java citronella. There are other species but Java has the highest percentage of the mosquito repelling oils. This article even describes how to make your own citronella essential oil! (Growing Citronella: Varieties, Planting Guide, Care, Problems and Harvest (

The good news is that there are natural alternatives to chemicals to repel mosquitoes. Our Citronella candles are free from carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and other potentially hazardous chemicals often found in fragrance and infused with natural essential oils of citronella, eucalyptus, and geranium.