UK launches laundry-proof plastic £5 notes

The UK has launched its first plastic £5 note, that is wipe-clean and can survive a washing machine cycle.

The note is printed on a thin flexible film that wears much better than the current cotton paper and is virtually impossible to tear.

The note does not get soggy even when drinks are poured over it.

The £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill will be unveiled on Thursday at Blenheim Palace where Churchill was born.

Churchill replaces 19th century prison-reformer Elizabeth Fry on the plastic fiver.

The notes would be about 15 per cent smaller than the current one and the new material would repel dirt and moisture - meaning that in case a drink was spilled on it, the note could be wiped clean.

The £5 plastic notes would come into circulation in autumn with other notes set to follow later.

The current £5 note features prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. In 2013 when the government announced that she would be replaced with the former prime minister it led to an outcry over the prospect of the UK's notes not featuring any female faces, apart from the Queen.

Thousands of petitions were signed in protest which led to a subsequent announcement that novelist Jane Austen would be the face of the new £10 note from 2017 (See: BoE confirms novelist Jane Austen to grace new £10 ).

Like the new fiver, the new £10 note and £20 notes would also be printed on polymer. The current notes would be withdrawn with the introduction of the new polymer notes.

The Bank had still not decided whether it would print £50 polymer notes.

Artist JMW Turner would appear on the next £20 banknote to be issued by 2020, according to the Bank's announcement in April.

According to Victoria Cleland, the Bank's chief cashier, the polymer notes had been extremely popular among members of the public to whom they had been shown.