This Viral "Citronella Coil" Is by Far the Chicest Way to Keep Mosquitoes Away From Your Outdoor Gatherings

It might look a bit of stylish decor for your outside space, but it's actually a clever way to ward off mosquitoes and other unwelcome bugs

citronella coils in a backyard
(Image credit: Terrain)

The fantasy I have of spending hours outdoors on warm summer evenings is something that's often quickly, and rudely, interrupted. Whether it's mosquitoes or other biting bugs, or even wasps, that peaceful scene I picture in my mind doesn't last long when trying to relax in the yard.

Of course, talk of how to get rid of mosquitoes naturally isn't the chic conversation I'm looking to have about my carefully designed backyard, but turns out, there are some methods that are more stylish than others.

Scrolling my social feeds this week, I came across the idea of a "citronella coil", like this one from Wayfair, and I'm wondering why it's not something I've discovered before. But what exactly are they?

'Citronella coils are a popular mosquito-repelling product that utilizes the essential oils derived from the citronella plant,' says Shannon-Harlow Ellis, Associate Certified Entomologist at Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly Company. 'They are a common choice for those looking for a natural way to keep mosquitoes at bay.'

However, more than that, the versions I'm seeing from some of my favorite home decor brands not only will keep mosquitoes at bay, but look good while doing it. Turns out, they're part yard protectors, part sculptural decor. To find out more about them, I asked the experts what they think of how citronella coils work.

How do citronella coils work?

Just like citronella candles, these coils essential oils from citronella that are known to repel the likes of mosquitoes, and many reviewers claim they actually work better.

'To use citronella coils effectively, place them in outdoor areas where you spend time, such as patios, gardens, or near seating areas,' Shannon says. 'Ensure the coil is lit and allows the smoke to disperse around the area.'

They're slow-burning too - the citronella coil from Crate & Barrel, above, burns for 150 hours.

Are citronella coils effective?

So do they actually work? 'Citronella coils can be somewhat effective in repelling mosquitoes,' Shannon tells us. 'The essential oils released when the coil is burned can deter mosquitoes in the immediate vicinity. However, typically the efficacy will decrease has the coil is burned.'

Like candles, it's something that works best when utilized alongside other methods of preventing mosquitoes. 'Consider combining the use of citronella coils with other mosquito control measures, such as eliminating standing water and using other natural repellents or barrier sprays, to enhance overall effectiveness,' Shannon says. Mosquito repelling plants are worth considering, too.

'The value of citronella coils depends on your expectations and needs,' she adds. 'If you are looking for a natural, plant-based mosquito repellent that provides some level of deterrence, citronella coils might be worth it. However, if you require more comprehensive mosquito control, maybe someone has allergic reactions to the bites, then you may need to consider additional methods or products or the assistance of a professional.'

Where can I buy citronella coils?

There are plenty of places that sell citronella coils — but it's fair to say some are more stylish than others. Here are some of our favorites, below.

Hugh Metcalf
Editor of Livingetc.com

Hugh is the  Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2024.