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Benefits & Uses of Citronella Essential Oil

Citronella Essential Oil Uses for Skin, Hair, and Aromatherapy

Overview Of Citronella Oil

A plant that is often used as an ingredient in mosquito repellants, its scent is familiar to people living in tropical climates. Citronella essential oil is known to help keep insects away, recharge the mind and even improve skin health. Read on to get the low-down on how this essential oil can help improve your everyday life.

What Is Citronella Essential Oil?

A rich, fresh and uplifting scent that is similar to lemon, citronella oil is a fragrant grass that in French means lemon balm. The scent of citronella is often mistaken for lemongrass, as they share similarities in appearance, growth, and even extraction method.

For centuries, citronella oil was used as a natural remedy and as an ingredient in Asian cuisine. In Asia, citronella essential oil is often used to ease body aches, skin infection, and inflammation, and is also touted as a non-toxic insect-repellent ingredient. Citronella was also used to scent soaps, detergents, scented candles, and even cosmetic products.

Citronella essential oil is extracted through the steam distillation of citronella leaves and stems. This extraction method is the most effective way to capture the “essence” of the plant and helps its benefits shine through.

Fun facts –

  • Citronella comes from a French word that translates to "lemon balm".
  • The Cymbopogon nardus, also known as citronella grass is an invasive species, which means once it grows on land, it renders it nugatory. And because it is unpalatable, it cannot be eaten; even cattle starve on a land which has an abundance of citronella grass.
  • Citronella and lemongrass essential oils are two different oils derived from two different plants which belong to the same family.
  • One of the unique uses of citronella oil is its use in curbing nuisance barking in dogs. Dog trainers use the oil spray to control dogs barking problems.

Citronella oil has been used for its therapeutic properties for centuries in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China. It has been used for its fragrance and as an insect repellant. There are two varieties of citronella – the citronella Java oil and the citronella Ceylon oil. The ingredients in both oils are similar, but their compositions vary. The citronellal in the Ceylon variety is 15 %, while that in Java variety is 45%. Similarly, geraniol is 20% and 24% respectively in Ceylon and Java varieties. Hence, the Java variety is considered superior, as it also has fresher lemony aroma; whereas the other variety has a woody aroma to the citrus scent.

Name Citronella Essential Oil
Botanical Name Cymbopogon nardus
Native to Tropical Asia
Properties Antibacterial, antispasmodic, antidepressant, deodorant, vermifuge, febrifuge, tonic, stomachic, sudorific and stimulant
Main ingredients Citronellol, cadinenes, elemene, geraniol, limonene, citronellal and methyl isoeugenol
Aroma Floral and citrusy
Blends well with Cedarwood, eucalyptus, lemon, pine, lavender, geranium, Clary sage, rosemary, peppermint and tea tree essential oils
Category Citrus
Substitute Lemongrass essential oil
Citronella leaves & stems

18 Citronella Essential Oil Benefits

Because citronella is a plant with many benefits, choosing just one to single out as a superstar would be impossible. So here’s a quick guide that helps you better understand this popular plant’s multitude of benefits.


It Soothes A Fatigued Mind

Citronella oil exudes an uplifting scent that naturally uplifts negative emotions and feelings. Diffusing around the home can help improve the atmosphere and make living spaces more cheerful.


It Enhances Your Skincare

Essential oil with skin health-enhancing properties, this oil can help the skin absorb and retain moisture. These properties in citronella can help promote and maintain a rejuvenated complexion for all skin types.

One of the common skin conditions that bother everyone is acne vulgaris; and its major cause is propionibacterium acnes. A study was published in the International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics in 2008 regarding the use of citronella oil gel on acne. It was concluded that citronella oil-loaded solid lipid particles could be topically applied to treat acne, thus forming an alternative treatment for acne. (1)


It Helps Treat Fungal Infections

Several studies have found that citronella oil is imbued with antifungal properties that can help weaken and destroy certain fungi that cause health issues. A 2013 study found that citronella oil is particularly effective for eliminating a fungus known as Aspergillus Niger. This fungus is believed to cause lung and sinus infections among immunocompromised people.


It’s An Effective Insect Repellent

A natural insect repellent, the scent that citronella oil releases naturally keeps insects away from the skin. Applying it on the skin before going out can help prevent bug bites for peace of mind wherever your day takes you.

The research was conducted (published in 2019) to find the medicinal effect of aromatic plants in curbing mosquito-borne diseases. Some of the mosquito-borne diseases include malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and filariasis. Aromatic plants have been used for ages to drive away mosquitoes. In this study, the plant chosen was Cymbopogon nardus. The study showed that the plant, and ergo its essential oil, citronella, was effective in driving away mosquitoes. If you're looking for a natural way to ease the discomfort of mosquito bites, essential oils for mosquito bites are a great option.

