Fresh lemongrass is easier to find than fresh citronella grass (which you can buy only from specialist nurseries). It works in a similar way as a potent natural insect repellent, with the added benefit of antibacterial and antifungal properties. Here, I’ve mixed it with a couple of other aromatic insecticidal plants for a modern take on a traditional South-East Asian bug-repellent oil, with a sweet spicy fragrance that smells wonderful to anyone but insects.
10 lemongrass sticks
4 tsp scented pelargonium ‘Citronella’ leaves (about 15 leaves)
4 tsp whole cloves
400ml sunflower oil, to cover
1 Wash and chop the lemongrass sticks and pelargonium leaves, and
place both in a blender with the cloves. Add the oil, then whizz until pulped.
2 Place the pulp in a glass heatproof bowl and cover. Put the bowl over a pan of boiling water on a low heat, making sure there are no gaps around the bowl, and leave for 1 hour. Keep checking that the pan does not boil dry.
3 Leave to cool, then strain the citrus- and spice-scented oil through muslin to remove all the fibrous bits, and store in a pump spray bottle.
USE Shake the bottle well, then spray liberally onto skin up to 4 times a day, paying particular attention to exposed areas like ankles, wrists and neck, and avoiding the eyes. Re-apply after washing or bathing, and before bed.
CAUTION If any irritation occurs, wash off immediately.
STORAGE Will keep for up to 1 year in a cool dark place.