How to Use Citronella Essential Oil

Updated on April 29, 2020
Cynthia Hoover profile image

Cynthia is a homesteader who grows and harvests food for her family. Cynthia prefers using home remedies when she can.

This article will break down a number of the various medicinal applications and other uses of citronella essential oil.
This article will break down a number of the various medicinal applications and other uses of citronella essential oil. | Source

The uses of essential oils are just as unique as the selection of oils to choose from. Although known primarily for its pest control benefits, citronella oil also has medicinal applications and can be used in a variety of home remedies. As always, you need to use caution when choosing any medicinal herbs, oils, and home remedies.

Essential oils are trending even though many remain unaware of just how many uses they have. In fact, you may use and purchase products today that contain essential oils and not know it.

Citronella is likely a name you have heard before, thanks to its popularity as a repellent for summer pests. Expensive candles and even tiki torches often contain citronella for repelling mosquitoes. But this essential oil has numerous uses, including:

  • pest repellent
  • anti-fungal
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antispasmodic
  • skincare and acne treatment
  • diuretic

Often, with essential oils, practical applications for these uses are more cost effective than over-the-counter items that already contain the oils. By using an organic oil you have on hand when the need arises, it can save you money in the long run. This article will break down the many different ways citronella essential oil can be used in your life.

Citronella has been used for a long time as an effective mosquito repellent.
Citronella has been used for a long time as an effective mosquito repellent.

Conduct a Test With a Diluted Sample Before Applying Directly to Your Skin

Before you start rubbing the oil directly on your skin, I suggest adding it to a lotion or a carrier oil beforehand. While most people seem to tolerate citronella oil directly, it's best to be sure you have no reactions. So, diluting the oil in any lotion or with another carrier oil and conducting a small test on the back of your hand is recommended.

How to Use Citronella as a Pest Repellent

As early spring begins to unfold every year, citronella candles and torches start hitting the shelves to help consumers deter pests while they try to enjoy outdoor areas.

5 Ways to Apply Citronella to Keep the Bugs Away

  1. Apply it directly to the skin.
  2. Mix it with lotion or oil before applying to the skin.
  3. Add it to an aromatherapy diffuser.
  4. Add 2–3 drops to cotton balls and place it strategically around the home or outdoor area.
  5. Mix it with water in a spray bottle.

Before you start lathering up and rubbing the oil all over your skin, however, I suggest adding it to a lotion or a carrier oil beforehand. While most people seem to tolerate citronella oil directly, it's best to be sure you have no reactions. So, diluting the oil in any lotion or with another carrier oil and conducting a small test on the back of your hand is recommended.

Use in a diffuser if you struggle with depression or anxiety or just want to relieve some stress. Never inhale directly though! It is merely an aromatic, and you should only use 2–3 drops to a full amount of water for your diffuser. Aromatherapy diffusers work outside too. Place it on your porch if you are able, and it will help deter mosquitoes and other flying insects.

You can use citronella as a flea and tick repellent for your pets too. Mix 10 drops with water in spray bottle and mist your dog before letting it outside. Dilute oils to avoid any possible skin reactions. Alternatively, you can add a few drops to a cloth pet collar, so that it's not directly touching the skin.

Citronella essential oil has anti-fungal properties and can be used to help treat athlete's foot, ring worm, toenail fungus, and jock itch.
Citronella essential oil has anti-fungal properties and can be used to help treat athlete's foot, ring worm, toenail fungus, and jock itch.

Citronella's Anti-Fungal Properties

Along with other home remedy applications, you can use citronella as an effective anti-fungal treatment. It's necessary to apply daily the same as you would with an over-the-counter treatment for many common fungal infections. While it has some antibacterial properties, however, it does not cover a broad spectrum of bacteria.

Common Fungal Treatment Uses for Citronella

  • athlete's foot
  • ring worm
  • toenail fungus
  • jock itch

If you're treating a fungal infection with a citronella home remedy, be sure to dilute it in a carrier oil beforehand. You can purchase carrier oils at various stores, or you can even use olive oil if you have it. Apply the diluted citronella solution after you have cleaned and dried the affected area, and reapply it until the infected areas no longer need it.

Consider Making Large Batches of Diluted Solution

Rather than making a bunch of small dilutions of citronella essential oil every time you need to use it, you can periodically make large batches of diluted solution—using water, lotions, or other carrier oils—and fill up various bottles and other containers with it. That way, you always have some ready when necessary.

Using Citronella Oil as an Anti-Inflammatory and Antispasmodic

Citronella has both anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, making it an option to use as a topical treatment for many ailments, including:

  • rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis,
  • bursitis,
  • muscle spasms, and
  • menstrual cramps.

You may also find other inflammatory afflictions that citronella may benefit as well. To reap the benefits, mix 2–3 drops to 2 tablespoons of carrier oil and apply topically. If you have empty containers, you can make this in larger batches to have on hand when needed.

Since it inhibits some forms of bacteria, citronella essential oil can be useful to help curb acne and promote overall skin health.
Since it inhibits some forms of bacteria, citronella essential oil can be useful to help curb acne and promote overall skin health.

Applying Citronella Oil for Skincare and Acne Treatment

As if all those other uses for citronella essential oil weren’t enough, it is also an effective acne treatment and has general skincare applications as well. Citronella inhibits some forms of bacteria, making it an optimal choice when battling an acne outbreak, since acne is partially caused by bacteria that clogs the pores.

You can add 1–3 drops to a mild facial cleanser product you already have on hand to help with the battle on your next acne outbreak. I buy a cheap store brand facial cleanser and add my citronella essential oil (that I use for all the mentioned remedies and applications)—but I usually need my husband to help get it all mixed. If you are having a difficult time mixing while in the bottle like I do, you can empty the bottle to a bowl and then mix thoroughly and re-fill the bottle.

