How Can I Make Citronella Spray?

C.B. Fox

Making a citronella spray requires an empty spray bottle, water, oil, and citronella essential oil. All of these ingredients are easy to find, though citronella oil may need to be purchased at a specialty or health food store. Once the oil had been made, it can be used as an insect repellent or as a deodorizer. Insect repellants require true citronella oil and not an oil that merely smells like the citronella plant.

A person using citronella spray.
A person using citronella spray.

Citronella may me obtained in a number of different ways. If the plant grows locally, the leaves can be harvested and the oil collected by first drying the leaves completely and then steaming them until the oil seeps out. Gloves should be worn during this process, as citronella oil is quite potent and should not be handled in its pure form. Alternatively, the essential oil from the citronella plant may be purchased. Oils scented with citronella or an artificial citronella scent will not work as a citronella bug spray, though they can be used as an air freshener.

A mosquito, which is repelled by citronella.
A mosquito, which is repelled by citronella.

Aside from the citronella oil, the other ingredients in citronella spray are water and oil. The other type of oil, which can be olive oil or another type of vegetable oil, is used to cut the potent citronella oil, while still allowing a a substance that will stick to the surface it is being sprayed on to be formed. The water thins out the oil and makes the droplets smaller. Distilled water works well, as it does not contain any minerals or chemicals that could interfere with the chemicals in the citronella oil. Water and oil do not mix, so the citronella oil will need be shaken each time before it is used.

A natural citronella spray can be made with olive oil.
A natural citronella spray can be made with olive oil.

Making the citronella spray is a relatively simple process. The ingredients simply need to be placed in an clean, empty spray bottle, mixed, and then sprayed on or into the air. One part citronella oil to about 10 parts water and 10 parts olive or other oil is sufficient for a fairly strong citronella spray that is suitable as an insect repellant on humans or animals. If the spray is meant for use as a room freshener, the amount of citronella oil can be lowered to any amount that produces a pleasing odor.

A person will need an empty spray bottle in order to make their own citronella spray.
A person will need an empty spray bottle in order to make their own citronella spray.

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Discussion Comments


@Melonlity -- Citronella spray may be more environmentally friendly, but it doesn't work as well as the stuff with heavy duty chemicals designed to run off insects. If you are pestered by mosquitoes in the summer (for example) you want the most effective stuff you can get. Citronella may not do it for you.


Those who live in bug happy environments might consider using a citronella spray for a bug repellant instead of the chemically laden stuff that is commonly available. Citronella is a lot better for you and it won't stink as bad when sprayed on a bug bite or cut.

Plus, if you shop well, it might be cheaper to mix up a batch of the stuff.

I can't see using it as an air freshener. That's just a personal preference, but the stuff reminds me of insect repellant.

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