Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Cutter CitroGuard Candle at Amazon
"Triple-wick candle is designed to stay lit even when a light breeze blows by."
Best Budget: Repel Citronella Candle at Amazon
"Inexpensive citronella candle... an effective way to keep flying insects away."
Best Votive: Light in the Dark Votive Citronella Candle at Amazon
"Set of petite but potent citronella candles."
Best for Mosquitoes: Murphy’s Mosquito Candle at Amazon
"Aromatic blend of scents that's a nice change for frequent citronella candle users."
Best for Camping: Coleman Citronella Candle Outdoor Lantern at Walmart
"Will not only repel bugs but also reflects a good deal of light."
Best Scented: Cutter Lavender and Vanilla Citronella Candle at Amazon
"Combines citronella extract with the pleasing aromas of lavender and vanilla."
Best for Indoor Use: La Jolie Muse Citronella Candle at Amazon
"Perfect for places where the climate allows you to have the windows and doors open."
01 of 07
Best Overall: Cutter CitroGuard Candle
For a citronella candle that keeps the bugs away while you enjoy the day, our top overall pick is the Cutter CitroGuard Candle.
This triple-wick candle is designed to stay lit even when a light breeze blows by. The metal rim provides wind protection while allowing oxygen to fuel the flame. It has other smart design features, including a rubber rim on the base to reduce the risk of rust on patio furniture, wood, or other outdoor surfaces. A lid seals the candle when not in use, and a carrying handle allows you tote it wherever you go.
As with any insect repelling products, success at eliminating pesky intruders is dependent on many factors. Some people found these candles made with 3 percent citronella oil to be minimally effective. The manufacturer recommends staying within a 3-foot radius of the candle to benefit from its bug repellent qualities. Also, larger areas should use several candles placed 18 inches apart for maximum effectiveness.
For these reasons, consider buying several of these sturdy, 40-hour candles and place them strategically around your "bug-free zone." Used the right way, the Cutter CitroGuard candle can help make your yard, patio, deck, or backyard more enjoyable for you and less enjoyable for flying insects!
02 of 07
Best Budget: Repel Citronella Candle
If you’re looking to beat bugs on a budget, the Repel Citronella Candle is a good choice.
This 10-ounce candle in a canister is made with real citronella extract, though the manufacturer doesn’t make it easy to identify what percentage of the candle contains citronella extract. Even still, the proof is in the protection. Plenty of people find this inexpensive citronella candle to be an effective way to keep flying insects away.
Adding to its value, the candle is rated for 20 hours of use, but some people have found that it lasts close to 30 hours. A few extra hours of burn time makes it an even better deal.
One drawback is that some users report that the candle emits a large flame and black smoke. This can be an irritant, especially if you’re sitting within the recommend 3-foot radius of the candle. Yet, for a bargain price on a candle that burns longer than anticipated and does a good job at keeping bugs away, the Repel Citronella Candle is the way to go.
03 of 07
Best Votive: Light in the Dark Votive Citronella Candle - Set of 72
Votive candles can add an extra special ambiance to your outdoor gathering. If you’re looking to spread candles throughout the area, this set of petite but potent citronella candles from Candle Charisma is just what you need.
You’ll receive 72 bright yellow candles made with real citronella extract. In fact, the smell of citronella is so strong that many people found it necessary to store the candles outside to keep the smell from permeating linen closets, drawers, etc. This strong scent is likely the reason that many people find these votives to be so effective in keeping away flying insects during outdoor activities.
If you factor in the quantity, price, and effectiveness, these votive citronella candles are an excellent choice for small but mighty insect control.
04 of 07
Best for Mosquitoes: Murphy’s Mosquito Candle
If you really want to target mosquitoes with a potent citronella candle, Murphy’s Mosquito Candle offers some unique advantages.
This candle is made with 5 percent active ingredients, which is on the high side for an insect repelling candle. The candle is poured with a blend of citronella, lemongrass, and rosemary oils. The addition of lemongrass and rosemary ups the potency of the candle. It also provides an aromatic blend of scents that's a nice change for frequent citronella candle users.
Some people were unhappy with the way the candle burns and felt like it was a waste, but this candle is made with palm wax. Palm wax candles have a "tunnel burn" characteristic, meaning that the wax will melt in a tunnel down the middle. Once it reaches the bottom, it will begin to melt from the top and sides, creating a melt pool that will feed the flame.
Don’t be discouraged if the candle burns to the bottom in a short amount of time. There are many hours of use left in the Murphy’s Mosquito Candle.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best for Camping: Coleman Citronella Candle Outdoor Lantern
If you don’t want to make pesky flying insects part of your next great outdoor adventure, you need a citronella candle for camping. The Coleman Citronella Candle Outdoor Lantern is a practical, effective choice.
Housed in a traditional lantern, the citronella candle inside will burn for up to 70 hours. It will not only repel bugs but also reflects a good deal of light. Adding to its functionality, it includes a "U"-shaped metal handle that allows the candle to be hung around your campsite.
Happy campers and outdoor entertainers alike appreciate this citronella candle for its insect-repelling abilities and its practical design. Additionally, the candle has an exceptionally long burn time, which adds to its value.