If you have dry skin with acne issues, try mixing citronella with a coconut oil or any handy carrier oil you have on hand and applying to the skin. This helps to moisturize, while also helping to eliminate any pesky pimples you may have.

SVA Organics Citronella Essential Oil Organic USDA 4 Oz Pure Natural Therapeutic Grade Oil for Skin, Body, Diffuser, Candle Making
SVA Organics Citronella Essential Oil Organic USDA 4 Oz Pure Natural Therapeutic Grade Oil for Skin, Body, Diffuser, Candle Making
I use this one because it is a pure therapeutic grade oil. Even with frequent use, the 4-ounce bottle lasts me a good time. I will go through more during the summer months when I am using it for a pest deterrent as well. If you are just starting out with oils, please be sure to that you are getting a pure undiluted therapeutic grade oil. Not all oils on the market are the same, and some are pre-diluted and not what you would want to use on your body.
 

A Final Word About Using Essential Oils

Using essential oils is not something you should do on the fly. There are so many more uses for this oil, as well as any other one out there. You should always consult with your doctor (or holistic doctor at the very least) before jumping in headfirst. As with any home remedy, there are times it is best to seek professional medical advice and be fully evaluated before you decide to treat at home.

While some options with citronella oil like skincare and acne are not too hard to diagnose, you should still test a small post to ensure you have no reactions. While most people do well with this oil, some people could have a reaction. Testing a small area is recommended with any oil before you start a treatment regimen with it.

While I prefer home remedies for myself and often for my family, we still do go to the doctor and discuss treatment options. At times, we treat at home and it is more cost effective with home remedies. Other afflictions and ailments, however, require treatment provided by a medical professional. Any home remedy that does not tell you to be cautious is one I would be concerned about.

Have you ever used citronella oil?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

© 2020 Cynthia Hoover

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    • Cynthia Hoover profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Hoover 

      3 weeks ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Nbailey Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment and the pin! I am glad you enjoyed the article and found useful information about essential oils.

    • profile image

      Nbailey 

      3 weeks ago

      Great read with so much helpful information. I pinned this for reference and can't wait to try some of the many benefits you mentioned. I love easentials oils! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Hrisi 

      3 weeks ago

      Thanks for the info. I've been using the citronella oil in my diffuser during the summer days to ward off mosquitoes and I add some lemongrass too. I didn't know about the anti fungal benefits though.

    • profile image

      Maria Vargas 

      3 weeks ago

      I love essential oils! Besides its amazing benefits citronella can be use to sweeten a custom blend.

    • profile image

      Barbara Peterson 

      3 weeks ago

      Great information.

    • profile image

      Jeannie York 

      3 weeks ago

      Very good information. My husband suffers from athletes foot. He’s tried everything without much results. I will be ordering some citronella oil. Thank you

    • profile image

      Jeni 

      3 weeks ago

      Thanks for informative article on citronella. I think I will mix with coconut oil for my feet!

    • Ann Lemke profile image

      Ann Lemke 

      3 weeks ago

      Citronella oil is a very effective pest and mosquito repellent! I feel so much better about using natural ingredients during the summer, versus harmful chemicals. I had no idea that it also works as an anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. Thank you for your suggestions- I will be trying these out as I always have this amazing oil on hand!

    • profile image

      Stephie 

      3 weeks ago

      Great info. Will be looking to buy some citronella for my athletes foot soon. We try to use essential oils for everything: lavender oil to help us sleep, lemon to uplift mood and get rid of sticky residue, oregano oil to help prevent colds, peppermint oil for stomach distress.

    • profile image

      Lisa G 

      3 weeks ago

      This oil works so well on ticks and mosquitoes. I had a few drop in a spray bottle filled with water and spray my fur babies and myself before we outside. Mosquitoes love my blood and when I spray myself before going out I don’t get eaten alive! Highly recommend for anyone who has a lot of ticks in their neighborhood.

    • profile image

      Becky 

      3 weeks ago

      This does so much more than i could have ever imagined. I really learned so much from this article.

    • profile image

      Sefina 

      3 weeks ago

      Citronella Essential Oil Seems like what I need. Planning on buying soon!!

    • profile image

      Beth 

      3 weeks ago

      I’m always interested to learn new information about oils. This was great!

    • Cynthia Hoover profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Hoover 

      3 weeks ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Shiela Sunray thank you for the comment. I have 4 boys at home and we often use citronella on athletes feet issues. Having a farm they wear muck boots all the time and I have had luck limiting the athletes foot issues with this oil. I agree we need more proactive approaches for saving honey bees! I try to plant new things to attract them each year, we often do have swarms in our apple trees. It is a wonderful thing to see so many in one place.

    • profile image

      Shiela Sunray 

      3 weeks ago

      I certainly never knew Citronella had so many diverse uses. Ok I am hooked now. Thank you for this very informative article. A relative has a bad case of athletes foot and I will certainly get some for him to use. Now, if we could just find something that saves honey bees and decimated Asian bees!

    • profile image

      DanielleQ 

      3 weeks ago

      I had no idea you could use citronella oil for all these things I am definitely going to try it! Thanks for this info!

    • Cynthia Hoover profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Hoover 

      3 weeks ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Utauna Hunter thank you for stopping by! Citronella oil has loads of uses, this is just a small primer on a few of home remedy applications. I am glad you learned something new!

    • profile image

      utauna hunter 

      3 weeks ago

      I didn't know you could use Citronella oil for acne. I learned tons of new things from this article..Thanks.

    • profile image

      Monique 

      3 weeks ago

      Thanks for the info! I knew it was a good pestrepellant but now I am interested in trying it for its other uses too.

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