Does Citronella Oil work for Bed Bugs?

citronella oil to kill and repel bed bugs

In this article, we will answer the question: Does citronella oil work for bed bugs?
Bed bugs, those tiny nocturnal pests that feed on human blood, can turn our peaceful nights into a nightmare. Dealing with a bed bug infestation can be challenging, and many people seek natural alternatives to traditional pest control methods.

In this article, we explore how citronella oil can be used as a natural solution to deter these insects. Known for its mosquito-repellent properties, citronella oil has gained attention as a potential solution. Let’s explore whether citronella essential oil can repel these persistent bugs and provide some relief from their bites.

What is Citronella Oil?

Various species of Cymbopogon grasses, particularly Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus, yield citronella oil, a natural essential oil. Its strong and distinct citrus-like fragrance is well-known.

Citronella oil has been utilized for centuries in traditional medicine and as a natural insect repellent. It contains active compounds like citronellal, geraniol, and citronellol, which contribute to its insect-repellent properties. These compounds are thought to disrupt the sensory receptors of mosquitoes and other biting insects, reducing the likelihood of being bitten.

In addition to repelling insects, citronella oil finds application in the fragrance industry. It is also used as an ingredient in soaps, candles, and perfumes. This essential oil is sometimes employed in aromatherapy for its uplifting and refreshing aroma.

It’s worth noting that although citronella essential oil is generally safe for topical use with low toxicity, it may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in certain individuals. It’s always advisable to do a patch test before applying it directly to the skin and to follow the recommended guidelines for use.


Are Citronella Oil and Lemongrass oil the same thing?

Citronella oil and lemongrass oil originate from different grass species and exhibit certain similarities, but they are not identical.

  • Producers extract citronella oil from the leaves and stems of Cymbopogon nardus or Cymbopogon winterianus, which people commonly refer to as citronella grass. This oil possesses a distinct citrus-like scent and serves primarily as an insect repellent.
  • Lemongrass oil comes from Cymbopogon citratus or Cymbopogon flexuosus, those grass species are commonly known as lemongrass. This oil emits a strong, fresh, and lemony aroma and has various applications, including aromatherapy, culinary uses, and as an ingredient in fragrances.


While both oils have a citrus-like aroma, they come from different grass species and contain different chemical compositions. Citronella essential oil stands out for its insect-repellent properties, whereas lemongrass oil offers greater versatility and finds application beyond repelling insects.

It’s important to differentiate between the two oils when purchasing or using them for specific purposes, as they may have different effects and applications.


Does Citronella Oil work for Bed Bugs?

Citronella oil is primarily known for its mosquito-repellent properties. But its effectiveness against bed bugs is limited. However, some people may claim that citronella oil can help repel bed bugs. There is yet scientific evidence to support this claim. (source)

While citronella essential oil may not repel bed bugs, it can still be useful for repelling mosquitoes and other insects. When used in appropriate formulations such as candles, sprays, or lotions.

For a natural solution to repel bed bugs, patchouli oil is a great option. Find more information in our article on Patchouli Oil and Bed Bugs.


Which compounds in Citronella Oil repel Bed Bugs?

Citronella essential oil does not contain specific compounds that are known to effectively repel bed bugs. Its primary components, including citronellal, geraniol, and citronellol. Which are responsible for its insect-repellent properties against mosquitoes, do not have the same impact on these insects. (source)


Does Citronella Oil kill Bed Bugs?

Citronella essential oil is not known to have significant insecticidal properties against bed bugs. While it may have some minor effects on these pests, it is generally not effective in killing them or eradicating an infestation.


Which essential oil repels Bed Bugs from biting you?

Tea tree oil possesses a distinct and potent aroma that has the reputation of repelling certain insects. However, its effectiveness as a bed bug repellent has not undergone extensive research or established scientific validation.
The pungent scent of tea tree oil is thought to disrupt the chemical signals that they use to locate their human hosts. By creating an olfactory barrier, tea tree oil may discourage these pests from approaching or settling in treated areas.

Tea tree oil is commonly acknowledged for its effectiveness in eliminating bed bugs. For more detailed information, you can refer to our article specifically dedicated to Tea Tree Oil and Bed Bugs.


How to use Citronella Oil for Bed Bugs

Certainly! Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on creating a homemade citronella oil spray for bed bugs. Which you can use as an additional measure to repel insects, including mosquitoes, when spending time outdoors:

Materials needed:

  • Citronella essential oil
  • Another essential with effect on bed bugs: Tea tree oil or Peppermint oil
  • Carrier oil (e.g., almond oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil)
  • Spray bottle
  • Distilled water



  • Choose a spray bottle: Select a clean spray bottle with a capacity that suits your needs.
  • Prepare the essential oil mixture: In a small container, combine approximately 5 drops of citronella essential oil and 10 drops of Tea tree oil or Peppermint oil with 1-2 tablespoons of carrier oil. The carrier oil helps dilute the essential oils and ensures safe application to the skin.
  • Mix the oils: Thoroughly stir or shake the mixture to ensure a complete blending of the essential oils.
  • Transfer the mixture to the spray bottle: Use a small funnel, if necessary, to pour the oil mixture into the spray bottle.
  • Add distilled water: Fill the rest of the spray bottle with distilled water, leaving a small space at the top for shaking.
  • Shake well: Close the spray bottle tight and shake it to mix the oil and water solution.
  • Apply and use the spray: When you’re ready to use the citronella oil spray, give it a good shake to mix the ingredients. Spray it on exposed skin, avoiding the eyes and mouth. Reapply every few hours or as needed.


Can you use Insecticide and Essential oils for bed bugs at the same time?

We generally do not recommend to use insecticides and essential oils for bed bugs at the same time or in close proximity. Mixing different chemicals or substances can lead to unpredictable reactions and potential health risks.



In this article, we answered the question: Does citronella oil work for bed bugs?
While many people believe that citronella oil is effective in repelling mosquitoes. Its ability to repel bed bugs is not yet well-established through scientific research.

However, some individuals claim success in deterring these insects with citronella essential oil. If you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation and happen to have citronella oil at home. It might be worth considering as a potential solution.