How to use citronella essential oil

How to use citronella essential oil

With Citronella essential oil, you can repel uninvited pests naturally. Citronella oil helps mask human scents that often attract insects. Citronella is a great essential oil to have on hand. Plus, it has cleansing properties, making it an awesome addition to your natural household cleaners.

It can be used aromatically and applied to the skin topically. Citronella is not recommended for internal use.

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Top uses for citronella essential oil

  • Apply on your skin or clothing before heading outdoors to deter pests.
  • Diffuse to discourage unwanted pests
  • Add a drop to your shampoo or conditioner for a cleansing boost.
  • Add 3-4 drops in water to cleanse surfaces
  • Make an insect repellent collar by soaking a few drops in water and letting the collar dry.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This is for educational purposes only and not intended to be used as medical advice. This post may include affiliate links and I may earn a small commission on products recommended at no extra cost to you.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are aromatic compounds found in plants, seeds, bark, flowers and trees. Pure essential oils are 50-70 times more potent than herbs and when used properly are 100% natural and safe.

Have you ever crushed a peppermint leaf between your fingers?  What you were doing was rupturing the essential oil sacs to smell the essential oil aroma.  The aromatic compounds inside those tiny little sacs help the plant protect itself and thrive.  We get the same benefit when we use essential oils. 

How to use Citronella essential oil

If you are looking for natural ways to repel insects and mosquitos than citronella is an essential oil to use. Citronella is a tall grass native to Asia and is sourced from Indonesia. The essential oil is steam distilled from the thin, bright green blades and it has a bright lemony scent.

Citronella can be used aromatically and applied topically to the skin. It is not recommended for internal use.

For topical application it's recommended you apply along with a carrier oil especially for those with sensitive skin, elderly and children. Using a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil will also help the essential oil stay on the skin longer which is especially helpful as a natural bug repellent.

For more safety information, recipes and dilution charts download a FREE 10-page guide to Essential Oils Made Easy!

How to Use Citronella Essential Oil Aromatically

When inhaled essential oils can positively effect our mood and emotions in less than 30 seconds. The scent molecules of the essential oil enter through the olfactory nerve which sends messages to the limbic system. The limbic system acts as the command center for our mood and emotions.

To use a diffuser add the essential oil drops and then add tap water to the fill line. Each diffuser is a little different and you may have to refer to manufacturer directions. Some have a timed setting for 2, 4, 6 hours or more. An intermittent setting is when the diffuser will run for a few minutes, turn off for a few minutes and then back on and so forth.

  • Smell the essential oil straight from the bottle.
  • Add a few drops to your palm, close your eyes and inhale from cupped hands.
  • Add to a room diffuser for an uplifting scent and to freshen the air.
  • Add a few drops to a portable diffuser for picnics and barbecue's to deter pests especially mosquitos.
  • Inhale to encourage happy, positive feelings

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Citronella Diffuser Blend Recipes

Add the essential oil drops to a room diffuser along with tap water to the fill line. Inhale and relax!

Back Porch

3 drops Citronella oil
2 drops Peppermint oil
2 drops Grapefruit oil

Bye Bye Bugs

3 drops Citronella oil
2 drops Tea Tree oil
2 drops Peppermint oil


2 drops Citronella oil
2 drops Geranium oil
2 drops Lavender oil

How to Use Citronella Essential Oil Topically

Topical use is simply placing the oil on your skin where it is absorbed into the tissue and enters the bloodstream. We can dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (such as fractionated coconut oil) to slow that absorption and avoid sensitivity. To effect the whole body apply them topically to the bottom of the feet, spine or navel.

To avoid photosensitivity with citrus essential oils do not apply on skin that will exposed to the sun within 12 hours. Never place essential oils in your eyes, ears, nose or sensitive areas.

Essential oils can be applied to the skin directly from the bottle. To dilute the oil first add it to your palm and then add the essential oil. Rub your palms together and rub it in or dip your finger in the mixture and apply where you need it. There is a dilution chart below for your reference.

Before heading out on a hike going outside apply citronella to exposed skin. Don't forget your ankles, back of knee, wrists, inside the elbow and back of neck.

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How to make a diluted citronella roller

Roller bottles make using your oils on the go convenient and easy. In a 10mL roller bottle add the essential oil drops and fill the rest with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. See the chart below for suggested essential oil drops.

A carrier oil is a vegetable based oil such as jojoba, argan oil, sweet almond and avocado oil. My favorite is fractionated coconut oil because it has no scent, is clear and doesn't stain clothing and it absorbs nicely into the skin. Fractionated coconut oil is the same coconut oil you probably have in your kitchen cupboard but some of the fat is removed so that it stays liquid and doesn't solidify, which makes it a great carrier oil.

These are general guidelines. Consider your own personal health needs and adjust if needed. Remember, less is more!

General Guidelines for Essential Oil Dilution

  • 1 teaspoon = approximately 100 drops
  • Under 12 years old use 1 drop of essential oil per year in age in 1 tsp of carrier oil. (ex. 5 years old = 5 drops of essential oil in 1 tsp carrier oil)
  • 1% dilution = 1 drop of essential oil per 100 drops
  • 5mL bottle = approximately 100 drops
  • 10mL bottle = approximately 200 drops
  • Healthy adults use 20-40 drops total of essential oil in a 10mL roller bottle then fill the rest with a carrier oil.
  • Seniors and sensitive skin use 10-20 drops total essential oil in a 10mL roller bottle.

DIY Citronella Recipes

DIY Garden Spray

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup witch hazel
  • 1 tbs alcohol or vodka
  • 20 drops Citronella oil
  • 20 drops Celery Seed oil
  • 20 drops Eucalyptus oil

In a 16 ounce glass spray bottle Add water, witch hazel and essential oils. Shake and spray on plants or garden to keep pests away.

Bug Off Body Spray

  • 20 drops Citronella oil
  • 10 drops Lemon Eucalyptus oil (optional)

Add carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil and essential oils to a 30mL spray bottle. Shake well before each use. Apply to skin before going outside.

What makes doTERRA essential oils different?

Have you seen a $10 Frankincense in the grocery store and wonder why it’s so cheap? Well, you can bet that bottle is synthetic grade and does not have the therapeutic benefits of a pure essential oil. The same thing goes for oils on retail sites such as Amazon. Anyone can buy a replacement essential oil bottle top for .50 cents that will seal as if it was a brand new bottle of essential oil. Buyer Beware: the percentage of adulterated essential oils on the market today is staggering.

There are four main grades of essential oils. Synthetic oils lack purity and can be harmful to the body. These include things like laundry, perfumes and body products. Food grade are measured by the GRAS standard (Generally Regarded As Safe). This is a much higher standard required for internal use, but this grade is mainly used to flavor food and lacks therapeutic benefits. Therapeutic grade is not well regulated. These are generally used for massage, aroma or cosmetic use and have a low standard to pass to qualify.

Certified Pure Tested Grade (CPTG) is exclusive to doTERRA essential oils. Every batch must pass in-house and third party testing to guarantee that no foreign contaminants or fillers exist. This is a standard that far exceeds organic labeling requirements. 

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