In fact, the US EPA (Environmental protection agency) has registered citronella oil as an insect repellant. The oil is highly efficient and better than synthetic repellants. Besides repelling mosquitoes the oil has compounds including citronellal, citronellol and geraniol which have known anthelmintic, anticonvulsant and antitrypanosomal properties which protect the body. However, the research also found that its effectiveness lessens in high temperature. (2)


Has Antibacterial Properties

The compound methyl isoeugenol found in the citronella is known to inhibit bacterial growth. Not only does it inhibit, but sometimes eliminates the bacteria. This property of the oil is useful in treating wounds and internal issues in the colon, urinary tracts, stomach and bladder.


Helps Against Depression

Anxiety, stress, and depression are more common in the world than one can fathom. It is estimated that 3.8% of the total global population, that is, nearly 280 million people in the whole world suffer from different types and stages of depression. The aromatic compounds in citronella oil benefit those suffering from this condition.


Keeps Infections Away

Citronella is not a panache against infections nor is it a replacement of medications. But, regular use of citronella can avoid the outbreak of infections in the urethra, kidneys, skin, prostate and lungs. Simply applying the oil with coconut oil will keep the body safe.

A study titled “Chemical Composition and Antifungal Activity of Essential Oil from Cymbopogon nardus (Citronella Grass)” examined the properties of the ingredients in the oil. It was found that of all the ingredients in the oil alpha- and beta- pinene had inhibitory properties against some fungi. In certain doses the oil successfully inhibited all the strains of the test fungus. (3)


Bothered with Muscle Twitching?

Not just minor muscle twitching, but whooping cough and stomach cramps can be relieved by topically applying citronella with sweet almond carrier oil. This oil relieves spasms of all kinds. The oil is also rubbed to get relief from menstrual cramps. Aromatherapy with citronella oil in a diffuser also helps, but it takes some time for the effect to show.


Citronella Oil’s Anti-inflammatory Properties

It is no secret that plant oils have anti-inflammatory properties that curbs inflammations that cause discomfort to the stomach, legs, liver and respiratory tract. The common cause of inflammation in the stomach and digestive tract are hot, oily and spicy food. The inflammation can also be caused by alcohol, medicines or any diseases. The oil from the citronella plant can lower the symptoms caused by inflammation.


Breathe Good Fragrances Of Oil

This essential oil is used in body sprays and deodorants as it is known to subdue bad odor and make you smell lemony and citrusy. If you buy citronella essential oil, use a small amount on the clothing to get lemon scented clothes. To make the entire body smell like citronella, add it to bath water and have a refreshing bath. It is also used in mouthwashes as an ingredient.

Research was conducted / published in 2019 which aimed to find the antimicrobial and cytotoxicity of the citronella essential oil when used in mouthwashes. It also aimed at throwing light on the phytotherapy of Cymbopogon nardus. The action of citronella and commercial mouthwashes were tested on S. aureus and C. Albicans biofilms present on acrylic resins. The test results showed that both citronella and commercial mouthwashes were efficient in inhibiting the propagation of biofilms. However, the citronella was sample had better microbial reduction. The research also established that the cytotoxic effect of citronella was less. (4)


Get Rid of Toxins Within

Getting rid of toxic thoughts can be hard, but with citronella oil, getting rid of toxins from the body gets easy. Take a whole body massage or apply the oil on the lymphatic nodes. How does this work? Citronella is a sudorific or diaphoretic that causes the body to sweat, thereby taking out excess salts and toxins. It has another effect on the body. It keeps the skin healthy and as it raises the body temperature to sweat, it prevents fever. So, it also acts as a febrifuge.


Reduces or Prevents Fever

The sudorific or diaphoretic properties of the oil increase sweating in the body. It raises the body temperature and eliminates bacteria and viruses. Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties also help in eliminating pathogens that may cause fever. Together, these properties ensure that fever is avoided or treated.


Cause More Urination

Just like sweating, citronella also causes more urination. Besides being a sudorific or diaphoretic, it is also a diuretic. These uses and benefits of citronella oil stimulate the elimination of salts, bile, gastric acids, uric acid, and other toxins. Excess sweating and urination also cause weight loss, or at least, weight regulation. By removing the toxins, it protects the body from infections, joint diseases, renal calculi, digestion problems etc.


Get Rid of Insects

Insects can be quite annoying and sometimes it may drive you crazy. There are options in the market that can kill the insects or bugs, but they are all synthetic and full of chemicals; don’t we have enough chemicals in our lives already? Enter citronella essential oil, which repel insects. This citronella essential oil has many properties and driving away insects is one of it. Studies have found that the aroma of citronella is effective in driving away lice, mosquitoes and fleas.


Stop Fungus From Growing

Unattended fungal growth on parts of the body can lead to health conditions such as Athlete’s foot, tapeworm and jock itch. Research has found that this oil inhibits the growth and kills fungus growth. It is used to cure fungal infections in the ENT regions (ear, nose, throat). It is also used to get relief from fungal dysentery.


