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Citronella Oil: Everything You Need to Know

4 mins

Rahul Bhatia

You might be familiar with citronella oil if you’ve shopped around for insect repellants, but there’s more to this essential oil. Let’s take a look!

Citronella essential oil has been known for centuries and used for various medical purposes. Commonly found in natural insect repellants, citronella has a distinctive floral scent that makes it a natural insect deterrent, with citrus notes that make this oil smells amazing.

But what else is citronella capable of? We’re going to discuss all of the unique properties of citronella oil and the best ways to incorporate it into your life to get the most benefits from this powerful essential oil.

Table of contents:

  • What Is Citronella Oil?
  • What Are the Benefits of Citronella Oil?
  • Insect Repellant
  • Antifungal Properties
  • Aromatherapy
  • Promotes Wound Healing
  • Culinary Flavoring
  • Supports Healthy Hair and Scalp
  • How Do You Use Citronella Oil?
  • Topical Usage
  • Diffusing
  • Candles
  • With Other Essential Oils

What Is Citronella Oil?

Citronella is an essential oil derived from steam distillation of Cymbopogon, a type of citrus-smelling fragrant grass native to various parts of Asia. This grass includes citronella, lemongrass, silky heads, and cochin grass.

Citronella Oil, Citronella Oil benefits

Citronella grass has two different types: Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus.

  • Cymbopogon nardus is the common type of citronella grass found in insect repellents. 
  • Cymbopogon winterianus, also called Java Citronella, is used less often, and mostly in the cosmetic products.

Citronellol, the active ingredient in citronella, gives this powerful plant the wide variety of benefits that it has to offer.

What Are the Benefits of Citronella Oil?

Citronella oil can be used for many different purposes. We’ve got the inside scoop on all of the benefits this powerful plant contains.

This oil is additionally popular due to its low risk of adverse effects, including side effects like eye and skin irritation. It is generally safe for everyone in your life.

  • Insect Repellant

As we’ve mentioned, citronella oil is most commonly used these days as a natural insect and mosquito repellent. It’s even registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a proven insect and animal repellent, with little to no risk of toxicity to humans.

In addition, citronella has been studied to be safe for animals and not harmful to the insects it repels. You can avoid getting itchy mosquito bites and relax knowing that you are keeping the environment safe at the same time.

  • Antifungal Properties

Citronella oil has also been shown to have strong antifungal and antibacterial activity. It may help inhibit the growth and killing of some fungi. Combined with Ceylon cinnamon oil, it gives you an additional boost of protection.

antifungal properties, antifungal

This oil has also displayed the ability to kill the cell wall of the fungi and destroy the organisms that cause the fungus to grow. This can be a strong and natural approach to fungal infections. 

  • Aromatherapy

In addition to its medicinal properties, citronella has a pleasing citrus smell that many use for aromatherapy purposes.

Citronella has different effects on every individual who uses it. Some may feel energized and uplifted, while others may notice a sense of calm and relaxation. Overall, using citronella for aromatherapy could help support your general well-being.


It can be used in cosmetic and personal care products, including perfumes, lotions, and soaps. 

  • Promotes Wound Healing

Citronella oil can potentially help support wound healing. The potential skin-soothing benefits of citronella oil may help reduce the redness and swelling of a wound, while the body works to repair itself.

  • Culinary Flavoring

Citronellal, one of the chemical compounds in citronella oil, has been frequently used as an additive in foods to give it a fragrant citrus aroma. Because of its pleasant citrus scent, citronella oil has also been used as a flavoring oil for culinary uses.


Although it may seem odd to eat something that is also used for mosquitos and wound healing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has listed it on their safe additives list for consumption.

  • Supports Healthy Hair and Scalp

Citronella oil can be applied topically onto your hair and scalp to prevent dryness and support healthy moisture levels. It can also help support healthy oil production on your scalp to prevent your hair from becoming oily or greasy.

Citronella can be mixed with jojoba oil and applied to the scalp. This can help nourish and hydrate your scalp while eliminating excess oil.

healthy hair, strong hair

How Do You Use Citronella Oil?

Citronella can be used in several ways to benefit your well-being. It can also be easily incorporated into your lifestyle, depending on which one is the best for your needs. 

  • Topical Usage

When you use citronella oil topically, be sure to use it in a cream or spray in case of skin sensitivity. Citronella oil is a pure essential oil, so it should never go on your skin directly without a carrier oil.

Citronella essential oil, when used topically, can last for up to two hours, which means that you may need to reapply regularly to ensure that you are getting the most benefit from it.

You can easily make your own citronella insect repellent using citronella essential oil, witch hazel, isopropyl alcohol, and an optional additional essential oil to enhance the scent. It is easy, convenient, and natural to ward off any critters.

It is important to remember that while citronella is safe to use topically for you and your family, it should be kept out of the reach of children since it can be harmful if ingested.

  • Diffusing

Citronella oil can also be diffused to use for aromatherapy purposes. Most diffusers are water-based, which means that you need to mix the essential oil with water. 

As diffusers come in all shapes and sizes, you can diffuse citronella oil in a small space like your car or large areas like your living room or bedroom. It is a simple and convenient way to use this essential oil.

  • Candles

As an insect and mosquito repellant, citronella candles can be used in small outdoor areas, like the patio or porch, to keep away insects and enjoy the refreshing outdoor air safely.


Similarly, you can find citronella in various outdoor vessels, such as incense sticks, tiki torches, and electric lanterns. It is a great, natural way to repel insects without harming them so that you and the critters in the environment can feel at ease.

  • With Other Essential Oils

Citronella can be combined with other essential oils to make fragrant blends that support and complement each offer.

Combining citronella with peppermint, eucalyptus, geranium, cedarwood, and rosemary essential oils can help strengthen your hair and make it healthier and shinier. In addition, peppermint and citronella can help in soothing an itchy scalp if you are prone to dry skin.

Lavender and sweet orange essential oils can be used with citronella to give you a relaxing recharge that will help you ease your mind and feel uplifted for the day ahead. 

essential oils, best essential oils

Citronella oil has quite a few tricks up its sleeves for potential benefits for your health. This powerful essential oil has a good reputation, and now we know why. Citronella oil has many benefits that can be experienced and appreciated by many different people.

WOW Skin Science believes in holistic beauty from naturally derived sources that are affordable and health-conscious. Not only should you feel good when you use a product, but you should also feel good about using a product.

Knowing what goes into your favorite skincare solutions to know exactly what is providing all of those great benefits is what we have to offer.

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Rahul Bhatia

Rahul is the published author of "Heads Or Tails" and Quora writer with over 1.6 million views. He is a keen observer who enjoys the simple joys of life. He strongly believes true beauty is not how beautiful your face is but how beautiful your heart is.

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Rahul Bhatia

Rahul is the published author of "Heads Or Tails" and Quora writer with over 1.6 million views. He is a keen observer who enjoys the simple joys of life. He strongly believes true beauty is not how beautiful your face is but how beautiful your heart is.
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