The Benefits of Citronella (Besides Repelling Bugs)

August 21, 2018

The Benefits of Citronella (Besides Repelling Bugs)

Citronella essential oil is steam distilled from cymbopogon nardus, a hardy grass native to Sri Lanka and Java. It is very similar to Lemongrass. Like lemongrass, the oil of citronella also has analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties. Both oils are excellent bug repellents and also a great natural remedy against worms and parasites. Let us study the benefits of Citronella essential oil in detail.

A Brief Description of Citronella

Cymbogon nardus grass is found in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, parts of India, Zimbabwe, Java and several South Asian countries. Citronella oil has a citrusy aroma that can be best described as sweet, fresh and medicinal and somewhat similar to the aroma of Lemongrass. Pure citronella essential oil is clear and colorless and contains compounds such as geraniol, citronellol, geranyl acetate, imonene and camphene.

Health Benefits and Uses of Citronella Essential Oil


Citronella oil has anti-acne and skin toning properties. It helps reduce problems associated with oily skin and its antibacterial and antifungal properties prevent acne. A mixture of citronella and witch hazel (Hamamels virginiana) can protect the face from acne effectively.

Digestive Aid

In small quantities, diluted Citronella essential oil can be administered to prevent and eliminate roundworms and tapeworms. It also improves digestion, absorption and excretion, thereby fortifying the body.

For Headaches

One of the many uses of Citronella oil is to diffuse it to alleviate migraines or headaches and uplift moods. It clears the mind and is also beneficial for relieving & preventing symptoms associated with colds, cough, influenza symptoms and minor infections.

As a Deodorant

Citronella essential oil can prevent excess perspiration. You can mix it up with a teaspoon of carrier oil and apply it to the armpits for cleansing and long lasting protection against odor causing bacteria. Java Citronella oil is widely used in making perfumes.

To Enhance Focus and Concentration

The oil’s uplifting properties enhance focus and uplift the mood. If you are feeling downcast, diffuse the oil to clear the head and maintain concentration. It is especially beneficial during flu season to clear air in a sick room and help the person to feel positive. Diffuse it in a student’s room to improve memory and retention.

For Pets

Pet owners can use the oil in shampoos, or for spot application on their dogs to prevent and repel fleas, ticks, lice and other parasites. The oil is also calming for dogs and prevents excess barking. Many anti-barking dog collars, which are extremely popular with pet owners, are known to contain Citronella oil. The oil is also useful in repelling cats from certain areas of the house.

Culinary Uses

Citronella is extensively used in South Asian countries to make rice preparations like biryanis or pilaf, in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, in frozen desserts, baked goods and breakfast items. It has a strong flavor, so a small amount goes a long way. Citronella and lemongrass grasses are often ‘interchangeable’; so almost all preparations of Lemongrass can be made using Citronella as a replacement. Tea made from citronella leaves or Citronella essence is digestive and refreshing. In Thailand and Vietnam, many curry and rice preparations are considered incomplete without citronella or lemongrass or both.

Insect Repellence

Perhaps the most popular use of Citronella essential oil is of that as an insect repellent. In isolation or in combination with other essential oils, this oil is famed for its bug repelling properties. Citronella oil has long lasting repellent action against mosquitoes, flies, bed bugs, fleas, ticks and gnats. Applied to the skin, clothes, shoes and other exposed areas, you can prevent these harmful bugs from biting you on camping trips or hikes and picnics. Today, the oil is commercially available in the form of candles, tablets, sprays, pellets, and cartridges to use as a household, non-toxic and chemical free bug repellent. Animal collars, tags and pet shampoos and sprays also contain this wonderful essential oil to repel fleas. Citronella oil works best with essential oils like Cedarwood and Lemongrass to repel all kinds of bugs. Paints containing citronella oil are being studied to determine their bug repellence at keeping homes safe from disease causing pests. 

Precautions with Citronella

Pure essential oil of Citronella is extremely strong and can cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin. To prevent skin irritation, always test the oil on a small area of the skin first. Never take the oil internally unless it is specified as food grade. Even then, always dilute the oil with a little water, milk or carrier oil prior to internal use. Pregnant and nursing mothers should not use this oil.

How to Use Citronella Oil

In a Diffuser

Add 2-3 drops to a diffuser or to water for a room spray to repel bugs, keep viruses at bay, or to enhance one’s mood. 

In Lotions

Mix the oil with your favorite moisturizer and apply all over the body. Not only will this keep you refreshed and smelling good; it will also repel bugs.

As a Compress

To warm or cool water, add a few drops of the oil. Soak a clean flannel cloth in the water and wring out the excess. Apply the compress to the skin to treat acne, headaches, etc.

Mosquito Repellent Recipe

1-2 drops each of Citronella, Eucalyptus and Lemongrass essential oils

1 tsp of Coconut oil

Mix the oils and stir well to combine. Rub the blend all over the skin to repel mosquitoes.


Best known as an insect repellent, Citronella essential oil has many other medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Use it in candles, potpourri, skin lotions, or simply diffuse it to keep your home smelling fresh and clean while preventing bugs and annoying pests. The oil is also great for preventing colds and flu and for relieving migraines.  With so many benefits, you should definitely make it a part of your home medicine cabinet!

Our products that contain organic citronella oil: 

Deliciously Aromatic Natural Perfume & Insect Repellent Spray

Deliciously Aromatic Natural Perfume & Insect Repellent Roll On

Deliciously Aromatic Natural Perfume & Insect Repellent Salve

Medical Disclaimer

The content found on this website is for informational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Information and statements regarding health related benefits of certain ingredients are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided is not meant to substitute the advice provided by your personal physician or other medical professional. Do not use the information found within this website to self-diagnose any medical conditions or treat any health problems or diseases. The information provided is not intended to prescribe or be taken as medical advice.

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