No More Stomach Worries?

There are different types of stomach related ailments – indigestion, flatulence, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. Oil of citronella is a stomachic that helps with these troubles and help it function properly.


Citronella for Arthritis

Joint conditions including rheumatism and arthritis have dual benefits from citronella oil. First, because of its diuretic and sudorific properties it eliminates toxins and acids from the body thus preventing the joint conditions. Second, it is applied topically on the joints to mitigate inflammation caused due to joint conditions.


Retains water

If citronella causes urination and sweating, how does it retain water? Citronella helps with fluid retention as it is efficient in maintaining the water balance in the body. Adequate water can prevent muscle spasms, abdominal cramps and fatigue.

How To Use Citronella Oil

There are many means to experience the many benefits of citronella essential oil. Some inhale it directly from the bottle, while others incorporate it with a carrier oil to make a topical ointment or use diffusion. Here are some ways to get the most out of citronella oil.

Citronella Essential Oil in DIY Candles

Uplift the atmosphere in your home and keep it fresh with citronella essential oil candles. Here’s a recipe you can use to make your own scented candle that will improve your home ambiance as well as mood.

Ingredients and Supplies:

  • 6 Cups Soy Wax Flakes
  • 1 Natural Wick
  • 80 Drops of Citronella Oil
  • 8 Oz Mason Jar
  • Chopstick (To Secure Wick)


  • Melt soy wax in a pot over low-medium heat while stirring.
  • Once melted, add the citronella oil into the mixture.
  • Anchor the wick to the bottom of the mason jar using a bit of wax.
  • Tape wick upright to a horizontal chopstick to keep it stable.
  • Pour wax into mason jar until full.
  • Let the wax solidify for about 1 hour.

Voila, your very own citronella essential oil candle! Did we tell you these make great gifts for your loved ones as well?

Citronella Essential Oil As An Insect Repellant

No one likes to deal with pests, especially while they are out exploring the great outdoors, and though some chemical-based insect repellents can work for most, some people may have skin conditions that flare up after using them. Citronella essential oil can be a natural solution because of its scent that naturally drives pests away. Here’s a recipe to make your own citronella oil-based insect repellent:


  • 2 Oz Distilled Water
  • 30 Drops of Citronella Essential Oil
  • 25 Drops of Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 15 Drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 1 Tsp of Jojoba Oil
  • 1 Spray Bottle

Direction To Use:

Simply combine all the ingredients into the bottle and shake well, spray it on the skin whenever you venture outdoors for a carefree day.

Citronella Essential Oil Aroma Diffuser Blends

Want to impress your guests and improve the ambiance in your home? Here are a few citronella essential oil-inspired blends to help you make your home a haven of bliss.

Footloose, Hang Loose

Breath Of Freshness

Night On The Patio

Simply choose one of the recipes and blend them into a diffuser to achieve the atmosphere and mood that you desire.

Safety When Using Citronella Oil

Essential oils are great for self-care routines. However, we should also take care and follow caution when using them to keep ourselves and loved ones safe from its side effects. Generally essential oils are safe, but a few guidelines must be followed to avoid any adverse effects. Also, the oils are different, made up of different compounds. Some people may be allergic to certain compounds while others may be allergic to others. Concentrated oil must be bought after careful deliberation. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. Read the label and instructions to make sure you’re using the oil correctly.
  2. While buying essential oils be wary of the terms fragrance oil, perfume oil and natural identical oil.
  3. The term pure essential oil can be widely seen on the bottles. These maybe made from substandard sources.
  4. Ensure that you are not allergic to any ingredients or compounds in the oil.
  5. Make sure to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil for safe application.
  6. Do not add too much of the oil in the diffuser.
  7. Avoid using essential oils of sensitive areas like the eyes and nose.
  8. Don’t apply it on broken skin either unless it’s mentioned on the bottle or label.
  9. Keep it out of reach of kids and fur kids.
  10. Do not diffuse the oil near kids and pets. Consult a doctor before doing so.
  11. Some oils may make you sensitive to sun damage, so be sure to load up on SPF.
  12. Check the label to see if the oil is photo-toxic.
  13. Always do a small patch test before topical application.
  14. If aromatherapy is performed directly from the bottle, make sure that the oil does not touch the skin.
  15. The common unwanted effects caused by essential oils up on topical application are rashes, redness and swelling.
  16. If you show signs of irritation, stop use and consult a health professional.
  17. Some essential oils cannot be used by people with kidney problems, whereas some essential oils cannot be used with blood disorders. It is always advisable to consult a doctor about your essential oil needs and predisposition for diseases.

Recommended Citronella Essential Oil Products

Are you looking to harness the benefits of citronella essential oil to improve your day, or stock up on natural insect repellents? There is no better place to do so than our online store!

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