The present work presents the synthesis and characterizations of Polyethylene glycol (PEG) assisted tungsten oxide (WO3) nanoparticles as surfactant by simple household microwave irradiation (2.45 GHz) method. The samples were characterized using powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), UV–visible diffusion reflectance spectroscopy (UV–VIS-DRS) and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR). Powder XRD results revealed that both the samples prepared with and without surfactant crystallize in the orthorhombic structure corresponding to WO3•H2O phase. Subsequent annealing under identical conditions (600◦C/air/6 h) led to significantly different products i.e. monoclinic W17O47 from surfactant free sample and orthorhombic WO3 from PEG assisted sample. Blue emission was observed through UV–VIS-DRS with band gap energy around 2.7 and 3.28 eV for PEG assisted as prepared (WO3•H2O) and annealed samples (WO3) respectively. These results will be helpful in knowing the suitability of the material for sensor applications.