The World Health Organization says that 725,000 people die from diseases caused by mosquitos. Most of them are caused by Anopheles, Aedes, and Culex mosquitos. You should try a safe and natural mosquito repellent, preferably one that features citronella oil and other toxin-free ingredients, to stay safe.

They may be small in size, but there are few things more annoying than pesky mosquitoes buzzing and whirring around your head, and worse, their pinprick bites make you itchy and irritated. The worst part, though, is that you don’t get a chance to swat them until they’ve bitten you, and since they are notorious disease carriers, that’s not a risk worth taking. 

The best course of action? Repel them. Put up a shield that has them turning those nasty little proboscises in the other direction. But before you start grumbling about chemical repellents, there are natural, aromatic repellents like citronella oil that focus on keeping the insects away, not humans. Let’s take a closer look. 

What is Citronella Oil?

Citronella is an essential oil derived by distilling the leaves of the Cymbopogon genus, lemon balm, or lemongrass. Not surprisingly, it has a citrusy aroma with floral notes. It has a yellowish-brown hue and contains compounds like geraniol, citronellol, and citronellal. 

Like many essential oils, this grass-based oil has been used in traditional medicine in Chinese and other Southeast Asian cultures. Its medicinal uses include the treatment of rashes, infections, and other health conditions. The oil’s strong aroma makes it an effective insect repellent. 

Using Citronella Oil as a Mosquito Repellent

Around 90% of brands with natural insect repellents today use citronella oil as an active ingredient. It is often combined with other fragrant ingredients that keep bugs off your living spaces. And, of course, the citrusy fragrance alleviates your mood too, thus helping you feel refreshed and energetic. 

As mentioned earlier, the pungent aroma makes citronella oil a good insect repellent. That’s because it masks scents like lactic acid and carbon dioxide that attract mosquitoes and other insects toward you. Some believe this grass-based oil kills mosquitos, but that’s not true. The oil can, however, be used to treat itchiness caused by mosquito bites.

We recommend using our Natural Mosquito Repellent Patches to get better results. These are made of Eucalyptus Oil, Peppermint Oil, and Lemon Oil and offer a safe and simple way to keep mosquitoes away.

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Chemical-based insect repellents are often regarded as more effective and long-lasting than citronella oil, which has an efficacy period of 20-30 mins and needs to be reapplied. However, these chemical-laden repellents also come with side effects. Hence natural repellents like citronella oil remain the preferred method to keep mosquitoes away. 

How to Use Citronella Oil to Repel Mosquitoes?

The fascinating thing about using essential oils is their flexibility. You can put them to work in various ways to achieve results. The same applies when using citronella oil to drive away mosquitoes. Some of them include: 

1. Citronella Candles

Made by blending the oil into paraffin or beeswax, citronella candles can be used both indoors and outdoors, like on the porch or veranda. They are easily found in stores, or you can try making them at home too. 

The best way to use them is to place several candles in and around the area you would like to keep insect-free. Once lit, the fragrance is slowly released into the air and acts as a deterrent to mosquitoes. 

Caution: You should be careful with open flames and take necessary precautions based on the space. Its fragrance can be dispersed quickly and not be potent enough to repel insects in large open areas with free-flowing air. 

2. Citronella Torches

Citronella torches are better suited for outdoor get-togethers and camping activities. The torches are essentially large oil laps that diffuse the fragrance into the air as they burn, banishing airborne insects. 

They are also used by some elite hotels and event planners to host evening barbeques or garden parties. 

3. Citronella Bath Oils

A widespread use for citronella oil is in bath oils and soaps. In this form, the oil can be applied directly onto the skin while bathing, forming a protective barrier and masking the scent that draws mosquitos in. 

Note: Its efficacy has a short time limit, making it unreliable. 

4. Citronella Moisturizer

Take a dollop of your regular skincare moisturizer, add a drop of citronella oil, and apply it to the skin until it is completely absorbed. This is a widely used hack to use this grass-based oil as a natural repellent. 

An emulsion of oil and water, this moisturizer is easy to apply and quickly absorbed into the skin without causing greasiness or white residues. When applied post bathing, it offers protection from pests for a longer duration than bath oils. Citronella lotions or sprays are other options for skin application that can be made at home. 

The key is to ensure that you get the dilution right. More is not always better when working with essential oils. Avoid contact with the eyes and face. For long-lasting protection, it is recommended to reapply the moisturizer, lotion, or spray as frequently as needed.  

5. Citronella Sprays

An insect repellent spray can be used indoors and outdoors. Mamaearth’s Natural Mosquito Repellent Spray has citronella, lemongrass, and peppermint essential oils. Combined, these natural and toxin-free ingredients keep mosquitoes and insects away. Spray it approximately 15 – 20 cm away from the skin and lightly massage it to let it absorb. 

6. Citronella Fabric Roll-ons and Patches

One of the simplest ways to topically apply citronella oil is using a roll-on. They usually contain a carefully balanced concentrated mixture of eucalyptus and citronella oil and boast of being able to guard against mosquitoes for around eight hours.

All you need to do is apply a few drops on your clothes or stick on a patch, and you are ready to stand up to the little fiends. Our Natural Mosquito Repellent Patches come in a zip lock pouch that maintains the efficacy of the patches. You can stick these patches on the prams and cots to keep the mosquitoes away. 

7. Citronella Wristband

Devised for children, this wristband offers long-lasting protection from mosquitoes. It has been designed to provide protection for a few hours and negate the need for constant reapplication.  

