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The Ultimate Guide to Doff Cleaning - What is Doff Cleaning?

Doff cleaning is one of the most important and effective stone cleaning systems around. The best way to remove paint, staining, discolouration and organic compounds from a wide range of surfaces, the system helps contractors and property managers restore properties to their original aesthetic condition.

The technique offers a number of benefits over other cleaning systems and is a favourite of surveyors, property managers and cleaning contractors. Its versatile nature allows Doff to be used in a variety of settings and makes it the perfect choice for cleaning brick, stone, wood and a range of other surfaces.

Using Doff to clean stone, brick and other materials can help to protect the substrate and achieve outstanding results, even on fragile period properties. Understanding the benefits of the Doff system, and its many applications will help you decide if this innovative process is right for you

What is Doff Cleaning?

Doff cleaning is a system developed to gently but thoroughly remove staining and discolouration from a range of different materials. At the heart of the system is the Doff machine. This innovative appliance heats water to around 150˚C, turning it into superheated steam.

When the steam gets to the right temperature, it is ejected from the heatproof nozzle onto the surface that requires cleaning. When the high temperature steam comes into contact with the staining, discolouration or grime, it removes it quickly and easily from the substrate. Some tough stains may require multiple applications in order to completely remove all traces of discolouration.

The steam leaves Doff machines at a rate of 3-5 litres per minute. This means the water is at a relatively low pressure and so is much less likely to damage the surface being cleaned. While Doff machines are able to thoroughly clean the façade of a building, the water ejected from the machines will not penetrate deeply into the substrate. This allows the underlying brick, stone, wood or concrete to dry quickly, preventing potential damage to the substrate. 

Who invented the Doff Integra system?

The Doff cleaning system was developed by Stonehealth. Stonehealth developed the system specifically for use on delicate surfaces that could be damaged by other cleaning techniques.

Stonehealth put all of its experience and knowledge into the development of the Doff system. They are the sole suppliers of Doff machines and a go-to resource for management companies, surveyors and cleaning contractors that need help and advice on specialist projects. The system is now one of the most called-upon tools in the trade and is used to clean buildings of all shapes and sizes every day.

How does a Doff System work?

The Doff system works by taking clean, cold water and heating it up to around 150˚C. It is possible to achieve lower temperatures if required. If the weather is cold or the conditions challenging, the machines can also heat water higher than 150˚C to ensure the steam is at the correct temperature when it leaves the nozzle and comes into contact with the surface being cleaned. As Doff machines rely on a supply of water, they require a mains connection or access to a tank.

When this superheated steam hits the surface being cleaned, it removes the moss, algae, fungi, paint, varnish or other impurities present. Some particularly tough staining may require additional chemical treatments or multiple applications in order to remove all traces of discolouration. However, in most cases, Doff machines are able to remove all substances without the use of other products.

Doff machines are regularly used to remove:
·Paint coatings (including oil and plastic paints)
·Bird or vermin fouling
·Algae, moss and fungi
·Wax coatings
·Chewing gum

 How is Doff different to steam cleaning?

While Doff is a form of steam cleaning, it’s very different to other steam cleaning systems. The main thing that sets it apart is the incredibly high temperature the steam is heated to. This superheated steam is able to strip paint, varnish, graffiti and built-up grime from the surface of a building quickly and easily. In most cases, Doff machines do not require chemical treatments to be used and the system is specially designed to ensure surfaces are able to dry quickly and thoroughly.

In fact, Doff machines are so efficient when it comes to heating steam they can also be used to disinfect walls, floors and other surfaces. As a result, Doff machines are often used in schools, hospitals and other large and heavily used buildings that need to be kept hygienic.

Other steam cleaning systems use much lower temperatures, and so are less effective at cleaning staining and discolouration from the surface of buildings. A number of other steam cleaning methods rely on surfaces being pre-treated with specialist cleaning chemicals. If they are not pre-treated, the systems can struggle to remove the dirt and grime that has built up on the surface.

The Doff system is also very versatile. It can be adapted to suit a variety of settings and even combined with other cleaning equipment to increase reach and maximise efficiency.

What surfaces can you clean with a Doff system?

The Doff system was specially developed for use on stone and masonry. Both stone and masonry become soft and brittle over time and can easily be damaged by less gentle cleaning techniques, like power washing, that use high pressured jets of water.

