We have always had cheap plastic netilat yadayim washing cups around the house in a variety of colors. Most synagogues, religious schools and yeshivas in Israel have them, and if they are not chained to the sink, they are invariably "borrowed" by kids, who make off with them for use in all types of pressing endeavors.
But then one day I happened to be in the lobby of an upscale hotel in Mamilla, a few blocks from the Old City, and while I was waiting for one of the hotel guests to come down, I stepped into the men's room. Alongside was a fabulous sink with a fancy faucet and a gorgeous washing cup. And that's when it first occurred to me that it might be worthwhile to upgrade to a natlah befitting the mitzvah of Netilat Yadayim.
The basic halachic requirements are quite simple. Even a very small cup (a smallish Kiddush cup) meets the minimum size requirements, and the handles are not essential, per se, although they are definitely very handy (forgive the pun) from a practical standpoint.
There are a few advantages of the simple plastic type, as I see it:
- They don't break easily (although the may crack at some point)
- The pouring is not bad (although a wide rim facing outwards works better)
- They are lightweight, which is helpful for children
Of course simple plastic washing cups are probably a sensible solution for bedside Netilat Yadayim in the morning.
Lucite washing cups have become popular in recent years. I recommend you steer clear of the ones with very thin handles, which are not very comfortable to grip. Also, don't be tempted to buy one with an odd shape like this lucite washing cup (right), which makes pouring a chore.
A lot of modern Lucite washing cups incorporate a transparent design, or transluscent with a color tint.
There are definitely plenty of washing cups available on Amazon, but at a glance the prices looked a bit steep to me.