Just a Piece of Advice

While citronella oil mosquito repellents are effective, they can cause mild eye and skin irritation. Sometimes, it is common to get an allergic reaction, so test it before you use it to avoid inflammation and other symptoms. If using citronella oil, especially in DIY projects, it is essential to check the dilution and follow instructions carefully. 

When it comes to topical applications, you should do a patch test before applying it all over the body. You may also consult an expert before using it is also a good idea. As with all essential oils, a direct application is not recommended for pregnant and nursing women or infants.

The takeaway

Citronella oil’s benefits go beyond that of an insect repellent, but it makes an effective one. Unlike harsh chemical-based repellents, it is all-natural and aromatic, keeping mosquitos at bay without harming them. And while it is flexible, caution must be taken when using it, especially when applying it to the skin, to avoid triggering irritation or allergic reactions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is citronella?

    Citronella is an essential oil derived from an Asian grass plant, commonly known as lemon grass and lemon balm. It is a yellowish-brown oil with a powerful citrusy aroma. Its oil uses include treating arthritis, as well as stress and fatigue.
    In addition, its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties are used to treat infections and minor skin irritations. Its pungent odor makes it a potent ingredient in mosquito and insect repellents. All these benefits are topped by the fact that it is safe for everyone- even young children too.

  2. What is the primary use of citronella oil?

    Citronella oil uses are varied. However, its powerful citrus-like aroma is most commonly used to repel insects, especially mosquitos. This aroma masks the scent of lactic acid and carbon, which attracts mosquitos and deters them from getting too close.
    Some other use of citronella oil include: 
    A. Using as aromatherapy: Add a few drops of citronella oil to the diffuser well and let the fragrance cleanse your home. 
    B. Treating health issues: Add a drop or two of citronella oil to a cotton ball and inhale it. It can help to reduce the intensity of a migraine and nausea. 
    C. Using it topically: Mix a drop or two of citronella essential oil with a carrier oil and massage on pain-inflicted areas to alleviate it. Then, apply this oil topically to reduce the pain caused by arthritis. 
    D. Apart from these, citronella oil today is widely used in skincare, cosmetic and fragrance products.

  3. What is citronella used in common ways?

    Citronella is a very flexible essential oil and has several citronella uses. Since it has antifungal properties, it is used to weaken types of fungi responsible for health issues. It has the potential to help heal wounds and assist with weight loss.
    It is also used in aromatherapy to alleviate stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. This grass-based natural oil also helps cure headaches, nausea, neuralgia, infections, and arthritis. It also finds its way into deodorizing and skincare products that focus on healing skin and treating irritations like those caused by bug bites.

  4. How to use citronella oil as mosquito repellent?

    Citronella oil mosquito repellents are fairly popular. This is because its strong citrusy aroma masks the scent of lactic acid and carbon dioxide, which usually attract mosquitoes and other insects. It can be used in several ways. One of the simplest ways is to diffuse the oil with reed diffusers or even electric ones. 
    An alternative is using citronella candles in which the oil has been blended with the wax and is diffused slowly as it burns. Both these options are usually reserved for small, controlled spaces. Larger, more outdoorsy situations call for oil lamps or torches. 
    Citronella oil can also be applied directly to the skin through products like lotions and moisturizers. You can even whip up a simple body spray at home. If you are hesitant to use it directly on the skin, you can opt for fabric roll-ons, and patches are also available. Just a few drops or a couple of patches promise long-lasting protection without the need for hourly reapplication. 

  5. Does citronella oil repel mosquitoes?

    Citronella oil has a powerful citrusy aroma, making it a potent ingredient in mosquito repellents. The aroma masks the scent of lactic acid and carbon dioxide that mosquitoes are on the hunt for and forces them to look elsewhere. It is important to note that citronella oil does not kill mosquitoes or other insects, it simply keeps them away from you. 
    For best results, we suggest you opt for a mosquito repellent that contains this grass-based oil in a toxin-free formulation. You may thus go for Mamaearth’s Natural Mosquito Repellent Spray that is free from DEET and other toxins. It also features peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemon oils to keep mosquitos and bugs away.

  6. What is the best oil to keep mosquitoes away?

    Some essential oils, known for their intense aromas, help keep mosquitoes away from you. Their respective odor masks the scent of lactic acid and carbon dioxide, which attract mosquitoes.
    Among these oils is citronella, known for its citrusy aroma with floral notes. You may thus opt for Mamaearth’s Natural Mosquito Repellent Spray that also features the oils of lemon, eucalyptus, and peppermint to keep bugs away and reduce itching.

  7. What are the benefits of citronella oil?

    Citronella oil benefits are varied and not limited to repelling insects, albeit that is what it is most famous for. This aromatic oil has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it a valuable player in traditional medical practices. In addition, it treats skin infections, arthritis, migraines, nausea, and neuralgia among other health conditions.
    It is also helpful in breaking down fungi that cause various health issues. Citronella oil is even known to help with weight loss, menstrual cramps, fatigue, stress, and anxiety, and it is a powerful mood booster. Because of its aroma and skin healing properties, it has found its way into skincare and cosmetic products too. 

  8. What is the right way to use citronella oil for mosquitoes and keep them at bay?

    Citronella oil is flexible and can be used in several ways. You can try moisturizers, lotions, or body sprays for skin applications. Another option is fabric roll-ons or patches that can be applied to clothes. If trying to clear mosquitoes from a space, oil diffusers, candles, or even torches come in handy.

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