Largely an industrial estate, the most outstanding building in Defu Lane is the Singapore Girls' Home. Here is where females who are presumed to be juvenile delinquents are sent after committing an offence. The link between Hougang and Ubi, Defu Lane is not actually a lane but a maze of lanes. A huge portion of the district is restricted – the public is not allowed to enter. This piece of land belongs to the Singapore Armed Forces, and is one of the areas where live firing exercises are held.
Defu Lane has been an industrial area since the creation of the district. Industry here began in the 1960s and 1970s, when the new Singapore government decided to focus on manufacturing and develop this industry. Now, even when the focus has shifted to science and technology, such as biochemistry, microbiology and nanotechnology, Defu Lane still remains a manufacturing district.
Like the nearby Kaki Bukit, many of the industries in Defu Lane deal in air conditioning, air cleansing, gas, oil and electricity. The remaining companies located here deal in furniture. There are also some engineering companies located here, such as Chin Hua Engineering. Others produce and package canned food, manufacture paper or import curtains, carpets and leather. Most of them are owned by local Chinese businessmen.
There are often warehouse sales in Defu Lane, where Singaporeans go to buy furniture, carpets and other home furnishing goods.
The portion of Defu Lane that is not occupied by industry is much sparser. There is a water reclamation plant here, namely, Kim Chuan Water Reclamation Plant. The abovementioned Singapore Girl's Home is also located here, as is the Cement Filling Centre.