Citronella oil
Citronella oil


Citronella oil is made from citronella grass. Sri Lanka citronella oil comes from Cymbopogon nardus. Java citronella oil comes from Cymbopogon winterianus.

Citronella grass is native to tropical areas. The essential oil is made through a process called steam distillation. During this process, steam is passed through the grass to pull out the oil.

People most commonly use citronella oil as a mosquito repellent on the skin. It's also used for other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Don't confuse citronella oil with lemongrass or stone root. These are not the same.
When taken by mouth: Citronella oil is commonly consumed in small amounts in foods. But there isn't enough reliable information to know if citronella oil is safe when used in larger amounts as medicine.

When applied to the skin: Citronella oil is possibly safe for most people when used as an insect repellent. It might cause skin reactions or irritation in some people.

When inhaled: Citronella oil is likely unsafe. Lung damage has been reported.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if citronella oil is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Citronella oil is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in children. There are reports of poisoning in children who consumed insect repellent containing citronella oil. Citronella oil is possibly safe when applied to the skin in children over 6 months of age, as long as it doesn't get into the eyes or mouth.


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Mosquito repellent. Applying citronella oil to the skin seems to help prevent mosquito bites for a short period of time. The concentration of the citronella oil seems to affect how well and how long the protection lasts. Higher concentrations seem to last longer.
There is interest in using citronella oil for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Citronella oil has most often been applied to the skin in adults in concentrations of 10%. Higher concentrations up to 100% have also been used. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Citronella oil interacts with any medicines. Before taking Citronella oil, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods. has licensed monographs from TRC Healthcare.
This monograph was last reviewed on 27/07/2022 04:39:46 and last updated on 24/12/2012 22:45:03. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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