Exactly what tapered pipe cleaners are supposed to be used for.
Last week I dropped off a pipe for a stem replacement, and since I needed some pipe cleaners I thought I'd buy some while I was there. Unfortunately, I accidentally got the tapered kind. This is the second time I've bought them (both times because I wasn't paying attention), and I just don't get it. The thick end is too thick to force through a pipe stem, and you can't even get the skinny end all the way down the stem into the shank to sop up excess moisture because the thick part binds it up in the stem too soon.
So: I just don't get it. I can see how they would be useful for cleaning nooks and crannies of other things, such as firearms for example, but I just don't see how they are supposed to work on pipes.
By the way, although the Humidor always seems to be out of them, I always prefer to buy churchwarden-length pipe cleaners. I don't even bother with the short cleaners unless that's all they have. I use a small set of snips to cut the dirty end off the cleaner as I go along, and this way I get a lot more mileage than if I just used short cleaners, which are too short to snip.
I still buy short pipe cleaners when I don't have a choice, but those tapered ones just don't fit my cleaning routines or something, I guess.
Another by-the-way, beware of those cheap chenielle stems they sell in arts & crafts stores. They are not made for pipe cleaning, although I have used them often because they are long, churchwarden-length. The problem with them is that the bits of fluff tend to come off the spine and then you get pipe stems and shanks with bits of fluff crammed into them. I do still use them myself sometimes, because I can pick them up conveniently at Wal-Mart and I'm cheap. Just watch out for those loose bits of fluff if you use them.