Because the Doff system uses heat instead of pressure to remove staining and discolouration, it does not damage the underlying substrate. The system is also designed to prevent water penetrating deeply into the stone and masonry, something that could further damage the surface. This means it can be safely used to clean old, fragile stone and masonry as well as other delicate materials

However, as the Doff system is very versatile, it can be used to clean a variety of other surfaces as well as stone and masonry. Doff machines can be used to clean paint, varnish, algae, moss, mould, bitumen, graffiti and grease from surfaces including:
·Tiled (glazed and encaustic)

The Doff system can also be used to sterilise surfaces and spaces that need to be kept free of germs. They are most commonly used in large spaces that are heavily used by schools, organisations and the general public.

Why is Doff the safest way to restore listed buildings?

A large number of the most beautiful, historic and important buildings in the UK are made or finished with stone or masonry. Over time, all of these buildings will become stained or discoloured. Whether they are darkened by exhaust fumes, made green by algae growth or prone to staining from metal elements in their constructions, virtually all listed buildings will suffer some sort of discolouration during their lifetime.

In order to keep these important properties in good condition, and preserve them for future generations, this discolouration needs to be removed. As the stone and masonry on listed properties is often decades, or even centuries old, it can be easily damaged by common cleaning techniques.

Using the Doff system protects the underlying substrate during the cleaning process. This is very important when renovating the facades of listed buildings as damage to the brick or stone can cause important detailing to be lost or degraded. The Doff system is so effective at cleaning listed buildings, it is the only system accredited by English Heritage for use on their protected properties.

How does Spectrum use the Doff system?

Spectrum is often asked to clean listed and period properties. As a result, we have extensive experience working with aged stone and masonry. We also regularly clean properties with wood, tile and concrete elements. Whenever we work on a listed property, or on a building that requires a delicate touch, our teams use the Doff system. We have found that this innovative cleaning method is the best way to remove staining and discolouration from a variety of surfaces to leave a façade looking its best.In order to take full advantage of the Doff system, we often combine it with our own patented equipment and innovative access solutions. This allows our operatives to access all parts of a building without the need for scaffolding and heavy machinery, something that saves the client a considerable amount of time and money.

- Integrated cleaning

Our patented cleaning equipment was developed in order to improve access and maximise our cleaning capabilities. When it is integrated with the Doff cleaning system, it gives our teams unparalleled access to all parts of a property and enables our operatives to work quickly and efficiently.

The Spectrum system uses carbon fibre tubes to extend the reach of the Doff cleaning system. When fully extended, this combined system allows our operatives to clean up to eight stories high from the safety of the ground. This means that, in most cases, we do not require any heavy machinery or scaffolding on site.

- Rope access

When cleaning properties that are higher than eight stories, we use our team of IRATA certified abseilers to carry out the job. They are able to work via rope access to reach parts of a building that would be inaccessible using other methods. Our IRATA teams work quickly and efficiently.

In cases where there are no eyebolts or mansafe systems available to work from, our teams will bring portable anchor points to site. This allows us to use rope access on properties of all shapes and sizes. 

- Powerful cleaning techniques
In some cases, Doff superheated steam is not enough to remove heavy staining. To remove this type of discolouration, our teams use targeted chemical treatments to prepare the area for cleaning and to remove any residue remaining once the clean has taken place. As well as helping us to achieve excellent results from our integrated cleaning process, these treatments help to prevent the regrowth of algae, mould and moss.

- On-time and on budget

Working from the ground and using IRATA certified abseilers for high-level cleaning helps us avoid the use of scaffolding and heavy machinery. As both are expensive to hire and time-consuming to put in place, this allows us to work fast and saves our clients and a considerable amount of money.

In fact, integrating our patented cleaning equipment with the Doff system, and using rope access, can save our clients up to 70% in access costs. This helps us to bring all of our projects in on time and on budget. By combining our patenting cleaning system, expertise and experience with the innovative Doff process, we are able to restore almost all buildings to their original aesthetic condition. Our teams are highly trained and can carefully and safely clean delicate listed properties as well as large commercial and residential buildings.

To find out more, and to learn about the services we offer, explore our site or get in touch with a member of our team today.

The Ultimate Guide to Doff Cleaning 1The Ultimate Guide to Doff Cleaning 2The Ultimate Guide to Doff Cleaning 3The Ultimate Guide to Doff Cleaning 4The Ultimate Guide to Doff Cleaning 5
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