This candle is a bit on the pricier side and it isn’t as large as some people anticipated. The lantern itself is only about 6 inches tall. If you’re headed into the wilderness and want to make sure that flying insects are kept away, make this citronella candle part of your survival gear.
06 of 07
Best Scented: Cutter Lavender and Vanilla Scented Citronella Candle
For those who don’t appreciate the strong scent of citronella, Cutter offers a nice alternative. This 11-ounce candle in a glass jar combines citronella extract with the pleasing aromas of lavender and vanilla.
The drawback to adding the extra scents is that the percentage of citronella in the candle is only 1 percent. That is a bit low for an insect-repelling candle. Still, many users have found it to be effective in keeping away mosquitoes, gnats, and more. They also say that it smells great.
For maximum protection against flying insects, this one might be best used in conjunction with several stronger insect repellents. We recommend placing it on your table or next to your favorite seat outdoors. It will add to the ambiance and you can enjoy the fresh scent while keeping bugs away.
07 of 07
Best for Indoor Use: La Jolie Muse Citronella Candle
Many citronella candles aren’t necessarily recommended for indoor use. They may be too strong, burn with too much smoke, or have too high of a flame to be used inside. However, the La Jolie Muse Citronella Candle is perfect for keeping bugs away both inside and outside.
Housed in an attractive tin printed with a Van Gogh-inspired design, this citronella candle will look nice in your dining room or sitting on your nightstand or coffee table. It’s perfect for places where the climate allows you to have the windows and doors open to let in fresh air, which can bring with it flying insects.
Some users felt that the strong but pleasant citronella scent was a surefire way to keep bugs away. Others didn’t seem to notice a reduction in pests. As with any other citronella candle, placement of the candle and how far away you are from it can determine how effective it is perceived to be.
Either way, this soy candle burns clean, looks pretty, and has a nice aroma that makes it perfect for indoor use. Once the candle has burned through its expected lifespan (up to 75 hours), you can repurpose the pretty tin for something else.
Products Tested by The Spruce
How We Tested
We bought three top-rated citronella candles that our reviewer tested for 13 hours. We asked our tester to consider the most important features when using these citronella candles, from their design to their effectiveness. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Citronella Candle
Style Some citronella candles are simply utilitarian with little regards to style, while others are more stylish and can be worked into your overall decor. While most are designed for outdoor use only, there are some that can also be used indoors where their appearance may be more important.
Scent Some people prefer the scent of straight-up citronella, while others like something a bit more subdued or one that’s infused with other scents as well. There is a wide variety to choose from, and your choice will likely depend primarily on your individual preference.
Effectiveness Of course, the most important quality you want in citronella candles is for them to keep bugs at bay. Consider how potent candles are as well as how long they’ll burn. You should also factor in where you’ll be using the candles and the concentration of the bugs in that area to choose the best ones for you. For example, if you live in a city and have a small patio, you may not need the same strength as if you’re planning to take candles with you while you’re camping in the deep woods.
Test Results: Cutter CitroGuard Candle (Best Overall)
What We Like
Visually appealing design
Reasonable price point
What We Don't Like
Sides gets very hot
Need multiple for large spaces
Our tester loved this candle for its effectiveness and design. “It did keep mosquitoes away, but it also happens to look great, so I have no problem using it on my patio,” she explained. Our reviewer also said it has a pleasant smell when lit, but noted that “it can be a bit overwhelming when it's in an enclosed area (like the shipping box or a garage).” According to our tester, the metal sides get hot while burning, but you can still move it using the handle. She also cautioned that it’s only effective for a small area and you’ll need multiple for larger spaces. The bottom line? “It does a good job keeping bugs away,” she declared.
Test Results: Repel Citronella Candle (Best Budget)
What We Like
Includes a convenient lid
Pleasant smell while burning
What We Don't Like
Odor is strong when not lit
“This is highly effective,” our tester said of the Repel Citronella Candle. “I did not have a single bite in the two-hour span while I sat beside this candle.” She also loved that it came with a lid, which made carrying it easier. Our reviewer wasn’t a fan, however, of the aesthetics of the tin. As for the smell, she said it was “overwhelming” in confined spaces when it wasn’t lit, but “once it's lit, the scent is strong but pleasant.” Her conclusion: “I think it's highly effective at keeping mosquitoes and flies away (I had several land in the candle wax and die), but I'd recommend someone buy a candle holder to hide the design.”
Test Results: Light in the Dark Votive Citronella Candle - Set of 72 (Best Votive)
What We Like
Long burn time
What We Don't Like
Need several to protect an area
Candles don’t come with holders
Our tester liked these votives for their decorative design and long burn time. She also said each votive is “highly effective for a candle so small.” However, our reviewer mentioned that “you do have to use several at once to get the same benefit of a larger one.” She cautioned, “Ultimately that may not be the most cost-effective option.” They also don’t come with their own holders, so you’ll most likely need a glass jar or other solution to protect the flame from the wind, according to our tester. Still, she concluded, “If you have the need for votives for an outdoor party and you'd like the benefit of having mosquito protection factor, these are absolutely worth buying.”