How to use citronella essential oil

Citronella Oil --

1. All-Natural Insect Repellent

Citronella has been recognized as a plant-based insect repellent since 1948. It has even been shown to repel dangerous Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are capable of spreading “dengue fever.” In 2012, on an excursion in Central America, J ended up with a strange bug bite on his arm. Skyping home in the photo below, J said the rapids were amazing, but the mosquitoes were also off the hook.

His entire arm blew up and by the time he came home, he'd developed flu-like symptoms and a fever so high we called 911. He ended up in intensive care with a swollen liver and irregular heart rhythms. His frightening encounter with dengue fever was a huge part of why we developed our own bug spray when we decided to live abroad. Citronella is a key ingredient as it not only works for mosquitoes, it is also effective for helping to repel lice and flies. Given that our kids frequently slept with their beach dogs like this, this was important.

2. Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Reducer/Muscle Relaxant

Citronella is used as a natural arthritis treatment, specifically linked with reduced pain associated with orthopaedic problems like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Combine several (two to three) drops with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil and massage it into swollen joints, tissue and muscles. It also helps after a long day of rock climbing or snowboarding to soak in a warm bath with a few drops of citronella oil to reduce swelling. When it comes to dealing with cramps, swelling and pain, citronella can help improve blood flow that lowers muscle spasms and tenderness. Try massaging citronella oil mixed with a carrier into sore muscles or onto the abdomen when dealing with cramps.

3. Stress Reducer

Commonly used to control emotions in aromatherapy, citronella can help relax your mind and contribute to reduced stress reactions and better sleep for people who can’t sleep. Typically, when Piper is having trouble, we put a few drops of lavender oil and citronella either in her diffuser or on the felt pads and hang her necklace over her headboard. Works like a charm on her and El Presidente.

4. Digestive Aid

Citronella helps support the digestive organs by reducing inflammation and helping with detoxification and cleansing of the liver, stomach and gut. Certain compounds prevent the growth of bacteria in the digestive tract and can speed up healing of illnesses and wounds. It’s also capable of killing organisms (parasites or worms) within the small and large intestines, especially important for traveling abroad.

5.Fresh Scent/Cleaning Agent

Because it has a clean scent similar to lemongrass, citronella is a common ingredient in soaps, candles, incense, perfumes and cosmetics. You can deodorize the scents in your home, dishwasher, refrigerator and laundry machine by diffusing citronella or running a very small amount through a cycle of your household appliances. Proven to have strong antifungal and antibacterial properties, citronella can help clean kitchen, bathroom or household surfaces without the need for harsh chemicals. Because of its compounds, including methyl isoeugenol, it’s effective for reducing food-born pathogens and even dangerous bacteria. We add it to our homemade laundry soap.

6. Natural Skin Care Remedy

Aside from keeping away bug bites, research shows citronella can also help heal dermatitis, naturally treat eczema, slow skin aging, heal bug bite scars and treat some fungal infections on the skin. It enhances penetration of skin and speeds up wound healing, which might be beneficial for remedying acne, getting rid of warts, treating boils and healing age spots. As an easy-to-make home remedy for acne, try dabbing a sterile swab of one drop of pure citronella essential oil on blemishes three times a day.

7. Pet Controller

Citronella oil is effective in calming barking dogs and can even be used on furniture to help keep your pets off. As a bonus, when you spray citronella on your furniture or linens, it keeps them free from bacteria, pests and odors. Add several drops to a spray bottle along with water, shake it up, and spray it throughout your home and on household items.

8. Natural Shampoo and Conditioner

One of the most popular uses for citronella oil is cleansing and conditioning the hair and scalp. It can help eliminate excess oil and greasiness of hair while also fighting dandruff and adding shine. You can add several drops to your shampoo or conditioner, or we make our own homemade recipe using the natural detangling properties of coconut oil, which also helps counter the damage of saltwater and sun in our hair.


  • Aromatically--You can diffuse the oil in your home or backyard just like a candle using a diffuser. To make a natural room cleanser, put a few drops of oil along with distilled water into a spritzer bottle and use it on surfaces. Add a small amount of witch hazel or alcohol to help atomize the blend.

  • Topically--Before applying citronella oil to your skin, it should be diluted with a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, in a 1:1 ratio. You can also add a few drops of citronella essential oil to your bath, shampoo, soap, lotion or body wash.

TO ORDER: Hoffman's Natural 100% Organic and Pure Citronella Oil is available here