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What Are the Duties of a Doffer?

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The role of a doffer is to remove empty spindles or bobbins from machines in a cotton or textile factory and replace them with new ones. Doffers are most commonly employed in countries where clothing and other textiles are manufactured in very large plants. In the United States during the early part of the 20th century, doffing was a dangerous job that was often done by small children for low pay.

Doff Bobbins

The word “doff” means to remove. In a textile mill, machines spin yarn from a large bobbin or spindle. These run out of yarn (often a few times an hour) and a doffer is needed to remove the empty bobbin and replace them with new ones.

Record Information

Many doffers are required to record the information–such as how many bobbins have been replaced–that is needed to keep inventory of the materials. Doff time and date, along with the doffer's initials, are often required.

Clean and Oil Machines

Because the machines in textile factories are often running many hours at high speeds, doffers are often required to oil or grease the machines. They may also be asked to clean up the waste that is left over from the machine at the end of the day.


Based in New York, Kevin Heffernan has been writing since 2003, with work appearing online for eHow, Answerbag and LIVESTRONG.COM, among others. He is an associate producer of documentaries at a major cable news network. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Richmond.

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