Do Citronella Candles Work?

by Cora Gold | Published: Nov 19, 2020

As a renter, you want to feel comfortable both inside and outside your home. This includes keeping your space clean, livable, safe and pest-free.

Depending on your rental home’s location, it may be prone to one of the most irritating pests of all — mosquitoes. There are all types of chemical repellents on the market, but you may not want exposure to those and opt for a more natural alternative.

Though it can be difficult to choose from the vast number of repellent options, many people opt for citronella candles. All you do is light them and the mosquitoes are supposed to go away. But do citronella candles work?

What are citronella candles?

Citronella candles are just like any other candle, except they include citronella essential oil. The oil comes from a type of lemongrass called citronella, which is a natural repellent.

Besides candles, other insect repellent products like sprays or lotions use citronella oil. Although the oil doesn’t kill mosquitoes and other pests, it can repel them because it hides the smell of the mosquitoes' prey — you!

Do citronella candles work?

You’ll want to know if citronella candles work and actually keep mosquitoes away before purchasing one. Below are some pros and cons.


  • They are cost-effective and simple to use. Citronella candles cost about the same as a regular candle, and they work the same way by lighting the wick.
  • Companies that produce citronella candles have upgraded the aesthetics and are placing the candles in more attractive containers. 
  • Citronella candles are non-toxic for humans.


  • When it comes to mosquitoes, citronella isn’t up to EPA or conventional recommended standards for an insect repellent. You will most likely still get bitten and be annoyed by mosquitoes if you only use a citronella candle.
  • If you have pets, citronella could be hazardous. Dangerous side effects like difficulty breathing or stomach issues may occur if a pet ingests or is exposed to citronella.
  • Citronella candles are only going to be semi-effective on days or nights when there is no wind. Putting a candle outside runs the risk of the flame going out.

If a citronella candle was your only option to repel mosquitoes, then yes, you should use them. However, there are better products out there, and there are also ways to limit the number of mosquitoes around you without using products.

Tips to limit mosquitoes

Try one or a few of the below tips to lower the number of mosquitoes around you.

1. Purchase a mosquito trap

Insect lamp hanging from a tree in backyard.

Mosquito traps help to eliminate larger numbers of mosquitoes. The traps release an odor that attracts mosquitoes. Once the mosquitoes enter, they’re killed.

2. Use chemical repellents

Father spraying insect repellant on son's arms.

Chemical repellents, such as DEET, work well to repel mosquitoes. Before using any DEET products, we recommend asking your landlord if you have permission to use chemical repellents around the property. They will likely say yes, but it's courteous to still ask.

3. Change the landscaping

Large modern grey new house with open backyard with cut grass and minimal tress and shrubbage.

Believe it or not, the design and materials used in your rental home's landscaping affect mosquito populations. There are a few requests you can make to your landlord to reduce the number of these pests:

  • Get rid of wet spots: Wet spots in a yard are the perfect breeding habitats for mosquitoes. Fill these areas with gravel and soil to soak up the water.
  • Keep the yard open: Wind barriers may protect the home from wind, but they can also protect mosquitoes. By allowing more airflow, mosquitoes have to find another place to go because they are poor at flying in the wind.
  • Mow the lawn: Mosquitoes use taller grass and weeds to stay cool in the summer heat. Trim any weeds and mow the lawn often to ward off these pesky critters.

The short answer — no

So, do citronella candles work? No. The best option is to avoid purchasing citronella candles. The cons outweigh the pros, and it’s better to spend your money on other chemical or natural repellents and have your landlord maintain your landscaping. Try using some of the tips provided above so you can live in an environment with fewer mosquitos.

Categories: Renters

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