The Bank of England has confirmed some £5 notes – which were believed to be fake – are actually genuine money which have suffered "wear and tear".
Several small businesses raised concerns after hundreds of notes were believed to be counterfeit.
After experts examined the notes, the Bank of England said one of the reasons why they look faded is that they might have been put through a washing machine on a high temperature.
A Bank of England spokesman said: "Polymer notes are stronger than paper notes and last longer in usual day-to-day use but they are not indestructible.
"In some cases this has resulted in the foil Elizabeth Tower being removed.
"These notes are damaged genuine banknotes not counterfeits, and a lot of other security features remain intact such as the Queen’s portrait in the window and the microlettering."
The new polymer £5 notes were issued in September 2016 and were designed to last twice as long as paper notes, as well as make it more difficult to be illegally replicated.
The "plastic" £10 note was released in 2017 and the £20 note is set to be released next month.
A spokesman for the Bank of England issued a statement for business owners who may be worried about fake notes.
He said: "Our advice would be to check on the website and familiarise yourself with how to check those security features."
Savers Tunstall manager Kyle Simpson said: "This is a really big issue and happening everyday. We've had over £100 worth in here."
David Morrey, the co-owner of Ravenous Cafe, Ford Green Road, Smallthorne, who rejected three £5 notes before midday on Wednesday, was in disbelief at the suggestion the notes were not forgeries.
He said: "I thought the idea of these £5 notes was that they would not fade or nick. I don't understand why the print rubs off on some of them. You rub on some and they are like a scratch card. It just comes off so easily.
"I had three within an hour on Wednesday and another three the same day.
"There is no way people are washing that many £5 notes in Smallthorne. I do not believe it.
"The £5 notes need to be redesigned. Someone needs to do a bit more thinking about it."
Paul Clarke, the co-owner of Household Discounts, across the road, feared he had taken more than £100 worth of the funny money in just one week.
He said: "Someone from the police came in and told me they weren't fake – I couldn't believe it.
"I went to the bank with worst one yesterday morning to double check and they also told me it was real and the damage was just wear and tear.
"Sooner or later we'll be walking round with plain plastic the print rubs off that easily.
"They're going to start today £20 notes soon but the Bank of England needs to sort out its manufacturing issues first. You think they would know how to print money that doesn't rub off."
Staffordshire Police also reiterated that the notes were genuine but urged people to always be aware of the possibility of forgeries.
A spokesman said: "We have not seen an increase in reports of counterfeit bank notes in Stoke-on-Trent and based on conversations with the Bank of England, the notes in question appear to be damaged genuine notes and not counterfeits.
"They have also advised that polymer notes are stronger than paper notes and last longer in usual day-to-day use but they are not indestructible. Damage can be caused by extreme use, for example prolonged washing at high temperatures.
"The notes contain a range of security features, so if one or more is damaged, there will be others you can check.
"If the public believe they have passed counterfeit currency they should report the incident as soon as possible.
"Anyone with information about people using, supplying or making counterfeit currency should contact 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
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