The problem with paper banknotes is that they attract dirt. They can’t help it. Their surface is rough and pitted, providing lots of places for oil, grease, grime and bugs to hide.

GUARDIAN™ polymer banknotes are different. A smoother surface is much less attractive to dirt and can even be wiped clean with a damp cloth.


Research shows that, by their nature, polymer banknotes are cleaner than paper. Commonly used cotton-based paper materials have a surface which is textured and easily capable of absorbing dirt, bacteria and – to a lesser extent – viruses. In GUARDIAN polymer notes, the surface is smoother and non-absorbent.

Scientifically proven

Scientists at Harper Adams University found that bacteria commonly found on everyone’s hands are much less likely[1] to stick to polymer than paper banknotes. The research found that “the substrate from which banknotes are produced has a significant influence on both the survival and adherence of bacteria to banknotes. Smooth, polymer surfaces provide a poor means of adherence and survival.”

Resistant to natural soiling

Although all banknotes are exposed to the natural dirt and grime that comes from daily use, polymer stands up to the challenge much more effectively than paper. Traditional paper banknotes are porous and absorb the oils, dirt and fat that are an unavoidable consequence of being handled. As a consequence, over time, they lose their aesthetic appeal as well as their original level of inelasticity.

Non-absorbent polymer banknotes resist these naturally occurring oils, dirt and fat. Consequently, they stay cleaner for longer and can even be wiped clean. The substrate also retains its shape throughout the banknote’s life.

[1] Harper Adams University, Professor Frank Vrieskoop, 6th December 2016, “New plastic banknotes will harbour less bacteria than the old ‘paper’ ones” says research, [online], Available at:

To find out more, contact the GUARDIAN team