Analyzing the Wool Products Labeling Act: Is It Effective?

Today, companies that claim to sell wool products must clearly disclose some important information about their manufacturing process on the label, but this hasn’t always been the case.

In this article, we will dissect the Wool Products Labeling Act, a law that regulates wool manufacturers and helps us know exactly what we are purchasing. We will discuss what the law is and provide our opinion on how well it works to help us find wool products made in the USA.

What Is the Wool Products Labeling Act?

If you look at the tag of a wool sweater, it will explicitly say what country the sweater was made in and what percentage is comprised of wool or other materials. The Wool Products Labeling Act is responsible for this.

Passed in 1939 to combat false advertising, The Wool Products Labeling Act controls and enforces certain criteria on companies that incorporate wool in their products. This act has several different intricacies and enforces various requirements on companies, but it is simply a legal way for the federal government to ensure that companies are honest and transparent about the wool products they distribute in the USA.

This act makes it illegal for manufacturers selling in the USA to label their products incorrectly.

Defining Wool

The Wool Products Label Act specifies what is defined as “wool.” According to the act, wool is a textile fiber coming from sheep, lambs, Angostura rabbits, Cashmere goats, camels, vicunas, llamas, and alpacas.

The act also provides clear definitions for virgin and recycled wool. 

In a manufacturing setting, virgin wool refers to new wool that has yet to be processed or shredded. Companies can only label their product as “virgin” if made from 100% virgin wool.

Recycled wool is made from scraps of wool products, or wool felt. Recycled wool is generally lower quality and less breathable than virgin wool.

What Does the “Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939 15 U.S.C. § 68” State?

This is a pretty hefty bill that aims to protect us from unclear and deceptive selling techniques for wool products. Here are some of the main things the 1939 Act tackles.

  • Wool products must be marked with a stamp, tag, label, or other means of identification.
  • The FTC assigns registered identification numbers that they can use to identify products.
  • All labels on wool products in the USA must be in English.
  • The labeling of the wool products should be legible, conspicuous, and nondeceptive.
  • Companies must label if the product is made from specialty wool like Cashmere and Mohair.
  • Wool products completely made in the USA must be labeled “Made in U.S.A.” or an equivalent term.
  • Wool products made in the USA with imported materials must disclose this fact on the label.
  • Wool products containing reclaimed fibers must disclose the percentages of reclaimed fibers and other fibers.
  • Wool products partially manufactured abroad and partially in the USA must detail the manufacturing process on the label.

Each product label must also contain the following information: 

  • Percentages by weight of constituent fibers
  • Maximum percentage of nonfibrous loading, filling, or adulterating matter
  • Manufacturer’s name or registered identification number
  • Country of processing or manufacturing.

How to Determine the Country of Origin for Wool Products

The biggest thing that the Wool Product Labeling Act tackles is, well…labeling! So, theoretically, all wool products should be clearly marked and labeled with the country in which they were produced and the percentage of wool in the product. Phew! Easy right? Well, unfortunately, there is a catch.

Wool manufacturers are not required to state the country of origin on their websites, so if you are shopping online, which, let’s be honest, most of us are doing nowadays, you’ll have to do some digging to determine where the product was produced.

The Wool Products Labeling Act only regulates the labeling of the products themselves and not advertising materials or online catalogs. Many companies will clearly state on their websites where their products are produced (especially if they are made in the USA, as this is something the manufacturer will likely brag about), but an equal amount or more of wool manufacturers will not display this information.

Is It Easy to Find Wool Made in the USA?

While the US does produce a significant amount of wool, other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, China, Turkey, and the UK, produce the vast majority of the wool in the world. So, if you are in the market for American-sourced wool, don’t assume that a product will be made in the USA.

That said, as mentioned above, if a clothing manufacturer does source its wool from the US, it is likely to display this information loudly and proudly on its website.

To help you on your search, we have rounded up some of our top picks for wool brands made in the USA.

Is the Wool Products Labeling Act Effective?

When the Wool Labeling Act was passed in 1939, it was estimated that more than 50% of all wool products made in the USA were primarily rayon or cotton. Even worse, the companies producing this “wool” clothing were not legally obliged to disclose how much of their products were actually wool.

The 1939 Wool Labeling Act eliminates all guesswork and makes it extremely easy to identify 1) where the wool product was made and 2) the percentages of wool or other materials in the product.

So, it is pretty obvious that the Wool Labeling Act has been super effective at regulating manufacturers and forcing integrity regarding the labeling side. However, this doesn’t mean no more improvements should be made. 

In the past few years, there has been a massive shift from in-person to online sales, especially when it comes to clothing. And many state and federal legislatures have been pushing to create laws that force companies to disclose country of origin labeling in their online stores. This creates more transparency when we purchase wool items online and gives us a clearer picture of the quality and manufacturing process the product went through before arriving at our homes. 

Knowing Where Your Wool Comes From Makes a Difference

It is easy to take for granted the fact that our wool products are regulated. Since 1939, companies have been legally required to provide us with information on our wool products. In the end, laws and regulations like the Wool Products Labeling Act are extremely important to help us better understand what we are buying. But we should always be looking at ways to improve and expand on these regulations.

About The Author



Mike leads research on the team, writes, and manages the YouTube channel. He’s been buying products made in the USA for as long as he can remember. It’s in his blood, growing up working in American manufacturing.