A biocompatible Dex-MA/PAA hydrogel was prepared through copolymerization of glycidyl methacrylate substituted dextran (Dex-MA) with acrylic acid (AA), which was applied as the adsorbent to remove cationic dyes from aqueous solutions. Dex-MA/PAA hydrogel presented a fast adsorption rate and the removal efficiency of Methylene Blue (MB) and Crystal Violet (CV) reached 93.9% and 86.4%, respectively within one minute at an initial concentration of 50 mg L-1. The adsorption equilibrium data fitted the Sips isotherm model well with high adsorption capacities of 1994 mg g-1 for MB and 2390 mg g-1 for CV. Besides, dye adsorption occurred efficiently over the pH range 3-10 and the temperature range 20-60 °C. Moreover, the removal efficiencies for MB and CV were still >95% even after five adsorption/desorption cycles which indicates the robust nature of the Dex-MA/PAA hydrogel and its potential as an eco-friendly adsorbent for water treatment.